A couple of years is a long time in modern video gaming, five years is an eternity.
And that’s what it feels like since we last experienced the thrill of piloting a fighter jet in one of the easily forgotten but hugely important founding fathers of flight simulation games, Ace Combat.
Anyone growing up in the 90s will remember this arcadey dogfighting franchise. In fact it was so popular it spiked enough interest to warrant numerous sequels but has not been seen since 2014.
So the announcement for Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown sparked much excitment and plenty of nostalgia before it was finally released on PS4 and XB1 recently, it comes to PC early February.
AC7 has been really well received in Japan and the UK, breaking series records.
Events takes place in the same fictional universe as the previous games in the franchise as former President Vincent Harling orders a space elevator funded off the Erusean coast in order to revitalise the continent’s economy.
The space elevator creates resentment among the Eruseans, who see it as unnecessary Osean intervention. Cue dogfights galore to restore order.
I first saw AC7 at EGX last year and got to play a few minutes. That had whetted my appetite massively and it did not disappoint one bit.
It looks superb and handles even better with the arcade flight combat and graphics combining for the kind of thrill only the likes of Ridge Racer and Wipeout can match as pioneers of their time.
The story leaves a fair bit to be desired but this is all about the dogfighting and one should not get too bogged down in the semantics of the rather tedious backdrop for events.
As I have touched on, the dogfighting is the crowning achievement and offrs thrilling and deeply rewarding play. That alone is justification for bringing the series back and reason enough to continue it into the ensuing years.
Where the story and narrative is lacking the actual concept and objectives in the missions are interesting, unique and memorable.
Playing online against others is simple, effective and exactly what you would expect. Bandai Namco have kept things simple here which is a sensible starting point in what I hope will be a new lease of life for Ace Combat games.
For those with a VR kit there is even the added bonus of missions which are a cool addition to the overall offering without trying to bite off more than they can chew.
It’s not perfect, there are issues with grind and some missions can be infuriantingly difficult. The rather poorly thought out checkpoint placemetns has as much to do with that as anything else.
They are very minor complaints for what can only be described as a triumphant return to the skies for this once video gaming staple.