Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War
Amidst of the eternal waves of time.
From a change of ripple shall the storm rise
Out of abyss peer the eyes of a demon
Behold the Razgriz, its wings of black sheath
Three years ago Namco produced Shattered Skies which, up until last week, I considered the PS2's paramount game. Perhaps the greatest of this generation until Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War showed up and screwed everything up. Identical to Ace Combat 4 in innumerable ways, AC5 takes everything AC4 did right, pushed the PS2 beyond what most thought visually capable, and expanded upon it in every conceivable way and landed itself the title of my supreme game this generation.
Captain Blaze reporting for duty, sir.
Ready to blow those dirty Yuktobanians right out of the air, sir!
As mission one of Ace Combat 5 commences, the player is immediately thrown into a fictional war between Osea and Yuktobania. Fifteen years prior, the two fought a war against Belka ending in Belka nuking its own cities and destroying themselves. Now, 15 years later in 2010, Yuktobania has launched a surprise attack against Osea and it's your mission as the Sand Island Squadron to protect Osea at all costs. Ace Combat 5 is told from the unique perspective of an Osean cameraman who documents the lives of the Sand Island Squadron. Often cutting to beautiful cutscenes after missions, the vantage point of Genette allows the story to be told gracefully and allows the Sand Island Squadron to remain somewhat opaque, permitting for a much more interesting narrative when true reasons for war gradually come to light. As your squadron takes to the skies, you'll be interacting with both enemy and friend alike. After only a few missions, it's hard to not feel connected with the world--enemies will cower in fear as they refer to you as the demons of Razgriz after stories of your heroic missions are circulated. Later on the story takes a few sharp turns and after the last mission, you'll sit back, exhale, and wonder how the hell things changed so much without any hint of what was to come.
Audio and visual alike, Ace Combat 5 is near perfect. The soundtrack is great and fits the moods of the missions precisely as a backdrop to the constant voice acted dialogue you'll be experiencing. Though constant and engaging, the voice acting is only average and it sometimes gets annoying when members of your squadron talk, considering they rarely have anything worthy to say. The lone female pilot of the group needs to be slapped if she talks about how sad war is and how she wishes there would just be peace one more time. She's the first hippie pilot I've ever encountered, that's for sure. The sound of enemy planes narrowly missing me as they passed by often scared the crap out of me, drowning out any noises that weren't the roaring of an engine.
While in flight, as previously stated, the visuals push the PS2 beyond what has been thought of as the PS2's limits. Only when altitude drops and the ground becomes more visible does the quality drop any. It would be unfair to expect an entire city to be crafted just to fly over, so it's acceptable that the ground isn't all too appealing to look at. Clouds look amazing and missiles have tails of smoke--coupled with the consistent frame rate, they all help add to the appeal.The planes match their lifelike counterparts and look beautiful both in flight and out. I won't even mention the cutscenes, as I'm sure everyone has already been amazed by the media available, and, if not, just check out the attached screen shots.
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