DEVELOPER: Project Aces
PUBLISHER: Namco Bandai
SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 3
PRICE: Free download with micro-transactions
ESRB RATING: Teen
REVIEW RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
I've been flying the unfriendly skies of "Ace Combat" since the beginning of the series. In that time I've destroyed countless enemy planes and a wide variety of ground targets, so it comes as no surprise that I anticipated the release of "Ace Combat Infinity." Little did I know that it would be Namco Bandai's first foray into the unfriendly realm of free-to-play.
The year is 2019, and Earth has been thrown into chaos by a meteor explosion five years ago. Players assume the role of a promising pilot who's just joined the Arrow Air Defense and Security mercenary group. This collection of pilots has been hired by the U.N. to take care of unpredictable areas of conflict that erupt across the world.
Just like previous games, players have access to several types of fighting planes that specialize in dispatching air targets, land targets or a bit of both. Depending on the mission, subtle differences like speed and handling make some preferable to others. I also appreciate the ability to purchase parts to further customize each airplane.
Thankfully, the free-to-play portion of the game avoids the unfair pay-to-win advantage, but the model used makes the game frustrating for those unwilling to spend money. This is because the available missions and the fuel needed to fly them are in very short supply without purchasing anything.
It's not because they are unavailable, but they take either a vast amount of patience or extreme luck. For example, the third mission in the game costs so many credits it would take hours upon hours of grinding to earn them through in-game rewards. In addition, supplied fuel limits players to three missions every twelve hours, unless a lucky fuel drop is found.
Both single-player and coop missions are fun to play, but "Ace Combat Infinity" can be frustrating for those not wanting to drop a dime.
"Super Time Force"
DEVELOPER: Capybara Games
SYSTEM: Xbox Live
PRICE: $14.99 download
ESRB RATING: Teen
REVIEW RATING: 4.0 stars (out of 5)
Fast-paced arcade-style shooters reminiscent of 1980s arcade games are making a big comeback, but how do you make one stand out in the crowd? Simply incorporate time travel into the game so the past can be altered, and the result is the download-only game "Super Time Force."
It certainly doesn't hurt to add a bit of humor into the mix, and this witty game pokes fun at everything from pop culture to time travel itself! When Dr. Repeatski discovers that he's solved the riddle of time travel, the world is immediately transformed, because his future self made a major bungle. Now he must lead the Super Time Force in a variety of raids into the past to change the future. (Confused yet?)
I enjoy the ability to rewrite history, like destroying the asteroid that decimated the dinosaurs or traveling to old England to steal the Holy Grail and sell it on eBay. Of course, players will receive much more than "just a flesh wound" via the super time-traveling combat that ensues!
Although this game is wrapped in a grand premise, the shooter action is still pretty standard. Players select one of several characters that each have special weapons and abilities (along with hilarious names), and then set out to blast their way through each level.
Perhaps the coolest part of the game is that players can rewind each level as far as they want, and this comes in especially handy when their character dies. You see, playing through a part of the level that's been rewound still shows the actions of your previous character, so they end up being a sort of partner in combat. It's even possible to rewind several times and have several previous versions fighting alongside you!
Since this game is rather difficult, only die-hard players will enjoy the time-hopping, enemy-annihilating action found in "Super Time Force."
REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM
5 stars = Must Have
4 stars = Very Good
3 stars = Above Average
2 stars = Bargain Bin
1 star = Don't Bother
Entertainment Software Rating Board
E10+: (Everyone 10 and older)
T: Teen (13 and older)
M: Mature (17 and older)
To find out more about Jeb Haught and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.