Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown Full PC Game Download - Torrent
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown Full PC Game Download - Torrent
Despite providing some of the most profound experiences I’ve had with media of any kind, there’s arguably something of a paradox that exists at the heart of almost all anti-war war games.
The titles that convey anti-war sentiment, but whose gameplay revolves around the same kind of militaristic bravado inherent to some of the medium’s most straight-ahead gun-fests.
There have been a number of attempts to navigate that conundrum more effectively over the years, with games exploring less typical genres to highlight the powerlessness of the people caught in the crossfire—recognising that while there’s not anything wrong with violence or guns in a video game, to incentivise and reward those violent interactions while also trying to tell the player how terrible they are for carrying them out might come across as a little disingenuous.
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, on the other hand, decides to ignore that train of thought completely; leaning hard into the dissonance as it sensually fawns over every nook and cranny of every plane; giving you absolute control over exactly how you’re going to dismantle your foes in the coolest ways possible, contributing to an arbitrary arcade scoring mechanic… all while using its fake sci-fi conflict between fictional nations about drones and a princess with a VERY GOOD DOG and a space elevator that the good guys… or bad guys… want to control… or destroy… all in order to tell us that… war is bad...
but also that pilots should be fighting wars?
It’s a lot, but as games like Metal Gear Solid have shown us, your story doesn’t have to be super dour in order to make a salient point about the nature of conflict in the digital age, for example—you can have some fun with it.
I usually end up cherishing the stories that embrace the absurdity of the medium they find themselves in.
And with its allusions towards headier themes of the prevalence of civilian casualties even with the use of unmanned aircraft, or what purpose fighter pilots serve when the jets fly on their own, you can see the potential narrative throughline between a game like MGS and Ace Combat – that kind of cold hard military fetishism butting heads with sci-fi anime nonsense.
Or rather, that’s how it should be.
Instead of butting heads, it’s perhaps more accurate to say the two things are placed next to each other and rarely the twain meet.
In reality, Ace Combat feels like it’s telling two separate stories – the plot delivered in-mission through radio transmissions as well as your mechanical interactions of your mute pilot who ends up leading a squadron of flying prisoners to take down the drones and the somehow weirder tale of the Erusian federation’s development of said drones using the DNA of… this guy and there’s someone calling herself the scrap queen who gets taken prisoner after flying a drag racer built by her grandpa, all of which apparently draws upon the lore of this series that somehow dates back to the 1100s, and yet is told entirely through lengthy, droning expository cutscenes almost completely distanced from your missions.
Said cutscenes make out its characters to be the protagonists for a good chunk of the game, but on the rare occasion they make their presence known outside of these uninteractive interludes, they present themselves as enemies to be taken down.
It all meant the narrative of my opposing squadron inevitably drew my sympathies thanks to my active participation in these unfolding events, but I was never sure if that was the takeaway the game wanted me to come away with because the cutscenes were telling me one thing while the missions were telling me something wholly different.
It never struck me as a clever subversion of player allegiances; it felt more like storytelling so contrived that even the developers weren’t on the same page about the fundamentals of its delivery.
As much as I’ve joked about it though, the problem isn’t a lack of coherency; the tos and fros of Ace Combat’s territorial conflict aren’t all that difficult to follow.
The problem is that the overarching narrative’s monotonous delivery lacks the bombast that could at least elevate it above said tedium.
Even with all of that said, however, none of this would be anywhere near as much of a sticking point to me if the gameplay it distracted from didn’t far more convincingly sell me on Ace Combat’s themes of the complicated horrors of war; or, more importantly, if said gameplay wasn’t so utterly, utterly thrilling.
Seriously, it’s a rare thing that I’m way more concerned about gameplay spoilers than story here; some of its set-pieces are so viscerally exciting that I genuinely think they should be experienced blind.
In my 20 hours of play I craved the end of the cutscenes to get to the mission briefings that followed—the tantalisingly dense series of maps and objectives that trusted me to internalise and execute on its layered strategies; whose subtler story of the corruption at the heart of military hierarchy felt at least somewhat related to what I was actually experiencing.
I got lost in the sea of new planes and weapons at my disposal; realising quickly that the slightest changes to my loadout could have a drastic impact on the outcome of a sortie.
Most importantly, however, after a couple of missions whose wide-open spaces and predictable circling of the enemy made me feel like the dogfights were more fun to watch in end-of-level replays than they were to, well, play, I found myself totally hooked; I could not get enough of its immensely high-stakes engagements.
These missions, while occasionally frustrating, placed such an emphasis on my own moment-to-moment decision making that I felt empowered in a way that few games make me feel; and after pondering why that was, I found that it largely came down to one thing—mission design.
See, if there’s a sentiment that sums up the mission design of Ace Combat 7, it’s that restriction breeds creativity.
Instead of constantly adding to your arsenal in order to make you feel like some kind of badass hero as other combat-themed games might do, the mission designers go the other way; gradually restricting your access to certain features in order to force mastery of the systems that remain - those that you may previously have taken for granted – and in doing so drastically expand the scope of its arcade dogfighting into something far more varied, challenging and rewarding.
For example, you might become used to your special weapon over time—often more powerful or with greater homing capabilities on more targets than your standard missiles.
Well, how about a mission where you’re forced to drop said weapon in place of a laser guidance system—forcing you to get closer to your target as well as hold your position as the bomb drops, made all the more terrifying by how perilously low you have to descend into the mountains in order to do so.
Up to this point, it’s been a case of getting your radar in the general vicinity of the target and hitting a button.
Now, the designers force you to stare your target in the face for a prolonged period of time; testing your aim as well as your nerve as every fibre in your body screams at you to pull up.
It’s the same systems, it’s largely the same setting of open sky and rocky ground as any other mission, but by removing just one potential crutch the player may lean on, the game presents what feels like a completely fresh scenario.
Multiple missions will remove the radar to differing effects; a lightning strike in a canyon filled with jagged rocks will force you to remain prepared to focus more closely on your target—following it through these hazards as your HUD intermittently cuts out.
A sandstorm will mess with the electronics forcing you to seek out ground targets manually while only being able to see a few feet in front of you.
A universal outage will require you to get unnervingly close to targets for visual confirmation on whether they’re friend or foe—always weighing up risking friendly fire against the time it would take to properly identify, turn around and make another pass at taking them out.
All wildly varying challenges, all stemming from the simple removal of your reliance on the radar.
Hell, this is a game where you fly massive planes at Mach speeds in order to cause spectacular explosions, that manages to create a believable, honest to god stealth mission simply by taking away your ability to gain altitude and, by setting it in a narrow canyon and restricting your movement, your manoeuvrability is put to the test in a way it previously wasn’t.
What’s more, it’s a moment of quiet in an experience that is otherwise relentless.
The developers’ more restrictive approach to mission design ends up as much a pacing device as it is a joyously tense gameplay set-piece.
This process of restricting your abilities in missions both trains you to become an absolute powerhouse against the game’s tougher foes, zigging to meet their zag at the drop of a hat, while really making you feel like you earned that power—like your mastery of the systems is what drives the game’s progression.
And Ace Combat really is a game that forces this mastery.
I’m a big fan of action games that allow you to pull off the crazy moves you see in their cutscenes, but here doing so is not only encouraged by the game’s immensely flexible controls, but it’s often a very strict mission requirement—fail to pull off these incredible feats of airmanship and your punishment is severe.
One of the reasons the aforementioned set pieces are so tense – the high stakes at play here – come down to the fact that, in what can often be incredibly chaotic situations (whether due to the obstacles you must navigate or the weirdly aggressive time limits the game sets you), a simple graze of the wing in minute 20 can send you all the way back to minute 1.
To say it is unforgiving would be an understatement.
This difficulty, however, was the element that made the game for me in a lot of regards, because it’s one of the few titles I’ve played recently in which you can truly say that every move counts.
It turned every bombing run, every pursuit of an unpredictable enemy, into a taut game of risk and reward.
Every mission contained several of those delightfully Hollywood-esque scenarios, where you’re tailing the guy but there’s a bogey on your six that’s got a lock on you; you’re out of missiles and having to use your eyes to orient your machine gun fire.
Your radio is begging you to evade, leading you to either get out of dodge or wait that agonising second longer to get that shot before pulling as hard as you can on the joystick to avoid the obstacle that awaits you.
You know you can pull this off, you just know you can… even though when you do, it likely moved so fast that you wonder how the hell you got out unscathed.
It’s the kind of thrill games rarely afford you from a purely mechanical standpoint, for sure, but what was surprising to me as I progressed was how much more invested I was in these moments from a narrative sense than the lore dumps the game throws at you; how much more effectively the game’s little details, its design and mechanics delivered on its more thematic ambitions.