ACE COMBAT 7: SKIES UNKNOWN
Takes our breath away
It’s a celebration that may slip under the radar, but Ace Combat is about to mark its 23rd anniversary. It’s a date worth toasting, though, as the jet fighter series has been a PlayStation stalwart worth savouring. This seventh edition ticks all the boxes you’d expect from the series: impressive visuals, bonkers plot, simcade controls, poetic subtitle, and oodles of things to explode. It’s also doing something new to the series. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown embraces PS VR. In many ways the franchise was destined to be a virtual reality trailblazer. After all, what better game suits the new immersive tech than a flight sim?
This is no afterthought either. Ace Combat 7’s PS VR support has been developed in tandem with the main game’s story mode. From the title menu you can choose the PS VR option, which opens up an entirely new roster of missions, set within the world and timeline of the main game.
Impressively, the plane controls have been designed specifically for virtual reality, so everything is oneto-one ratio and even the dials and buttons work. Just sitting in this cockpit gives us goosebumps, and then the mission begins in earnest. From the off the game lays the spectacle on thick. As our plane taxis down the runway enemy fighters and bombers swoop over our head; some are caught by our side’s AA guns and explode across the runway. We peer over our shoulder to get a good look at the burning wreckage and wonder if that’ll be us very soon.
Once in the sky, those dials and digits become useful, enabling us to check altitude and air speed, toggle weapons and rockets, and generally get set for the fight that’s coming.
While outside VR the main game can feel a little clinical, essentially lining up and shooting blinking targets in the HUD, in PS VR the whole thing becomes more direct and personal. Targets are tracked with line-of-sight, so turning our head and actively looking around, up, and even down the outside of the plane reveals enemy aircraft. Once locked on you need to maintain eye contact until the missiles explode in puffs of fire and smoke trails. In virtual reality Ace Combat 7 offers fast and giddy dog fights, far removed from the long-range fire and forget of the main game.
After nearly a quarter of a century, Ace Combat has evolved.
“IN PS VR THE WHOLE THING BECOMES MORE PERSONAL.”
The game’s nearfuture sci-fi look adds to the spectacle.
Above Missions end with a classic boss fight; this beast releases waves of drones.