There’s a moment, the first time you play Ace Combat 7 in VR, where you look out of the side of your fighter jet and see the island stretched out below you, a large runway, some buildings, the green hills, the sandy shores. It is, without even a twinge of hyperbole, a bloody cool moment. I’m flying a jet, I’m hurtling through the sky, piercing the banks of clouds, I’m pulling barrel rolls. It’s exactly the kind of thing many people would have imagined when first hearing about VR.
As Project Aces rekindle the Ace Combat series a decade after the sixth game, they’ve pitted the Kingdom of Erusea against the Osean Federation of the Strangereal world. It might be set just a few years after the end of Ace Combat 6, but what’s been shown of Skies Unknown up until now has more than a few hints of our modern day world. There’s unmanned new planes and old, there’s manned planes and drones.
Flying is simple and intuitive, almost exactly as you’d expect the controls to be. Sitting in the jet waiting my turn to take off from the aircraft carrier, I’m already eagerly pulling the right trigger to go, but the game makes me wait for my wingman to take flight first. The left trigger then acts to slow you down, letting you turn tighter, the left stick controls direction of flight, and then the face buttons are there to fire and switch weapons. If you know your way around a DualShock 4, you’ll be absolutely fine. That’s good, because you can’t exactly look down to double check in VR…
If there’s one thing I dislike, it’s the default controls not making full use of the gamepad. On a flight stick, the yaw is controlled by twisting the stick, but obviously you can’t do that on a gamepad. Ace Combat puts this onto the shoulder buttons, but it struggled to track my intended target with this, constantly wanting to be able to turn faster and have more analogue control. Funnily enough, there’s a second analogue stick on a gamepad, so I hope that I can adjust the controls to suit in the final game.
Even then, I doubt I’d have had much success with the nose mounted machine gun on the jet. Having missiles and 4AAM lock onto enemy planes just by holding them near the centre of your gaze for a few seconds is so easy and intuitive, I can happily target a plane above me, to my right, or wherever. You’re also given more than enough ammunition to fire away with, though some more advanced planes might take a couple of shots to land a hit.
But I wanted hollywood dogfighting, with blazing machine guns, leading my target and more. I sadly found the heads up display too noisy for that, as I would always lose where the crosshair for the gun was, with one part of the HUD always facing forward, and the other mapped to my point of view. Additionally, having locked onto a plane, I’d have liked to see a target box leading it, so I know where to aim in order to land my bullets. As it was, I only managed to land a couple in total.
They’re minor quibbles that I’m sure can be amended or alleviated before the game’s launch. What’s most important, though, is that they’ve got the game and PSVR working very well together. There’s the cool moments of looking down as your soar high above the surface and pierce the clouds, the effortlessness of using PSVR to track and fire down enemy pilots. As I said, this is the kind of game many people would have imagined for these emergent VR platforms, and it’s clear why that’s the case. You won’t need PSVR to play Ace Combat 7 later this year, but you’ll probably want it.
- Developer:Project Aces
- Publisher:Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Platforms:PS4, PSVR, XBO, PC
- Release Date:2017