|Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation|
|Number of players||Single player, Multiplayer|
|Input methods||Gamepad, Ace Edge|
Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation is the latest installment developed by Namco Bandai exclusively for the Xbox 360 as part of the Ace Combat franchise. It was released on October 23, 2007 in North America, November 1 in Japan, November 23 in Europe, and December 13 in Australia.
Throughout Ace Combat 6, the player must pilot a fighter jet or other aircraft to destroy foes both in the air and on the ground. As an arcade flight game, it simplifies flight controls and gives the player a large amount of bullets, missiles and other weapons, putting them up against a very large amount of enemy forces. In addition to missiles and a vulcan cannon, the player can equip special weapons such as heat-seeking missiles, bombs, rocket launchers, and others. The player can lock on to a number of foes, and assist different tactical squads by switching between their respective HUD readouts.
The game includes 4 default multiplayer modes: Battle Royale, Siege Battle, Team Battle, and Co-Op Battle. In Battle Royale, the basic Deathmatch game mode, up to sixteen players shoot each other down to earn the highest points at the time limit. In Team Battle, a basic Team Deathmatch game is created. Points are awarded based on the type of aircraft destroyed. A unique type of multiplayer game, Siege Battle is played with two teams, Attacking and Defending. The Attacking team attempts to destroy the target (usually heavily defended by flak) within the time limit. The Defending team tries to halt their attack. The co-op battle mode consists of two single-player missions without AI that can be played with up to three other players.
Ace Combat 6 follows the fictional war between the Republic of Emmeria and the Federal Republic of Estovakia on the Anean continent, north of Yuktobania. It begins with the invasion of the Emmerian capital, Gracemeria, by the Estovakian Air Force on August 30, 2015. Players take on the role of an Emmerian pilot and squadron leader who has the callsign Talisman. The player's wingman goes by the callsign Shamrock, and will fight alongside Talisman throughout the entire game. Both characters are assigned to the Garuda team of the Emmerian Air Force's 28th Tactical Fighter Squadron.
The game begins in the Emmerian capital of Gracemeria, with the story of Melissa Herman as she watches her daughter getting on to a school bus for a field trip. As she watches, an enemy plane suddenly swoops in and fires on the King's Bridge, the one Matilda's school bus will be crossing, cutting it in half. Emmerian pilots are scrambled to meet what has turned out to be an all out surprise attack by the Estovakian Air Force and this is where the player is introduced into the game.
The Emmerian Air Force and Navy manage to beat back the first wave only to suffer heavy casualties from Nimbus cruise missiles launched from the P-1112 Aigaion. Ace pilots from the Estovakian Air Force's "Strigon Squadron" arrive on the heels of the attack to establish air supremacy over Gracemeria. An evacuation is ordered by Air Defense Command and all pilots are informed that the Army is planning a mass rendezvous on Khesed Island, still under the control of Emmeria.
During the next few missions, Garuda Team are tasked to assist ground forces cut off from the bulk of the Emmerian Army and eventually aid in conducting a landing at Rargom Beach in Anea, before rescuing various units trapped at Silvat Town. An eventual confrontation with the P-1112 Aigaion leads to its destruction alongside several members of the Strigon Squadron assigned to protect it, removing the threat of its Nimbus anti-air missile system in future operations. During a later mission, Air Defense Command orders all forces to suddenly pull out just as they are on the verge of success. Shamrock ignores the order and engages members of the Strigon Squadron that are in the area, forcing Talisman to assist. They are both severely reprimanded for disobeying orders. It is revealed that Estovakia is planning to disperse chemical weapons inside Gracemeria as a last resort option should Emmeria succeed in breaking through. After a short restriction from flying, Garuda Team is tasked with the destruction of the WMD catalyst stationed at Fort Norton. After its destruction, the Emmerian military is now free to begin the Liberation of Gracemeria.
After an intense ground, naval and air battle, the Emmerians manage to liberate Gracemeria. Ilya Pasternak, the new leader of the Strigon Squadron, faces off against the Garuda Team in the skies over the city and dies fighting. Garuda and other pilots are then assigned to a night-time air patrol over the capital city in celebration. During the patrol, Shamrock reveals that his family were killed in the war and that he could not call himself an Ace since he was unable to defend them. Subsequently, a surprise wave of cruise missiles are launched at Gracemeria from a previously unknown Estovakian weapon, the Chandelier, accompanied by stealth fighters which engage the pilots. Garuda Team proceeds to shoot down the missiles before any serious damage is done.
The final mission takes place deep within Estovakian territory, the only time Emmeria enters Estovakian territory throughout the game. They manage to slip past the Chandelier's defenses and damage the railgun's cooling systems but fail to destroy the weapon. Shamrock then goes on a suicide mission to locate the final weakness of the weapon by performing a recon of the loading trench below the gun to confirm the position of a backup cooling unit. With his plane heavily damaged by anti-aircraft fire, he crashes his plane into the ground. Talisman follows through with the destruction of the cooling unit, before flying into the barrel of the cannon to blast the core, destroying the Chandelier. Lt. Colonel Voychek narrates the ending, stating that Estovakia's war was born out of desperation and convinced that it was still the right thing to do under the circumstances, but also hoping for a peaceful future between both nations. Shamrock is also seen narrating the ending, however he is confined to a wheelchair having survived the crash. The final cutscene finishes with Shamrock narrating to Talisman that the peace between both nations had been what they'd always been fighting for and that it had finally come.
- Lt. Colonel Voychek - an officer in Estovakian Air Force; former ace pilot now assigned to the occupation in Gracemeria as an intelligence officer
- Lt. Commander Ilya Pasternak - newly assigned lead ace tasked with destroying Emmeria's Garuda Team; placed in charge of the Strigon Squadron
- Melissa Herman - a civilian and the mother of a daughter she believes had died in the initial attack on Gracemeria, now struggling to survive the war
- Sgt. Louis McKnight - a tank officer in the Emmerian military; he leads his tank crew in following up a lead on easy money behind enemy territory, similar to the story behind the film, Kelly's Heroes
- Shamrock/Garuda 2 - your ace wingman throughout the game
- Talisman/Garuda 1 - you play as this character throughout the game
- AWACS "Ghost Eye" - this is the name of the aircraft that sets your objectives during missions and give you information regarding the battle
Namco has released seven sets of downloadable paint schemes for Ace Combat 6's aircraft. These paint schemes modify the plane's maneuverability, speed, armor, and payloads. Among the schemes available are those of Ace Combat 2's protagonist, paint schemes based on aircraft prototypes, an A-10 with the Shark mouth, and a Halloween paint scheme for the F-14D that gives the plane stealth capabilities. There are also a series of paint schemes modeled after various Ace Squadrons from previous games. These Ace Squadron colors include the Grabacr and Razgriz Squadrons from Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War; the Rot Squadron (Typhoon), Espada Squadron (Rafale M), Gault Squadron (Su-47 Berkut), Galm Team (Cipher and Pixy F-15E), and Crow Team (PJ F-16C) from Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War; Mobius 1 (F-22A Raptor) and Yellow Squadron (Su-37) from Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies; Gryphus 1 (F-22A Raptor) from Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception and Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere organizations UPEO (Typhoon) and General Resources (A/F-117 Nav Hawk).
In addition to the above, allusions to several characters exclusive to the Namco Bandai game The Idolm@ster are featured. These paint schemes include both the Su-33and the Su-47 named "Idolmaster Miki", in allusion to Miki Hoshii; and Yukiho Hagiwara also has a paint scheme used on an F-117 Nighthawk. Another Idolm@ster plane is named "Idolmaster Chihiya" which is used on the F-15E Strike Eagle.Two Idolm@ster planes were released on March 27, 2008; one of them is the F-22A Raptor "Idolmaster Haruka", with the other being the Dassault Mirage 2000-5 "Idolmaster Yayoi".The download content released on April 25, 2008 included a Rafale M Idolm@ster plane named "Idolmaster Iori".
Furthermore, Japanese players were awarded a bonus for pre-ordering the game online. The bonus came in the form of a card with two codes on it. Both would unlock special paint schemes for the F-15E Strike Eagle, based on the Yellow 13 Su-37 and Mobius 1 F-22A Raptor from Ace Combat 04.
Namco has also released downloadable co-op versions of single player missions. Ragno Fortress, and Chandelier are now available in addition to The Aigaion and Bartolomeo Fortress which came with the game.
As of early November 2007, GAME, a leading UK gaming retailer, awarded the same pre-order bonus to buyers in the United Kingdom. This was a rare bonus seeing as how it was not released to the American market.
The Ace Edge is a joystick and throttle controller designed specifically for Ace Combat 6. Produced by Hori, it was only made available for purchase in a special-limited edition package of the game. The Ace Edge package was only officially released in North America and Japan. The price of the package was $149.99 US dollars. The package also includes an Ace Combat 6 faceplate for an Xbox 360.
It is called "Flight Stick EX" in Japan. It is very similar to the Saitek X45 HOTAS joystick / throttle system popular with PC flight simulation players. The throttle unit is identical, while the control column is slightly different (likely to better accommodate Xbox button maps). The top of the X45 stick featured two 8-way hat switches, one on the left and one at the bottom, and three thumb buttons above them with one under a safety cover; the Ace Edge retains the left 8-way hat switch, but swaps the positions of the thumb buttons and the second hat switch, with three of the Xbox controller's four main buttons in a rearranged order (Y, B and X, left to right, A being the trigger) below an analog mini-stick rather than a second hat switch. The stick also features both a flexible sleeve over the shaft and spring, and a wrist pad, neither present on the Saitek X45.