The player takes on the role of a rookie pilot in Martinez Security's Antares Squadron. During a joint training session with the United States Navy and the Japan Self-Defense Force, the squadron are alerted to a massive hostile attack on Tokyo. There they encounter the Valahia, a surprisingly well-funded group of extremists from former Warsaw Pact nations. Antares Squadron and fellow Martinez Security unit Rigel Squadron are able to fend off the initial attack and drive out the Valahia's Spiridus flying airbase. However, the Valahia's leader Nicolae Dumitrescu convinced Rigel Squadron to defect and join him during the second wave of attacks, promising better wages. Despite being left alone, the Antares Squadron managed to drive the Valahia out of Tokyo, shooting down one of the Valahia's Orgoi flying airbases in the process.
In response to the attacks, the global community founded the International Union Peacekeeping Force (IUPF) comprised primarily of PMCs such as Martinez Security. This special task force would pursue and destroy the Valahia. The Antares Squadron led the pursuit, taking out Valahia targets across the Middle East and the Balkans. The squadron would also encounter and fight their former allies, now part of the Varcolac Squadron.
The IUPF eventually tracked the Spiridus to London, and the Antares Squadron shot it down before it could destroy the city. An angered Dumitrescu then announced to the world that he had captured and reactivated a number of former Soviet nuclear silos, aiming to launch nuclear attacks at the United States. After fighting their way through a land-based Balaur railgun and another encounter with the Varcolac Squadron, the Antares Squadron managed to infiltrate the missile silos and destroy their command facilities to prevent their launch. Although Dumitrescu died in the facility's destruction, the squadron learns that this had all been part of a plan instigated by prominent insurance company CEO Andre Olivieri. The Valahia were actually eliminated on Olivieri's orders after they decided to follow their ideology and betray him, removing any opposition to a plan Olivieri called the "Golden Axe." This plan would culminate in a full-scale attack on San Francisco.
Realizing that the rest of the IUPF were also in on this plan, Martinez Security dispatched the Antares Squadron to the western United States to stop Olivieri's plan from succeeding. On the way, they would destroy a number of Orgoi flying airbases as well as another model of the Spiridus before defending San Francisco from a massive ground and naval attack by the Golden Axe Plan Private Army. Antares Squadron also faced the Varcolac Squadron for the last time over San Francisco, finally shooting them down for good. Despite flying new GAF-1 Varcolac superplanes, Antares prevailed before destroying the gates to Olivieri's underground data center.
It is revealed that Olivieri had funded both the Valahia and the IUPF, as well as orchestrating the conflict in which the game's story takes place. The Valahia attacks on global financial centers such as Tokyo and London would vastly expand the market for his insurance policies specifically tailored to damages caused by war or terrorism. After seeing windfall profits, he then sold that business off to another company before plotting the attack on San Francisco as part of his Golden Axe Plan. The crisis this would cause within the insurance industry itself would allow Olivieri to gain a monopoly on the insurance market. Fortunately, the actions of the Antares Squadron exposed these plans to the world.
Ace Combat X2 is the first to feature Ad-Hoc and Infrastructure Gameplay, allowing the player to play a campaign with other players from around the world. It also features 2 'X' operations, SP01 Operation X and SP02, Ace of Aces.
Innovations & Differences
- The storyline is narrated by 'BNN', the Ace Combat version of 'CNN'.
- The cutscenes in the game are a mix between pre-rendered videos, like that of AC 5&6 and still life, like that of AC04 & its predecessor, ACX.
- 43 aircraft, with the exception of the 747-200B, can be tuned, however only certain parts will be available for each aircraft, including the 'tunable' aircraft introduced in Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception. All parts are immediately available (bought) after unlocking and can be sold for cash.
- The Fenrir is included in the game, but it is not the super-fighter of the actual game, which has a new superplane, the GAF-1 Varcolac, which is commented to look like a cross between the XFA-24A Apalis and the MiG-31 Foxhound.
- The player may now customize both their primary and secondary loadouts, though the player must first unlock the other weapons by progressing through the game with their specific aircraft before purchasing them, the more the primary weapon used, the more unlocks for the primary slot; the more the secondary weapon used, the more unlocks for the secondary slot.
- Ace Combat X2 is the first game that lets you choose between using 2 SP weapons or 2 Primary weapons.
- The A6M Zero & F6F-5 Hellcat, both World War II fighter aircraft, can be unlocked by the player.
- You can change your emblem for any of the 120 emblems you may unlock in the game, 10 of the emblems reuses all aces in Ace Combat.
- An aircraft's altitude can affect how fast it goes (unlike from before wherein the plane will go faster when it is closer to the operational ceiling).
- The way the aircraft were grouped in the hangar menu are different from Ace Combat X (by manufacturer/ country using it).
- The parts list has been changed from 5 category (Engine, Wings, Armour, Weapons & Cockpit) into 4 category (Engine, Wings, Armour & Avionics). The weapons such as Extra Ammo/Extra Hardpoints are found under the Wing category.
- The LSWM, from ACX can destroy an area as large as the Puna Plains Air Base from ACX. However,in ACX2, it only destroys the area within its bluish-green cloud, no longer making it a WMD.
- Similar to the Allied Support system employed in Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation, Joint Assault makes use of the Joint Assault Mission System, which breaks the operating forces into teams, and decisions made in one operation can affect the other: for example, the player is in Team A, which is tasked to eliminate a group of helicopters near Team B's path. If the choppers go down, then Team B will proceed to advance into enemy territory, and knock out the AA defenses.
- As aforementioned, Joint Assault marks a radical change due to its setting change: Joint Assault takes place in modern Earth, featuring actual locations, such as San Francisco, Egypt and Midway Island. Midway is the location of Sand Island AFB, the World War II airbase that became of basis for The Unsung War's Sand Island.
- Gameplay does not slow down even though there is more memory inserted in the UMD, unlike ACX.
- You can choose one of 4 operators at the beginning of the game, two male and two female, each with their own voice.
- Ace Combat X2 is the first AC series game to include a tutorial at the start as part of the actual campaign.
- Graphics have been improved from Ace Combat X.
- You can fight up to 6 (2 Spiridus and 4 Orgoi) airborne fortresses from 5 different locations.
- Instead of the Star units and other Aces of ACX, ACX2 makes use of 'Named Units' which are just extra characters.
- The player can pilot a Boeing 747-200B during a specific mission in which you must transport Olivieri through a canyon.
- One mission where there involves a jamming station has the same effect on the radar map as in Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception. However, the target blips can still be seen, unlike in ACX.
- Some songs are brought up from older Ace Combat games (Air Combat, Ace Combat 2, Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere) and others are original.
Features from other Ace Combat Games
- Several blips on the radar are also brought up from Ace Combat Zero and Ace Combat 6, namely the area of the laser's path of Excalibur in Ace Combat Zero and Nimbus Missile impact area in Ace Combat 6.
- Same as Ace Combat Zero and Ace Combat 6, the game includes a retry from checkpoint. The retry saves in the closest phase the player reaches. However, the retry results in all points gained in the past phases being lost-for this reason, it is almost always a better option to retry from the beginning to get more credits rather than retry from checkpoint.
- The flow of money is the slowest in Ace Combat X2 because of the new 'Weapon Cost' and 'Aircraft and Maintenance Cost' feature, which makes the game the hardest in terms of purchasing all aircraft. All weapons and their prices can be found in the VIEW DATA menu. An F-22A in Ace Combat Joint Assault costs about 300000 credits whereas in Ace Combat X, it costs about 51000 credits.
- All aircraft have had a price change from Ace Combat X. Some aircrafts have changes, such as the F-22 Raptor, the ADF-01 FALKEN and the Fenrir.
Ace Combat: X2 features the second largest amount of aircraft despite the limitations of the PSP, having a total of 44 aircraft, surpassing Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception. The game features a large amount of Parts for tuning the aircraft also.
Before each mission, the player can also select the paint scheme for their plane (but not the wingman's). Paint schemes are purely cosmetic and do not cost anything (unlike in Ace Combat 6). Each plane has six paint schemes:
- Standard Color: The standard paint scheme is no longer the Strangereal color but the manufacturers' real life color.
- Special colors (3): The special paint schemes of Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception.
- Ace Combat X2 Special Color: The special paint scheme of the aircrafts in Ace Combat X2.
- Belkan War and Fires of Liberation: Most final paint schemes are colors of Belkan Ace Squadrons and Ace Conbat 6 aces.
Most planes have paint schemes of ace from previous Ace Combat games. Besides the Mobius One color for F-22A, Yellow Squadron for Su-37, Silber Team F-16C, Grabacr's S-32, Huckebein's MiG-21bis (alternatively MiG-21-93 for ACX due to the absence of the bis variant) (Special 2) and AC5's Zipang F-14D (Special 2) in ACX, among a few others, almost every plane's sixth available color is from a respective ace squadron from ACZ which are:
A handful of Ace Combat 6 aces are also included, which are:
- Pegas (F-22)
- Daniel Pollini (F-16)
- Dama (FA-18E)
Other aces include:
- Varcolac Squadron from Joint Assault itself (MiG-1.44 MFI, A-10A Thunderbolt II, MiG-31 Foxhound, Su-37 Terminator and GAF-1 Varcolac)( color # 5 of respective planes)
The mascot aircraft of Ace Combat X2 are: an F-22 Raptor, an SU-37 Terminator, a Rafale M and an F-14D Super Tomcat. The super-fighter introduced in this game is the GAF-1 Varcolac.
- Ace Combat Joint Assault is most likely the predecessor of Assault Horizon and not the successor of Ace Combat X, due to taking place in the real world.
- Technically, this game isn't the first time the Ace Combat series where the real world was the setting. That would go to Air Combat 22.
- The cutscenes and briefings can be seen in Free Mission mode by completing the mission before it takes place.
- If you look closely at the Rafale M in the intro cutscene of Mission 21A/B, you will notice that plane has the paint scheme of Marcela Vasquez (Espada 2). This shows that Ace Combat X2 includes the paint schemes of the AWWNB ace squadrons from Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War.
- The cover art of Ace Combat X2 also has a resemblance to the cover art of Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War.
- The Japanese version includes 'Head First' and another song from Air Combat in the music player, which is played in mission SP01 Operation X.
- One Avionics part: 'ACE's Amulet' has the ability to "magically" repair the aircraft it is placed in. However, it only repairs up to a certain point. The repair section are 1%-38%, 39%-69%, 70%-90%, an 91%-99%.
- Just as Ace Combat Zero is close to the Arthurian Legend, Ace Combat X2 is close to Romanian Mythology.
- Pressing autopilot and the square (□) allows the player to lock their view onto a wingman/special ally that he has to protect .
- Ace Combat X2 is the first to include a superweapon in the earliest stages of the game:
- Mission 'Bird Hunt' of Ace Combat X2 features the Spiridus (mission 2).
- Mission 'Rendezvous' of Ace Combat 5 features the Scinfaxi (mission 5).
- Mission 'Deep Strike' of Ace Combat 04 features the Stonehenge (mission 7).
- Oddly, the bosses of the game somehow fly like computer controlled drones:
- Orgoi can move sideways, a maneuver that only it can do. Spiridus can do the Cobra Maneuver and stay at a 90 degree incline at the same spot, making it the largest Airborne Fortress to still be maneuverable.
- Milosz Sulejmani and the aces from mission SP02 can do the same maneuvers as the Spiridus and can also make moves done by the Alect Squadron in the Fenrir from Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception (such as stop in mid-air and move in a different direction).
- Mission SP02 is unlocked by completing all single-player missions on Ace Mode (including SP01)
- Ace Mode is unlocked by completing all single-player missions except missions SP01 & SP02.
- Mission SP01 is unlocked by completing all single-player missions on Hard mode.
- In the 2nd Battle of Tokyo, the Orgoi and the Viggens protecting it seem to resemble Operation Valkyrie of Ace Combat Zero.
- Ace Combat Joint Assault is the first game that lets you choose an Operator in missions.
- Ace Combat X2 has almost all of the super-fighters from the series up to that point (except the AC3 planes, ADFX-01/02 Morgan and the CFA-44 Nosferatu).
- In Mission 19, DESERT GUST - The "Large Missile" Fired by Black Bear, Lazy Bear, and Dog Bear, is Apparently a TOMAHAWK MISSILE.
- The background music for the post-battle display resembles the theme from Super Mario Galaxy in some respects.
Joint Assault features the first Ad-hoc and Infrastructure campaign gameplay in the entire series. There are still the same multiplayer features as in Ace Combat X.
- Tokyo: Battles in this city take place on the second and fifth missions of the game, also the first attack made by the Orgoi and Spiridus which are run by the Valahia. Antares squadron is deployed in a joint assault mission to defend Japan's capital when an attack from the Valahia changes their objectives and are ordered to attack the Orgoi.
- Izu Islands & Boso Peninsula: Battles to protect the JSDF take place here.
- Midway Atoll: After World War II, the airbase was supposed to be abandoned. Joint Assault changes that. The atoll was used as a training ground for Martinez Security M42 Squadron, the Seventh Fleet & SDF. It is also the battle ground in mission 18, when 3 Orgois attempt to destroy M42 squadron and Canopus.
- Middle East: One battle takes place near some of the most popular pyramids in Egypt to force the Spiridus from resupplying at the Valahia base located near the Nile River while Two battles takes place in the Dubai.
- San Francisco: Battles take place near the Golden Gate Bridge, to defend San Francisco from the attacks from the Golden Axe Plan. It is also the place where the Antares Squadron dogfights against the Varcolac Squadron with their GAF-1 Varcolac superplanes for the last time. Then Antares Squadron are ordered to destroy the underground Data Center of the Olivieri Life Insurance (and also have the chance to kill Olivieri himself with any weapon the player carries).
- United Kingdom: Battles takes place in London where Spiridus is battled for the second time.
- Romania: This area features fighting the Valahia`s superweapon the Balaur and the weather station-disguised radar sites in the Serbian Mountains.
- Turkmenistan: This is the area where you destroy the Valahia's main H.Q.
- Turkey: This the area where you destroy a jamming station and later on, fly Andre Olivieri in a canyon in a 747.