We finally got our hands on the demo version of Ace Combat Xi that was shown at the Tokyo Game show last month. The early impressions from this build were positive, and after seeing it first hand, I can confirm all the great things that were said about the game.
Overall, it just looks and feels like an Ace Combat game. They did a surprisingly good job at capturing the essence of the console games, and the tilt controls work great. This development version of the game lacks any kind of sensitivity configuration, so there were times where I felt like I was tilting the phone a little too much, but other than that flying a jet in Ace Combat Xi is a ton of fun.
In the right hand corner of the screen are a series of buttons to fire your various weapons and switch targets, the bottom left side of the screen controls your throttle. The rest of the screen is framed in a somewhat cluttered but really cool looking heads up display showing other information like the location of enemies and how many there are left.
This version of the game is very limited, but even as a brief demo, the overall experience of the Ace Combat console games is absolutely thriving on the iPhone. The constant radio chatter, the great texturing of the ground and sky and the sound of your afterburners rumbling all come together to create one of those "Wow, this is running on an iPhone?" moments.
For increased immersion, you can switch in to first person view and fly your plane using nothing but the HUD. I found this to be a little disorienting, but your visibility is definitely improved without your jet taking up the bottom third of the screen.
Namco hopes to release Ace Combat Xi this winter and we will continue to post preview information as it's revealed and while this version of the game is little more than a mid-development preview, it is remarkably impressive.