The fires of liberation burn bright in the hearts, minds and souls of all Emmerians as they strive to reclaim their country from the evil oppression of the forces of Estovakia.
Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation opens with the invasion of Emmeria by the air forces of Estovakia using their command carrier and super cruise missiles. Through overwhelming odds, the Emmerians are forced to retreat to a safe haven and regroup to launch a counterattack. The game then follows a series of missions that slowly reclaim the lost territories and bring the Emmerian forces step by step back to controlling their own futures.
Ace Combat 6 also has a storyline that goes along with the main part of the game, which is blowing the Estovakians out of the sky. It follows the path of an Emmerian citizen as she searches for her lost child who disappeared during the initial attack. As it turns out, her beloved pilot was shot down during the initial attack, and she finds his plane wreck on her journeys. Another part of the story follows the life of the pilot as a prisoner of the Estokavian military. With the two be reunited? Will she ever find her lost child? These and many other questions you will ask yourself as you continue the saga and work to defeat the enemies in the skies over Emmeria.
The is also series of missions that build upon each other to create a plausible storyline in the reclamation of Emmeria. The sorties that you fly will be a combination of both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. So your choice of aircraft and weaponry becomes an important aspect of each mission. For each successful mission you fly, you will be rewarded in points that can then be used to purchase new aircraft and weaponry for that aircraft.
Some of the aircraft available to you, such as the F-14D and the SU-33, are effective in air-to-air combat, while others, such as the A-10 and the Tornado, are more useful as air-to-ground craft. So depending on your current mission, your choice of plane will change to fit your main objective. Each aircraft also has a collection of various missiles that can be purchased, which also are referred to as "Special Weapons." Some of these missiles will be designed for air-to-air and others for air-to-ground targets. During the various missions, you will have the opportunity to re-arm your craft and change your weapon mix, but you will not be able to change your plane.
Each aircraft has its own flight characteristics, which have been recreated within the game, though it plays more like a video game than an actual flight simulator. You can tell the difference in performance between each of the aircraft in terms of its maneuverability and acceleration. Each plane also has a different cockpit view.
You can go back and replay cleared missions in the Free Mission mode. When selecting this option, you can reset the difficulty level to make it easier or harder to complete. There is a free-flight mode, which allows you to fly about the different scenario maps and just have fun in the air without worrying about being shot down in the middle of your acrobatics. It can be quite exhilarating to fly at 1,200 mph 200 feet off the deck between skyscrapers. Well, that is until you fly into one of those skyscrapers, which is not to say that I did that ...
There are three difficulty levels to the game. The only real difference I noticed through gameplay is that on the easier level, you are given more ammunition with which to fight the good fight. The enemy still was just as potent and numerous as on the more difficult levels; you just got to shoot more before you get shot down. Actually, having more ammunition allowed for more frivolous shots to be made where previously I had to watch my targeting and make sure I had a good shot and not waste ammo. So it did make a difference.
The graphics in the game are amazing; the level of detail is high, and you get the feeling of being in the sky flying over a picturesque landscape. The detail in the development of the aircraft also is quite good.
One of my favorite parts of the game is the replay, which occurs at the end of each mission. It runs you through the entire mission from start to finish, showing all your brilliant moves — as well as those not so brilliant moves — that you had made during your sortie behind enemy lines. It's like watching a movie with all the adrenaline rushing excitement as you zoom about the sky blowing the enemy out of it. You even can save the replay to show to your friends and family and tell them all about your greatest moves in the sky over Emmeria.
With the ability to go back and play previous missions at any time you like, you also can play these missions using the aircraft you currently have available to you in your hanger. This allows you to play previous missions with new and different planes, allowing for each mission to be played multiple times as you experiment with which plane works best for each mission.
With the numerous options available in this game, there is no end to the fun you will have playing Ace Combat 6. When you also add in the online multiplayer mode, you suddenly have a whole new world open up for you as your opponents become real people instead of computer-run animatrons. The challenges never cease!
Ace Combat 6 is a lot of fun, and some of the missions were extremely challenging. Personally I found the storyline to be sort out of context for an air-combat game, though it did add another dimension to the game that allowed for a short break between missions as you watch the drama unfold. Overall, I think it has a good replayability and some serious longevity to it — especially if you can find a group of people online to play with.