“You don’t have time to think up there, if you think, you’re dead” (Maverick, Top Gun, 1986)
There have been numerous “Top Gun” games released on several platforms ranging from the ZX Spectrum right through to the PlayStation 3. So why in 26 years have none of them managed to induce the adrenaline fuelled rush you would expect to get from a high octane ‘dog fighting’ game?
The answer is really simple, Team Aces. Take a look for yourself;
Team Aces knows what it takes to make you feel like an ace fighter pilot and their newest edition in the series,’Ace Combat: Assault Horizon’, succeeds in its delivery of adrenaline like an F-18 successfully delivers a missile to an enemy aircraft. Ace Combat is like one of the many missiles in the game, it is fast, direct and when it hits, you are over run with euphoric emotions beyond that of any game you will have played in the last five years.
Using the new dog fighting mode (aptly named ‘DFM’, it is activated by pressing L2 and R2 together once a green circle is over your target) you will lock on to your target, essentially turning your experience into a ‘on-rails shooter’. As you attempt to line the enemy fighter in your missile reticule you hear ‘Missile’, ‘Missile, Missile’ come over the computer, Each word representing one missile rather than a worried repetition of impending danger, You are seconds away from both a complete lock on the target and destruction of your craft. What do you do? Well as Maverick said, thinking here would be dangerous.
You have 25 different Aeroplanes at your disposal with a selection of them being available during different missions. If flying fighter jets isn’t enough you will also be put in charge of 3 different Helicopters, 2 bombers and 1 gunship. If somehow 31 aircraft just aren’t enough for your mission there are a further 9 available via DLC. Each Aircraft has a varying arrange of weapons available including ‘Air to Air missiles, Air to Ground Missiles (Often fired in multiples) and ‘Guided Penetration Bombs’.
So there are lots of aircraft to play with and lots of exciting times to be had but what holds this together and stops it from becoming an arcade game where each level is harder than the rest? Well it has variation, lots of variation. For the best part you will be chasing down enemy planes whilst protecting buildings or ground troops. You could be flying a bomber through a valley of radars whilst avoiding their ‘cone of vision’ or manning a mounted gun on a helicopter.
For those wondering about the story it is present in all of its typical, trouble with rogue agents and the Russians, form. Although it is because of the story that the last 3 missions end on such a high note, particularly when flying over Miami and Washington DC.
I don’t think I can say enough to convince you that this game is worth your time. I will admit this was my first taste of Ace Combat and it tasted good. So much I can’t wait to take another bite.