Here we investigate the overlooked, the underappreciated, the Shameworthy titles of the world. Jump in to an existing mission thread and give your thoughts, or start your own to kick off a discussion.
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Angry Jedi

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Re: Reach for the Skies: Ace Combat

by Angry Jedi » Sat Oct 11, 2014 6:12 pm

I'm actually curious at to whether Bowley has ever encountered this series. Seems like it might be his bag.
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Re: Reach for the Skies: Ace Combat

by Angry Jedi » Sat Oct 11, 2014 10:30 pm

Ridge Racer Type-4 is probably Namco's finest hour with regard to super-stylish interface design. That game looked so great generally, but of all things, it was its menus that stuck with me.

Distant Thunder's aren't quite up to that standard, but they're certainly pretty cool in their own right.
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Re: Reach for the Skies: Ace Combat

by RedSwirl » Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:23 pm

Hmm... character development in Ace Combat. Never really thought much about it.

The deuteragonist of AC5 pretty much became the poster-girl for the game. I guess the other characters were pretty well-handled too. If you've looked up any online discussions or memes about Ace Combat you've probably already found the line "Yo, Buddy. Still alive?" from ACZero. Probably the most popular character in the franchise aside from the aforementioned AC5 poster-girl.
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Re: Reach for the Skies: Ace Combat

by Raven2785 » Mon Oct 13, 2014 1:49 am

Well, glad to hear you are enjoying yourself Jedi. the train ride only gets better from here on out. and if you're complaining about air combat, don't worry, 4 has you covered few more levels in.
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Re: Reach for the Skies: Ace Combat

by Angry Jedi » Mon Oct 13, 2014 7:16 am

Haha, I wasn't complaining, I was enjoying the peace and quiet! :) On literally the next level after I said that, things started shooting at me in earnest. Haven't been actually shot down yet (though I have done one embarrassing crash into terra firma) but I can see things getting a bit more challenging soon.
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Re: Reach for the Skies: Ace Combat

by Angry Jedi » Tue Oct 14, 2014 8:17 am

So I'm really impressed with Ace Combat 4. Think I'm closing in on the end of it -- the story is certainly building to a natural climax and final confrontation, so I'm looking forward to taking that on when it comes.

I've been interested to see how the story is handled throughout. I initially figured the narrator was the player character, and that it was a flashback to an earlier time, but as you progress it becomes more obvious that the game is actually running two parallel storylines: "your" story of becoming the ace pilot Mobius One, and that of the occupied city where the narrator, who is looking back on his childhood, lived alongside Yellow Squadron, the group indirectly responsible for the death of his family.

It's interesting that Yellow Squadron aren't set up to be monolithic, undefeatable bad guys. Yellow Thirteen in particular is a major character, but he's only human, just like everyone else. Through the narrator's observations, you can see that they're struggling just as much as the Allied forces -- perhaps even more so. This is particularly evident in the sequence where the narrator recalls telling Yellow Thirteen to "get out of my city, fascist", and his response is simply "Do you really hate us that much?"

What I really like about how the story develops is the growing feeling of "importance" you have to the war effort. Early in the game you're just an anonymous pilot, but by the time you reach the mission where you're liberating the narrator's city at midnight -- one of my favourite missions so far, incidentally -- you're hearing ground troops saying things like "Wow, that's Mobius One protecting us!" and enemies expressing fear at the sight of your plane's distinctive markings. It gives a real feeling that you've built up a reputation through your successful missions -- and this is driven home when you get indirectly mentioned as "the ace enemy pilot" by the narrator, and that Yellow Thirteen acknowledges your efforts as being something worthy of praise, even though you're on opposite sides.

The true turning point -- the moment where the narrator's story and Mobius One's story truly intersect -- is the mission that concludes with a flight of planes from Yellow Squadron approaching you, and your expectations being set that you'll have to shoot them down; instead, the mission abruptly ends when you shoot down whichever one is Yellow Four: Yellow Thirteen's wingman, protege and possibly something more than that. The interplay between the two storylines throughout is set up to make you question what it is you're actually doing, but this moment more than any other really gives you pause and makes you wonder if you've done the "right" thing, particularly as it's strongly implied that she didn't get out of her plane in time and was thus killed by your actions.

Stepping aside from story matters, though... Gameplay-wise, I really appreciate the level of freedom and flexibility the missions offer. While there's the occasional scripted moment -- any time you get shot at by superweapon Stonehenge is rather thrilling, particularly the sequence where you're flying back to base through a narrow canyon beneath the altitude of Stonehenge's shockwaves -- for the most part you're simply given an impressively large battle area to fly around as you see fit, and a rather vague mission objective. In most cases, you're either destroying all the marked targets in the time limit or attempting to score more than a certain number of points in the time limit, but the variety in terrain that you're flying over -- everything from arctic tundra to the canyons, valleys and mountains of a river delta -- keeps things feeling really fresh. As I noted before, the city liberation mission was one of my favourites, simply because it actually felt and looked like you were flying over a real city -- and this was backed up by things like the news broadcasts you'd intercept on your plane's radio.

The whole game treats the player with respect and as a result manages to spin an exciting, dramatic tale without being overly prescriptive about what the player should be doing: it's a good balance of story and game, in other words, and it makes me even more curious to see how the other games handle things.
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Re: Reach for the Skies: Ace Combat

by Angry Jedi » Tue Oct 14, 2014 8:21 am

Oh, also? Divebombing VTOL bases built into pits on the top of mountains? THE BEST. Except when you fail to pull up in time.

Not that I've done that. Several times. No no no.
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Re: Reach for the Skies: Ace Combat

by Angry Jedi » Tue Oct 14, 2014 8:49 am

Re: Assault Horizon -- from TVTropes:

In Dubai, it is possible to engage a DFM on an enemy that will lead you through the arch of the Atlantis The Palm hotel. Guts calls you out on it.

"Hey! This isn't Ace Combat!"

This invokes a bit of Fridge Brilliance by realizing that the game takes place on Earth, and therefore the earlier Ace Combat video games exist in-universe.


Love this kind of thing.
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Re: Reach for the Skies: Ace Combat

by Alex Connolly » Tue Oct 14, 2014 11:39 am

Pete, how do you think AC4 stacks up against something like Freespace, Wing Commander etc., and/or Crimson Skies?
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Re: Reach for the Skies: Ace Combat

by Angry Jedi » Tue Oct 14, 2014 8:22 pm

Interesting you mention Freespace in particular, since oddly enough that's the game that AC4 reminds me most of. Despite the fact that one is spaceborne and the other is simply airborne, I feel like there's a lot in common -- the fact the story is told without many real "characters", the spectacular battles -- mostly without scripting -- and the way in which you're left to accomplish your objectives as you see fit rather than via a linear path.

It's a favourable comparison, I'd say -- and a contrast to Wing Commander (or, more accurately, Strike Commander), which personalised the story of the conflicts you became involved with a lot more. I usually prefer the Strike Commander approach, to be honest, but AC4 strikes a good balance, much as Freespace 2 in particular did.
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