The time for the entirety of insert credit to play ACE COMBAT has finally come

The Ace Combat trilogy for the PS2 are my favorite games of all time for that platform.


I believe these to be *very* insert credit videogames. But they weren't mentioned in the PS2 special and I have not seen them ever discussed on the forums other than fleeting, passing mentions.

This needs to change.

I'm going to make the pitch extremely easy.

You wouldn't expect Ace Combat 4, an aircraft-based action videogame from Namco released on 2001 to have a story mode presented as a Visual/Sound Novel that channels the anti-belicist tradition of Hadashi no Gen, Grave of the Fireflies, Fumiyo Kouno, Masaaki Kobayashi, Shigeru Mizuki and a long long etcetera.

You wouldn't expect a videogame that already does that to ALSO echo some of the most iconic works from the Japanese sci-fi pop culture tradition such as Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Mobile Suit Gundam, Super Dimension Fortress Macross (Battletech on the US, trying to get you folks on board as well) and the Real Robot/リアルロボット tradition in general (Armored Trooper VOTOMS) to the point of finding yourself saying out loud "Man, this videogame about airplanes sure feels like Metal Gear Solid!" which in the end is just another really good game firmly rooted in that same tradition.

You certainly wouldn't expect a videogame that does all of that, and whose emotional impact is built firmly around [Agustín Barrios Mangoré](, paraguayan guitar virtuoso's [beautiful compositions](, to also sound [like Top Gun]( AND [your favorite RPG of all time](

At this point, hopefully persuaded by this relentless assault of references and sources of inspiration, you could expect Ace Combat 4 to be at least as good as Capcom's U.N. Squadron, a game that was renamed on the west to erase any the references to Area 88, the manga/anime/OVA series in which it was originally based, and to whom Ace Combat 4 owes a extremely deep debt as well, to the point of inspiring fan-produced videos as good as this one:

In conclusion, regardless of what you expected or not from Ace Combat 4, you really need to play it, specially if you thought you didn't.

Then you can play 5, Zero, 7 (in that order) and go back to the fascinating cyberpunk oddball that the japanese version of Ace Combat 3 is.

Then you can keep falling and falling through the rabbit hole of this beautiful franchise and find yourself playing Project Ace's videogame adaptation of Mamoru Oshii's 2008 animated film The Sky Crawlers, which in the end is just another Ace Combat game but with classic propeller airplanes, including a slice of Battle Garegga's styled steampunk thrown into the mix.

I love Ace Combat games, and I'm ready to welcome all of you loving them as well. This is not the first time I write passionately about Ace Combat, I've done that professionally a couple of times at this point, but this is my first time doing it in english. If you want to check the stuff I did in spanish, my native tongue, here you go (google translate works fine):

COMING UP NEXT: why Ace Combat Zero is the videogame adaptation of Chris Marker's style documentaries nobody asked for or deserved, but that we got anyway.

The one I happen to have in my possession right now is 5. Can I play that first or is it really a good idea to play 4 before the others?

That description of Zero at the very end has me foaming at the mouth to get my hands on it.

@JoJoestar#19931 as you saw in the last letter game, I have Ace Combat 4 and it’s the only one I’ve ever played. It’s a fantastic game and I’ve recently been seriously considering picking up the new one for ps4.

Also The Sky Crawlers rules.

I remember playing AC4 in college expecting it to just be a straight dogfighting sim - reminiscent of Top Gun for the NES, which is a game I had fond memories of. I had no idea it would be so deep, so introspective, so lonely, and so freaking weird. It’s a seminal game for me because of that.

I have a copy of Ace Combat 4, which I got in a thrift store in Anchorage Alaska. It‘s probably one of my favorite games, or at least up there. I was really stuck by the tone of the cutscenes and the story they’ve told. I still have to finish it! I'm stuck on one mission with the AC-10 and having to bomb a bunch of hillsides.

Comona is my favorite mission that I've played, it's all aerial dogfighting while this sweet guitar track plays. You feel absolutely invincible

You can start by playing 5 just fine if that‘s the one available to you. In some regard one could even argue it’s the best way to do it, at least in terms of following a linear progression of quality. To me it‘s the weakest entry of this trilogy, but that means that you’ll enjoy the rest of the games more. And even that is only half-true because, 5 have some advantages of its own. For example, it‘s the one with best gameplay and stage design, it’s also the one with the most classic narrative structure following a clearly cut from zero to hero journey, which is to say, it‘s epic and cheesy as fuck, in the best way one can utter those words. A more purist type of fan could say that the risk of doing that is losing some impact when playing 4, which was the real break for the franchise and the game that set the palette, themes and mood from that point onwards, but I’m not that person.

About **Ace Combat Zero**, the thing goes like this:

The whole narrative of the game follows the unfolding investigation of a journalist trying to research and uncover the life and personal story of a mysterious mercenary (the player) that took a prominent role during a particular civil war that happened decades ago, therefore the "Zero" of the title, because it's a prequel to the prior games. There are no official records of this anonymous ungendered individual and all that remains are the personal testimonies of the survivors that crossed paths with him during the war, which are all contradictory. It's a non-linear indirect narrative extremely unique to any videogame, and I personally think we haven't seen anything like it until games like Her Story or the other Sam Barlow things.

It's also the only game in the franchise with live action sequences, aimed to capture precisely that authentic documentary vibe it's trying to go for.

This particular narrative conceit works at a mechanical level as the justification for the moral system this particular entry of the series introduced. Since there is no singular unified recount of the life of this person, the game leans on the testimonies that depict them as a villain, a hero, or a pragmatical mercenary depending on how the player behaves during the missions.

That's pretty cool, huh!?

I'm down.

Is there an AC6, or is that Zero?

Yes and it’s 360 only…… but was included as a downloadable bonus content for the XB version of 7

The games are indeed great by the way. I'm a big fan of how uncanny strangereal is. And I like the sense of place, all the weird megastructure architecture. Love the flat dog in AC7

I don’t have an Xbox so I suppose I’ll have to do without 6. Id like to grab 7 and Zero though.

You get 5 as a downloadable bonus with PS4 7

@yeso#19978 Nice! Well that gets me three more AC games and means I get to draw a bunch of fighter jets for the “draw the game you’re playing thread”

it’s a win win!

6 is skippable in my opinion, as are the PSP games. It's not a bad game by any means, but belongs to that era of Japanese studios struggling to find their footing in the middle of the PS360 cycle. Best enjoyed after after experiencing the extra crispy good ones.

@JoJoestar#19965 This was meant as a response to you @captain#19950 but I apparently forgot to tag you whoops.

No worries, and thanks for the detailed answer. I‘m just kicking myself right now because I happened to be in a store the other day which had AC4 for $6!! I’ll find it sometime.

On the reason why at the end of the day you can really play Ace Combat games in any order:

It all takes place in an alternate version of our own world, with similar geography and countries, but distorted historical events and chronology and slightly more advanced technology, which is what justifies the sci-fi aspect of the series.


Strangereal is the name of the alternate universe within which most Ace Combat games take place. Strangereal is almost identical to our real universe, but its version of Earth features entirely different landmasses and historical events.


Strangereal, as it exists today, was created by Namco employees in developing Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies and Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War. It has since been used to retcon the setting for the three Ace Combat games before Ace Combat 04. The majority of Ace Combat games take place in this universe, including Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, the 13th Strangereal game.

Each game narrates the story behind different conflicts within that universe at different points in time, ofter in a non-linear fashion. Sometimes even there are completely unrelated campaigns within a single game featuring separate stories. Ace Combat 5 for example has an arcade mode of sorts in which you play as the protagonist of 4 and works as a direct continuation to that game, otherwise unrelated to 5's main story.

> 1905 Osean War
> 1980s Cold War
> 1995 Skully Islands insurrection (Air Combat)
> 1995 Belkan War (Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War)
> 1997 Usean coup d’état (Ace Combat 2 and Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy)
> 1999 Ulysses Impact Event
> 2003 Continental War (Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies)
> 2006 Free Erusea uprising (Arcade Mode in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War)
> 2007 Estovakian Civil War
> 2010 Circum-Pacific War (Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War)
> 2014 Free Erusea uprising (VR Mode in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown)
> 2015 Emmeria-Estovakia War (Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation)
> 2019 Leasath Civil War
> 2019 Lighthouse War (Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown)
> 2020 Aurelian War (Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception and Ace Combat Xi: Skies of Incursion)
> 2040 Intercorporate War (Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere)

_(Source is the game wiki:

Therefore, you can even start by 7 if you feel like playing something with slightly more modern graphics and controls.

There are of course references and points of connection between games, and a lot of the fun derives from putting together the continuity while playing, but all of them remain moderately self contained. 7 is actually kind of the exception, with it taking place in the same region as 4 and directly referencing the events of that game, but the references are mostly nods to be enjoyed by fans, with the story itself being independent for the most part.

Thanks! I bought Ace Combat 7 and didn't know from which order should I start, so this works wonders.

First, I think that the Ace Combat series is fun and cool, though I have played very little of them. I like that Namco fully embraces a very specifically weird mood.


@yeso#19973 Love the flat dog in AC7

**Yes!** I came here to bring up the silliness that was the non-animated 2D dog texture in _AC7_. Here's a link to [The Dog's wiki entry](, but like SPOILERS on the fate of the dog!