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Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War

Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War screenshots
Namco
Namco expands their high-flying action jet simulator series with a prequel of sorts, Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War. Gamers can now execute all sorts of aerial combat maneuvers from the comfort of your Playstation 2 game console. Fans of the series will not be disappointed as this latest installment will satisfy your air combat needs.

As mentioned earlier, Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War takes place 15 years prior to the events of Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War. It mainly focuses on the events that led to the Belkan War. You as pilot assume the role of a mercenary fighter pilot who is hired to fly for Ustio. Ustio is a small fictional country that is invaded by its militaristic neighbor Belka. Throw in some characters and that's pretty much the storyline. It can seem a little sappy but it works for videogames. Ace Combat Zero is essentially broken up into two modes: campaign mode and versus mode.

The campaign mode is fairly straightforward you fly your way through 18 tough combat missions. Some missions include attacking air-to-ground targets but a bulk of the mission load is geared toward air-to-air combat. To achieve mission success, gamers should try to stick to the jets best suited for that particular mission. So if the mission you're on requires attacking ground targets, you should try and stick to a ground attack plane such as the A-10 and avoid using planes better suited for aerial combat such as the F-15C Eagle. Each mission has its own challenges, so gamers can expect the level of difficulty to increase as you get deeper into the missions, just like in Ace Combat 5.

As expected this latest installment of Ace Combat features licensed aircraft such as the F-15 Eagle or the F/A-18 Hornet. More unlock able jets are also available later on in the game. Something, I've always found annoying in the Ace Combat series still thrives in Zero. On your first mission, as usual, you start out with an underpowered F-5 which is I guess ok for about the first 5 minutes of flight time.

I personally hate having to start out with a beginner's plane and virtually no advanced weaponry. New to this title is the ability to purchase weapons instead of using the default weaponry of that particular plane. You get to purchase advanced missiles or Napalm bombs for your fighter jet. Of course the really good guided munitions are available later in the game, but its still a good addition to the game.