Assuming the role of virtual pilot while engaging legions of foes in the art of aerial combat is a concept synonymous with the origins of video games. Many popular titles of the 70s, 80s and 90s center on this simple concept. Sometimes it was a space craft, other times a fighter jet but the concept is simple to grasp and always promises loads of fun. These games started as simple two-dimensional shooters but, as technology evolved, developers started to push new boundaries. Three-dimensional flight simulation games started to become extremely popular especially on the PC platform. From After Burner to more serious simulations such as Falcon 3.0, we certainly weren’t starved for choice.
In 1995, Namco embraced this concept and introduced console players to the world of aerial dog fighting with Air Combat or, as it was known in Japan, Ace Combat – its own take on flight simulation with a perfect blend of realism and arcade style action. During this early era of 3D graphics, nothing quite showcased a new machine like an aerial combat game. Ace Combat, along with other games such as Factor 5’s Rogue Squadron series, were extremely popular in their day, receiving many sequels along the way.
Over the last decade, however, this light has faded. While hardcore flight simulation has retained an audience on PC, the arcade-leaning gameplay offered in Ace Combat and the like has all but dissipated into thin air. Namco made a few attempts at redefining the series with moderately disappointing titles such as Ace Combat: Assault Horizon but, for fans of the series, the last truly great installment in the series, Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation, launched nearly 12 years ago on Xbox 360.