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"Out of all of the games that I regularly play, Ace Combat games are the most consistent for moments that have made me feel so thrilled with gaming that hairs stand up on the back of my neck that I'm so goddamn excited to be playing it."
John Bain (TotalBiscuit)[1]

Ace Combat[a] (often stylized as ACE COMBAT) is an arcade flight action video game franchise developed and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment since 1995. The franchise typically features accurate real-life military aircraft in addition to unique fictional designs. The Ace Combat games are characterized by dramatic stories, fast-paced gameplay, and grandiose soundtracks.

Ace Combat is recognized as one of the most successful and longest-running arcade flight franchises in the video game industry. As of 2020, the franchise sold over 16 million total copies across all games and regions.[2][3] The newest major game in the franchise is Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, released in January 2019 on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam.

Gameplay

Most Ace Combat games follow the same general gameplay format. Players are tasked with a consecutive series of missions. These missions start with briefing cutscenes that outline the main objectives and the enemy forces the player will face. After the briefing, the player can select one of their owned aircraft or purchase a new one, as well as a secondary weapon in addition to standard missiles.

Ace Combat mission objectives, enemy types, and friendly supporting units greatly vary across the franchise. Players will sometimes shoot down a squadron of enemy bombers, destroy ground installations, face off against ace squadrons, or battle a massive superweapon. Gameplay remains the same throughout; the player controls their aircraft in a 360° field in the sky with freedom to fly anywhere within the mission boundaries. Missiles must lock on to an enemy target to be guided, but players can also use an assortment of non-guided weapons such as machine guns or rockets.

Some missions also feature a Mission Update, where the objectives and enemy types change halfway through. Once all objectives are cleared, most games follow to a debriefing screen that summarizes the player's performance in the mission. Some games also feature a Replay Mode that presents the player's flight in various cinematic viewpoints. Players are also treated to additional story cutscenes during and between missions to provide context to current and past events affecting the conflict.

Games

Numbered Series

The "Numbered Series" is the main series of Ace Combat games.[4][5] These games feature a number in the title and all take place within the Strangereal universe.

Title Platform Year Sales Metacritic
Air Combat PlayStation 1995 2,230,000[6] N/A
Ace Combat 2 PlayStation 1997 1,092,000[6] 83[7]
Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere PlayStation 1999 (JP)
2000 (EN)
1,164,000[6] N/A
Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies PlayStation 2 2001 2,640,000[6] 89[8]
Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War PlayStation 2 2004 1,802,000[6] 84[9]
Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War PlayStation 2 2006 792,000[6] 75[10]
Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation Xbox 360 2007 700,000[11] 80[12]
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Steam
2019 >2,000,000[3] 80[13]
79[14]
78[15]

Secondary Games

The "Secondary Games" are handheld Ace Combat games that take place within the Strangereal universe.

Title Platform Year Sales Metacritic
Ace Combat Advance Game Boy Advance 2005 100,000[6] 56[16]
Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception PSP 2006 476,000[6] 75[17]
Ace Combat Xi: Skies of Incursion iOS 2009 N/A 61[18]
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy Nintendo 3DS 2011
2015 (+)
N/A 71[19]
63[20]
Ace Combat: Northern Wings Mobile phones 2011 N/A N/A

Spin-Off Games

The "Spin-Off Games" are Ace Combat games that do not take place within the Strangereal universe.

Title Platform Year Sales Metacritic
Ace Combat: Joint Assault PSP 2010 N/A 71[21]
Ace Combat Assault Horizon: Trigger Finger iOS 2010 N/A N/A
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon PS3 / X360
GFWL / Steam
2011
2013
>1,070,000[11]
N/A
77[22] / 78[23]
77[24]
Ace Combat Infinity PlayStation 3 2014 [note 1] 54[25]

Other Games

All games in this list were also developed by Bandai Namco and feature some ties to Ace Combat, but are not officially considered to be in the Ace Combat franchise.

Title Platform Year
Air Combat Namco System 21 1992
Air Combat 22 Namco System 22 1995
The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces Nintendo Wii 2008
AR Aircraft Hanger iOS 2012
Mach Storm Namco System ES3 2013

Unreleased

All games in this list were also developed by Bandai Namco and feature at least some ties to Ace Combat, but were never released.

Footnotes

  1. Ace Combat (エースコンバット Ēsu Konbatto)
  1. Over 3 million PSN accounts downloaded Ace Combat Infinity for free, regardless of playtime or amount of money spent.

References

  1. ► WTF Is... - Ace Combat Assault Horizon ?. TotalBiscuit, The Cynical Brit on YouTube. Published February 17, 2013. Retrieved December 1, 2014.
  2. https://www.dualshockers.com/ace-combat-7-gets-new-site/
  3. 3.0 3.1 Project Aces [@PROJECT_ACES] (30 June 2020). https://twitter.com/PROJECT_ACES/status/1277814115667456000. Twitter.
  4. https://wccftech.com/ace-combat-7-hands-on-interview/
  5. https://www.dualshockers.com/ace-combat-7-preview-among-clouds-virtual-reality/
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 『エースコンバット』シリーズ全世界累計1,000万本突破!. Retrieved on April 14, 2015.
  7. https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation/ace-combat-2
  8. https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-2/ace-combat-04-shattered-skies
  9. https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-2/ace-combat-5-the-unsung-war
  10. https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-2/ace-combat-zero-the-belkan-war
  11. 11.0 11.1 Dark Souls sells 1.19 million. GameSpot. Published May 8, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2014.
  12. https://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-360/ace-combat-6-fires-of-liberation
  13. https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-4/ace-combat-7-skies-unknown
  14. https://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-one/ace-combat-7-skies-unknown
  15. https://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/ace-combat-7-skies-unknown
  16. https://www.metacritic.com/game/game-boy-advance/ace-combat-advance
  17. https://www.metacritic.com/game/psp/ace-combat-x-skies-of-deception
  18. https://www.metacritic.com/game/ios/ace-combat-xi-skies-of-incursion
  19. https://www.metacritic.com/game/3ds/ace-combat-assault-horizon-legacy
  20. https://www.metacritic.com/game/3ds/ace-combat-assault-horizon-legacy+
  21. https://www.metacritic.com/game/psp/ace-combat-joint-assault
  22. https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-3/ace-combat-assault-horizon
  23. https://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-360/ace-combat-assault-horizon
  24. https://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/ace-combat-assault-horizon-enhanced-edition
  25. https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-3/ace-combat-infinity
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