Video Game Analysis by Vijay Reddy

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February 8, 2012 by vreddy92

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Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation is a fighter pilot simulation game for the Xbox 360 designed by Project Aces and published by Namco Bandai Games. In this game, the player assumes the role of “Talisman”, an ace pilot in the Air Force of the Republic of Emmeria with the callsign Gaurda One. The game opens as Emmeria’s capital of Gracemeria is attacked by the nation of Estovakia, a nation that has been ruined as a result of the Ulysses 1994XF04 Asteroid, an asteroid that has seen prominence in prior Ace Combat games as the driving force of many wars and the creation of many weapons of mass destruction that have been central themes of prior games. The Anean continent, which wasn’t expecting many problems from the Ulysses Asteroid, was shocked when the asteroid split into numerous pieces as it approached Earth and rained upon every nation. Emmeria rebuilt, but Estovakia didn’t, and civil war erupted that resulted in The Generals taking over. The Generals are responsible for the declaration of war on Emmeria.

Damage from the Ulysses 1994XF04 Asteroid in Estovakia


Map of the Anean Continent, with Estovakia and Emmeria in green.

                In this game, you assume the role of Garuda One in the midst of the Estovakian offensive in Emmeria. You are eventually ordered to give up your position and retreat to Khesed Island, where you regroup and start fighting back against Estovakian forces (including the extremely formidable Strigon Team and their leader, Ilya Pasternak), with the goal of eventually recapturing Gracemeria and reclaiming the nation. This rich narrative display is a testament to both the prequels of this game (where the Ulysses asteroid has caused numerous problems on neighboring contninents), and is in many cases a driving force for continuing it. (Spoiler alert: After the liberation of Gracemeria in mission 13, the Emmerians are given a false sense of security, after which the Estovakians deploy their superweapon, a railgun called “Chandelier” that was hoped to be used to combat the pieces of the Ulysses asteroid. While it was not completed in time to rescue Estovakia from the asteroid, it was completed in time for the Anean Continental War.) This game, especially in the context of the series, very well fits into the context of the fake world created by the Ace Combat series, and perfectly takes the real-world issues of war, division, and economic turmoil into account.

 

The “Chandelier” Railgun, the site of the final battle of the Anean Continental War

The story is told both throughout the actual gameplay through radio communications, as well as through cutscenes which portray Gracemeria during and after the attacks, including an Estovakian general named Colonel Voychek and an Emmerian woman named Melissa Herman, showing the impact of the war on the city and driving the plot forward to the end, where these two provide the Garuda Team (“Talisman” and his wingman “Shamrock”) with proper intelligence to win the war. Briefings and cutscenes before each mission also help to further the plot of the game. While you can’t relate to Talisman because he is never seen or heard, you can relate to these characters.

Within the game, you have a choice of multiple aircraft, each of which has the same characteristic automatic gun and missile. However, each aircraft also has a choice between one of several “special weapons”, such as ground charges or multiple-air-to-air missiles. These generally have limited ammo, while the gun has unlimited ammo and the missiles have limited ammo. However, as difficulty goes up, ammo goes down, the gun loses its unlimited ammo, and hits cause more damage. Other than this choice, the game is rather linear. You fly around and kill enemies, but you are constricted by the game producer to the same linear storyline. The most striking example of this is in a mission where you are ordered to retreat, but choose to stay and fight. You are not given the option to retreat, even though your commanding officer repeatedly orders you to. At the same time, when you are ordered to retreat in the first mission (when Gracemeria is given up to the Estovakians), you cannot choose to stay. You must retreat to the rally point to complete the mission. This leaves little freedom for the player, rather than the choice to choose an airplane and special weapon.

This game is very unique, though, because while it can use the standard Xbox 360 controller, it was also introduced in a package deal with a flight stick called Ace Edge, based on the Saitek X45 HOTAS joystick. This can be used in this game and in other fighter games for the Xbox 360, including for the later Ace Combat game, Ace Combat Assault Horizon.

 

Ace Edge Flight Stick

                Other notable things about this game include its amazing musical score, primarily composed by Keiki Kobayashi. What is arguably the best song, “The Liberation of Gracemeria”, can be heard in the trailer. This musical score really does evoke the unique emotional response of being within this war, and is an instrumental part of connecting with the game. A soundtrack was released with all songs from the game. It also has magnificent graphics and artistry, portraying the planes, explosions, and scenery rather well. With regard to genre, it is somewhat a mix of action and process-oriented games, because it is a flight simulator, but it also has a good deal of action (because it is a fighter plane simulator).

My final notes reflect this game’s difference from its prequels, which were all for the PlayStation 2. Due to the perceived difficulties in developing games for the PlayStation 3, it was decided that this game would be exclusively produced for the Xbox 360. This game also differs from its PS2 predecessors in that it includes “allied support”, in which allies that have already completed their missions (with Garuda Team’s help) are available to target other planes as the player commands. Also, it includes checkpoints, so that death does not immediately result in starting the mission over, as was the case in prior games. It is interesting to note the changes as time went on.

Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation is a fantastic game with a great narrative, excellent gameplay (including the possibility to use a flight stick), and a magnificent soundtrack. Although it has rather linear gameplay and leaves little to the player rather than shooting to kill, it really does thrill and makes  you want to play it again and again. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun time. It really is fun for everyone and anyone!

Game Trailer:
Gameplay (Mission 1):

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