292411_3As promised, we're back with a review of Ace Combat Xi Skies of Incursion [App Store], the latest in Namco's Ace Combat flight action game series that has seen numerous sequels that take place all over the Ace Combat timeline in various aerial theaters of war since the original was first released in 1995 for the Sony PlayStation. Featuring all the same high flying action as previous Ace Combat games, Skies of Incursion brings the fight to the iPhone, although with disappointingly little content and a whole heap of included and planned downloadable content in the future.

There are a lot of things I like about this game. The plane models themselves are great, and the ground is covered with real satellite imagery which greatly adds to the realistic look of the game compared to many other titles that just use plain green and brown textures that vaguely resemble grass and dirt. I've found the tilt controls to work very well, and the various on-screen buttons that make up your weaponry and throttle controls to be easy to use.

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Everything about the flight system itself in the game is phenomenal, and you can tell that they've drawn from the years of experience in making the Ace Combat games. There are two views, a first person cockpit view and a third person chase camera. I've found myself preferring the cockpit view, only because the additional interface elements look really cool-- Although it does seem much easier to get disoriented. There is a shell here for a really great game, but it quickly goes pear shaped as soon as the "wow" factor of the game wears off about half way through the first level.

The missions in the game involve listening to radio chatter for enemy jets to be called out, orienting your jet towards them, hitting the throttle, and taking them down either with your machine gun or missiles. There isn't anything really wrong with this, because flying around in the game is a lot of fun, the problem is the only difficulty in the game comes from each level's timer.

292411_2I often found myself playing the game, and having a great time flying around shooting down the other planes only to abruptly have my play session end by hitting the time limit-- Even though it felt like I was doing well, and engaging in some pretty impressive dogfighting maneuvers. Shooting down all of the enemy jets within the time limit can be frustratingly difficult, and require multiple attempts on each level, especially if you end up getting disoriented and wasting too much time getting your jet pointing in the right direction to take out the next squadron of fighters.

On top of this, there are only five levels included in the game. I don't think it's very likely you can breeze through the game in one-shot without needing to redo any levels, but if you can it will only take around a half hour to complete. More realistically, you can expect 1-2 hours of gameplay depending on your skill. There aren't any special missions or boss fights, and very little changes throughout the entire game. 10 jets are available, 3 from the start, 2 to unlock, and 5 via a 99¢ microtransaction for each plane.


(Gameplay video from Tokyo Game Show preview.)

Ace Combat Xi reminds me a lot of Command & Conquer Red Alert in that there is a framework for an absolutely amazing game here, but instead it is being used as a vessel for DLC sales. If you're in love with the Ace Combat series and don't mind a rather short campaign, then you may enjoy having a copy of the game with you at all times on your phone. If you don't have any particular ties to Ace Combat games, you're probably better off exploring the few other aerial combat games or waiting to see how Gameloft's HAWX turns out.

App Store Link: Ace Combat Xi Skies of Incursion, $4.99

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://MexiChriS.com MexiChriS

    I've been wanting to try this out, might have to get my hands on it, but i hate playing games on a iPhone 3G :/

    Great post though, love 'em, so keep 'em coming, thanks!

    - MexiChriS

  • http://MexiChriS.com MexiChriS

    I've been wanting to try this out, might have to get my hands on it, but i hate playing games on a iPhone 3G :/

    Great post though, love 'em, so keep 'em coming, thanks!

    - MexiChriS

  • jmax99

    GOOD JOB ELI!

    • NOTORIOUS

      stop saying good job to girls u can't get any anyway beacause your a dork that on his computer all day i say that people like u don't have a life

      • Gene

        Who are you?

  • jmax99

    GOOD JOB ELI!

    • NOTORIOUS

      stop saying good job to girls u can't get any anyway beacause your a dork that on his computer all day i say that people like u don't have a life

      • Gene

        Who are you?

  • oliath

    Great write up.
    I was not too interested in another jet flying combat style game as its not my genre but i think i might have to treat myself to this one after reading this.

    I really appreciate that you took the time to actually play the game enabling you to provide and honest opinion instead of just rushing to be the first site to review the game.

    • NOTORIOUS

      bitch is all you
      do is play games don't you have a life way i can answer that no you don't

      • Gene

        What is your major malfunction, numb-nuts?

  • oliath

    Great write up.
    I was not too interested in another jet flying combat style game as its not my genre but i think i might have to treat myself to this one after reading this.

    I really appreciate that you took the time to actually play the game enabling you to provide and honest opinion instead of just rushing to be the first site to review the game.

    • NOTORIOUS

      bitch is all you
      do is play games don't you have a life way i can answer that no you don't

      • Gene

        What is your major malfunction, numb-nuts?

  • thr

    you got that right.... a vessel for DLC. such a perfect choice of words... I feel a little betrayed, there wasn't even the number of missions on the app's page so, they sort of lied. I'm waiting HAWX with greater hope, now.

    • Bad Hanson

      Yep I feel like I've been burned too. Here lies the danger of first impressions articles. All the positive buzz around this game from TA along with positive first impressions...so I buy the game on the back of someone's advice to find I've pretty much wasted my money. Not the first time this has happened. Next time I'll wait for the 'review'

      • Eli Hodapp

        Well, I was very clear the review was coming soon. Also, I stand by my first impressions and still think there is the workings for a really cool game buried under all this DLC. Unfortunately, it seems it is just going to involve a lot of waiting and a lot of money to finally realize that potential.

  • thr

    you got that right.... a vessel for DLC. such a perfect choice of words... I feel a little betrayed, there wasn't even the number of missions on the app's page so, they sort of lied. I'm waiting HAWX with greater hope, now.

    • Bad Hanson

      Yep I feel like I've been burned too. Here lies the danger of first impressions articles. All the positive buzz around this game from TA along with positive first impressions...so I buy the game on the back of someone's advice to find I've pretty much wasted my money. Not the first time this has happened. Next time I'll wait for the 'review'

      • Eli Hodapp

        Well, I was very clear the review was coming soon. Also, I stand by my first impressions and still think there is the workings for a really cool game buried under all this DLC. Unfortunately, it seems it is just going to involve a lot of waiting and a lot of money to finally realize that potential.

  • dumas1000

    It's a vessel for DLC because this is a premium title from a premium (beyond the AppStore) developer. On any other system, be it console or handheld, this game would cost at least $30. idevice owners don't want to pay more than 9.99 for any game, and often times will complain about that.

    This game, in it's final form, cannot sell for 9.99. It has to cost more. As would any other legitimate AAA title. This is why Gameloft is king. Gameloft will sell you a reasonable clone of some other developer's AAA title for $7. The actual owners of those IPs would want far more than $7 in order to bring the real deal to the iPhone.

    • NOTORIOUS

      U REALY ARE A DUME ASS

      • Gene

        What mental facility did you escape from?

  • dumas1000

    It's a vessel for DLC because this is a premium title from a premium (beyond the AppStore) developer. On any other system, be it console or handheld, this game would cost at least $30. idevice owners don't want to pay more than 9.99 for any game, and often times will complain about that.

    This game, in it's final form, cannot sell for 9.99. It has to cost more. As would any other legitimate AAA title. This is why Gameloft is king. Gameloft will sell you a reasonable clone of some other developer's AAA title for $7. The actual owners of those IPs would want far more than $7 in order to bring the real deal to the iPhone.

    • NOTORIOUS

      U REALY ARE A DUME ASS

      • Gene

        What mental facility did you escape from?

  • Chuck U Farley

    WAS going to get this but it looks like it is not a $5 game. Ya ya ya, "premium" title. Whatever. I will wait for the price to drop because sales will be flat.
    There are much better and more involved games for less money.

  • Chuck U Farley

    WAS going to get this but it looks like it is not a $5 game. Ya ya ya, "premium" title. Whatever. I will wait for the price to drop because sales will be flat.
    There are much better and more involved games for less money.

  • Frumius

    Good review, but unless I missed it, you forgot to mention that there's no multiplayer. So once you finish with the 30-min/2hours of play time it's over... unless you start paying for more.

    I mean, come on: SGN has multiplayer for F.A.S.T. and Namco can't get that done? Or didn't want to because, what? Multiplayer carries FAST beyond this game. This is definitely a "shell" of a game, as the review states. It's cool, but incomplete.

    AS for being an AAA title... I consider paying $5 for 2 hours of gameplay (without repeating levels for hours/minutes of more exciting fun!) to be TOO MUCH for TOO LITTLE. If they want to do DLC, fine, but I'd be happier getting more for the initial investment. Lots of fun games are $5 or less and offer far more play time.

    Battling computer bots all the time, I'm finding the game not that interesting. It's mindless compared to pitting myself against other F.A.S.T. aces online. Lest I sound like a commercial for FAST, I have my gripes against SGN too! But at least it's multiplayer! Who0T!

  • Frumius

    Good review, but unless I missed it, you forgot to mention that there's no multiplayer. So once you finish with the 30-min/2hours of play time it's over... unless you start paying for more.

    I mean, come on: SGN has multiplayer for F.A.S.T. and Namco can't get that done? Or didn't want to because, what? Multiplayer carries FAST beyond this game. This is definitely a "shell" of a game, as the review states. It's cool, but incomplete.

    AS for being an AAA title... I consider paying $5 for 2 hours of gameplay (without repeating levels for hours/minutes of more exciting fun!) to be TOO MUCH for TOO LITTLE. If they want to do DLC, fine, but I'd be happier getting more for the initial investment. Lots of fun games are $5 or less and offer far more play time.

    Battling computer bots all the time, I'm finding the game not that interesting. It's mindless compared to pitting myself against other F.A.S.T. aces online. Lest I sound like a commercial for FAST, I have my gripes against SGN too! But at least it's multiplayer! Who0T!

  • Eric Z

    A dissapointment that Ace Combat Xi has such limited missions and planes...
    A noob question; are updates for games which you have bought "free"?

    I ask because I'm relatively new to the ipod touch, and I haven't bought a game yet (i was looking forward to this one being my first), and I probably will buy it if they include more missions in future updates (if the updates are free), or if they have free DLC.

    Please and thank you! :)

    • Frumius

      Eric Z, I've only ever had free incremental updates happen for any of my games. They're usually bug fixes, but occasionally they do add features or content.

      A great example of one that adds tons of content each time is Pocket God. Their frequent updates are free and they ALWAYS increase the value of the game tremendously -- they have had TWENTY-NINE free, value-increasing updates.

      Yet bigshot developer Namco milks us dry and offers little -- then wants us to pay for a little more content. Sweet.

    • Frumius

      Dang, I can't edit and I wanted to add that F.A.S.T. (Fleet Air Superiority Training) is an awesomely fun combat flight sim that has MULTIPLAYER via internet AND bluetooth. Who needs auto-bots when you have real human opponents? It's down to $.99 now, too. Can not go wrong. Very good value. Though I have a pile of issues with it, too (heh), it's a smaller pile than feeling milked by Namco.

      I actually like the flying better in F.A.S.T., but I've been playing it for months and have gotten it pretty well down pat. It's forum is here: http://forums.toucharcade.com/showthread.php?t=15128 , and at more than 4,000 posts it is the second-longest thread at Touch Arcade and is still active.

      • Eric Z

        Thanks Frumius for the information

        Yeah I've read a few reviews of F.A.S.T, and I will probably get the game - it's much cheaper than Ace Combat and seems to have much more content as well (if the graphics are a little inferior to the latter, but that's no big problem).

        And just to clarify, are game updates universally free?
        Like if I bought Ace Combat now, and there was an update for it a few months later, would I have to buy the update or buy the game again or anything? Because if there are updates for AC Xi which are free (and which may add more missions etc), then I may buy it. If the updates need to be paid for I will probably pass.

        Thanks again!

      • Frumius

        Well, I find that app updates are generally free. Some almost certainly charge, as I remember reading of one that did on Macworld -- but it was a major update. I haven't had any apps charge for incremental updates.

        I would expect Ace Combat to come up with a few updates just to fix whatever bugs there might be or to tweak it in some way to affect game balance, etc. I have no idea if they'll do any updates that include any features or content.

  • Eric Z

    A dissapointment that Ace Combat Xi has such limited missions and planes...
    A noob question; are updates for games which you have bought "free"?

    I ask because I'm relatively new to the ipod touch, and I haven't bought a game yet (i was looking forward to this one being my first), and I probably will buy it if they include more missions in future updates (if the updates are free), or if they have free DLC.

    Please and thank you! :)

    • Frumius

      Eric Z, I've only ever had free incremental updates happen for any of my games. They're usually bug fixes, but occasionally they do add features or content.

      A great example of one that adds tons of content each time is Pocket God. Their frequent updates are free and they ALWAYS increase the value of the game tremendously -- they have had TWENTY-NINE free, value-increasing updates.

      Yet bigshot developer Namco milks us dry and offers little -- then wants us to pay for a little more content. Sweet.

    • Frumius

      Dang, I can't edit and I wanted to add that F.A.S.T. (Fleet Air Superiority Training) is an awesomely fun combat flight sim that has MULTIPLAYER via internet AND bluetooth. Who needs auto-bots when you have real human opponents? It's down to $.99 now, too. Can not go wrong. Very good value. Though I have a pile of issues with it, too (heh), it's a smaller pile than feeling milked by Namco.

      I actually like the flying better in F.A.S.T., but I've been playing it for months and have gotten it pretty well down pat. It's forum is here: http://forums.toucharcade.com/showthread.php?t=15128 , and at more than 4,000 posts it is the second-longest thread at Touch Arcade and is still active.

      • Eric Z

        Thanks Frumius for the information

        Yeah I've read a few reviews of F.A.S.T, and I will probably get the game - it's much cheaper than Ace Combat and seems to have much more content as well (if the graphics are a little inferior to the latter, but that's no big problem).

        And just to clarify, are game updates universally free?
        Like if I bought Ace Combat now, and there was an update for it a few months later, would I have to buy the update or buy the game again or anything? Because if there are updates for AC Xi which are free (and which may add more missions etc), then I may buy it. If the updates need to be paid for I will probably pass.

        Thanks again!

      • Frumius

        Well, I find that app updates are generally free. Some almost certainly charge, as I remember reading of one that did on Macworld -- but it was a major update. I haven't had any apps charge for incremental updates.

        I would expect Ace Combat to come up with a few updates just to fix whatever bugs there might be or to tweak it in some way to affect game balance, etc. I have no idea if they'll do any updates that include any features or content.

  • http://www.stormchild.net Stormchild

    The plane doesn't appear to bank while turning (that is, it doesn't even slightly tilt relative to the display), and to me, it makes it look like it's just a static decal on the display, and not really moving. Kinda kills the whole sensation of flying. Looks more like the plane is suspended in air and everything else is moving around it.

  • http://www.stormchild.net Stormchild

    The plane doesn't appear to bank while turning (that is, it doesn't even slightly tilt relative to the display), and to me, it makes it look like it's just a static decal on the display, and not really moving. Kinda kills the whole sensation of flying. Looks more like the plane is suspended in air and everything else is moving around it.

  • dumas1000

    Hey, if you honestly believe that you can get full a console-quality game from an actual console-quality developer for 4.99, that pretty much makes you the DUME one here, not me. 2 hours worth of Ace Combat levels for 4.99 is the best deal your ever going to get. You might not like it, but it is what it is. Their is a reason why we got stuck with second-rate versions of Mass Effect, Metal Gear Solid, and Silent Hill, while PSP owners got true portable versions of both MGS and Silent Hill; why PSP owners got legitimate versions of God of War, and SOCOM, and Burnout, and Final Fantasy, and Midnight Club and Ridge Racer and Wipeout, while iphone hasn't and never will. PSP owners PAID for those games. Even the iphone versions of Rock Band and Lumines were stripped down significantly, with large amounts of content missing. If you're unwilling to pay competitive prices for these games, then fine. You'll never going to see them.

    • Frumius

      I wonder what the volumes in sales are in each (iDevice vs psp for instance) for a given A-list game and its counterpart on the other platform. There are what, 50 million iDevices and tons more all the time, right? It seems to me that they could sell a lot more copies on this platform because it is so much easier for people to buy the game and carry it around with them. So much easier. If that's so, then there could be economy of scale as a factor (I admit I'm not sure I use the term quite precisely). And there are no packaging or transportation costs. I'm no expert; I'd like to see a comparison of the relative lucrativeness (my word, heh) between top-shelf iDevice games like this and its counterpart on other platforms.

  • dumas1000

    Hey, if you honestly believe that you can get full a console-quality game from an actual console-quality developer for 4.99, that pretty much makes you the DUME one here, not me. 2 hours worth of Ace Combat levels for 4.99 is the best deal your ever going to get. You might not like it, but it is what it is. Their is a reason why we got stuck with second-rate versions of Mass Effect, Metal Gear Solid, and Silent Hill, while PSP owners got true portable versions of both MGS and Silent Hill; why PSP owners got legitimate versions of God of War, and SOCOM, and Burnout, and Final Fantasy, and Midnight Club and Ridge Racer and Wipeout, while iphone hasn't and never will. PSP owners PAID for those games. Even the iphone versions of Rock Band and Lumines were stripped down significantly, with large amounts of content missing. If you're unwilling to pay competitive prices for these games, then fine. You'll never going to see them.

    • Frumius

      I wonder what the volumes in sales are in each (iDevice vs psp for instance) for a given A-list game and its counterpart on the other platform. There are what, 50 million iDevices and tons more all the time, right? It seems to me that they could sell a lot more copies on this platform because it is so much easier for people to buy the game and carry it around with them. So much easier. If that's so, then there could be economy of scale as a factor (I admit I'm not sure I use the term quite precisely). And there are no packaging or transportation costs. I'm no expert; I'd like to see a comparison of the relative lucrativeness (my word, heh) between top-shelf iDevice games like this and its counterpart on other platforms.

  • WTF only 5 missions?

    Waste of money dont buy. its not worth it. i finished the game in 30 mins... and you have to pay to unlock the planes? what the fuck.

  • WTF only 5 missions?

    Waste of money dont buy. its not worth it. i finished the game in 30 mins... and you have to pay to unlock the planes? what the fuck.

  • TD912

    On the App Store listing, it says "Coming soon: More missions and real-life aircraft! Stay tuned!"

    I doubt they will be pushing out additional missions for free, but you never know... :-/

  • TD912

    On the App Store listing, it says "Coming soon: More missions and real-life aircraft! Stay tuned!"

    I doubt they will be pushing out additional missions for free, but you never know... :-/