Jim aka Goose
Thanks to my disappointment in previous iterations of co-op-less Ace Combat titles, my trepidation before purchasing Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation was to be expected. There was something about this game’s marketing that just couldn’t hold my attention long enough to warrant a purchase. Perhaps a demo in the Live Marketplace would have pushed me over the edge. Christmas 2008 saw Ace Combat 6 receive the Platinum Hits honor, which included a price drop to $29.99…and my excuses had run out.
Nick was inspired to dig his dust-covered copy out of the closet for a co-op mission, and at first we were dismayed to find the choices limited to four scenarios (two in the box, and two downloadable). Nonetheless, we fired up the first mission, and found that not only is this mode suited to four co-op players, but there is some strategy involved, as there are literally hundreds of target opportunities on all three: land, air, and sea.
We tried the mission three times. For the first play-through we flew as air superiority jets, and while we were able to cope with helicopters and enemy aces…the ground targets pretty much ate us alive. So we swapped to heavier, slower planes that featured an air-to-ground rocket barrage as the special weapon. Their forward machine guns also held a higher rate of fire, so SAAM stations and tanks had no chance of survival. We turned out to be a smorgasbord for enemy fighter jets, however. The beeping of the missile lock became a ringing in my ears, with the only hope for escape to being a high-G turn. Pulling both triggers will open the flaps and the afterburner simultaneously, allowing for this maneuver. The controller configuration feels very natural to me: most of flight combat is flight, so it seems like a perfect fit for the triggers to be mapped as analog throttle controls.
After some failures, co-op strategy kicked in. Nick chose to stay with the ground-attack plane, and I reverted back to the air superiority fighter. I was able to take down jets and helicopters that were harassing Nick (he was my decoy), and Nick’s strafing runs with the rockets and heavier machine gun cleared away the SAAM turrets and missile boats that would have been extremely distracting to me as I curled clouds in aerial dogfights.
If you like this kind of combat, Ace Combat 6 is a steal at the current $30 price. Unfortunately, my sense of duty dictates that I rate this game harsher due to the limited co-op levels, but for hours upon hours of cooperative fun online, Ace Combat 6 is a game that many other games do not live up to. I’m hoping that next month’s H.A.W.X. builds on the premise of this game.
The great flying fortress of SHIELD...err..whatever.
Nick aka Iceman