Review of Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War

The Ace Combat franchise has been making its way to the PlayStation 2 for more than ten years, beginning with the highly praised Ace Combat 04 in 2001. Ace Combat Zero: the Belkan War is the third installment in the PlayStation 2 series, bringing back its signature features and thrilling arcade gameplay, although it may not feel as innovative as it once did – but it still retains its charm.

The powerful narrative has been a key element of the Ace combat series for a while, particularly on the PlayStation 2, and Zero follows suit. This time, the plot centers on two pilots, Pixie and Cypher, and is narrated through the eyes of a journalist delving into their dynamic. These interludes complement the missions nicely, but they lack excitement and fail to truly connect with the pilots, who seem like anonymous figures.

Prepare for intense combat in a thrilling aerial game, focused solely on action – particularly with aerial combat. Minimal training is needed to join missions, and choosing aircraft and weapons is a quick process. As you advance, you can use earned points to upgrade planes and acquire special weapons, but the overall gameplay remains relatively unchanged aside from increased agility and firepower.

The majority of missions primarily involve aerial combat, where you and your squadron engage in direct battles with enemy fighters. This is a common tactic used for quarantine purposes, where you maneuver your plane to lure enemy planes into the designated quarantine zone and constantly take action to evade enemy radar detection. It’s similar to a dogfight, but just as thrilling. Luckily, your plane has the capability to inflict more damage than your adversaries, although not by much; If your aircraft’s landing gear is hit by a series of projectiles, your mission will come to an end.

The tasks are generally not overly complex, although elite teams may present challenges. These events typically take place after completing missions, and without any checkpoints during the mission, failure means starting over from the beginning. The game’s twenty missions will require a significant amount of time and always provide intense action. Some missions also offer the option to select which part of the action to engage in, creating a sense of larger-scale action.

Air combat is accompanied by battles in both the air and on the ground or sea, with additional missions included. However, the intensity level does not compare to other dogfight-style arcade games. The game is well-balanced, and as long as you make strategic use of your points and purchase the best aircraft, subsequent missions should not pose too much of a challenge. A radar display is available to give a general indication of enemy aircraft locations, and with a user-friendly aiming system, the overall experience is relatively smooth, regardless of your level of piloting skill.

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