There’s been a real dearth of flying games this generation. There’s a couple of games out there, but if you are a fan of the genre, then you are very limited in your choice. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is looking to satiate those fans who are missing their flying thrills this generation. The upcoming game from Bandai Namco will be familiar to fans of the Ace Combat series. The franchise has been around for 23 years now and still features the modern-style plane combat that gamers are accustomed to.
The demo I played was set in a desert region with both enemies in the air and on the ground. I set about taking the other aircraft first so that I would be left in peace to wipe out their friends on the ground. When you first look at the game, it can be a little intimidating as there are dots, squares, and other signs all over the screen. The game will try to point you in the direction of your nearest foe, but that still requires you to spot it amongst the other clutter on the screen. ‘Clutter’ is a little bit of a harsh term, to be honest as after a few minutes I got the hang of ignoring most of the marks on the screen and was able to focus on the most relevant ones.
Flying is pretty basic to some simplified controls, but I was told that it’s possible to alter the settings and take the ‘stabilisers’ off to have full control of your aircraft. The easier control method though was still sufficient enough to start flying rings (sometimes literally) around my enemies. The other aircraft would dodge rockets from too far away, but once you were in position behind them, they were no match for any AAM (air-to-air missiles). Of course, once you are in that position, you could also choose to chew them up with your onboard anti-aircraft guns.
After taking out the other air-based enemies, it was time to turn my attention to their colleagues on the ground. I strafed numerous trucks and jeeps. I laid waste to various oil and ammo dumps. I then proceeded to take out some of the infrastructures on the ground with my rockets. All of this is nicely handled with appropriate sized explosions, enemies reacting to your presence and trying to fire at you, as well as the satisfying feeling of removing swathes of marks off of your screen.
Visually the game looks solid. It’s difficult to get too carried away with a desert environment, but it had some interest in the form or mountains and rock-forms. The aircraft I was using appeared to have a nice bit of detail, and there were some cool effects like an enhanced heat haze when you put your engines all the way up as well as some nice particle effects to show you breaking the speed of sound. Most importantly though, the demo ran a treat with a super-smooth frame-rate even when a lot was happening on screen as I divebombed some enemies.
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown will be warmly welcomed by fans of flying games. I don’t see it to be the kind of title that will bring lots of new fans to the genre, but if you have a vague interest in the genre, then you absolutely should check it out.