Making the Grades
Ace Combat 5 is Namco's latest installment in its air combat video game series. If you have ever wanted to know what it's like to fly a fighter jet and shoot missiles, this game is your ticket in.
Featuring breath-taking graphics and an engaging story line, Ace Combat 5 ranks well on popular video game sites. Your character is Blaze, an elite member of the 108th Tactical Fighter Squadron for the fictional nation of Osea. Yuktobania (who thought this name up yuck!) has attacked and most of your buddies have been killed. It's up to you and a handful of other pilots carry on with the defense of your country.
As your flight team takes to the skies, you control your squadron with wingman commands. The control panel you see in front of you simulates one you would have in a real plane. There are things like a radar screen, a flight speed indicator, and an altimeter. Info onscreen lets you know the positions of your fellow pilots. You also know the location of your enemy so you can "lock on" and blast them out of the sky.
The constant radio chatter keeps you plugged in to what is going on, but is a little corny at times. This is where some profanity creeps in, however it is mild to moderate. The game soundtrack will probably be mostly ignored (you're blowing stuff up who has time for rock 'n roll?) but the rock group A Puddle of Mudd provides a signature song, Blurry that may resonate with some teenagers.
So, how does Ace Combat 5 stack up when viewed through the eyes of a parent? Well, there is the aforementioned profanity. While some gamers may justify this considering the war scenario, others may still feel bad language is simply bad language. Although it is true we don't see any actual people being killed, it is certainly implied. You may be defending your country but you are still shooting and bombing.
Oddly enough however, there is an anti-war slant to this game. Your character is fighting because you have been attacked, not because of the need to conquer and destroy. In the short videos shown between missions, there is a journalist who comments on such things as how he is affected by seeing bodies in the water. Nagase, one of the pilots, comes across more as a pacifist than a warmonger. And unlike some shoot 'em up games, there is no blood in Ace Combat 5. It's just planes and weapons.
For those budget conscious buyers, you get a lot of game content for your money. You can choose from over 50 aircraft to fly the 30 missions in campaign mode and the 16 missions in arcade mode. Potential consumers should note Ace Combat 5 is a single player game although Amazon.com has it listed as 1 - 2 players. Also, it has no online play capability. (If you would like to see samples of the flight simulation, go to www.ign.com, type in Ace Combat 5 and click on some of the videos available for preview.)
War games used to be kids running around the block pointing fingers and yelling, "Bam, I got you!" Video games have taken us away from those simpler times. For some families Ace Combat 5 may be an appealing extension of those neighborhood play times. The computer graphics are amazing and you really feel like you are flying. Other parents may look at this game as a compromise to their values because of the violence, profanity and war context.
Ace Combat 5 has lots of appeal - as well as a lot of weaponry. If this is a concern for your aspiring pilot, you might want to try other flight simulator games.
Doug, 15: "It seems that Namco put good effort in this game. It has good graphics. It is well-thought out."
Conrad, 15: "The videos make the game interesting. The controls were kind of hard to figure out at first though."