Friday, September 15, 2000

Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies review | 9.5

The photo realism must be seen first hand to be believed, screen shots and movie clips found around the net cannot describe half the beauty that this game is. The graphics, consistent frame rate, and responsive controls successfully creates an immersive environment of flight. There are times where I would ignore the mission objectives and fly at incredible speeds, low to the ground, amongst snow-capped mountains. One word: Bliss.

The gameplay sits somewhere between simulation and arcade. Personally it's a perfect balance. I find simulations (Jane series on PC for example) too steep of a learning curve. The massive amounts of micro-management required to fly a plane is a bit daunting, if anything, definately not 'fun'. On the other end of the spectrum, arcade fliers are too simplified with unrealistic physics, dumbed down controls, and gameplay mechanics that offers nothing but a mindless blast-a-thon. Shattered Skies is not a shoot-em-up. It offers an incredible sense of flight with controls that anyone can pick up after little practice.

Only drawback...18 missions seems awfully short. But short games seem to be the trend with these next-gen console games . The missions, however are varied enough, and since you can revisit them with any of the 21 air crafts (each with a distinct style of flight), the replay value can be arguably good.

Bottom line - finally, PS2 games are starting to show off the system's capabilities. AC4: Shattered Skies is no exeption, even the controls take excellent advantage of the analogue buttons. Dog fighting, bombing missions, avoiding anti-aircraft gun fire, shaking off missle locks, etc. etc. etc. everything you'd expect and want in a title like this, you will find. And all of this is presented in a style that is polished and, for a lack of a better term, very slick. If anything, for the genre of the game, it is Fun. Blissful and Gleeful in immersive flight.

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