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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
8.2
Visuals
9.5
Audio
10
Gameplay
7.0
Features
8.0
Replay
7.5
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
PlayStation 2
PUBLISHER:
Namco
DEVELOPER:
Namco
GENRE: Simulation
PLAYERS:   1-2
RELEASE DATE:
October 22, 2001
ESRB RATING:
Everyone
IN THE SERIES
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation

Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception

Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War

More in this Series
 Written by John Scalzo  on January 04, 2002

Full Review: The Flying Ace gets ready for battle...


Ace Combat 4 is just one of those games. After playing it once, you keep going back for more again and again. I can't even really explain why, because flight sims are not my type of game. I much prefer the frantic action of Star Fox to the more slower pace of Ace Combat and Microsoft's Flight Simulator series. But every time I pick up the controller, no matter how many times I get blown up, I keep playing.

Maybe it's the anime influenced story that unfolds like a comic book between missions. Although you don't learn anything about your character, a faceless grunt that goes by the call sign Mobius 1, you do learn a lot about a small boy in one of the occupied towns of the war. You see through his eyes the story of a modern-day Red Baron known as Yellow Thirteen. And you see how the stories will eventually come together. These story scenes also feature a good narrator and a tremendous musical score.

But these shorts little vignettes between missions aren't what make me come back for more. It could be the variety of missions themselves. The missions can be as simple as basic intercept missions with other squads. Or they can get down and dirty and include bombing runs on a naval fleet, taking out radar towers, or guarding a transport. It could have something to do with the detailed terrain you fly these missions over. From the way the water shimmers in the moonlight on mission 3 to the sprawling industrial city in mission 6, the details are there. The details are in the planes as well. Each plane not only has it's own look, but it's own style in how it handles.

Or maybe it's the little details that were put into the game. I've already mentioned the graphical detail used in the planes and the terrain, but the sound stands out as well. The thrust of the planes is different for each one. Missiles explode with force. Machine gun fire litters the sky. And the other pilots in your squad are in constant radio contact. If a bogey is on your tale, one of your squad members will let you know. If one of your team members is in trouble, HQ will let you know. The enemy will taunt you as they try to make you just one more notch on their belt. You want that rousing orchestral score as your planes fly slowly out to the combat zone? Ace Combat 4 has got you covered. I love the sound of Ace Combat 4. Combined with how great the sound was in the story scenes it's just as near perfection as you can get.

Simulation games require pitch perfect control to be effective. And for the most part, Ace Combat 4 delivers. Maneuvering your plane is (Cliche Alert!) both easy to learn and hard to master. And if the simulation controls are too difficult, there is an "Easy" control setting that allows everyone in on the fun. The only problem with the control is the use of the analog feature when you're trying to speed up. Like a lot of games that use the analog speed feature, you have to slam that button all the way down into the controller to get any real sense of speed.

Bottom Line
Ace Combat 4 is a great game, there's no question about that. But the game is bogged down a little by the slow pace most simulation games are supposed to have. If you're a fan of the genre, this is the game to get. For everyone else, this is still a good game that is very worth your time.


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