Although placed in a fictional world of Ace Combat’s own making, this seventh numbered entry depicts a surreal, even bizarre neo-future World War II interpretation. The small Eursea (Japan) kingdom sends an unannounced force to the military-powered, world policing Osean (USA) forces at Osean’s seaside base. In the end, a national alliance leads to prosperity and a space race. History, retconned.
It’s hampered by ruinous melodrama. A parachuting Princess is the height of absurdity. The anime-like suggestion of an elderly pilot’s war memories being fitted into drones further stretches credibility, even for sci-fi. But, reaching for a jar of logic and spilling the contents into a drain is a redemption story of prisoner accused of killing a nation’s President allowed to pilot a fully armed jet for their country. That’s for Osean, maybe calling into question America’s often abusive prison system (e.g., prisoners fighting California wildfires cannot join professionally after release), yet so implausible as to strain even the ridiculous side of Ace Combat 7.
A technological nerve center acts as Ace Combat 7’s Manhattan project. Not as destructive, if holding the capability to be so. Using hyper-intelligent drones, Ace Combat 7 is determined to reveal the frivolity of war while simultaneously using combat for its thrills. That’s a stumbling block this flight combat entry can’t escape. It’s based on an idea that war is cleansing – the close of WWII did spawn economic prosperity – but celebrates the thrills of explosions and locked on missiles with no genuine consequences. There’s no central human villain. Everyone is faceless when in their cockpits. It’s a sky of targets. And drones look no different than those planes holding human controllers.
In terms of construction, Ace Combat 7 produces 20 missions with no repetition. Each sortie presents something fresh, with a balance of awe-inspiring scale and smaller goals. The unchanged fighting system of obtaining advantageous lock-on, launching, and waiting still isn’t old. There’s satisfaction drawn from Ace Combat’s alluring speed and ferocity. No other studio does it like this, with such an edge and bite – or narrative goofiness.