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Ace Combat 4: Shattered Skies (PlayStation 2) artwork

Ace Combat 4: Shattered Skies (PlayStation 2) review

"For those unfamiliar with the series, AC4 is the latest instalment of Namco’s successful arcade flyer, anyone looking for a flight sim need not apply here. "

For those unfamiliar with the series, AC4 is the latest instalment of Namco’s successful arcade flyer, anyone looking for a flight sim need not apply here.
Whilst not exactly competing in an overly competitive genre, AC4 stands far above the rest as the PS2’s (and possibly consoles in general) best arcade style flyer to date.

Graphically AC4 is more than competent, Namco have done an excellent job to make sure that everything looks the part. The scenery looks great from the air courtesy of the use of aerial photographs as texture maps, close up the ground doesn’t look so hot, but then apart from a few bombing runs you’ll not really have cause to be so low to notice. The jets themselves are well modelled and detailed although you will only really get to appreciate this in the replays.

AC4 sounds just as good as it looks, with the music ranging from Top Gun style rawk guitar to atmospheric pieces to helping to create a sense of urgency in later missions. Effects wise everything sounds how it should, from jets roaring past to high pitched beeping of the missile lock that will send you into a frenzy of turns and spins as you to try to escape your pursuer. Your wingman and the enemy constantly chat away and initially this can be quite confusing as you expect orders to come from your squad leader, but the sooner you realise its just an accompaniment to the BGM the sooner you can start to enjoy the banter

Namco are famed for creating enjoyable arcade romps and AC4 is no different. From the first mission all the way through to the last there is more than enough targets to keep you busy, and providing you’re not playing on the easiest setting the enemy pilots won’t make your job easy and the elite Yellow squadron pilots will make it hell.
Namco have tried to keep things varied as best they can, and while the missions are always going to comprise of destroying X amount of targets, you’ll find yourself battling in a range of scenarios from hunting radar jamming blimps in heavy fog, through to destroying concealed bases in a mountain range.

The multiplayer side of things is decidedly ordinary. Fighting against a human opponent is good fun for a while, but this hampered by the split screen view, trying to keep a human player on screen to keep a missile lock on them becomes increasingly difficult. This would have been less of a problem had the decision to include the option to use the i-Link, something that could also have allowed the opportunity to fly missions co-operatively.

Multiplayer niggles aside Ace Combat 4 remains a good single player game. It might not be to everyone’s tastes but is at least a recommended rental. Ace Combat 4 is as close as you’ll get to being in Top Gun, travelling back in time and knocking Tom Cruise out of his mini flight suit aside.

P4nd4Pwn4g3's avatar
Community review by P4nd4Pwn4g3 (November 04, 2002)

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