The Ace Combat series has had a rather mixed history through the years. In its earliest stages, the game was well-known for presenting a mixture of aerial combat and various emotional human elements of a war story. However, its most recent entries have taken a turn towards simulating actual war events and in many respects lost its original identity in the gaming market. That's not to say Ace Combat has had negative press in the gaming world. The series has actually enjoyed an excellent reputation throughout its existence and different releases. However, gamers were well-aware that something was missing: that something was its original heart that made it such a beloved air combat simulator in the first place.
The backstory of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown takes players back to its humble roots and deals with its original combatants of the Osean Federation and the Erusean Kingdom. It will all seem very familiar to those who have followed the lore of Ace Combat throughout the years, but it is otherwise a very accessible story to those who are completely new to the series and are making their first stop in seventh instalment of the game. It is largely a cinematic game where players will be treated to regular cut scenes that build on the story's elements and push players towards the end conclusion in between bouts of rapid-fire arcade-style air combat.
While it may seem like the crux of the game is based on its cinematic story, that's not to say the actual combat players will partake in is anything sub par. The frenzied action of pursing enemies becomes all the more interesting after watching a detailed story of why that particular enemy is posing a threat to the freedom of people – especially when that action takes place at high speeds requiring wits, stamina, and nimble keyboard fingers to successfully guide the very sensitive aircraft into the right place to line up a perfect shot. While controlling the planes is an artistic act of precision, the rest of the game's battle mechanics are rather simple and streamlined. The joy of the game is in its flight simulator aspect and will require proficient flying skills to make it through the title unscathed.
Ace Combat 7 also has an excellent online multiplayer option that pits players against one another in a true test of keyboarding skills. Interestingly, each match is only five minutes long and requires players to get into the action very quickly without much build up. It is truly an arcade-like experience when playing with human dog fighters in comparison to the drawn-out single player mode that invests heavily in its wonderful storytelling.
The Ace Combat series is well-known for its visuals and the seventh game is no exception to this. Everything bears an uncanny resemblance to the real world, which goes long ways in providing a great game play experience. Even in periods of intense combat and very fast manoeuvres, artefacts and other visual imperfections aren't issues players will encounter.
For fans of combat flight simulators, Ace Combat 7 hits the mark in every respect. It is certainly a worthwhile addition to any gamer's library for fans of the genre.