Ace Style is a gameplay mechanic affecting which aces and what aircraft are unlocked in Ace Combat Zero. Ace Style is also known as Ace Ranks. Below details the ranks and how to achieve them.
A pilot who seeks strength and money, a Mercenary Ace leaves no target on the battlefield alive, whether it's defenseless or not. This the easiest AR to achieve in Ace Combat Zero. All you must do is destroy all (if not, most) yellow targets as possible on the map before going after the main objective. Yellow targets represent targets that have nothing to do with the mission (usually civilian houses, ammo storages, disabled aircraft, tents etc.). Destroying these targets will earn you the Mercenary style. It's simple as it sounds; doing it this way makes a fighter seem more savage and the player will be treated as such over the radio. This style offers the most money, and higher-end airplanes will be acquired earlier, but squadrons faced will be considerably more difficult.
By being a Mercenary you'll be able to engage against these Enemy Ace Squadrons:
By being a Mercenary, you'll unlock these medals:
- Mercenary Medal (finish the game as a Mercenary)
- Supreme Mercenary (finish with the AR indicator at the very left end of the bar)
A pilot who can read the tide of battle, a Soldier Ace keeps the balance between the death and sparing of yellow targets. To be a Soldier Ace, players must balance between Mercenary and Knight. Being a soldier Ace unlocks some of the best Aircraft in the game, so it's worth it in the long run. Refrain from destroying too many Yellow TGTs in order to maintain your Soldier style. Keeping a balance in your engagement of yellow targets can make this the most difficult ace style.
By being a Soldier, you'll able to engage with these enemy squadrons:
By being a Soldier, you'll also unlock these medals:
- Soldier Medal (finish the game as a Soldier)
- Supreme Soldier (finish with the AR indicator at the very middle of the bar, i.e. under "d" in "Soldier")
A pilot who lives for pride and honor, a Knight Ace spares all defenseless (yellow) targets, such as, but not limited to, transports and neutralized aircraft.
In order to be a Knight Ace, you'll need to balance your types of targets destroyed. Minimize the Yellow target kills (or do not kill any at all) in order to gain Knight status.
By being a Knight, you'll be able to engage with these Enemy Squadrons:
By being a Knight, you'll unlock these medals:
- Knight Medal (finish the game as a Knight)
- Supreme Knight (finish with the AR indicator at the very right end of the bar)
- The Ace Ranks also affect the way Allied squadrons behave over the radio. For example, if Operation: Ravage is played being a Mercenary or a Soldier, Ustian Pilots will tease PJ about his future marriage with his girlfriend or how many girlfriends PJ had had, respectively. Playing it being a Knight, however, will result in those same Ustian Pilots telling PJ not to talk to his girlfriend over the radio and instead to concentrate on their mission.
- A player's ace style also changes what PJ remarks following the destruction of the V2 launch devices at the end of "The Valley of Kings", if the player is a Mercenary PJ will remark on how much money they'll earn, if the player is a Soldier PJ will say how the fighting is over, and, finally, if the player is a Knight PJ will remark about how they'll be heroes.
- The Ace Rank a player has also changes what Gelb 2 and Espada 2 say in their interviews. A Mercenary style results in them commenting on how ruthless the player is, while Espada 2 says that Espada 1 was killed by the player in battle. A Soldier style results in them saying the player was calculated, and Espada 1 survived the initial battle with Cipher but succumbed to his wounds soon after getting out of his plane. A Knight player gets the most respect from both as Gelb 2 ends his first interview saying he just wanted the battle to be over, as Cipher showed no emotion. Espada 2 says that someone who's born with their heart in the sky will return to the sky, then talks about how Espada 1 survived, but returned to combat and was killed in action.