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Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War

エースコンバット・ゼロ ザ・ベルカン・ウォー

Developer: Namco Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
23 March 2006
Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War [エースコンバット・ゼロ ザ・ベルカン・ウォー] - cover art
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5.0
 
 
86 Ratings / 1 Reviews
#669 All-time
#15 for 2006
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I'm honestly baffled Ace Combat Zero is not just a side-note to Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War [エースコンバット5 ジ・アンサング・ウォー], but actually in the conversation for best of the series.

The gameplay is an ad nauseam succession of extermination missions where fighters loop around each other for minutes on end and ground targets wait dully to get raided, without any twist to shake things up. Any point the "Ace Style" morality system tries to make on the grey morality of war is completely defused by the pinpoint precision of your weapons and scattered targets, having to actively seek collateral damage so you can unlock shiny new skins. The campaign is woefully paced, with an uneventful first third and superweapons introduced just before you blow them up. The plot is a joke, your rival deciding on a dime that the solution to nukes is simply more nukes! The presentation drips in early seventh-gen self-seriousness, as the game introduces itself with a crimson Project ACES logo and all missions being slathered in dull tans and yellows.
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ForsakenHeavens 2024-04-11T11:39:14Z
2024-04-11T11:39:14Z
3.0
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The skies have no mercy
The incredibly tight and well-constructed EP to AC5’s bloated double album, Ace Combat Zero is a surprising accomplishment, perhaps the best game developed by a b-team I have ever played. It does feel like they configured Zero to avoid many of 5’s gameplay issues; ammo is no longer an issue, infinitely respawning enemies are essentially gone, the return line from AC04 returns, and the unlock system (though not perfect, even after 3 full runs in the 3 styles up to Ace, I wasn’t able to buy every plane), is much closer to 04’s less grindy mission unlock system than 5’s experience based version.

Gameplay-wise, it’s absolutely an improvement over the last game. Boresight is a good addition to the game, allowing you to cycle through targets more easily, and your wingman’s AI has been buffed, especially once set to use special weapons and disperse. Of the four games I’ve played they were the most aggressive and willing to finish off targets, and there were multiple times where I saw them steal my kills. While the flight model is more responsive and less of an interesting challenge than 4, it’s made up for by its enemies, which are far more dangerous and fun to fight than in the previous game. While its missions are closer to 04’s standard score attack missions, in comparison to 5 there are no outright gimmicky stinkers, while still not being afraid to mix it up.

What it lacks in campaign length (a full playthrough can easily be done in a cool 2-3 hours), it more than makes up for with the replayability of its fascinating Ace Style system. I think what makes this system even more interesting is that it’s less of an outright “morality system” and more a deconstruction of how wars are fought. Whether you choose to fight the game like a chivalrous knight or as a destructive demon salting Belka’s earth, ultimately, the terrible events of the game still occur all the same; war is still horrific regardless of how “clean” its combatants fight it.

It honestly shocks me that they were able to license out these planes from the MIC, given some of the messaging here, did they just uncritically give out the rights to their planes without looking at the actual story? The game in part feels inspired by the brutal Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, including the controversial involvement of foreign forces, and there’s a mission that’s a direct parallel to the firebombing of Dresden/Tokyo in WW2 committed by your allies, which has an impact on your wingmen. Multiple characters speak out about how these conflicts are dictated by unaffected politicians who aren’t putting their lives on the line and who are only interested in redrawing the borders of their countries to their favor, no matter how destructive the war becomes. These pilots at times come into conflict with more naïve pilots like PJ, convinced that they’re “pursuing peace” through war. This dichotomy almost feels like a counter to AC5’s protagonistic Razgriz Squadron who simultaneously dislike dogfighting and “are fighting for peace” while raining hell from above, which is a viewpoint that never goes challenged in 5. Generally, the war gets far grayer as you turn the tides in your favor and it stretches further and further, despite promises that the war will be over soon. It becomes a shift from an initial defense against an invading army (led by a newly elected authoritarian Belka, whose conditions were in part caused by the allied Osea’s efforts to destabilize their economy) to something far more imperialistic and “vengeful” as it were, long after you’ve liberated Ustio.

The biggest thing Ace Style impacts is the kinds of ace squadrons you fight, many of whom are a reflection of your fighting style which in turn influences how they view you. The documentary-styled presentation and its interviews with your former enemy aces boost the game’s campaign, though some of the ADR can be a bit funky. It’s interesting to see how these former foes respect and fear your power, seeing how the war and their encounters with you affected their outlooks and lives. This game is one of the better uses of a silent protagonist I’ve seen, portraying your ace as a then-undocumented, but critical part of the war whose legacy among those he downed is influenced by how fair you fight in your playthroughs. The music is also my favorite of the 4 AC games I’ve played, accentuated by its unique flamenco motifs, which match up extremely well with the dance-like dogfights you have with your enemies. The parallels to Arthurian legend are also very nice and help the game's unique atmosphere.

I was hesitant on giving this a perfect score given its length and some of its less consistent elements (some more characterization among your wingmen would’ve benefitted the game’s story more), but I realized it compares on par to all my 5s, especially in gameplay and thus I couldn’t justify not giving it one. There’s something so thrilling in lining up your speed, angle, and timing to nail a target. It’s a shame it didn’t receive the accolades it likely deserved when it released given it was overlooked due to most people seeing it as glorified DLC to 5, despite in my opinion being better in every aspect.

For the first time (at least for me), it feels like an Ace Combat game has finally hit its trifecta of story/thematics, presentation, and gameplay immaculately. Playing the final boss sequence with its intense atmosphere and portrayal, the iconic “Zero” scoring it, and really the whole game in general with my brother watching was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had playing a game, and it’s not something I will forget.
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earthandspace 2022-08-13T01:06:03Z
2022-08-13T01:06:03Z
5.0
3
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Catalog

to_noid_or_not_to_noid エースコンバット・ゼロ ザ・ベルカン・ウォー 2024-05-28T21:09:37Z
2024-05-28T21:09:37Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
americanflotsam エースコンバット・ゼロ ザ・ベルカン・ウォー 2024-05-28T05:06:14Z
2024-05-28T05:06:14Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
deadass エースコンバット・ゼロ ザ・ベルカン・ウォー 2024-05-23T04:22:49Z
2024-05-23T04:22:49Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
PS2
DriedRoseTear エースコンバット・ゼロ ザ・ベルカン・ウォー 2024-05-20T06:27:18Z
2024-05-20T06:27:18Z
4.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
sureskeptic エースコンバット・ゼロ ザ・ベルカン・ウォー 2024-05-12T21:39:05Z
2024-05-12T21:39:05Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Bubu66 エースコンバット・ゼロ ザ・ベルカン・ウォー 2024-05-12T03:52:32Z
2024-05-12T03:52:32Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
devnull01 エースコンバット・ゼロ ザ・ベルカン・ウォー 2024-05-05T03:07:50Z
2024-05-05T03:07:50Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Dale_Wylde88 エースコンバット・ゼロ ザ・ベルカン・ウォー 2024-04-26T05:47:54Z
2024-04-26T05:47:54Z
5.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
ForsakenHeavens Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War 2024-04-11T11:39:14Z
PS2 • XNA
2024-04-11T11:39:14Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
OffModel エースコンバット・ゼロ ザ・ベルカン・ウォー 2024-03-26T16:54:58Z
2024-03-26T16:54:58Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Tim7 エースコンバット・ゼロ ザ・ベルカン・ウォー 2024-03-24T19:41:33Z
2024-03-24T19:41:33Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Kluwenblauw エースコンバット・ゼロ ザ・ベルカン・ウォー 2024-03-15T08:52:23Z
2024-03-15T08:52:23Z
2.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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CERO: All Ages
Player modes
1-2 players
Media
1x DVD
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  • Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War
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  • jman777jman 2022-01-24 05:39:22.543803+00
    backloggd core
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  • IrlYuri 2022-12-26 03:43:56.822147+00
    zero is one of the hypest finales i've ever played in existence. some missions were infuriating but the finale portion is absolutely mint
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