Previews// Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception (PSP)

Flying on the ground is wrong

Posted 20 Oct 2006 18:00 by
Considering the desire to fly is one of man's primal urges, right up there with eating and making sweet, sweet love, there's a stunning paucity of flying games of note for the home consoles. Sure, PC users have their flight simulators... but even if you judiciously add a 't' to their name, they'll never be interesting enough for normal people. No, it takes a very particular kind of enthusiast to spend hours in his bedroom, bathed in the wan light of his monitor, feverishly working his joystick in order to perform a real-time SYD to LHR flight in a Boeing 747-400.

The rest of us want to soar free, like birds, only supersonic ones. And armed with powerful ordnance, like Maverick and the Ice Man in Top Gun, though without all those messy homosexual overtones.

But games publishers have largely ignored our Icarian urges, with the exception of Namco. Since 1995, Namco has been furnishing the would be fighter-aces of the world with PlayStation aviation thrills. They even once slipped one out - Ace Combat Advance - on Game Boy Advance in Japan and the US, but it never made it as far as this septic isle. Initially a conversion of the Air Combat arcade game, the series has gone on the be the most enduring of all aviation combat franchises.

The Ace Combat series has alighted - or should that be crash-landed - at last, on the PSP. And it has the all important trendy shorthand for ten (X) in its name, plus the thrilling subtitle, The Skies of Deception - which sounds quite exciting, but also a little trepidating.

Ace Combat X: The Skies of Deception is no hasty port from the recent PS2 release, Ace Combat: The Belkan War (which reminds this reviewer of his high school science teacher Mr Belk going to battle with Serbia and Montenegro). Instead the game features 15 all new maps... and an all new storyline featuring a battle between the implausibly named Leasath and Aurelia.

Ace Combat sits in the gaping yaw between a flight sim and an arcade game, though much closer to the arcade end of the spectrum. If you're now wondering what a 'gaping yaw' is, then unlike SPOnG, you've never hung around with sailors. You can choose to fly one of a selection of real-world aircraft, all officially licenced from the military-industrial complex. Although each aircraft does behave in a different way, this will only have overall effects on your mission success. They don't really 'feel' different to fly. But top speed and manoeuverability will certainly affect your ability to give chase and dogfight with enemy aircraft. Slower planes give you more time to target ground-based targets. You can also tool up your plane with a selection of air-to-whatever ordnance. Choosing the correct weapons will affect your mission success rates much more noticeably. Run out of missiles before you run out of enemy planes and...well, good luck with the machine guns. You can upgrade your aircraft with parts you obtained while completing missions. Missions themselves vary from game to game, so each replay is different from the last game.

Progress through the game comes from completing the Campaign Mode - but you can hone your skills and practise in Free Mission mode. And you can take on your friends in the ad-hoc wireless mode, which enables you to play head-to-head or co-operatively.

Controlling your plane is simpicity itself, though judging speed and angles of turn can be tricky at first. Targeting the enemy can be left to the auto-targetting system, and your heads-up display gives you all the information you'll need to find and lock-on to your opponents. Before long, you will find yourself winging around the skies like Douglas Bader would, if he had legs and could fly a jet fighter.

On PSP, Ace Combat looks superb; the combination of the small screen and the middle-distance atmospheric haze giving an impression of near photo-realism that isn't present on larger screen versions. The result is one of the best looking PSP games - the graphical style suits the game subject perfectly...

All this begs the question - if arcade combat games are so much fun, why are there not more of them. Heatseeker and After Burner: Black Falcon are due out for PSP next year - but until then, Ace Combat X is the only choice for PSP owners.

We're looking forward to getting our hands on the completed version, and we'll bring you a full review soon.

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zoydwheeler 20 Oct 2006 17:28
'messy homosexual urges.... hanging around with sailors...' hmmmm, is there something you're not telling us Marcus!?

and wtf IS a gaping yaw?
DoctorDee 20 Oct 2006 18:42
zoydwheeler wrote:
and wtf IS a gaping yaw?

You need to hang around with more sailors.

TBH, I don't know what that part means - I know what a gaping yaw is, but the sailors part was added in subbing.

Yaw is a particularly esoteric synonym for cleave or crack.

Roget's New Millennium? Thesaurus
Main Entry: gape
Part of Speech: verb 2
Definition: gap
Synonyms: cleave, crack, dehisce, divide, frondesce, gap, open, part, split, yaw, yawn
Source: Roget's New Millennium? Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.3.1)
Copyright © 2006 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Yes, I know gape and yaw are also synonyms, but I was using gaping as an adjective.

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PreciousRoi 21 Oct 2006 07:58
ehm, actually Doc, methinks you meant to say "gaping maw"...especially considering this is a flight sim and yaw has a fairly specific meaning in this context...not even sure its a noun(in this context)...
tyrion 21 Oct 2006 11:01
PreciousRoi wrote:
especially considering this is a flight sim and yaw has a fairly specific meaning in this context...not even sure its a noun(in this context)...

And has the same meaning in sailing, hence the sailors reference ... and we're back!

And "maw" is more of a mouth than a gap, which I believe was the original intent.
PreciousRoi 21 Oct 2006 11:10
still don't think "yaw" is a noun in the context of a gap...whearas gaping maw is a fairly commonly used phrase
DoctorDee 21 Oct 2006 11:24
PreciousRoi wrote:
ehm, actually Doc, methinks you meant to say "gaping maw"...especially considering this is a flight sim and yaw has a fairly specific meaning in this context...not even sure its a noun(in this context)...

Roi, you're clearly quite eloquent, and a bit of a sesquipedalian yourself. But those who know me well know that what I say is, usually, what I mean to say. Obvious f**k-ups like typos and completely mis-reading the post I am responding to aside.

But I know what I meant. I have cited my proof. Yaw is a rarely used synonym of gap... derived from yawn, I think.

The fact that it is also a partner, in aviation, with pitch and roll was the very reason I chose it.

A pun, you see.

PreciousRoi 21 Oct 2006 11:36
Yeh, I got the pun. Actually thought the sailors bit was an oblique reference Shenmue (X-Play did some brilliant bits about this) the humor I found in this sorta overshadowed the pun.

At the risk of pedantism (too late, methinks) the thesaurus entry you quoted was for the use of gap as a verb...while it may be equally as synonomous as a noun I was unable to find a equivalent meaning as a noun for yaw, but then I don't have a thesaurus handy, just an unabridged dictionary from last millenium. So I'm prolly suffering for an insufficency of information.

yaw n. 1. an act of yawing
2. the angle formed by a yawing aircraft
DoctorDee 21 Oct 2006 11:48
PreciousRoi wrote:
At the risk of pedantism (too late, methinks) the thesaurus entry you quoted was for the use of gap as a verb...

If only I could afford that £195 a year for an OED subscription. Hold on! I CAN afford it, I'm just not prepared to pay it.

Bloody thing isn't even based at Oxford University anymore...

PreciousRoi 21 Oct 2006 11:58
damn, now I gotta know...incidentally, the sailing/flying definition comes from Icelandic for to hunt, or move to and fro

My gram got me my unabridged dictionary for Xmas ' dad burned a hole in my old one with a candle one Halloween...take it as you will that I went out in my bare feet at 630 inna morning to fetch it from storage in the garage...

as to the OED, is nothing sacred?
DoctorDee 21 Oct 2006 12:11
PreciousRoi wrote:
damn, now I gotta know...

I think I am wrong. It appears a verb only. Meaning "to be wide open"

So a yawing gap, not a gaping yaw.

Though, according to - noun usage referring to the "act of yawning" was recorded in 1697 - where is not cited.

My gram got me my unabridged dictionary for Xmas '88...

There's unabridged, and unabridged. The OED is 20 volumes.

PreciousRoi 21 Oct 2006 12:38
w0rd(s, lots of them).

Guess that puts us yanks in our place.

Is sesquipedaliac a word? 'Cuz I like sounds dirty...
DoctorDee 21 Oct 2006 15:22
PreciousRoi wrote:
Is sesquipedaliac a word? 'Cuz I like sounds dirty...

It is a word. It means someone given to using long words. It also means a long word.

There are a lot of words. The OED claims to include over 600.000 words. The University of Texas claims there are 700,000 words in the English language. For comparison, French has only 100,000, German only 185,000 - though some of them are very very long.

University of Texas also claims there are "50,000-100,000 words needed for average adult communication" which is absolute bullcrap - your average English speaker has a vocabulary of around 10-20,000 words (that they know the meanings of) but use only half that many in their lifetime.

Words are great. The way their usage changes is great. You probably know that the original meaning of the word nice was simple or foolish. Or that at the time that British settlers left for the New World, we Brits used to refer to Autumn as Fall, and it is we that have changed while (most of ) America has retained the original word. The great irony being that 'fall' is the word we most often cite to indicate how Americans speak differently to us.

RiseFromYourGrave 21 Oct 2006 18:10
i like a bit of etymology, can anyone recommend a particularly good book on it? (not the dictionary!)

i find the fact that people all over the world use a language effected by the colourful history of a little island moored off the west cost of europe rather interesting

i also find it to be strange that 'fast' can be used to say stuck or static, as well as rapid. maybe that came about as a sarcastic joke? :D
DoctorDee 22 Oct 2006 12:06
RiseFromYourGrave wrote:
i also find it to be strange that 'fast' can be used to say stuck or static, as well as rapid. maybe that came about as a sarcastic joke? :D

That's an auto-antonym. A word that means something and the opposite of that thing. Often, it's two homonymous words with different etymologies.

But both meanings of fast are from the Old English or Proto Germanic word fæst/fest - which meant firm or strong. Clearly, something can be stuck firm. But also to run strongly, is to run fast.

In reality fast is just an adverb, describing being very stuck or very moving.

So saying that something is 'fast', with out the 'stuck' or the 'moving' is rather like saying that someone is 'very' without the 'big' or 'wet' or 'rich' or whatever.

PreciousRoi 22 Oct 2006 14:09
Then you have the other meaning of fast(v.) from the same root language...wonder how that one evolved...
RiseFromYourGrave 22 Oct 2006 16:43
ensnaring stuff, can anyone recommend any good reading on the subject then?
DoctorDee 23 Oct 2006 06:47
RiseFromYourGrave wrote:
ensnaring stuff, can anyone recommend any good reading on the subject then?

Over the years, I've found many good books on the subject, but no great ones. They frequently duplicate 80% of what you know,or have read before - with the remaining 20% less being interesting and didactic new stuff.

The one I have my eye on at present is the Cassell Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, which looks interesting. But I think I may already own it... need to check.
RiseFromYourGrave 23 Oct 2006 12:14
its a s**tter when you cant get your hands on a book that reflects your enthusiasm

ill try and sift through the sea of misinformation that is the int0rw3b and find a credible website on the subject :D
Joji 23 Oct 2006 18:54
I'm guilty of not playing any of the Ace Combat games but now a good time to start, i'll put this on my buy list.
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