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Return to the Party: Ace Combat 6 (AKA Maybe PC was Right...)


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14 replies to this topic

#1
Scherzo

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So it's been several years since I last played Ace Combat 6, so figured Thanksgiving Break was a good a time as any to go back and beat it for probably the fifth or sixth time. As I've said in other posts on this forum, I have some mixed memories of AC6, enjoying the scope but finding the presentation kind of lackluster. But since I've already beaten all the PS2 ACs this year, figured AC6 would be good to do.

 

Off the bat this game is still gorgeous. Like goddamn, the lighting effects are sooo much better than the  muted, washed out tones of ACAH and ACI. The way the aircraft  positively glow when you get the sunlight to bounce off them in the right way is just erotic, and nothing they've shown since then has really matched it.

 

Secondly, I don't think I've given the mission structure, at least in certain circumstances, enough credit. Sipli Field and Bartolomeo Fortress are really well designed in that you can flip back and forth between missions at a drop of a hat; designed to be in close proximity or, in Mission 4's case, also moving parallel to each other. It's honestly a great way of giving you a lot of enemies to fight while there still being a sense of 'narrative progression' to the mission, and makes a skill out of knowing when to move from one combat zone to another.

 

If memory serves,  a lot of missions don't really use this formula though, having more disparate spread out objectives more akin to choosing areas of operation in AC04, and I think that's where it loses focus. But while I'd like more narratively driven missions, I think the sort of 'wide but focused' missions like Bartolomeo, Silvat, and Gracemeria would be a good template for the future.


Also the physics are still really good, and the spectacle of furballs with dozens of fighters drawing crazy contrails is still pretty brilliant.


Edited by Scherzo, 24 November 2016 - 01:14 PM.

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#2
Hue

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It's really the atmosphere of a large battlefield that made AC 6 stand out. With the operations, what seems to be a truly mutual show of teamwork even from ground units (it would have been better if they bothered doing something when allied support is not a thing, but ok), the large amount of missile contrails in the air and possibly more, AC 6 nailed the whole large battlefield aspect extremely well. Other AC games are usually like shooting galleries in comparison. If AC 6 had split-screen, a better story and actually fixed the gameplay issues that AC 4 started and that AC 5 made worse, it could have been a true gem.


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#3
PositronCannon

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Yes, I was. :)

 

The one thing about AC6 that I might say is a negative is how the changes to flight mechanics (high G), weapon mechanics (missile tracking and speed, gun being OP as fuck) and general AI behavior mean that you don't really have the kind of tight A2A combat you would find in AC04 and ACZ in particular, maybe even ACX. I mean, it's still pretty well-designed and all the elements work well together, but it does have a very different feel which can be subjectively inferior, which is why I wouldn't call it a "negative" outright, as it's more of a sidegrade than a downgrade if anything. To be fair, the insanity of WMD wouldn't really be possible with the older mechanics unless AI was toned down a lot, so there's that.

 

There's also a diminished sense of speed, but that may just be due to a significantly wider FoV. And well, it being 30 fps instead of 60 fps is a pretty bad sacrifice in exchange for the amazing graphics, one I'm not really okay with as framerate > graphics always. And I guess there's the lack of flyable aircraft too, although gameplay-wise there is far more differentiation between planes than in any other AC, so it's only a real negative as far as the plane you see on screen being limited. The soundtrack is slightly more forgettable overall, but I think it was a necessary change in style to a more atmospheric feel to go with the mission design.

 

So yeah, I just can't think of anything that I truly don't like about AC6, just things I'm pretty much neutral about or are minor annoyances, and even for those I have to nitpick rather hard. Aside of Pasternak. Fuck Pasternak. That could have been a good boss, dammit. But beyond that, everything is positives. I can play this game over and over and still have fun with it. The atmosphere is still amazing every time, without the slightest abuse of crappy scripted events or overly dramatic radio comms (okay, for the most part - let's just ignore half of Shamrock's lines).

 

So you'll have to forgive me when I think about how it's been almost 10 years and all we've got since is "shitty sleep aid and outright worst AC that isn't on a phone or something" (JA), "sorta okay for one playthrough and then shit" (AH), "could have been pretty good even as F2P but they just had to make it multiplayer only" (ACI) and proceed to get depressed and have zero expectations for AC7.


Edited by PositronCannon, 24 November 2016 - 04:25 PM.

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#4
Scherzo

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Yeah I think mechanically all the gameplay changes make sense for the type of mission structure they chose. My issue though is that I think in some missions it becomes more difficult to juggle multiple operations at once; Bartolomeo imo was one of the more sublime ones by having all the operations move forward parallel to each other. Missions that have a central nexus, like Silvat and Ragno, also tend to work pretty well, but stuff like  Selumna and Moloch, where everything is just scattered about, tend to feel like unfocused busywork.

 

Also in terms of presentation, I feel if I couldn't get what I want--a compelling narrative through-line--I'd prefer it had less narrative because god the inbetween mission cutscenes are so fucking lame. It seems like they didn't realize that the power of AC04's narrative was how sparingly it was used; you can't expect someone to care about some random woman totally divorced from the action. 


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#5
PositronCannon

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Yeah I think mechanically all the gameplay changes make sense for the type of mission structure they chose. My issue though is that I think in some missions it becomes more difficult to juggle multiple operations at once; Bartolomeo imo was one of the more sublime ones by having all the operations move forward parallel to each other. Missions that have a central nexus, like Silvat and Ragno, also tend to work pretty well, but stuff like  Selumna and Moloch, where everything is just scattered about, tend to feel like unfocused busywork.

 

Also in terms of presentation, I feel if I couldn't get what I want--a compelling narrative through-line--I'd prefer it had less narrative because god the inbetween mission cutscenes are so fucking lame. It seems like they didn't realize that the power of AC04's narrative was how sparingly it was used; you can't expect someone to care about some random woman totally divorced from the action. 

 

Honestly, I just treat the operations system as a glorified branching missions system (in the sense of ACZ's Juggernaut, Merlon and Final Overture) more than anything. Unless I'm trying for high scores or something (which I haven't bothered with in years) there isn't really a reason to bother with more than one operation at once. So it's just a way to turn 15 missions into a bit more than that, in practice.

 

And yeah, the cutscenes are shit, no question about that. Voychek's storyline is the only one I ever found halfway interesting.


Edited by PositronCannon, 24 November 2016 - 06:33 PM.

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#6
Hue

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Also in terms of presentation, I feel if I couldn't get what I want--a compelling narrative through-line--I'd prefer it had less narrative because god the inbetween mission cutscenes are so fucking lame. It seems like they didn't realize that the power of AC04's narrative was how sparingly it was used; you can't expect someone to care about some random woman totally divorced from the action. 

 

Voychek's arc was pretty solid imo, but Melissa's arc is just quite mediocre. Maybe they should have entirely focused on Voychek and Strigon squadron in general. This would give the unique perspective of the enemy's initial bleak win followed by a loss. Like, the increasing state of panic that would go with that could have been interesting. But no, it's about the typical single mother separated from her daughter that's more intriguing. Keep Melissa there, but make her a side character. It helps that Strigon squadron seems to have potential for an arc that can make them as charming as Yellow squadron.


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#7
PositronCannon

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Voychek's arc was pretty solid imo, but Melissa's arc is just quite mediocre. Maybe they should have entirely focused on Voychek and Strigon squadron in general. This would give the unique perspective of the enemy's initial bleak win followed by a loss. Like, the increasing state of panic that would go with that could have been interesting. But no, it's about the typical single mother separated from her daughter that's more intriguing. Keep Melissa there, but make her a side character. It helps that Strigon squadron seems to have potential for an arc that can make them as charming as Yellow squadron.

 

Exactly. The lack of focus on the Estovakian side of things also makes the final mission's tragic message (there's a reason for the soundtrack) as well as Pasternak's sacrifice kinda come out of nowhere or not have nearly as much weight as they could have. More characterization for that and less time spent on crappy characters would have gone a long way.


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#8
Broth3r

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Something something Stovie Civil War...

 

 

Saint Viktor when


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#9
Scherzo

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I think they were trying to do a bait and switch where we're lead to think Shamrock's wife and daughter are Melissa and Matilda. The only problem was it was revealed before the game came out that they weren't related, so that robbed any sort of narrative tension. I think honestly for the Melissa storyline to work, we shoulda seen Shamrock get his own out of mission cutscenes, maybe showing off the other squadrons you fly with (the sense of camaraderie with the other squadrons in your Airwing is one of the best elements). I would've gladly given the Three Kings bullshit plotline for that (and cutdown on the endless Melissa and Ludmilla hiking across the countryside scenes).


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#10
Hue

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I think they were trying to do a bait and switch where we're lead to think Shamrock's wife and daughter are Melissa and Matilda. The only problem was it was revealed before the game came out that they weren't related, so that robbed any sort of narrative tension. I think honestly for the Melissa storyline to work, we shoulda seen Shamrock get his own out of mission cutscenes, maybe showing off the other squadrons you fly with (the sense of camaraderie with the other squadrons in your Airwing is one of the best elements). I would've gladly given the Three Kings bullshit plotline for that (and cutdown on the endless Melissa and Ludmilla hiking across the countryside scenes).

 

Could we focus on Ludmilla instead? Her love story with Tosha would have been cool. Tosha's like Grimm except cooler.


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#11
Scherzo

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Silvat is a really good mission; has such a great atmosphere. Also missions aren't quite as long as I remember; I think going purely by TGTs instead of having kill limits to hit was the right call.

 

Also as silly as much of the dialogue can be, I actually think a lot of the time it's pretty effective at showing the companionship of the 8th Air Wing and the units they're attached to. I kinda wish the narrative in game was more about the 8th Wing's successes on a whole turning the tide, not specifically Garuda Team, since that just seems like a more natural propaganda thing as well as reflecting the wider scope of the game.

 

Also I hadn't realized how flexible the Operations System was before now; units that complete their objectives don't just task to you on a support request, but also follow you around effectively acting as secondary wingmen, or in Snake Pits case providing passive ESM support.


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#12
Georgia Ace

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Something something Stovie Civil War...

 

 

Saint Viktor when

 

About the same time as that Scars of Ulysses Reboot, any minute now. . . 


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#13
VitalEvergreen1

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So you'll have to forgive me when I think about how it's been almost 10 years and all we've got since is "shitty sleep aid and outright worst AC that isn't on a phone or something" (JA), "sorta okay for one playthrough and then shit" (AH), "could have been pretty good even as F2P but they just had to make it multiplayer only" (ACI) and proceed to get depressed and have zero expectations for AC7.

Well at least you didn't have to buy fuel just to play more than 3 times in 12 hours in AH


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#14
PositronCannon

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Well at least you didn't have to buy fuel just to play more than 3 times in 12 hours in AH

 

Problem being that I wouldn't want to play AH regardless because it's boring as fuck, while I would definitely play ACI if it wasn't for it being multiplayer only. So in fact, I really wish AH had been the game with the shitty F2P model instead. Honestly, I don't even mind the fuel thing so much, I think it keeps you from burning out on the game too much. And if you really want to get more time in, you can always make alt accounts for free, which also allows you to focus on upgrading different planes, etc.


Edited by PositronCannon, 01 December 2016 - 06:01 PM.

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#15
Yellow 13

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Loved the co-op missions in AC6, and I'll always give a cheer for the 'Gracemeria' themes.  B)


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