Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere Review
Namco takes flight again with their latest title in the Ace Combat series. The Air/Ace Combat series is Namco's most dominant force out of all the Playstation flight titles. The first Ace Combat which was actually titled Air Combat, was one of the first titles that showed the public what the PS could do and then it was followed up with Ace Combat 2. This was Namco's climax, Ace Combat 2 challenged the Playstation in many ways, much like the first, AC2 also featured mission driven action and excellent graphics. The Ace Combat series was clearly being recognized in the gaming industry and Namco had decided that they will release another follow up to the AC series, entitled Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere. Though the bad news was that Namco never announced the game for the US, and Japan wound up receiving the game during the Summer of '99. Personally, I was anxious to try out AC3, and I knew that since it was a Namco product it had to be stellar. Now that AC3 has arrived here in the US after about 7-8 months see if AC's legacy continues.
Oh my God, is this a Dreamcast or Playstation? These graphics are absolutely gorgeous, the aircrafts have so much detail packed into them that it's unbelievable. Each plane is super solid and extremely super smooth, the PS has never seen these visuals before. The only thing that keeps AC3's visuals from perfection, is that when crashing into the water you see no splash, instead you just land on it as if it was asphalt. Speaking of the water, when you shoot it you can see the line of splashes from the bullets and you hear the sound as well. Air streaks are also something that are visible in AC3, when traveling at incredible speed you will see the air streaks swoosh from the tale of your plane. The real beef is the game's enormously detailed and explorable areas. You can literally fly anywhere you want, fly as far as you want to, as high as you want to, or as low as you want to (be careful don't crash). The explosions not only sound great but they also look great, the sheer detail is with no doubt some of the best ever seen on the PS. Finally, the FMV that was put together in AC3, this is a Namco title so what kind of quality do you expect, perfect compression and great looking textures.
You want to know abut the gameplay? The gameplay is exceptionally good, some people may claim that the game isn't very challenging but that isn't always true. First of all you are timed through your missions, so you have destroy everything before time runs out. But if you don't, the mission is over and you progress to another mission, although that doesn't count as a win. You have over 20 flyable aircrafts, 36 stages to fly them through and 14 weapons to suit them. Now what I enjoy a lot about AC3 is that if you have a Dual Shock Analog controller, you can maneuver the camera as you fly around the stage. Using the right stick will allow you to move the camera so that it focuses on another part of the aircraft. There are many cool features in AC3, one of them is an autopilot feature. By holding Select you can set your aircraft to be auto-piloted. If any one of you had ever played good jet fighter games for the PC, you know that there are mission briefings and charts that show you where you must go. That is a lot like AC3, before starting a mission a little a small pointer will show you where to go and what to do. I find that an incredibly useful feature, especially if you have never played an AC title.
The US version is slightly less story driven than the Japanese version, but there still is a story. It goes like this: Two companies are bitter rivals, both of them are trying to improve the economy, but they can't because they always get in each other's ways. So they decided to fight (or something close to that), and you have to get in the middle of everything and prevent the battle.
Now I come across the game's first person real-time perspective. When in the cockpit view, you can use the right analog stick to move your pilot's head all over the place in a full 360 degree rotation. There is so much more to be said about AC3 but I need these fingers for other articles, besides I have already covered the most important things. Truly inspired gameplay makes Ace Combat 3 rise above the rest.
We all love the sound of an aircraft's whistle when it rises into the air, and we all love that sound when an enemy craft goes down. Well you can love it even more, AC3 has awesome sound effects, everything from explosions to to air whistles to the sound that your machine gun makes. The last thing that can be said about the sound is that the games songs are techno and you know me folks I like my techno.
Supporting Dual Shock and NegCon, AC3 is a dream come true to those who have anxiously waited for the day to test their NegCon on an airplane game. I can't remember whether or not AC2 supported the NegCon so I'm assuming that this is a first attempt by Namco. Anyway, handling you aircraft is as easy as you think it is. You can't just press left or right and expect your plane to turn, no! You have to position your plane sideways (90 degree angle), and press down or up depending on which way your going. Since this is an airplane title, then that means the controls are inverted, meaning pressing up makes the plane fly down and vice versa. L2 and R2 help you accomplish the turn much smoother, as they help you turn slightly faster. The Dual Shock is top-notch, you can feel every shot, hit, strike and anything else that makes you shake.
The only missing piece in AC3 is that you can't collide with other planes, no one would want to do that but it is fun to experiment. Mixing near flawless graphics, exciting gameplay and great sound makes it one of the best jet fighting games out there. To all who have never played an Ace Combat title, you should definitely pick this title up, and to those who have played an AC game then it is your privilege to buy Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere.