Reviewed on PS2


Reviewed By: Garrett O'Hara

Computer Platform: PlayStation II (Sony)
Produced by: Namco
Price Range: $41-50
Learning curve time: Over 2 hrs.
Age level: Older Child to Adult
ESRB Rating: Everyone

Genre: Simulation
Christian Rating: 4 of 5
   (slightly offensive)
Gameplay: 5 of 5
Violence: 2 of 5
Adult Content: 5 of 5

Screenshot from 'Ace Combat 04'
Namco has come out with quite possibly the best console-based flight simulation ever produced, Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies. Good gameplay combined with excellent graphics merge to produce a great experience.

The storyline is based on a fictitious continent where a war has broken out between Erusia and the Independent States Allied Forces, a UN of sorts. You are referred to as Mobius 1 throughout the game. In between many of the missions, you will be presented with Japanese-style cartoon sequences accompanied with music explaining the storyline in further detail. I ignored them at first, but they are quite entertaining. It revolves around a relationship between one of the Erusian pilots whose flight callsign is “Yellow 13,” and a young boy in an ISAF member state whose family was killed when Yellow 13 downed an aircraft, sending it into the boy's house.

Gameplay is excellent. The game lets you choose from eighteen fighter aircraft ranging from the F-4 to the F-22, and eighteen missions including bombing ground targets, escorting allied aircraft, and all-out dogfights. Some realism is lost in this, however. In order to return to base, one must cross a line on the map which always happens to be south. You will never have anyone shooting at you while you are trying to land, unlike some of the classic games like "Chuck Yeager's Air Combat". A two-player mode is available, albeit a bit more annoying due to the loss of screen space.

Screenshot from 'Ace Combat 04'The overall physics model is good as far as actual flight goes, but some of the elements are quite unrealistic. For example, I was able to get an A-10 Thunderbolt II to about 900 knots, far past Mach 1. The actual limit, I believe, is around 471. In addition, most of the aircraft supposedly hold more than 30 missiles at a time, and these missiles can be used on both air and ground targets. One also never runs out of fuel, and if you need to repair damage, all you would have to do is to fly south to the base and you're instantly repaired, quite a contrast from the real world.

The programmers really did a good job on the graphics here. This is one of the few games I've seen where the graphics are nearly unquestionable. It's only too bad that they got off the hook when it comes to modeling the landscapes from actual locations. This is a fictitious continent, after all.

The rating on this game mentions “mild language” and “violence.” This mild language is usually in the form of pilots cursing when they're either shot down or having trouble with enemy aircraft. The worst phrase I've found is "Die you [acronym for the son of a female dog]!" If you feel that your children won't immediately understand exactly why wars can be justified or that they might pick up some of the language, you might want to stay away from this one. Rest assured that you will not find blood on the canopy glass. Other than that, Ace Combat 04 is a good choice.

Year of Release—2001

Comments from Young People…

Positive—This is a pretty good game especially for the graphics and reality-based flight operations. I thoroughly enjoyed it although sometimes maneuvering can become quite difficult. There is a bit of language in the game including the use of the D word but I don't think anyone will notice this as all messages come through radio contact and are easily drowned out. All in all, an entertaining game. My Ratings: [5/4]
   —Cornelius Christian, age 14

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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