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Ace Combat 4: Shattered Skies


Man, as a kid growing up, I used to LOVE flight simulator games, where I could pick up a joystick for my PC, load up missiles and bombs, and fly over targets to take them out or to dogfight bad guys and blow MiGs out of the sky.  Video game platforms, for whatever reason, decided that this genre should go out back and die about ten years ago, and while I can't figure out why this is, I'm glad that somebody, namely Namco, decided to produce the "Ace Combat" series because this was some fun stuff.

"Ace Combat 4: Shattered Skies" is the first in the series that I have played.  I figured that since it is now a Greatest Hits game on PS2, it would be worth picking up...and it is good times.  The plot is useless, so bad in fact that it isn't even worth mentioning here.  What is important is that the missions--there are about 18 in total--vary between shooting down enemy jets and bombing fixed ground targets and ground armaments like airfields, tanks, SAM sites and anti-air guns.  Being more of an arcade-style simulator than a real flight simulator (you don't even have to worry about taking off or landing), it's run-and-gun throughout, and because each mission has four varied levels of completion, you earn points based on which targets you have taken out and how quickly you complete your main task.  These points turn into credits that you can use to buy almost 20 planes, which gives the game its replay value by trying to stockpile the whole bunch.

It's a little too short; I beat the game in a couple of days on the normal difficulty setting and had time to start playing through it twice in the same sitting.  But, for me, it filled a need and for $20, it's a great value for a long weekend.

Rating:  $40


Feedback?  Comments?  Hot doughnut tip?


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09