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

    [March 4, 2014 01:11:04 PM]
    The player controls a fighter jet through a variety of missions, shooting down enemy planes and fighting enemy ground and naval forces. The missions are completed through a variety of mission specific parameters and are failed if the player dies or certain conditions are not met.
    Play Session 1:
    Starting the game, I have already played through the sequel to this title (Ace Combat 5), so I will be making comparisons to it. In this session, I will focus on the basics of game mechanics and my reactions to them.

    The game consists of linear missions with a constant set objective, though the objective may change depending on the mission. The objectives themselves are nicely varied (destroy everything, do a set amount of damage, destroy specific targets) and while they usual reduce down to “shoot this thing”, they keep the levels from getting monotonous. The locations the levels take place variety considerably and include some excellent locales, including a massive frozen mountain range and a sprawling oil station along the coast. Unfortunately, as a PS2 game in the era of Xbox Ones and PS4s, the resolution and lack of detail is very noticeable. The action tends to take place lower to the ground so a better looking game would go a long way towards better immersion. However, this is simply a limitation of the system and the game still does well with what it has.

    Combat is generally series of short range dogfights between the player, enemies and sometimes allies. Additionally, an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) operator talks to the player during missions, informing them of combat information as well as story and mission updates. These elements do a good job making the player feel like they are a part of larger military. When fighting, the player is given an incomprehensibly large amount of missiles (>= 50) which, though unrealistic, means the player can be a part of longer and large set pieces. This biggest problem with the gameplay is lack of difficulty. Though the player can be shot down, enemies shoot infrequently and missiles can be dodged easily by breaking hard. As a result, it is not uncommon to go many missions without taking a single hit. Changing the difficulty doesn’t do much to help this: higher difficulties only change the number of hits the player can take and how much ammo the player has. At all levels, enemies don’t attempt to break missile locks so you only miss if you fire while they fly at odd angles when you happen to fire.
    Play Session 2:
    I complained in previous sections about the lack of difficulty and while I stand by my point, there are points in the game where the difficult ramps up dramatically. This occurs when you fight the “boss battles” against an elite enemy squadron. Here, it is much harder to score hits and they fire with more frequency. Honestly, I wish the game could have this style of fighting far more frequently. This actually is difficult and felt truly rewarding upon completion.
    The story in between missions is told comic book style via voice overs and still images. The story itself isn’t too complex but does help to explain some of the back story and why everything is occurring. It does take a surprising angle and focus on the enemy; in fact, it humanizes them and turns them from a faceless enemy to a human who just happens to be on the opposing side of a conflict. This surprised me but was a decision I liked quite a bit.

    Players can purchase different aircraft to buy and different secondary weapons to equip them with. The planes do a good job of differentiating themselves from each other (they handle differently, have different weapon counts) and the variety of different secondary weapons help to provide the player a measure of personalization.
    Final Impressions:
    Overall, this is a fun game that is most held back by the limits of the system and an unaggressive AI. I’d recommend it to fans of the Ace Combat series and the flight combat simulator genre but it’s only fair to point out that newer games in the series are out as well and do many things better. However, this game has no glaring weaknesses and many strong strengths so it deserves praise and a play through. 3.5/5
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    TheAngelOfChaos's Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies (PS2)

    Current Status: Playing

    GameLog started on: Tuesday 4 March, 2014

    TheAngelOfChaos's opinion and rating for this game

    Good but overshadowed by more recent AC games

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

    Related Links

    See TheAngelOfChaos's page

    See info on Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies

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


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