Ace Combat Zero

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Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War
Developed by: Namco
Published by: Namco Bandai
Designed by: Namco (PROJECT ACES division)
PS2 only
2006
(Rated Teen for Mild Language & Violence)

All is not well in Belka. Due to economic constraints, the principality of Belka launches a full-scale invasive war against neighboring Ustio in a bid for material wealth. This does not sit well with the wealthy Ustio or it's neighborhood big brothers and friends, the Allied forces of Osea, Yuktobania, and Sapin. In order to repel the invasion, the Allied forces must push Belka back to their home country. Welcome to the hot-seat of callsign Cipher, the captain of Galm Flight, a couple of mercenaries who fight the Belkans and unravel a mystery of the airborne mercenary forces over the skies of the fictional skies of the planet Strangereal.
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Ace Combat Zero is the sixth installment of the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 Arcade flight-simulations that are not only regarded as some of the best, but probably the standard-setting flight games there are. Released in 2006 to high praise but not the loudest fanfare, Zero was the last installment Namco released of the Ace Combat series for the PS2. Full of adventure for the player, varied levels, dozens of aircraft, an intriguing story and thorough background, it's the best of any world, whether one wants to play for story, grind, or a challenge.
The story goes as told in the first paragraph, where somewhat-modernist Strangereal-quasi-Nazi counterpart Belka invades simple Ustio, bringing down the fire from big brothers USA/Russia/Spain stand-ins Osea/Yuktobania/Sapin. Over the course of 18 missions, Belka is repelled and defeated,


The game takes place in chronological order of the game series as Ace Combat Zero, 1, 04, 5, 2, and 3, as opposed to it's release order of 1, 2, 3, 04, 5 and Zero. All of them are for the PlayStation 1 or 2, so it ignores the other games of similar timbre released on the PSP and Ace Combat 6 which came out in 2007 for the Xbox 360.

Gameplay-wise it's every bit as fun as a flying game can get, with polished controls and simple logistics (like unlimited fuel and 70+ missiles, occasionally limitless gun magazines, the pilot being able to take any g-force with not even a twitch in response) to accompany the various missions, ranging from ground, sea or air attack (or all three at once occasionally)
As you play through the game, all of the 40 or so fighter planes (with the exception of about four) are entirely real aircraft, although some liberties are taken with construction dates and numbers (like the Su-47 Berkut not only being approved for combat, but being so on a massive scale). The more times you play through the game on different difficulties, the more aircraft you can buy and fly. If you shoot down special enemy ace squadrons, you can unlock special paint schemes for those aircraft. Another feature of the game is giving different endings (sort of) depending on how you play through the game. The endings or 'Ace Styles' being not "Perfect Good" and "Supreme Evil", but actually "Mercenary", "Soldier" and "Knight". Knights only pursue mission-critical targets and being noble in living, let live. Mercenaries leave nothing in the entire mission field standing, obliterating everything in their wake, and Soldiers strike a balance between letting some neutral targets get away, and some not. Depending on how quick you can finish some missions, or how well you execute a mission, you can be awarded Medals and make Assault Records, which are ways of unlocking some of the special [fictional] super-aircraft.

FRICKEN LASER BEAMS- (ADF 01 falken)<br />Only if you get three Surpeme Ace Medals. Looks like you're gonna be getting real good real fast, now, aintcha?<br />(Disclaimer: its totally worth the effort)

A disclaimer can be that while some aircraft are worth the investment of effort due to their insane level of awesomeness, some aren't, and you won't know which is which for your personal play style until you've actually earned it, so, buyer beware.

The game delves somewhat deep although superficially into the emotional struggles of war and peace. Superficially deep as in digging a large mine into the earth if the crust was made of a thick sauce made of plots written intelligently but simple enough for 14 year olds to comprehend and still give an illusion of distant complexity. Which is where the analogy falls apart and ends up on some pancakes.

-Nevermind.
Technically speaking it's not the most advanced video game in the world of 2006, but it's not a super simple one either. The specifics of large scale air combat level design elude me apart from large photo-realistic landscapes and having dynamics for a player that can be anywhere from 300 to 2050km/h to-scale at all times, so I'll just say that the self-occluding shadows are pretty on the flaps when you pull the airbrake, and that no one will notice when you're trying to take down the Espada squadron while trying to peck away at a gunship the size of several football fields on Expert difficulty.

You will wish I was making this up

Which segways me from the gameplay to gameplay difficulty. The game is broken up into several difficulties which are aptly titled and accurate in their description entirely, consisting of Very Easy, Easy, Normal, and Hard. Beating the lattermost unlocks Expert, which upon winning that one all the way though unlocks Ace difficulty. Which I probably wouldn't wish upon anyone, let alone playing it myself. Although there are those who would laugh in my face for thinking so. Which are all very fun to play.

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Regardless of my pathetic ability to play the game compared to some of the aces out there, Zero is a fantastic game and an excellent place to start if you so feel like it for getting into Flight Combat games.

This was a good review, although I do have a question. My experience with ace combat is limited to ace combat 4, so I was wondering if you had to fly a long distance from your carrier every mission before you get to the action. It was very annoying in ace combat 4.

dimensione510:
This was a good review, although I do have a question. My experience with ace combat is limited to ace combat 4, so I was wondering if you had to fly a long distance from your carrier every mission before you get to the action. It was very annoying in ace combat 4.

Nope. Unless it's appropriate for the story with the mission, there's not a ton of travel time in them.

The giant jet boss fight missions always put me off Ace Combat. I know its Japanese and everything is over the top- I just wish they were a bit more believable I guess. A big part in why I prefer HAWX.

CORRODED SIN:
The giant jet boss fight missions always put me off Ace Combat. I know its Japanese and everything is over the top- I just wish they were a bit more believable I guess. A big part in why I prefer HAWX.

It's always this or that hand when it comes to air combat games. Either it's simulation or it's arcade. I prefer the one in which not only is it physically possible, but encouraged of the player to do outside immelman frontflip at mach two while blowing up an entire navy, or equivalent situations.

dimensione510:
This was a good review-.

Thank you very much.

Its a Good game and it has Freakin epic music like almost all of the Ace Combat series.

Its just too bad that the 360 version got rather shafted in the whole "kick ass experimental death plane" department. The falken was awesome and you can get it by finding parts in the levels if you don't want to get the medals.

Piecewise:
Its just too bad that the 360 version got rather shafted in the whole "kick ass experimental death plane" department. The falken was awesome and you can get it by finding parts in the levels if you don't want to get the medals.

Actually you can unlock the Falken two ways in Zero.
Having an AC5 save on the memory card allows you to buy the Falken at the same time as the ADFX Morgan, which would be 'beating the game once'. The other method is getting all three Supreme Ace medals, which is just as hard as beating the game three times if you do it right.
The Biggest challenge is getting the S Rank Ace medal, which requires you beat the game on ACE difficulty with all missions with an S rank. Which means beating them fast, and with no damage.
Hypothetically though that's not all that hard, as if you take almost any damage, you die, so Most of the time if not all the time, you'll be playing it through as in "No Damage" or "Retry", so the challenge lies in doing it fast.
The rewards for beating the game in Expert and Ace are the only ways of getting the Special Paint for the Falken and Morgan.
So few have apparently beaten Ace, that you can't actually find pictures ANYWHERE of the Falken and it's special paint for Ace Combat Zero.

As you might have noticed, I really like those planes.

Tip top review, Anarchemitis.

Piecewise:
Its just too bad that the 360 version got rather shafted in the whole "kick ass experimental death plane" department. The falken was awesome and you can get it by finding parts in the levels if you don't want to get the medals.

I dunno, the Nosferatu was pretty damn kickass, especially the ADMMs.

Anarchemitis:

The Biggest challenge is getting the S Rank Ace medal, which requires you beat the game on ACE difficulty with all missions with an S rank. Which means beating them fast, and with no damage.

Ranks don't care about how much damage you take. They're either based on mission time or mission score, which is based on how much you destroy. More often score. So if you want high ranks, shoot down lots of stuff. In fact, Ace isn't all that much harder than Expert, since one missile is almost always enough to kill you on Expert.

Zero is certainly nowhere near as insane as trying to take down the cheatybastard Fenrir on Ace Combat X, with it's cloaking system, microwave weapons, and other such cheatery.

Edit: Also...

Also:

Which segways me from the gameplay to gameplay difficulty

A segway is something designed to make fat californians look silly. A segue is a smooth transition from one topic to another. Use of the former is discouraged at all times, let alone in place of the latter.

CORRODED SIN:
The giant jet boss fight missions always put me off Ace Combat. I know its Japanese and everything is over the top- I just wish they were a bit more believable I guess. A big part in why I prefer HAWX.

In HAWX it was only the politics that was brainachingly stupid. But then, whose name was that on the front ;)

GloatingSwine:

Ranks don't care about how much damage you take. They're either based on mission time or mission score, which is based on how much you destroy. More often score. So if you want high ranks, shoot down lots of stuff. In fact, Ace isn't all that much harder than Expert, since one missile is almost always enough to kill you on Expert.

Actually just this afternoon I pride myself in the effect that I shot down Pixy on Ace.
To my dismay, not only is the Falken SP paint all that spectacular (it's the exact same as Soldier but without the gloss >:(, but I got S rank on all missions except Valley of the Kings and Zero, which in order I got A and B in. All that I can consider the fault for that is that I made the Valley as rudimentary as possible in playthrough without taking down extra targets, and I got shot by an AA gun once (29% damage) and in Zero I got hit by one of his burst missles taking me to 74%, and I didn't finish him off all that quickly..

Valley of Kings is score based. You need 18,000 points before the mission ends (remember, your score on the mission result screen includes your after-mission bonus) to get the S rank. For Zero the S rank you need to complete the level in 6 minutes or less. Use the Falken, laser his ass, win.

Edit:

GloatingSwine:

CORRODED SIN:
The giant jet boss fight missions always put me off Ace Combat. I know its Japanese and everything is over the top- I just wish they were a bit more believable I guess. A big part in why I prefer HAWX.

In HAWX it was only the politics that was brainachingly stupid. But then, whose name was that on the front ;)

Haha, true. I prefered the gameplay in HAWX more then anything, but the massive battles in AC6 were fun. The stories in both games are best left ignored.

GloatingSwine:
Valley of Kings is score based. You need 18,000 points before the mission ends (remember, your score on the mission result screen includes your after-mission bonus) to get the S rank.

I've never actually thought of that.
Simply beause either I'd hard-go-it with the Morgan from Demon of the round Table to Zero in one sitting, and on Ace, even with the burst missle fixing up the Control core problems, time would still be pretty slim. And by that I mean I don't like having the counter go below 2 minutes. Thanks a lot!

Burst missiles on Valley of Kings? Are you mad? The thing takes eternity and a half to reload. Use FAEBs, two for each lock, if you've saved some up from the way in, or one and guns to finish. Best way to ensure you get the S rank is to get the enemy aces, there are three around the dam, and they're worth big points each.

That makes sense, thanks!

It does rank up the excitement personally, when I have to approach the next Control core at hairline-above-stall speed to ensure the missile reloads.
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CORRODED SIN:
The giant jet boss fight missions always put me off Ace Combat. I know its Japanese and everything is over the top- I just wish they were a bit more believable I guess. A big part in why I prefer HAWX.

I lol'd.
Boss fights? The only kind of boss fight you'll get is with another enemy squadron.
This game stands in my personal favourites, it has a sad ending as most games should, you never hear the lead pilot speak... EVER!
Truly fabulous game! Although the whole moral choice thing was a pain in the arse!
AC04 wins over this game, but I still play then ending every now and again!
Good job reviewing it!
I liked it :]

Hey, I got linked here by chance, good review! well done =). It's a bit of a suprise to see one of my images be used here

While there is an obvious tag and signature on the image of the Falken, it's rather obscured, I thought I'd like to point out that the image is in no way official artwork, there's been that issue before and I feel I need to clarify that, so I also highly doubt that the model is an accurate representation of the actual ship, colour and all. (however, it's extremely flattering that I've seen this image be used as examples aroudn the web)

If you were needing a larger view and a Download link:
http://the-weevil.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d1ug1ye

ATB
Steve

the-weevil:
Hey, I got linked here by chance, good review! well done =). It's a bit of a suprise to see one of my images be used here

While there is an obvious tag and signature on the image of the Falken, it's rather obscured, I thought I'd like to point out that the image is in no way official artwork, there's been that issue before and I feel I need to clarify that, so I also highly doubt that the model is an accurate representation of the actual ship, colour and all. (however, it's extremely flattering that I've seen this image be used as examples aroudn the web)

If you were needing a larger view and a Download link:
http://the-weevil.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d1ug1ye

ATB
Steve

That is true, the picture of the Falken is not accurate to it's appearance in-game. It comes in Red/Black, light green forest camo, sea camo, black with gloss and black without gloss.

 

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