PlayStation Gamer REVIEW

ACE COMBAT 2

Publisher:
Developer:
Type:
Namco
In-house
3D Flight Sim
Reviewed by:
Version tested:
Date posted:
Blaine Pynkala
NTSC - US
08/15/97

Ace Combat 2 - screenshot PSX pilots have waited a long time for a game that provides the thrills and excitement of an authentic flight sim. Finally, that wait is over. Namco's Ace Combat 2 is the perfect blend between a realistic flight sim and an arcade action game. The end result is a game that can be summed up in one word - "Fantastic".

The flight modeling for the aircraft in Ace Combat 2 conveys a sense of accuracy. You can experience the thrill of pulling sustained Gs and perform a number of classic flight maneuvers. The planes tend to stall quite a bit therefore maintaining the proper speed, or energy management, is essential.

An invaluable 360 degree air/ground radar screen makes life a little easier for you. The radar will help keep you on course to your objective, show threats and help identify targets. After a target is designated, you should direct your attention to the critical information projected on the Head-Up Display (HUD).

Namco has paid exceptional attention to detail by creating a HUD that is surprisingly realistic. The HUD is one of the best you'll ever have the pleasure of using in a flight sim. It is in fact, better than HUDs modeled in a number of popular PC flight sims.

Ace Combat 2 - screenshot The HUD contains the standard data such as speed, altitude and direction. But, there are a number of other features which deserve mentioning. First is the Target Designator box (TD). This box appears around the selected bogey. You must maneuver your aircraft so the TD is inside the large Aiming Reticle on the center of your HUD. A Target Aspect Angle caret (just like in real fighter aircraft) appears on the outside of the Aiming Reticle. The caret keeps track of the bogeys flight direction. This helps you judge the targets direction so you can place the TD inside the Aiming Reticle. When you're within range a diamond appears in the TD, the box turns red and you get a missile lock tone.

Now, you can fire a pair of missiles and knock that bogey out of the sky. Well......almost. If the bogey is heading directly away from you he's dead. But, if the bogey is cutting across your front you'll learn rather quickly about the advantages of Lead Pursuit.

If you're a macho Top Gun kinda pilot you'll want to use just your gun to bring down the bogey. Now this is where the game really shines. You'll be hard pressed to find more exciting and challenging action than dogfighting with just your gun. The HUD has a realistic target pipper with a range indicator for the gun. The target pipper reacts to your aircraft's movement and floats around the HUD to show exactly where your bullets will go. Lining up the bogey with the target pipper is a real challenge and requires some skill.

Situational Awareness (SA) is the #1 ingredient that makes a flight sim credible. SA is fighter pilot lingo for knowing what is going on all around you. The SA in Ace Combat 2 is outstanding. You have a feeling for speed, altitude, distance to objects and the location of friends and foes.

If a lot of the above sounds like mumbo jumbo then you have a pretty good idea just how much realism was included in this game. If you're a Rookie pilot, fear not, you can comfortably customize the game to your skill level via numerous options.

Ace Combat 2 - screenshot There are over 30 exciting missions including the hidden missions. The missions include a wide variety of objectives such as eliminating air, land or sea targets. Some missions require you to fly down canyons while dodging anti-aircraft fire on the way to the objective. You begin the missions airborne but there are a few (easy) carrier landings. There's even a wingman or wingwoman available on a number of missions. You can assign them specific tasks such as covering your tail or to attack air/ground targets. The artificial intelligence of the enemy is remarkable and provides a real challenge.

The mission Briefings are very detailed explaining exactly what is expected. Following the mission there's a replay of your last action and then a thorough Debriefing. As you progress through the missions you earn cash, promotions, medals and new planes. Destroy hidden targets and additional missions are awarded. There are time limits which are enforced by running out of fuel.

You begin with 2 mediocre fighters. By the time you're half way through the game you'll have over a dozen planes at your disposal. You buy new aircraft with the cash you won in previous missions. If you're strapped for cash and can't afford that A-10 Warthog you had your eye on, you can sell one of the planes in your inventory to raise the extra bucks. Each aircraft has its own strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, you must carefully select the appropriate plane to complete the mission objective. Incorrectly selecting a fast fighter to attack ground targets might end in a failed mission.

Your weapons include a healthy supply of short range missiles (SRM) and unlimited ammo for the gun. The SRMs require you to get in close to your target. This becomes hazardous because your target isn't going to sit there waiting to be destroyed. You'll be taking evasive action to dodge incoming missiles, anti-aircraft fire or those nasty tail guns on bombers. The action is so convincing you'll be turning and ducking in your seat.

The game supports analog controllers including the neGcon. Sony's dual analog joystick provides a truly remarkable gaming experience. You have the throttle in one hand and the flight stick in the other just like in the real thing.

The smooth as silk graphics are beautifully rendered with a high amount of detail. Objects on the ground such as buildings and radar sites are incredible and can be easily identified. Added touches include: smoke trails off your missiles, fiery explosions with a shower of debris, and flying through clouds and smoke. Simply a gorgeous game.

The sound is equally spectacular with the sound of your engine, missile launches, gun firing, radar lock-on tone, and terrific verbal cues to help you survive and accomplish your mission.

The replay value of Ace Combat 2 is high.

Bottom Line: Palm sweating in your face explosive action that will please both Rookie and Veteran flight sim pilots. Some of the most exciting and realistic dogfighting you'll ever experience in a PSX game. Ace Combat 2 contains the right mix of realism and arcade action to equal absolutely outstanding fun. A salute and congratulations to Namco for a job well done. A MUST BUY!


                  Street Price:  $49.99
                      Password:  No
                   Memory Card:  1 Block
                      Supports:  Analog Controller Compatible
                      Graphics:  95
                         Sound:  95
                    Soundtrack:  80
                Learning Curve:  Moderate
                    Difficulty:  Easy to Hard
            Controller Options:  Numerous
                                 Button Configuration Option
                        Manual:  Good
                  Replay Value:  High

FINAL SCORE: 98


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