First Shot: Ace Combat: Joint Assault
I’ve been playing Ace Combat: Joint Assault off and on over the past week and I must say, I’m relatively impressed with the way the game feels on a portable system. This is the first time I’ve played an Ace Combat game, and though I know it’s been tailor-made for home consoles, Joint Assault’s feel on the PSP so far has not been problematic whatsoever. You start the game as a fighter pilot working as a contractor for a private military security firm. After receiving news of a mysterious airship launching near Japan, you are sent out to fly and destroy the airship before it attacks nearby Tokyo. The airship is being controlled by the Vahlalia, a sinister terrorist organization hellbent on bringing down the world’s strongest governments through massive firepower and airdog fights; Al-Qaeda this is not.
The Ace Combat series has always felt more like an arcade shooter than a virtual military combat experience, more Top Gun than Microsoft Flight Simulator. The question facing Joint Assault is, how does that experience translate on a handheld system? The 2006 release Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception was a pretty solid outing, delivering a strong gameplay experience for the smaller screen. Joint Assault goes one step further by delivering stronger multiplayer elements including a co-operative campaign and online gameplay.
So far I’m now on mission 6, and I’ve begun to notice mission repetition. The game’s mission structure usually goes like this: enemy targets are at point A, then after destroying them there more enemies emerge at point B, where I must then go there and so on and so forth. I’m guessing this is a pretty rote experience for the Ace Combat games, which indicates to me that Joint Assault is a game built more for the diehard flight fight fans than the common gamer. In between missions you are able to upgrade your planes, including buying special weapons and parts for them or even just buying new planes altogether. I find this to be an interesting challenge, which posits that different types of planes will be needed for different types of missions; for missions where you have to destroy a lot of ground targets, for example, you would probably want to equip a heavily armored plane with air-to-surface drop bombs while dogfights are best fought with fast, agile fighter planes.
Be sure to check back in a few days at Crispy Gamer when we’ll have a full review of Ace Combat: Joint Assault only on the PSP.