I’ve always been a fan of games where you fly around and shoot things. Games like the Rogue Squadron series or Star Fox 64. But there haven’t really been any good games in this genre for a while.

I recently tried playing Star Wars Squadrons but ended up very disappointed with that.

Ace Combat is a series that I’ve heard good things about but for some reason I’d just never played any of the series entries. I just finished playing my first Ace Combat game, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown and it was very impressed. It was pretty much everything I was looking for.


Ace Combat 7 Screenshot

The Gameplay

There are a few different difficulty settings to choose from and two different control schemes. I ended up playing on Normal difficulty with the Expert controls.

Easy controls apparently make your plane easier to turn but the Expert controls are more realistic.

It took me a bit of time to get used to everything and I hit a wall around mission 6 in the campaign but after playing a bit of multiplayer and practicing a bit I got the hang of it.

The flight and controls here are the exact perfect middle ground between something simple like say Star Fox but not as complicated as a full on flight sim. It’s complicated enough that you need to practice a bit to master but not annoyingly complicated that I don’t want to play.

Once you get the hang of how everything works you can pull off some crazy maneuvers and the game perfectly captures the feeling of dog fighting with enemy fighter aces. It’s a feeling I’ve never really experienced before in any other games like this.

So overall they absolutely nail the gameplay here and the feeling of dogfighting in an advanced fighter jet.

For weapons you have your main machine gun which is not easy to aim (pretty realistic) but still feels great to use. Most of your attacking power will come from missiles. You’ll need to chase down enemy fighters, get a lock on and fire your missiles at the right time. It takes a bit of practice, especially against some of the more advanced enemies but how it works is a lot of fun.

You also have a whole array of secondary weapons such as homing bombs to hit ground targets, missiles that fire 4-8 at a time to hit multiple targets or advanced laser weapons.

I also really appreciated that the default view is from outside your plane. I’m really not a fan of cockpit views.



There’s a whole tech upgrade tree where you can unlock different real-world planes, upgrade parts and new weapons.

Completing missions in the campaign or playing multiplayer matches earns you a currency that you can use to unlock things here.

The different planes each have their own secondary weapon options and different stats so there’s a lot to experiment with.

Planes later in the tree definitely have better stats but pretty much everything is viable especially since some earlier planes have great secondary weapons that are only available with them.


The Campaign

There’s a great single player campaign with 20 missions and they’re all pretty great. There’s a lot of variety in the missions too. They start off pretty simple where you’re just attacking enemy planes but then get more interesting and complex as the campaign goes on.

Later you’re bombing military bases, one mission has you sneaking low through a canyon under enemy radar avoiding searchlights to sneak attack a base at night and another mission takes away your targeting system where you can’t tell friends from enemies so you have to visually identify everything before attacking.

Overall I was pretty impressed with what happened throughout the campaign.

Most missions are broken up into a few different phases with check points so if you die you can restart from a checkpoint without having to start over from the beginning which is nice.



There’s a multiplayer mode where you can dog fight with up to 8 other player characters in 5 minute matches.

Normally I’m not a fan of multiplayer modes but I actually played this a lot. Mainly because it’s the best way to farm the currency to unlock aircraft and parts.

The 5 minute match time is perfect. It’s very easy to get in and out of matches and the dog fighting is surprisingly a lot of fun.

Even if you’re not great (I never won a single match) you’re still unlocking a good amount of currency, titles, skins and emblems just by playing which kept me coming back.


Ace Combat 7 Screenshot

The Story

The story itself wasn’t too amazing but also not bad. Two countries are essentially at war, various things happen and everyone learns that letting AIs pilot drone aircraft is a bad idea.

What stands out though with the story is the world it takes place in.

Ace Combat games take place in a world called Strangereal which is based on the real world but changed a lot.

It’s actually a very interesting setting with lots of different countries each with their own histories, technology, etc.

There are actually a lot of YouTube videos covering the lore of the series and it gets pretty in-depth.

The strength of the story is definitely the setting.


Ace Combat 7 Screenshot


The sound is excellent with great machine gun sounds and explosions.

The music is surprisingly good too with some great military-sounding themes and music that gets you pumped up for the missions.

With voice acting you have the options for both English or Japanese voices. I went with English and had no complaints. There were a few cheesy lines here and there but overall the performances were all excellent.

There’s a lot of chatter from your wingmen when you’re flying and it’s all done well.


Ace Combat 7 Screenshot


Graphically everything looked great. I had no performance problems either.

The planes are all super detailed which if you’re a fan of aviation you’ll really love. The world, buildings skies and everything look great as well.

You’ll spend a lot of time flying through clouds which look pretty amazing, especially if you’re flying through lightening storms.

Some of the maps are quite beautiful as well, especially one modelled after famous Chinese mountains.


Ace Combat 7 Screenshot

In Conclusion

I finished the game at around 23 hours. It was exactly the perfect length. I had a lot of fun but the game didn’t overstay its welcome at all.

After you complete the campaign you’re encouraged to replay it on harder difficulty, play more multiplayer, unlock more plans, parts and there’s still a lot you can do so replay value is pretty great here.

This was my first Ace Combat game and I’ll definitely be playing more in the future.

Here’s a trailer to check out:


Screenshots from Steam used under Fair Use