Ace Combat Xi: Skies of Incursion, Namco Bandai’s aerial combat game, has been released and is available from the app store. While the game is visually appealing and the concept is always entertaining, this game is way too short and has an overall outdated yet still incomplete feel to it.
Ace Combat Xi opens with a nice cinematic trailer, similar to the type you’d see at the beginning of a Gameloft game. There is a Campaign mode and a Free Mission mode, as well as Options and the like. It is suggested that you check out the Options first, utilizing the manual calibration feature to calibrate the accelerometer before playing. You’ll thank us later. Free Mission mode appears to allow you to play any previously beaten mission. It doesn’t seem to add much to the game.
Campaign mode is the nuts and bolts of the game. You’ll be asked to choose a level of difficulty: easy or normal (hard mode is unavailable). You’ll also want to select a controller type from the Options menu. The most noticeable difference between the two is that Normal gives you a 3rd-person view of your plane while Novice uses a 1st-person point-of-view. Both schemes were pretty easy to use and can pretty much be used to select whether you want to see your jet or not. Once you set this, you’ll get some background on the mission and choose your craft. There are 10 available: 3 unlocked, 2 unlockable, and 5 available for in-app purchase at $0.99 apiece. Each jet has a unique set of attributes, so you can sort of tailor your craft to the mission. After selecting your jet, it’s fighting time.
There is a background story involving being invaded by a neighboring country which is spelled out in rather drab text format. Though a nice feature, we could have done without scrolling through these boring screens and simply enjoyed the gameplay. Sadly, there are only 5 missions in the game, and they are pretty easy to complete. You have guns and missiles to fire at enemies. Firing without getting a lock on the enemy is usually a waste of ammo, so you’ll need to get them in your sights and within range. The throttle button comes in handy here, as you’ll want to get within range as quickly as possible. It only took a missile or two to destroy any jet that we locked on and we were rarely fired upon, making the game overly simple. The radar shows where enemies are, so it’s simple to track down your opponents. Each level is timed, so you’ll want to take an aggressive approach or risk running out of time. For the short time that we did play, the game was fun. We’d like to see much more content added in the future.
Graphically, the game is on par with other dogfighters on the iDevice, such as F.A.S.T. There is a useful HUD that doesn’t clutter the screen, with buttons that are fairly responsive. The environments also look very nice, with great touches such as sun flares and the like. The soundtrack is upbeat and kind of amps you up for some great action. There is crisp dialogue in the form of radio transmissions, alerting you to what the enemy is doing and the status of your flightmates. Sound effects are great, with cool explosive effects to accompany the satisfying fireballs erupting from a well-placed missile. The controls are laid out in a nice configuration and are all touch-based, with the exception of the tilt-steering controls, of course. Turning doesn’t feel as responsive as in F.A.S.T., but it’s not too bad.
Replay value suffers greatly due to the short game length and lack of online play, leaderboards, achievements, and the other various amenities that typically accompany this type of game. While the action was fairly immersive, we never really felt threatened, so any built-up tension or sense of accomplishing something difficult was completely absent. It’s a lot of fun on the first playthrough, but that’s all it really has to offer. The DLC is pointless, as any of the available jets can handle the job. Ace Combat XI is overpriced at $4.99 for what it currently offers. It seems that the only reason they can use that price point is for the name recognition, as Ace Combat is a pretty well-known name in this genre. Our high hopes have crashed and burned, resulting in a 3-Dimple ejection from our iDevice until it updates with more content and features.
Ace Combat Xi: Skies of Incursion gets our AppSmile 3-Dimple rating: