Ace Com­bat In­fin­ity

PS3

EDGE - - GAMES - Pub­lisher/de­vel­oper Bandai Namco (Project Aces) For­mat PS3 Re­lease Out now

Coun­tries spend mil­lions keep­ing their air forces in the sky. Fuel is ex­pen­sive, af­ter all. With Ace Com­bat In­fin­ity – the 17th in­stal­ment in Bandai Namco’s flight se­ries, but its first sor­tie into free-toplay – Project Aces has man­aged to sim­u­late that bur­den. Ev­ery time you take to the skies, whether it’s part of the cam­paign or se­ries-first com­pet­i­tive team mis­sions, a unit of fuel is con­sumed. You’re given three to start with, and can earn more by com­plet­ing chal­lenges, but run out and you’ll have to stump up 79p or wait four hours for an­other unit to gen­er­ate.

You can par­tially by­pass this by spend­ing £11.99 on a solo cam­paign pass that will en­able you to fly eight sin­gle­player mis­sions with­out buy­ing fuel. But only five short lev­els are avail­able now and you’ll still have to spend fuel to fly on­line. Plus, thanks to Bandai Namco’s aban­don­ment of As­sault Hori­zon’s filmic in­no­va­tions – Dog­fight Mode is gone in favour of more tra­di­tional en­coun­ters – what is here feels un­der­nour­ished in com­par­i­son to a 2011 game. Dog­fight Mode might have been di­vi­sive, but it was rous­ing and did a far bet­ter job of com­mu­ni­cat­ing the drama of air com­bat than shoot­ing at fast-mov­ing dots. Bomb­ing runs and gun­ship mis­sions are also nowhere to be seen.

You’ll only be pilot­ing jet fighters, but at least there are lots of them. New planes, mostly real-world craft but with nods to past games, are re­searched as you level up, bought us­ing in-game cred­its and then added to your fleet. You can have up to four cus­tomised jets at once, defin­ing load­outs, buffs and skins, while spend­ing time in the air lev­els up planes them­selves, let­ting you spend cred­its on per­for­mance and de­fen­sive up­grades.

You can fly your cus­tom planes in In­fin­ity’s only mul­ti­player mode, which sees two teams of four pi­lots com­pet­ing to take down the most AI en­e­mies across five mis­sions. En­e­mies have dif­fer­ent point val­ues, de­noted by their colour on the radar, and each match is limited to just a few min­utes. Spe­cial events, such as the ar­rival of a wing of ace pi­lots or the sur­fac­ing of an en­emy sub­ma­rine flanked by UAVs, see both teams work to­gether to de­stroy the threat within a time limit, with a bonus handed to the team that de­liv­ers the killing blow. Emer­gency Sor­ties, mean­while, are fully co­op­er­a­tive, but In­fin­ity of­fers only one at launch.

More will fol­low, but de­spite what its name might sug­gest, In­fin­ity is ex­tremely limited, both in terms of what lit­tle con­tent it of­fers and your abil­ity to ac­cess it. Bandai Namco prom­ises to up­date the game with more mis­sions and modes – in­clud­ing on­line PvP – but its heavy-handed im­ple­men­ta­tion of F2P is likely to re­sult in clear skies above its on­line the­atres.

AceCom­bat­In­fin­ity continues the con­certed avoid­ance of colour found in the se­ries’ pre- As­sault Hori­zon in­stal­ments. In fact, In­fin­ity looks con­sid­er­ably worse than its three-year-old pre­de­ces­sor in all re­spects

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