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GBA

North America

Ace Combat Advance

by Vincent Anderson - April 5, 2005, 3:35 pm PDT

5

Does Namco's newest aerial shooter deliver the goods, or does it crash before even taking off? Find out in our review of Ace Combat Advance!

"In the year 2032 globalization has blurred the frontiers between countries." This is how the Ace Combat Advance instruction booklet starts. To break it down for you, the story goes like this. One huge multinational corporation has hogged all of the Earth's natural resources and created an Air Strike Force, its own personal sky army. Of course, this upsets those smaller, weaker corporations. So what do they do? That's right, they band together and create their own army: the United Air Defense. As the newest, unnamed pilot in the UAD, it is your job to defend against the ruthless Air Strike Force, at all costs.

The gameplay is rather simple. You choose from a set of airplanes and equip yourself with one type of a variety of different missiles. Then, select your mission, read the briefing, and you're off. Most of the objectives are rather clich├ęd. You either have to destroy a set number of ground targets, or fuel supplies, or you have to defend your home base against an onslaught. This isn't always a bad thing, but Ace Combat Advance just doesn't seem to convey these ideas too well. For instance, while trying to attack a ground target of some sort, you'll get raped from the sky by only two different kinds of enemy aircraft. That's right, expect to see a lot of both red and blue.

Not only are your enemies limited, but so are you. While you do get a good number of airplanes you can choose from, only one or two of them really look any different from each other. The only way to tell the difference between the craft are by their stats. Some are better in the air, some are better on the ground, etc. Surprisingly, this does matter quite a bit in the game. The best planes are at least twice as fast as the few you can control at the beginning of the game, which will help you through all the secondary missions that each level has to offer. The opposite seems to happen to missiles. Unlike the planes, each missile does have a somewhat different look, but they don't seem to be a whole lot different from each other in the game. Sure, there's a slight gap between your most common heat-seeking missile and an advanced precision guided bomb, but not much.

The graphics in Ace Combat Advance are substandard. You'll be flying over the same terrain (whether it be land or sea) for miles on end. This can get quite boring, as often times you'll have to travel long distances to get to your next target, and there usually won't be any planes in the way. If there are, they'll turn tail and run as soon as you point your weapon at them. As mentioned before, you'll also be firing on the same kind of enemies over and over again. The machine gun fire of planes and ships looks rather weak (a straight line of alternating white and black), and sadly, the missiles don't look much better. The only time you might be complimenting the graphics of Ace Combat Advance is at the end of missions, when a small still graphic shows a man giving the peace sign, which looks quite photorealistic.

Just like much of everything in Ace Combat, the controls are simple. The right trigger button is your accelerator, while the left is brake. The A button is used for your generic machine gun, and the B button is used to shoot missiles. Be careful though, some of the faster aircraft will have a harder time slowing down, so it would be wise to pay attention to your radar. Speaking of which, the radar is somewhat useful, if you use it correctly. The radar will tell you where all enemies and allies are at any given time, which is a good thing because otherwise you'll have no clue and crash head-on into another plane. The radar is also helpful in destroying targets. The yellow boxes are secondary ground targets, while the red boxes are your primary targets. If you're good enough, you'll only need the arrow pointing in the direction of the target to destroy it.

If you get too close to the yellow targets, not only will you have to contend with the ground-to-air missiles being launched at you, but you'll have to be wary of any planes in your vicinity. Even on the novice setting, your health can be depleted very quickly. Another little complaint is that when ground missiles are directed toward you, you'll hear a little warning beep. This isn't telling you that you've been hit, it's telling you that a missile is on its way. This wouldn't be a problem if you could hear explosions over the sound of your gun firing, to signal when you've been hit, but you can't. So, the only way to really tell when you've been hit is to keep an eye on the top right corner of your screen, which displays how much damage your aircraft has taken. It can be confusing at first, but in the end you'll learn to get the hang of ducking and dodging missiles.

This game will only last you few for a few hours, if you're lucky. Regardless of the fact that there is no training/tutorial mode and your energy can be easily zapped away, Ace Combat Advance is still a relatively easy game. There were some parts I had to go back through because of dying, but it was a rare occurence. After you've beaten the game once through, all you have left to do is complete the secondary objectives for each level to obtain an "S" ranking. After that you won't find much use for the game, except possibly to play it again on a rainy summer day.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
4 5 6 4.5 3.5 5
Graphics
4

Bland terrains and ugly looking planes. An SNES port of the same game would probably look better, and that's saying quite a bit. Overall, there's just not much to write home about for this one.

Sound
5

Occasionally catchy tunes, but otherwise the music is pretty boring. Decent enough to not want to rip your eyes off, but you'll have to wait a few levels before the best music of the game starts kicking in. After listening to the menu music only a few times, you'll want to kill yourself.

Control
6

Simple and intuitive. I can understand why Namco decided not to include any type of tutorial mode in this game. In just a few minutes you'll be flyin' that jet like it was nobody's business. The only real complaint here is that missiles don't ever seem to go to where you shoot them. They'll either go off on their own for a bit and die out, or they'll hit whatever's in front of you.

Gameplay
4.5

A simplistic flight shooter. This game has its moments, but it can get very tedious very quickly. You'll be shooting what seems to be the same targets over and over again, or you'll be defending those same types of targets. Even expert mode doesn't really make this game much fun past beating it.

Lastability
3.5

After you beat the main missions, all you have to look forward to is the secondary objectives of each mission. Then it's all downhill.

Final
5

An average game overall, with graphics, music, and the gameplay itself backing up this statement. It'll be fun the first time you beat everything. After that though, it might be better used as a coaster.

Summary

Pros
  • Lots of crazy airplane action
  • Simple design and controls
Cons
  • Die easily, even on "Novice"...
  • Lack of real variety of different planes
  • Won't last very long
  • ...yet still rather easy
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Genre Action
Developer Human Soft
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: Ace Combat Advance
Release Feb 23, 2005
PublisherNamco
RatingEveryone
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