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"There's no such thing as a foolproof plan. ... Ain't that right?"
Albert Genette[3]

Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception[a] is the seventh Ace Combat game and the first PlayStation Portable game in the franchise. It was released worldwide in 2006.

Taking place in 2020 on the South Osean continent, Ace Combat X depicts the Aurelian War, a conflict between the player's homeland of Aurelia and the invading nation of Leasath. While the protagonist, callsign Gryphus 1, works to repel the invaders, the cutscenes follow journalist Albert Genette as he unravels a dark conspiracy behind the war.

Ace Combat X introduced several new mechanics such as the Multi-Purpose Gauge for displaying mission objectives and the ability to tune aircraft using unlockable parts; the latter feature is now nearly-ubiquitous in the Ace Combat franchise. Ace Combat X also expanded on the ability in some prior games to choose alternate missions, allowing players to choose which missions they want to complete next or skip some missions entirely. These decisions change which enemies the player will face and the objectives of certain missions.

Ace Combat X, like all other PSP games, could be converted to digital format in Japan for the PS Vita. As of 2016, this was no longer available. Players who already owned the digital version of Ace Combat X could still re-download it, but new players will not be able to acquire it.

Portal

Plot

Combatants

Synopsis

The Federal Republic of Aurelia is a peaceful and wealthy nation located on the southern edge of the South Osean continent. Its mild climate and vast underground resources have kept Aurelia out of war and conflicts for many decades. Contrary to Aurelia's prosperity, its northeastern neighbor, the Democratic Republic of Leasath, was embroiled in a long civil war for many years, until the war came to an end one year before the events of the game.

Under the command of General Diego Gaspar Navarro, Leasath invades Aurelia, claiming the war as retaliation for Aurelia's supposed involvement in promoting the civil war in Leasath. Aurelia, unprepared for the invasion, was almost entirely taken over in under ten days due to the power of Leasath's advanced superweapon, the cloaked airborne fortress Gleipnir.

Reduced to a single operating air base, Aubrey Air Force Base, the remnants of the Aurelian military band together to strike back at the invading Leasath forces. At the forefront of this crusade is the last of the Aurelian Air Force, led by ace pilot Gryphus 1 who, as one of the last survivors of the Gryphus Squadron, bears the mark of the Southern Cross. As Aurelia's last hope, Gryphus 1 must liberate his country from the Leasath occupation forces.

The cutscenes follow Albert Genette, a returning character and investigative journalist from Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War. While writing a story about the war, he uncovers concerning evidence that points to the war being orchestrated by Navarro in order to amass a fortune through arms dealing and to develop an ultimate weapon.

Characters

  • Gryphus 1 is the silent protagonist and main character of the game. The leader of the Gryphus Squadron, he leads the Aurelian military to victory after surviving an attack by the Gleipnir.
  • Eugene Solano, callsign Crux, is the Gryphus Squadron's radio operator. A rookie who grows more experienced as the war progresses, he holds great respect for Gryphus 1.
  • Diego Gaspar Navarro is the leader of the Leasath military, and is later revealed to be the puppet master of the war.
  • Albert Genette serves as the game's narrator. He originally wished to finish the cover story on the war as quickly as possible, but he decides to remain in Aurelia after uncovering conspiracies behind the scenes.

Gameplay

Ace Combat X overall plays very similarly to Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, utilizing similar flight mechanics. Unlike Ace Combat 04's point-based missions, however, Ace Combat X focuses more on target destruction missions.

Players gain money by destroying enemies with points being converted directly into credits. Once the mission objectives are complete, the player is awarded bonus credits for performing above and beyond the requirements of the mission objectives. With special missions that require landing or refueling in mid-air, bonus credits can be earned by completing said tasks quickly and accurately.

After meeting certain game conditions, the player can choose 4 different paint schemes for each unlockable aircraft. Certain planes may be "tuned" for improved performance by unlocking and purchasing parts in Campaign Mode, examples of which include thrust-vectoring nozzles, advanced canards and higher-powered engines.

The HUD is almost the same as the other Ace Combat games, except the player is allowed a visual of the target on the upper-left of the screen, and a Multi-Purpose Gauge on the upper-right. Medals are awarded by completing various objectives in Campaign Mode and Multiplayer.

Campaign

The main focus of the game overall is its non-linear campaign. It features three distinct 'arcs' of the story focusing on capturing or reaching a strategic location, with the player's path to said objective being up for them to decide. The player's choices affect the conditions they must undergo during missions - for example, failing to destroy a jamming station before proceeding to the final objective will result in the player having to play the final mission of the arc while having their radar jammed. Additionally, the final mission of the arc varies depending on certain conditions that have been fulfilled or unfulfilled, leading to largely different experiences on each playthrough. The longest campaign a player can undertake requires the completion of all seventeen available missions, while the shortest amounts to a total of ten missions.

Most of the missions in the game are laid out as simply "search-and-destroy", where the player must engage a target and destroy it within a time limit; the only variations to this layout depend on whether the targets are air-to-air or air-to-ground. The variety of mission-altering factors include but are not limited to:

  • Escort (where the player must protect an ally from destruction by the enemy)
  • Air Restrictive (where the player must remain below a certain altitude/speed)
  • Jamming (where the player's radar and lock-on will be hindered or disabled)
  • Assault on Base (where the player must attack/destroy an enemy stronghold)
  • Airborne Fortress (where the mission involves attacking or being attacked by the Gleipnir; found exclusively in Rolling Thunder, The Midnight Sun, and Standoff in the Skies I and II)

Two or more of these factors may be combined during certain missions.

Difficulty

There are four levels of difficulty: Easy, Normal, Hard, and the unlockable Ace level. The difficulty mode affects both enemy AI and how much damage the player's aircraft can take. On the Ace difficulty level, a single missile from the enemy will deal approximately 95% damage to a standard-defense fighter (if not destroy it immediately), whereas on the easiest level it would deal about 20%.

List of recycled elements from the PS2 games

The game has a notable amount of elements recycled from Ace Combat 04, 5, and Zero, likely as a cost-saving effort and due to the PSP's less powerful capabilities compared to a home console.

  • Various player and NPC models were brought in the game from AC5 and Zero.
  • The hangar from AC04 is exactly the same. The lights are all still 2-D sprites, though the music is different. The way stats are measured is also carried over.
  • The physics of the game were carried over and modified, instead of utilizing AC5's updated flight model. The planes now lock onto other planes at 920 ft away.
  • The Head-up display is nearly the same, though it received a few upgrades.
  • The sound effect when hitting a target with the machine gun is the same from AC04.
  • Some of the enemy and friendly voice clips are reused from AC5.

Multiplayer

Ace Combat X has an ad-hoc multiplayer mode that features competitive modes but no CO-OP missions to play. However, teams can be formed in most game modes. A maximum of four players can play in one lobby at any time but any open slots for missing players can be replaced with computer controlled aircraft, which the host can choose their side (Red or Blue) for the game as well as their skill level (Rookie, Normal, Veteran, Ace). In addition, there can be up to four CPUs that don't take up a player slot, for a total of a max possible roster of four players and four CPUs.

The A.I. player's aircraft can be chosen by the players on the corresponding sides to whatever they have unlocked (ex: Fenrir with SP color 2). The A.I. players will have infinite missiles (or no missiles if handicap is given) and can be customized to change it's homing capability like regular human players. A.I. players will not be able to use or select any SP weapons whatsoever. In game however, all A.I.'s will only attack human players and nothing else due to simple A.I. programming. Neutral units and SAMs will never attack an A.I. aircraft either. In any Battle Royal matches (Free for all), the host will not be able to have any A.I. players in the game due to their behavior to attack human players only rather than each other.

In addition, Ace Combat X features a large amount of customization to the multiplayer, with the host being able to customize map, time limit, amount of player lives, point limits/goals, base strength (in Base Assault), AI skill level, and more.

Modes

Ace Combat X features six distinct multiplayer modes.

  • Dog Fight[sic] Survival - A Free-for-All (Battle Royale) or Team Battle mode in which each player has a limited amount of lives. The player and/or team that survives the game wins.
  • Dog Fight[sic] Shootout - A Free-for-All (Battle Royale) or Team Battle mode in which a team or individual player gains points for hitting or downing an enemy, being locked onto an enemy, and loses points for being hit, dying and being locked onto by an enemy. The player or team with the most points wins.
  • Base Assault - A team battle mode where two teams attack each other's bases. First, the players must attack the enemy base's shutters, then destroy the core of the base inside. The shutter will close again after a short time, and there are AI SAMs present. The team to destroy the enemy's base first wins.
  • Air Superiority - A free-for-all or team battle mode where the teams or individual players battle for control of the 'airspace' in a King-of-the-Hill style battle. The player with the most points when time runs out wins.
  • Beacon Battle - A team battle mode that focuses on two teams battling to capture each other's beacon in classic Capture the Flag gameplay. The flag carrier has reduced speed and mobility, and cannot use special weapons while carrying the flag. To capture the flag, the flag carrier must return to their own base. The team that captures the enemy flag wins.
  • Escort Mission - A large-scale battle between two teams. The two teams must focus on guiding their own AI forces, in the form of either progressively stronger ships (on the Ocean map) or progressively stronger vehicles (on the Desert map) into the enemy base, while preventing enemy AI forces from getting into their base. The team with the most points when time runs out or the first team to the specified amount of captures wins.


Aircraft

Ace Combat X features a large amount of aircraft despite the limitations of the PSP, having a total of 40 aircraft (29 real-life aircraft and 11 fictional or prototypes), surpassing Ace Combat Zero. The fictional ones can also be "tuned" to further modify their stats.

The flagship aircraft of the game is the F-22A Raptor. The super-fighter introduced in this game is Fenrir, although a number of other fictional planes are featured in the game, including the XFA-27, the very first superfighter in the Ace Combat series whose only appearance until then was in Ace Combat 2. Amongst the fictional aircraft debuting in Ace Combat X are the XFA-24A Apalis, YR-99 Forneus, YR-302 Fregata, and XR-45 Cariburn.

Gallery

Trivia

  • While Namco Bandai Games is listed as the company that produced and published Ace Combat X, the European and Japanese cover arts shows the old Namco logo.
  • There are several references to Norse Mythology:
    • Leasath's Fenrir is named after a Giant Wolf Fenrir or Fenrisúlfr.
    • The medal "Mark of Vioarr" refers to Odin's son Víðarr slaying Fenrir.
    • The airborne fortress Gleipnir is named after a bind that holds Fenrir.
  • In the bonus mission Operation X, both Scarface 1 and Z.O.E. from Ace Combat 2 make an appearance if playing on Ace difficulty.
  • The Gryphus Squadron is named after the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus).
  • Aurelia is similar to Chile and Argentina, though also features elements of France.
  • Ace Combat X is the first in the series to feature tunable aircraft and tuning parts.
  • Certain original aircraft in Ace Combat X bear a resemblance to aircraft from the anime Sentō Yōsei Yukikaze. For example, the Fenrir's airframe resembles that of the B-503 Super Sylph, while the XR-45 Cariburn looks like the FFR-41MR Mave.
  • Allied NPC fighters will engage enemy aircraft until the target enemy's health is damaged to a certain point, then they will attack other enemy aircraft or follow the player.
  • Although the physics engine was recycled from Ace Combat 04, aircraft in Ace Combat X will stall much easier, and usually begin losing altitude at around 350 mph, unlike AC04, where aircraft usually lose altitude at around 250 mph.
  • Ace Combat X is the only "modern" Ace Combat game not to feature a song as part of the soundtrack.
  • Ace Combat X is the only game with no female characters.
  • Ace Combat X strangely features a rudimentary form of anti-cheat in its multiplayer component. If a player uses cheats or hacks to obtain special weapons in a lobby with special weapons disabled, the player in question will still be unable to fire special weapons, despite the "special weapons off" option appearing to only set your special weapon ammo count to zero.

Footnotes

  1. Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception (エースコンバットX スカイズ・オブ・デセプション Ēsu Konbatto Ekkusu Sukaizu Obu Desepushon)

References

  1. ACE COMBAT X. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  2. ACE COMBAT X Skies of Deception. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  3. Scene 5, Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception.
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