Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown and the ancient desire to fly

"Does the color of the sky matter to you?". The last chapter of the Bandai Namco dogfighting series begins with a question, four years after the announcement and twelve years after the last numbered chapter, exclusive to Xbox 360. Towards the sky, questions are asked, answers are sought, dreams are imagined. breaking the barrier of earthly constraints, and every shade of color changes in sync with the emotions of those who contemplate it. AND Ace Combat 7 owns and shares the most real of virtual skies, stained by the Second Usean Continental War. A dispute between the federation of Hosea and the Kingdom of Erusea, at the height of international frictions that see at the center of the story the construction of an Hosean space lift off the Erusean coast, in Usean territory (a country that was devastated by previous conflicts), seen as a threat to the sovereignty of the kingdom. A geo-political novel told with great class, mostly via radio, between the cockpit of our fighters and the briefing rooms, with a perfect and engaging technical language, but also with very interesting engravings of characters who live the story from the ground, always giving a bilateral, human point of view and emotional, in total contrast to another of the ones addressed by the script, the path to dehumanization of armies. Drones and artificial intelligences, devoid of empathy and conscience that subtract the human factor from an instinct that is already self-destructive.

There is an almost poetic grace and elegance, typically Japanese, that pervades the entire narrative arc and is reflected in the sky, with a ray of sunshine that filters into the cockpit just as we are in the queue of an enemy fighter. the viewfinder turning red; “Target hooked”. "Fire". "Target destroyed". Three messages from the headquarters, able to freeze as much as to exalt up to euphoria. Here the art of dogfighting becomes a dance on the overwhelming orchestral tracks of Keiki Kobayashi. Moving in the skies restores an incredible sense of awareness, which deludes the brain to understand the forces that act on a fighter launched at mach 2 swooping towards the ground, and then activate the airbrakes, turn suddenly and find yourself looking at the clouds, hearing everything the weight on him, the vibrations, the noises. The sense of scale and the management of space are completely crazy. Seeing an enemy bomber approach and go from a simple radar signal to a huge metal beast below us, at that speed, with that granite image refresh at 60 squares per second, is a goosebumps sensation. Also thanks to a sensational mission design, which fills the maps in a manageable but stimulating way, pushing us to fight at a height of 3000 meters and then find ourselves grazing the roofs of skyscrapers, looking for the most suitable angle to hit the tracked enemies and advance. the allies. Always reflecting quickly, listening to the orders coming from the headquarters and comparing them on the fly with the information of a clear and realistic HUD, thus managing to feel likely to be assisted but never taken, maintaining a constantly winking challenge rate. Each mission is so worthy of being played several times, because it is fundamentally unique in what it proposes, always with a different, brilliant idea, also allowing itself the classic tight boss fights with other "axes" of the sky. You feel free, choreographic, very powerful, enveloped by overwhelming sensory and emotional feedback such as the release of a missile, the trajectory clearly visible from its condensation trail, the delayed and dull thud of the impact against an enemy's cockpit, the explosion.

We pass from the suffocating tension of a defensive mission to the sensation of almost divine omnipotence that transmits a surprise attack in the middle of the night, swooping from the clouds to bring destruction on an Erususean base, while the panic that winds to the ground is intercepted by our radios. Clouds are perhaps the greatest aesthetic delight of Ace Combat 7 (which in order to manage that scale and that frame rate needs more streamlined earth textures, but still of great overall scenic impact), with technology trueSKY that will immerse us in soft volumetric heaps with a physicality never seen before, then made fundamental also for the purposes of gameplay. The first dive into a storm front is unforgettable, in terms of scenographic and physical impact, with the plane bombarded by lightning and winds, in a mountain scenario that is already dangerous and infamous in itself. Lots of new ideas naturally inserted into a solid, placed, self-confident rig, making it simply the best Ace Combat ever to play, to live, even with some feeling of deja vu here and there. There is also time to contemplate breathtaking panoramas, colored by pyrotechnic plays of light, reflect, grasp the details of a work done with immense love and savoir faire, beyond the video game. They took the time it took the boys of Project Aces, and the result is a beautiful game, without mincing words. It has all the charm and the conflicting feelings that war unleashes in men, and that from its own interior it seems to live with detachment; “That's why I prefer to stay up here,” our squadron mate Count will say. And it's a real shame that our alter ego, codenamed Trigger, can't respond. A classic empty shell to be filled with our personality, incredibly out of tune with the intensity of what surrounds it, often undermining the suspension of disbelief.

I realize that it is a personal matter, but by now I find this kind of choices unbearable, which I allow only to Link, in the name of tradition and the meaning it has since its birth. Separate speech for the plot in general, always interesting and very well told, as already written, but a little less courageous and exciting than Ace Combat 5: Squadron Leader, always written by Sunao Katabuchi and available as a bonus for those who pre-ordered the title on PlayStation 4 (on One you will receive the sixth chapter instead). More sober this one, no less interesting and maybe even better written, but I still remember the second half of that chapter with a little chills, which this seventh iteration gave me more on the gameplay side. Thrills from modeling for fetishists those who instead transmit the selection of aircraft, to be enjoyed also and above all in VR (here at the end of the dedicated box, edited by Francesco), all strictly under license, beautiful, elevated to pieces of contemporary art such as Polyphony does with cars. Purchasable with the points obtained from mission to mission, thanks to a tree system that returns an excellent sense of progression. Then there is a whole undergrowth of medals and secondary objectives that enhance replayability and push more and more to perfection, then making themselves ready for online multiplayer, which we have not yet had the opportunity to try but which promises to add further fun to the package. with a very interesting prestige system. First of all, however, Ace Combat 7 is an experience of psycho-physical relocation which eliminates the boundaries between real and virtual, to be enjoyed religiously with the view set in the first person, inside the cockpit, without the need to see the afterburners in action but feeling them along the spine, experiencing the illusion of flight.


I flew at supersonic speeds by completing all twenty missions of the campaign, covering a distance of 7.531km and loving every inch of it, shooting down 1.087 targets along the way, thanks to a PlayStation 4 copy kindly provided by the distributor. I also tried Ace Combat 5: Squadron Leader, polished for modern video formats and found it in great shape, a huge bonus for those who pre-ordered the seventh chapter on the Sony flagship.

  • Eight hours to complete the intense campaign on "normal" difficulty, but the desire to replay the missions to improve and win medals is still very high.
  • Single player campaign enhanced by a great narrative level, online multiplayer and specially designed VR modes.
Collectibles and Extras
  • Lots of planes that can be purchased, others to be conquered by completing particular objectives.

VR by

Ace Combat 7 in VR allows you to play some missions specifically dedicated to this technology, without having to adapt the entire campaign. Longevity is therefore limited, therefore it is an additional sector and not a game in itself. However, anyone who owns a VR headset will be fascinated by how Ace Combat manages to use it. The graphic quality is very high even for a virtual reality game, reproducing the environments very well. The surprising thing is that there are also numerous details that further enrich the scenic effect compared to the average of this sector. Whether it is the droplets of condensation that appear as we cross a cloud at maximum speed, as well as the lighting that changes inside the passenger compartment, distinguishing the areas of shadow and light depending on the position in which we hold the sun, all contribute. to make the whole extremely suggestive. The same take-off and landing maneuvers from the aircraft carrier in the middle of the sea have an edge if approached in this way. But the most surprising thing is the fluidity and the incredible solidity of the frame rate, reducing motion sickness to practically zero even after playing multiple missions in a row, in which maneuvers were carried out in which you would tip over your fighter.. Ultimately, Ace Combat 7 does not offer a particularly long-lived VR sector, however it is a high quality added value, a great VR experience backed by a solid gaming sector. For those who are undecided whether to take this game and have a PSVR, the virtual reality mode will make all the difference to the purchase.

Review by Stefano Calzati

Seductive in the general glance, it shows a physiological simplicity in the textures as you approach the ground and the smaller elements, which with that sense of scale is honestly the least of the problems. The general cleanliness of the 60 frames per second and the splendid management of light and shades, combined with the trueSKY technology for the creation of the clouds, definitely make it a product capable of taking your breath away and pushing the Share button in a natural way.


Each sortie is accompanied by a piece (basically orchestral) capable of perfectly underlining the moment, whether it is tension or exaltation, drama or victory, blending perfectly with the deaf explosions with an incredible three-dimensional sound. The jet engines of the fighters hiss muffled by the cockpit and the headphones, inside which lives a humanity made up of companions, superiors and enemies. A continuous, excited, almost reassuring chat while you are alone at 4000 meters high, dubbed in excellent and beautifully acted English.


The controls delude the mind, making us experience exactly what we imagine an aerial combat to be. We move with elegance, making sudden turns and round loops, queuing up to enemy fighters and avoiding missiles at the last second, always with the heart in the throat and the brain active, prodded by a mission design that requires not only instinct but also mental elasticity. The perfect arcade, intuitive without ever skimping on subtleties, demanding without being punitive, Ace Combat style at its best.

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