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    jp's Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies (PS2)

    [May 5, 2007 12:11:50 PM]
    I'm a bit sad. Last night I finished the next-to-last mission (mission 17) with great success. However, the game hung up right after that. I really don't feel like playing it again just in case it works next time. The truth is, I bought the game used and the disc is a little scuffed.

    I'm sad because I'm not going to see how the game ends, and what happens to yellow 13. (actually, I know now, because I read a transcript on Gamefaqs...but still).

    I still enjoyed the game a fact, in order to end on a "high note" I'll comment on something I found myself mesmerized by.

    When you finish a mission, you are shown a screen that shows you how you did, what score you got, how much money you earned (to buy new planes and weapons for them) as well as the targets you destroyed. In the background you watch a replay of your mission. It is highly abstract with your plane shown as a white arrow, friendlies are blue, and enemies are red. A long tail trails behind each of the arrows as the move, so you can see the path that you followed, the turns you made, what the enemies where doing, etc. Whenever a target is destroyed, it is replaced with an "X" which disappears after a while. From this screen

    screen shot from Ace Combat 04

    Also, the score and targets destroyed is updated as they are destroyed during the replay. Really cool!

    Anyways, I found that I was mesmerized watching this abstracted representation of a mission I had just flown. It was interesting to see what the enemy planes where doing while I was turning, weaving or trying to line them up. I also noticed that the more I played, the better my replay sequences looked. My flying looked more confident, with less weaving and adjusting direction. Also, I found that I could recreate what I had done pretty well just from watching that. I found myself silently thinking things like "Bank left, destroy AA gun, destroy SAM, bank right, destroy tank, u-turn...". I could remember doing that in the game! The presentation of the replay is so elegant, that it made me feel really good about my accomplishments!

    In all, a highly pleasing and gratifying experience.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on May 5th, 2007 at 12:12:12.

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    [May 2, 2007 09:49:16 AM]
    The night before last I finished a few more missions with the last one dealing with the liberation of a city. The mission per se was nothing terribly special however there was one element, non-gameplay related, that really made it stick out in my mind.

    In all of the missions you play you have a fair amount of radio chatter going on. Most games will have your wingmen, squadmates, commanding officers provide commentary or orders over the radio. Ace Combat 04 is no different. Radio chatter can really add to the immersion of the experience. It many ways it makes the game more authentic when you can hear your partners warn you of missiles on your tail, or asking who shot down an enemy jet, and so on.

    However, Ace Combat 04 also adds enemy radio chatter to the mix. You can read a lot from the kinds of things they say. You can tell how the battle is going, to a certain extent and you can even hear them panic when someone is about to shoot them down. It definitely added a lot to my experience!

    The last mission I played takes it one step further....

    In this mission you can here intermittent broadcasts from news reporters and journalists. Their perspective is that of someone on the ground who is wondering what is going on and trying to report on what they see! It adds a human touch and sensibility to a kind of game that generally doesn't go that far. There are people on the ground who are hiding in their apartments silently hoping that it will soon be over and that they'll be liberated. Hopefully they won't get hit by a stray missile! Hopefully it isn't their building that caught fire..
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    [April 28, 2007 07:48:36 PM]
    I've just finished the 13 mission and I've been treated to a few more cut-scenes. I've really been enjoying them as they add quite a bit to the overall mood of the game. The cut-scenes are very tranquil and thoughtful, while the missions are pretty high-paced and tense. The contrast pays off.

    Also, and quite to my surprise, the story overlapped with the main game and shocked me. I thought I had the story figured out, but no!

    So...a quick summary...

    Basically there are two major coalitions at war with each other and the cut scenes are narrated by a young man who is reminiscing on the past. When he was a small boy he watched a some fighter jets dogfight. One got shot down. It crashed on top of his house and his parents died. Then the enemies invaded.

    So here's what I thought the story was about:

    (1) Young boys parents die, kid vows revenge on pilot who shot down the plane that crashed... joins the airforce!

    When you play missions, your callsign is "Mobius 1", so I figured that the narrator was Mobius 1.


    (2) Later on the kid befriends a group of (enemy) pilots and hangs out with them. They are a "crack" squad who's ace leader is Yellow 13.

    In a few of the missions, you often run into this squad... They're pretty tough.. but I was still in the dark about what would happen with Yellow 13. My theory that Mobius 1 is the narrator was not quite right...but it didn't all add up.

    In particular, the cut-scenes are narrated in the past, and obviously the missions are occurring in "the present". However, suddenly I heard the following:
    "Reports of the Stonehenge (the Cannon) air raid came in." It also talked about Yellow 4 (13's wingman) flying with a damaged plane...

    The following mission was called "The Stonehenge Offensive"... At the end of this mission you shoot down a plane. And the next cut-scene began with..

    Though he lost Four, Thirteen never openly showed his sorrow.

    Oh my god. I killed Yellow 4.

    Through the cut-scenes I've been hearing stories about the pilots on the other side of this war. And I was beginning to care for them... and now I had killed one. And I had celebrated. And I had enjoyed the congratulatory radio chatter.

    It all seemed so pointless now. The enemy I've been fighting doesn't really have a face, but it isn't really "evil" either. They're just planes. It so bloodless and impersonal.

    I killed Yellow 4, and I felt bad.
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    [April 20, 2007 11:24:37 PM]
    I've played the 9th mission a few times and I'm kind of annoyed by something I've noticed happening in quite a few missions. Basically, before you start a mission your told that your objectives are blah, blah, and blah. You have a set amount of time to complete those objectives. Once you do, you get a mission update! Oh, no! Something bad has happened, now you need to destroy blah and blah. Quickly!

    Updates on missions aren't what I find annoying. Rather, it's the fact that I've often found myself in a position where it is impossible for me to meet the additional objectives. (usually because I've run out of ammunition). That's not really fair!

    Now, you could argue that you should always minimize the damage cause and limit yourself to meeting the goals described....In other words, don't waste time and ammunition on secondary targets or targets of opportunity. However, the game explicitly rewards you for doing so (in the form of extra points and money you use to buy more and better planes).

    So, it seems that I'm always trying to complete a mission at least 2 or 3 times. With the 2nd attempt necessary because I wasn't able to complete the updated mission goals. The 2nd time around, of course, I have the foresight to save ammo and leave it for the "real" end... but I don't feel that I should have to do that.
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    [April 13, 2007 11:10:15 AM]
    This is the first time I play one of the games in this series and I am completely ignorant and unaware of any history and baggage that may be relevant to understanding this game.

    The reasons for me picking up this game are rather convoluted, serendipitous yet finally superficial. I was first exposed to this game a few years ago when a group of friends and I got together to sample games. The way it works is that everyone brings a bunch of games and we pop them in and play them. Sometimes for as little as 10 minutes, others for an hour. The spirit of these meetings is similar to that of a wine-tasting, but for games. Maximize exposure to games you may not otherwise have looked at, have fun, and leave with ideas of games you might want to play a bit more. For me, Ace Combat 04 was one of those "I'd like to check this out some more later one" kind of games.

    So, what was it that piqued my interest? From my short experience I realized that this game was accessible to me (I don't really like hardcore simulators, and this game seemed "arcadey" enough), and most importantly I was intrigued by the contrast between the game missions and the (occasional) cut-scenes. The missions, and their briefings were very modern, shiny, computerized and technological. The cut-scenes told a story using illustrated stills in a Japanese animation style, soft colors that looked a bit washed watercolors.

    ace combat 04 screenshot cutscene

    To me, the contrast between both was so striking, yet not jarring, that I wanted to see how it all comes together.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on May 5th, 2007 at 12:16:56.

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    jp's Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies (PS2)

    Current Status: Stopped playing - Technical problems

    GameLog started on: Saturday 31 March, 2007

    GameLog closed on: Friday 26 October, 2007

    jp's opinion and rating for this game

    I've only played a few missions and it is fun, but it gets better. I found myself getting into the story and engaging with the game at an emotional level.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

    Related Links

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    See info on Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies

    More GameLogs
    other GameLogs for this Game
    1 : Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies (PS2) by Tasunkawitko (rating: 5)
    2 : Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies (PS2) by TheAngelOfChaos (rating: 4)


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