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October 14, 2004
Ace Combat: Squadron Leader - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
24/2/2005SonyNamco1$99.95

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Awesome graphics...
Namco's Ace Combat series, while leaning more towards the arcade then simulation side of flight sims is generally regarded as one of the best flight sims on consoles. Ace Combat: Squadron Leader (which has been renamed from Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War) is the fifth installment in the series, and the second game on the PS2 following the stunning Ace Combat 04: Distant Thunder. Indeed, the previous title sold over one million copies worldwide making it one of the highest selling flight sims ever. This new PS2 exclusive game includes stunning photo-realistic graphics yet again, but there have been several other enhancements to the gameplay, including a new wingman command. But first the story, which is set in fictional lands.

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Gorgeous water.
Sand Island military base in the middle of the Ceres Ocean, dividing the two superpowers of Osea and Yuktobania. After attempting intercept of an unidentified aircraft at approximately 0410 hours on September 23, 2010, the entire 108th tactical fighter squadron was destroyed. You are a young fighter pilot called up to protect your home nation of Osea as the base goes on red alert and global crisis looms.

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Coming in to land.
What will be interesting to see is if Namco retain the almost comic book style of presentation for the cut-scenes. This was done superbly in the previous title, although many people weren't keen on the style. Time will tell.

Set in the year 2010 the game includes more then 50 licensed planes, some of which will be more advanced then today’s real world planes. Ace Combat: Squadron Leader includes over 30 missions which vary from air-to-air combat, air-to-ground fighting, air-to-sea assaults, rescue, recon and more.

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Over the city sights.
One of the biggest additions to the game is the new Wingman Command, where players can issue directives to their wingmen mid-mission to carry out coordinated group attacks. While little is know about how this will operate it could add a much more tactical and strategic element to the gameplay as you rely on your wingmen to complete missions, rather then solo heroism.

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Running the afterburners.
One of the strongest aspects of this game is the stunning graphics. Using photos as textures the game has an extremely impressive look. As with Ace Combat 04: Distant Thunder we can expect a good frame rate and impressive detail on the planes. Hopefully the sound, which was a slight disappointment in the previous title can also be beefed up, although Namco are already promising "in-game radio communications with the squadron and enemies, adding to the realism and intensity of the dynamic battle sequences".

One rumoured aspect which has sadly been dropped from this final game is the online support. When news of Ace Combat 5 first surfaced it was rumoured to include online gameplay, however this will not happen. Although the Japanese release is set for October 21st this year PAL gamers will be waiting until Febuary 2005 to get their hands on this stunning game.