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Ace Combat Squadron Leader PS2 Review - -

Gameplay 8.5
Graphics 9.0
Sound 8.8
Value 8.2
Distributor: Sony
Andrew B


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Ace Combat: Squadron Leader

It is extremely rare to find a decent flight game in the console world and fortunately for gamers who enjoy the occasional flight combat game, Sony Entertainment have come to their rescue with Ace Combat: Squadron Leader that is also a worthy sequel of the original game, Squadron Leader. Not only does the game contains a very sturdy graphics engine but also a captivating story mode and some of the best arcade flight action to land on the PS2 in a long time.

Ace Combat Squadron Leader is set in a world with two nations at war with each other. The story mode spans across numerous missions and as you progress through the game the story will reveal the truth behind the war. The story may not be “real world” as such but the aircraft certainly are. You will see American planes such as the F-16 and the F/A-18 Hornet, Russian planes Su-287 and the MiG-29 to name a few. Not all the planes are those used in today's combat, either there are classic planes or in-development planes such as the F-22. Graphically all these planes look gorgeous from the outside and inside the cockpits. However, although the planes are all true to real life and look like simulation models, Shattered Skies is not a simulation flight combat game but an arcade game at heart.

As this is not a simulation game the controls are all very basic and you will only need to know the very basics of flight physics. If you think of a first person shooter and its controls like left, right, strafe and then think of forwards and backwards as up and down you will have a good idea of how the controls work. Once you are used to the control you will find that each plane will handle very responsively enabling you to pull off some impressive manoeuvres.

Mission's are based around one of two objectives, attack or defend. You will find that the missions are all varied and you will find targets and missions fought over land, sea and even over cities. The way in which the missions are structured is fairly random which means you will not always know what the next mission will involve. This is definitely a plus as it makes you want to play the game to see what is coming next.

One of the new and probably best additions in Squadron Leader is the wingman. Most of the time you can leave your wingman to his own devices but there will be times that you will want to give your wingman an order. This is done very easily by pressing the D pad in one of four directions. As I said, most of the time, you won't need to give your wingman commands as in the default mode he will cover you, so you can get on with the job of destroying the enemy. Among the commands you can issue there is obviously defend and attack, but one useful command lets you decide whether you will let your wingmen use their limited supply of special weapons. Giving commands to your wingmen is very easy even in the heat of a dog-fight; the only limitation is your thinking time. The wingman's main aim in the game is to create a diversion for the enemy, so rather than shoot you they will go for your wingmen first.

As you progress through missions you will earn cash which will enable you to purchase new planes in the future. You will also have an experience meter which will measure and count your skills in your current plane. If you manage to fill up this meter an even better aircraft will become available for you to purchase once you have saved your pennies.

On top of the campaign modes Ace Combat Squadron Leader offers a fantastic arcade mode. This mode does away with the story and focuses on pure fast paced action which will progressively get more difficult through time allocated missions. While this mode is good for a quick play, the main campaigns are by far more engrossing and entertaining throughout.

Graphically, Ace Combat: Squadron Leader is a great looking game, as mentioned earlier the aircraft models are very nice indeed. In a game like Ace Combat graphics are very important in making the whole experience as realistic and believable as possible. So I'm pleased to report that Squadron Leader is a beautiful looking game, everything from the terrain below to the clouds and missile trails are spot on and the frame rate doesn't flicker in the slightest. The cockpits of each plane and the heads up displays are very well executed also, but you have a choice whether to view the cockpit or the out outside of the aircraft.

The sound in Ace Combat: Squadron Leader is also very good and plentiful. For starters there is the soundtrack which drives the action or increases the suspense. Then there is the radio chatter which is almost constant at times. The voice work behind the chatter is mostly of a very high standard. The rest of the games sound effects are also very good from the sound of missiles launching from your left and right to the familiar whiz of the machine gun and finally to the deep roar of your afterburners, it's all very satisfying.

In conclusion, Ace Combat Squadron Leader manages to improve on the already capable Squadron Lesader. It's not a complete overhaul by any means but everything is brought up to date and the game has a few nice additions like the wingman commands. If you are after a flight combat simulation this is not for you. Squadron Leader takes all the best bits from a simulation and mixes it up with arcade style game play to give you something which is full of fast action packed game play and great fun to play.


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