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October 2, 2001
Ace Combat 4: Distant Thunder - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Rating Players Price

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Check out the detail on the ground.
Namco's Air Combat or Ace Combat series (depending on where you live) has been one of the most respected (and successful) flight simulations on the PSOne, and it was only a matter of time before the series made it onto the Playstation 2. What we could never be prepared for was the stunning increase in graphical detail. Were it not for the every so slightly jaggered look on some of the planes you would think that these were actually photographs. But Ace Combat 4: Distant Thunder, to give it a full name, isn't just pretty graphics, there is plenty of gameplay to make this a great game as well.

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Check out the detail, in cockpit.
Ace Combat 4 takes place in the present day, in a distant planet similar to Earth, although it uses real-world earth airplanes. The game is set in the imaginary continent of "Usea", a troubled place composed of numerous countries in conflict with one great nation. The situation is so delicate it is called "Armed Peace". However, a giant meteorite has ravaged the planet. Thousands of small rocks have scattered all over Usea wrecking havoc with people's lives and leaving craters and destruction in its wake. The impact of the meteorite has left the "Armed Peace" hanging in the balance. The player takes the role of fighter pilot as he prepares to battle to save what is left of humanity.

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It's almost photgraphic quality.
One of the great things about this game is the wide variety of planes and missions. Not only will Ace Combat 4 include over 25 different missions but you will be able to fly 20 real planes including the F-22, Mirage, Tornado, Rafale and Eurofighter 2000. The F-22 Raptor is the USAF's air dominance fighter which incorporates some stealth technology and has a top speed of Mach 1.5. Another plane available in the game is the Mirage 2000, which is quite old, but is currently being used in many air forces in South America, East Asia and the Middle East. The Rafale was developed in France which looks similar to the Mirage, but is much more manoeuvrable. It's a wide variety that should keep any enthusiast happy.

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In cockpit with the HUD turned on.
Graphically, Ace Combat 4 is simply stunning. The backgrounds are photo realistic with terrain viewable for miles from your plane. The HUD's (Head Up Displays) are detailed, as you would expect and contain all the vital stats to help you lock onto targets and fire the missiles. Surprisingly, despite the detailed graphics, the game looks to have a solid frame rate which is what you would expect from Namco. Looking at current Playstation 2 titles this is definitely a leap forward in graphical detail and should turn a lot of heads early next year.

There can be little doubt about the quality of the screenshots around this preview. If Ace Combat 4 can retain a high frame rate and the excellent playability of earlier versions of the game then this will be an essential purchase after Christmas. Namco look like they have created yet another awesome product for the Playstation 2 and with their products constantly topping the charts there is a pretty good chance of this becoming one of the biggest flight sims in console history. If your a flight sim fanatic, or just looking for an adrenaline rush, you must have a look at Ace Combat 4.