Ace Combat Infinity Teased
A new trailer was released by Namco Bandai, teasing project Aces’ newest aerial project, Ace Combat Infinity. While the trailer isn’t very long, it does showcase a lot of white-knuckle aviation combat, complete with a massive fortress in the sky, missiles flying, guns blazing, and incredible, gravity-defying maneuvers. While it doesn’t showcase any cinematic views in regard to story or setting, it appears to take place in the fictionalized world set in Ace Combat 4: Shattered Skies.
In Ace Combat 4, players were thrust into a massive global war to take back the world from a tyrannical dictator that has taken ahold of the planet’s only orbital defense weapon for supremacy. It is confirmed as the series’ first Free-to-play title. Having played all of the Ace Combat games with the exception of Fires of Liberation, one big difference I noticed with this trailer is that it seems to go back to the aerial dog-fighting and slight absurdity to the original games, clearly influenced by traditional Japanese design. For some long-time fans of the series, this could be a welcome sign as a return for tradition while for others, it may be a disappointment for coming off as unrealistic. The trailer can be found below:
A Quick perspective on the Ace Combat series
When it comes to engaging aerial combat, no one can do it better then the team at Project Aces with the Ace Combat franchise. Real-life warplanes flying at mach 2, incredibly realistic terrains at 30,000 feet, intense enemy combatants, and Aces that want to see your body scattered across the skies, are just some of the things encompassed within the Ace Combat series. It’s been a long time coming with many fond memories.
On my days gaming on the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation portable (PSP), three big Ace Combat tiles were released. Ace Combat 4: Shattered Skies, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, and Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War. On the PSP, it was Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception and Ace Combat: Joint Assault. In addition to demonstrating unbelievable, photo-realistic aircraft and environments, the game featured equally intense gameplay. Fighting waves of skilled enemy pilots with deadly firepower, playing Ace Combat was patriotic aerial fantasy made real, born out of movies like Top Gun and Iron Eagle. In each game, players went on a large variety of story-driven missions, fighting enemies on land, sea, and in the air. Some missions were short and crazy and other were long and intense. Players also faced Ace pilots in frantic boss battles in the sky. Coupled with the visuals and the triumphant soundtrack, its is an exciting experience.
The series doesn’t dismiss its roots from publisher Name Bandai. It is a game, first and foremost. Each plane has a certain number of missiles that can be used in the level. In real-life, that would normally be any number between 1 and 6. In the game, it would be sixty, seventy, or even ninety missiles. In the middle of combat, missiles and weaponry would just reappear beneath you.
But most noticeable would be the story and setting. In previous games, you were in random fictional country “A” fighting random fictional bad guy country “B.” Osea, Yuktobonia, Belka, Erusea, and other names were used to describe planes. Even the planet Earth was different, with countries meshed into other countries and cities that were so advanced, this felt like an entirely different world. While the stories of each game would be memorable and nicely told, it wasn’t without some awkward, wince-inducing lines, wimpy voice-acting, and slightly absurd combat moments. I remember fondly taking down a “Lord Sauromon”-like defense tower shooting massive laser beams, a flying wing the size of a football stadium, flying through narrow tunnels to destroy missiles, and destroying rail cannons the size of skyscrapers. For me and the fans, these moments were great. However for others, these kind of traits are what made Tom Clancy’s HAWX games very appealing. Taking place in the intense military world of Tom Clancy, HAWX took players on a deeply involved military conflict in the sky. The game actually intersected the stories of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 3 and a slight bit into Splinter Cell. Flying the latest aircraft at a smooth 60fps made for incredible, well-detailed combat.
For me, I enjoyed the Ace Combat series and the games. I look at games as open-minded and enthusiastically as I can. While not every game is good or great, I looked at them for what they are. THe series is intense, different, and focused on such an interesting design. So when Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation was released exclusively for the Xbox 360, it seemed as if those particular traits were unwanted. The game was praised for visuals and gameplay but criticized for its story and unrealistic moments.
We didn’t see a console-released Ace Combat until two years ago with 2011’s Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. By this point, the entire gaming industry was circling around shooters, both in the first and third person, and the general settings it came across. The military, ultra-violence, WW III, the post-apocalypse, blowing things up, etc. So the game underwent various changes to accommodate the trends. Real-life countries and organizations would be used. An authentic military story would be penned. And the visuals would be styled more realistically to give a sense of high-speed intense pacing like a Jerry Bruckheimer film. The game also designed a system, highlighting precise, close-quarters combat where you’d be able to lock-in closely with your target and pick them off part by part with machine guns and missiles, making for an incredibly satisfying kill. The tagline for this game was “Make steel bleed.”
Here’s an official trailer as well, courtesy of IGN.
I played Assault Horizon and while I felt like the game was a little too easy at times, it was an incredibly intense aerial combat game. Flying all the different planes, commandeering bombers, fighting over Miami, using an Apache attack helicopter, and even a full-fledged AC-130 Gunship mission encompassed the game. The game still came with challenging dogfights, especially with the utilization of the close-quarters combat. And while I missed destroying improbable enemies like special dragon-like stealth aircraft, it made up for it by giving a gritty savagery to modern aerial combat. Clearly, this game was influenced by the Call of Duty franchise, from Modern Warfare to Black Ops. For that, the game felt like it leaned on auto-pilot. This was a noticeable trait and both gamers and critics were not pleased. Many were displeased by such changes as it ruined the tradition of the series and blended it into an already oversaturated and over crowded market of militaristic games. It did get its fansbase and was a success but not without rustling the feathers of many.
With the release of Ace Combat: Infinity, it seems like Project Aces is going back to traditions but maintaining the visual capability of the now current-gen system. It’ll be interesting to see how this game unfolds as we move forward but one things for certain: Ace Combat is here to stay, with all of its glory, pushing to different territories. And that is a great thing. Stay on the look-out for this promising title. In the meantime, I highly encourage all of you to play these games and discover a very unique series.