December 10, 2009
The OverviewNamco-Bandai has been putting out the Ace Combat series for over 14 years and it has been wildly popular and well received. Is it time for the track record to end? From this 1.0 app, I would say so. It is not that the series itself is doomed to failure or that it falls into a genre that we'll never see enough of - air combat games are very popular. It is more that this release suffers from serious technical issues and an extremely short campaign mode.
- Multiple planes based off real jets to fly in five missions. Most of them are locked at the beginning but can be purchased as Downloadable Content.
- You can fly freely through each mission environment after you complete it in campaign mode.
- You have two ways to control your vehicle, Easy (third person view) and Expert (cockpit view).
The BreakdownThe Good Ace Combat Xi Skies of Incursion has beautiful graphics with geography built from actual satellite photos. The plane designs as well as the explosions are spot on. It really looks like a copy of the graphics engine of F.A.S.T. which was top-notch. The storyline fits in the Ace combat series but it is not required for you to be familiar with it in order to play. The story seems to have no point, and doesn't help with the gameplay. Open maps are included to explore after the campaign is done. The Bad Wow...where to start. Ace Xi is advertised as being compatible with iPhone and iPod Touch. I do all my reviews, currently, on a 1st Gen iPod Touch. I constantly feel left behind as I run into apps that say that they are incompatible with my device. At least they prevent me from buying and downloading them. Ace Xi installed just fine....and then proceeded to chug and stutter in quite a few spots. I have read reports from other people than it completely crashed on a 3G iPhone. Only those running it on an iPhone 3GS seemed trouble free. Five missions. Five quick easy missions...for this I paid real money? Oh, sure, I can replay them on different difficulty levels using the two different control systems but is that really supposed to equal re-playability? Or are we expected to buy all our extra play through In App Purchases? We can get extra planes that way. But this really feels like one of those vampiric uses of DLC - to nickel and dime you to death for what should be free, included content. On the DLC and my iPod 1G, it just did not work. Ace Xi kept insisting that I was not connected to a network even though I was on WiFi and every other network app worked just fine. Once you do have access to the DLC you'll just laugh, and then feel disappointed that you paid $4.99, and get less than F.A.S.T. which is only $0.99. The controls are just awkward, and don't really feel like you're piloting a plane like you do in F.A.S.T., X-Plane or Aera. The game doesn't autosave when you close it out...this is probably intentional to help the missions last longer.
The VerdictAce Xi just feels like a late beta. This is the kind of app we expect on the PC but not in the App Store. Overall this game just isn't very good. It seems to be just like F.A.S.T. by SGN, but worse. The controls are awkward, and there's relatively nothing to do in it. Get F.A.S.T. it's $0.99 gives 30 missions, and some of the best online, and local wifi and bluetooth of any game in the App Store. If you have an iPhone 3GS and do not mind paying the high initial cost plus the extra cost of DLC you might want to look at Ace Combat Xi Skies of Incursion. Otherwise, stick with more fun shoot 'em ups like Aera and Mini Squadron. Admittedly, they are not as realistic as Ace Xi but they are cheaper, run better and are, frankly, more fun.
F.A.S.T. -- Fleet Air Superiority Tactics!