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Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation (エースコンバット6 解放への戦火 Ēsu Konbatto Roku Kaihō e no Senka) is the ninth installment of the Ace Combat series and the sixth numbered installment. It was released exclusively for the Xbox 360 console.
A new feature is Allied Support. By destroying enemies and completing certain parts of missions, a meter will fill up. By using the points contained in this meter, the player can call on allied aircraft and ground forces to attack a large number of targets, or to protect the player from enemies. This is in addition to the ability to have your wingman (Shamrock) to do these tasks by himself.
Dynamic Mission System
This is a new system that allows Large Scale battles to change as you play them. Many missions contain multiple 'operations' (up to six at most) that need to be completed. These operations occur simultaneously, and in order to complete the mission, a certain number of operations must be successfully completed. The player can change his/her radar screen to show only the units involved in a particular operation. Completing operations also add to the meter used to call on Allied Support, carried out by spare units sent by allies who have already accomplished their objectives.
ESM stands for Electronic warfare Support Measures. Certain facilities, planes, and ships provide an ESM field where allied units within range have enhanced missile tracking and protection. ESM fields also decrease the accuracy of enemy missiles. ESM mainly comes from radars, E-767 planes & battle ships. Occasionally, it would come from the Strigon team and big mission objectives would contain a lot of enemy ESM such as capturing fortresses, destroying the Aigaion, defeating the CFA-44 Nosferatu and destroying the Chandelier. Playing on Xbox Live also allows you to use ESM on certain stages.
Main article: List of aces in Ace Combat 6
The assault records return on Ace Combat 6. You can get all the allied assault records by completing all operations with a particular unit. For example, in order to get the record for the Quox Tank Battalion, you have to complete all operations that include Quox. For the enemies, shooting down a particular enemy will unlock his/her battle record. Certain named planes (whose pilots are also known as Aces) and all Strigon Squadron pilots have assault records.
The cutscenes in the game are a mix of fully animated real time and pre-rendered videos. Noted by the lack of video compression and speech synch in some cutscenes. Last seen in Ace Combat 5.
Along with online modes, icons and other Xbox Live Marketplace items have been announced. Online play is enabled. Here are the following modes:
- Team (Squadron) Battle
- Battle Royale (All vs. all)
- Siege Battle (Attacking vs. Defending)
- CO-OP Battle
Plus downloadable modes from Xbox Live Marketplace:
- Team (Squadron) Battle DLC 1
- Battle Royale (All v.s All) DLC 1
- Siege Battle (Attacking v.s Defending) DL 1
- CO-OP Battle DLC 1
- CO-OP Battle DLC 2
- Ace of Aces (a series of ultra-difficult missions)
Main article: List of achievements in Ace Combat 6
There are 49 achievements in the game, including five secret ones, cumulatively worth 1000 XBox Live Gamerscore Points.
Main article: List of missions in Ace Combat 6
Ace Combat 6 follows the Anean Continental War, which takes place between 2015 and 2016, on the Anean Continent. There are three countries in Anea: the Republic of Emmeria, the Federal Republic of Estovakia, and the Kingdom of Nordennavic (neutral during the war). The player's squadron is the Republic of Emmeria Air Force's 28th Fighter Squadron "Garuda" of the 8th Air Wing. The player's call sign is "Talisman", and is also referred to as Garuda One.
When the Ulysses 1994XF04 asteroid fell in 1999, it caused massive damage to the whole continent, but mainly to Estovakia. Emmeria had managed to sustain itself, but Estovakia collapsed into civil war and economic ruin. The war ended as a military government being established in Estovakia, led by "The Generals". After the war's end, the federation was restored and Estovakia re-entered a nation-wide peace. On August 30, 2015, The Generals decided to invade Emmeria. The Emmerian capital city, Gracemeria, was hit by a surprise attack. The battle opens with two Estovakian Air Force F-4E Phantom IIs flying over Gracemeria. One of them fires a missile at King's Bridge, a national landmark. Immediately afterward, EAF B-52s began bombing the city, escorted by multiple fighters. Helicopters also arrived, dropping off Estovakian Army tanks. REAF fighters were scrambled from Gracemeria Air Force Base. Republic of Emmeria Navy ships fired SAMs at the invading aircraft. At first, the Emmerians did not know who the attackers were. They soon discovered that the attackers were Estovakian. AWACS Ghost Eye oversees the air battle for the Emmerians. After Talisman gets airborne, Ghost Eye noticed he doesn't have a wingman. He assigned Shamrock, who was also alone, to be Garuda Two.
At first, the battle seemed to be going well for Emmeria. After several minutes of fighting, all of the bombers and helicopters were shot down. However, at that moment, the Estovakian Aerial Fleet made its debut to the world. Seemingly coming from nowhere, a large number of cruise missiles detonated all over the sky. Many of Emmeria's fighters were destroyed. During this time, the EAF's elite fighter squadron, the 9th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Strigon Team" entered the fight. Meanwhile, Emmerian Air Defense Command ordered all Emmerian pilots to evacuate the city and give up Gracemeria. At first, the pilots were reluctant, but Ghost Eye was able to convince them to leave the area.
Soon after the capital had been taken by Estovakian forces, the Garuda Team met up with other Republic of Emmeria Air Force squadrons at Vitoze, a city on Khesed Island to form an armed resistance against the enemy forces. Campagna Airport becomes their base of operations. Meanwhile, Estovakian forces quickly captured almost all of Emmeria's mainland, except for a pocket of resistance or two. In an attempt to finish off the Emmerians and quickly end the war, the EAF launches a bombing raid on Vitoze. However, with help from Garuda Team and the other pilots, all 10 bombers were shot down, resulting in Emmeria's first victory of the war. Following the successful defense, they started to push back, first attacking a town of Estovakian Military units in Sipli Field, then by retaking Bartolomeo Fortress. With the Estovakians now eliminated from Khesed, the Emmerians gathered all forces and launched an amphibious assault on Ortara. After retaking the city and the nearby beaches, Garuda Team and the other pilots were sent to provide support for Emmerian forces cut off in Silvat. During the Silvat operation, multiple members of the Strigon Team were shot down, adding to the squadron's casualties, which already included two shot down at Bartolomeo, and at least one, Lt. Col. Voychek (the squadron commander at the time), over Gracemeria.
Afterwards, the Emmerians continued to push back the Estovakians. They send their ground units through Selumna Peak, where they come under air attack. Though the attackers were defeated, the same cruise missiles used during the Gracemeria invasion were used again on the Emmerian pilots over the mountain. Following this second attack by the missiles, the Emmerian commanders decided to stop these missiles once and for all. First, they retook San Loma, which they planned to use as a springboard. They then sent their pilots to attack the Estovakian Aerial Fleet. Thanks to great intelligence, they were able to approach while the Fleet's flagship, the P-1112 Aigaion, was being refueled. The tankers blocked its radar, so the Emmerians were able to approach undetected. All five super aircraft that made up the fleet were destroyed, ending the threat of the Nimbus Missiles.
With the cruise missiles out of the way, the Emmerian forces continued towards Gracemeria. First, they retook Ragno Fortress, then launched an attack on Estovakia's last line of defense in the Moloch Desert. However, just as the Emmerians were about to finish off the Estovakian forces, Ghost Eye ordered all Emmerian forces to cease fire and retreat immediately. Though stunned, most of the Emmerians comply. However, Shamrock, desperate to get back to Gracemeria so he can see his family again, disobeyed orders and engaged the Strigon Team members who just showed up. Talisman, unable to leave his wingman behind, was forced to stay with him. The two of them shoot down all of the Strigon pilots, but afterwards were suspended from operations.
After the battle, the Emmerians are informed that the Estovakians have placed a "scorched earth" policy on Gracemeria; if the Emmerians continued to push the Estovakians back, they would use Weapons of Mass Destruction to obliterate Gracemeria. The Emmerians were forced to halt their advance for a time. However, when the Emmerians find that the WMD catalyst was being held in Fort Norton, they decided to destroy it. They were convinced, however, that the only way to destroy it was to send in Garuda Team. They were able to make their way down the canyon and destroy the catalyst. However, as they were leaving the area, a large formation of enemy aircraft attacked them. As they try to hold off the enemy, reinforcements arrived, and all the enemy aircraft are shot down.
Emmerian forces launched "Operation: Free Gracemeria" and attacked the city in six sections. After a long, hard-fought battle, Gracemeria is liberated. However, just as the Emmerians began to celebrate, Ilya Pasternak (Strigon Team's new squadron leader) enters the area. Pasternak was flying the CFA-44 Nosferatu, Estovakia's signature plane. After a long dogfight, Talisman successfully shot down Pasternak and retook Gracemeria.
At that point, Estovakia has been completely pushed out of Emmeria. The Emmerian leaders quickly began peace talks with the Estovakians. However, the Estovakians have one more weapon that could demolish Gracemeria. They launch several cruise missiles at Gracemeria from the Chandelier, a giant railgun that was originally used to destoy the Ulysses asteroid. As the missiles were raining down on the city, EAF stealth fighters appear to take out the REAF pilots. However, all missiles were shot down, and the city was safe once again.
After the attack, Garuda Team and many of the Emmerian pilots launched an attack on the Chandelier. As they approach, a strange voice was heard over the radio. The voice belonged to Melissa Herman, who sends them data she gained from Voychek, who decided that the use of the Chandelier on Gracemeria wasn't acceptable. Despite this, Ghost Eye initially believe her to be a saboteur trying to interfere with the operation, however Shamrock convinced Ghost Eye to listen. She explains that the Chandelier has 13 cooling units and destroying those will stop the Chandelier. After destroying 12 cooling vents on the outside of the cannon, it still kept firing its missiles at Gracemeria, due to a backup in the loading trench at the bottom of the railgun. In an effort to help, Shamrock flew into the loading trench to gain intelligence for Ghost Eye. He successfully navigated the trench and got Ghost Eye the needed intel, but the heavy air defenses around the trench damaged his aircraft. Shamrock's plane was heard crashing into the ocean. After the downing of Shamrock, Ghost Eye became emotional and insisted the pilots to go save him. Talisman then flies in, destroying the backup cooling unit. The barrel of the railgun then opened up to cool down the gun. Talisman then, in a bold move, flew inside the barrel to destroy the core at the back. With the core destroyed, the Chandelier collapsed, ending the Anean Continental War.
After the battle, Ludmila and Toscha were seen holding a wedding in an Emmerian POW camp, with Voychek as the best man. According to Voychek, it is confirmed that The Generals were ousted in a coup d'etat and the ceasefire is to be signed in a week. It is also confirmed that Shamrock ejected from the crash and is currently confined to a wheelchair for a short time. He then visited the Herman residence, which was now a home for war orphans, after a stroll in the city. Shamrock ends the game by saying to Talisman that peace is finally what they've been fighting for.
- Melissa Herman is the wife of an Emmerian pilot. She believed to have lost her daughter Matilda, due to Estovakian strategic bombing, which culminated in the destruction of the King's Bridge. But it turns out that Matilda survived. While walking to Gracemeria, she comes across Ludmila and develops a connection with her. This part of the story shows that Emmerian and Estovakian can get along.
- Lt. Col. Victor Voychek is one of Estovakia's ace pilots. He becomes an intelligence officer after he sustains a career-debilitating injury, presumably to his legs due to the fact he is seen walking with a cane. He saw the order to destroy Gracemeria and has the outline of the Chandelier in his laptop.
- Sergeant Louis McKnight is a Tank Sergeant who was a refugee for sometime, but then participated in operations to stop the Estovakian advance. He used a tunnel leading to the Palace bank, which his tank blasted through. In doing this he rescued Matilda Herman, her companions who had hidden the Golden King, and Voychek.
- Ludmila Tolstaya is an Estovakian woman who is engaged to a pilot in the Strigon team, Toscha Mijasik. She rushes to the battlefield to be at the side of her lover and meets Melissa on her way to Gracemeria. She eventually marries Toscha Mijasik in the ending cutscene.
Main article: List of aircraft in Ace Combat 6
Ace Combat 6 features 15 playable aircraft, of which 14 are real or prototypes and one is fictional (the CFA-44 Nosferatu). To purchase aircraft, the player has to unlock them by completing certain missions, then buy them by expending credits. Credits are earned by destroying enemies and getting high ratings on missions. Only one plane, the F-16C Fighting Falcon, is available from the start and it cannot be sold later. In addition to a machinegun and all-purpose missiles, each plane is equipped with a limited number of special weapons, specialized against either ground or air targets. Like in Ace Combat 04 and Zero, the player can select their special munition after selecting their plane at the beginning of each mission. Only one special weapon type is available for each aircraft upon purchase and two or three more can be bought later (which special weapons each aircraft can carry is predetermined for each plane, see the list).
Unlike in Zero, the player can once again choose both the plane and the special weapons of their wingman before each mission except the first one. Unlike in AC5, however, the player doesn't have to purchase separate planes for Garuda One and Two: instead, once a certain plane model is purchased, both pilots can fly it simultaneously on any mission.
Before each mission, the player can also select the paint scheme for their and their wingman's planes.
The making of Ace Combat 6 began in 2006, following the release of Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War. The existence of the game was first discovered in a database of the defunct Blockbuster video rental store in March 16th, 2007 by the site Xboxic, together with Beautiful Katamari and Warhammer: Mark of Chaos, which labeled it as an Xbox 360 release in November 16.
The game was formally announced by Namco Bandai on March 23, confirming its release as a 360 exclusive, along with details on multiplayer and plans for downloadable content. The announcement was also disclosed through the March 2007 issue of Famitsu Weekly. In an interview in April 27, producer Hiroyuki Ichiyanagi stated that the choice to make it an Xbox exclusive was made after research on new game hardware by Project Aces; as well, he commented that the decision was partly made because it was believed that fans had been kept waiting "for a long time", commenting on the timeframe between Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies and Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, and to satisfy popular demand for online gameplay.
- The enemy ace squadron, the Strigon Team, is made up of twelve Su-33 Flanker-D models and one super aircraft, the CFA-44 Nosferatu.
- There is a battle against the aerial carrier, the P-1112 Aigaion, and its escorts, the two P-1114 Gyges aerial fire support aircraft, and the two P-1113 Kottos ESM aircraft.
- Ace Combat Zero's Juggernaut soundtrack is remixed into Bartolomeo Fortress
- Since Ace Combat Zero, missions will have checkpoints in them.
- All the gauges inside of the aircraft are functional and give accurate information (from Sea Level).
- Aircraft-Specific colors can be purchased from the Xbox live marketplace.
- It is the only Ace Combat game which doesn't have any Mikoyan-Gurevich aircraft.
- Producer: Ace Combat 04's Director Hiroyuki Ichiyanagi.
- Director: Ace Combat 04's Planner and Ace Combat 5's Lead Planner, Natsuki Isaki.
- The Spanish subtitle is "La Guerra Por La Libertad" (The War For Freedom).
- Certain names are analogous to those referred to in the Cold War.
- Slovakia is related to Estovakia as well as the nickname "Stovie," which is an anagram of "Soviet."
- This game has the least amount of Russian planes in the series, having only two.
- This is one of the games which there isn't a mission with the game's name, alongside Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
- This game has the least amount of playable aircraft, with a total of 15.