Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception (エースコンバットX スカイズ・オブ・デセプション Ēsu Konbatto Ekkusu Sukaizu Obu Desepushon) is a video game for the PlayStation Portable handheld console. It is the seventh installment of the Ace Combat video game series, the first of the Ace Combat X series, the first for the PlayStation Portable system, and the second for a portable console. It was released in the United States on October 24, 2006.
Main article: List of missions in Ace Combat X
In the year 2020, Aurelia's northeastern neighbor Leasath, under the command of General Diego Gaspar Navarro invaded Aurelia, claiming it was retaliation for their supposed involvement in promoting civil war in Leasath. Aurelia, unprepared for the invasion, was nearly taken over in 10 days due to the power of Leasath's advanced super weapon, the airborne fortress, Gleipnir. The reason for the invasion was not what it appeared to be; it is later revealed that Navarro had an alternate motive for the invasion: to make millions in arms deals during the war and to create and sell an "ultimate weapon", Fenrir.
Reduced to a single operating airbase, Aubrey Air Force Base, the remnants of the Aurelian military banded together to strike back at the invading Leasath forces. At the forefront of this crusade is the last of the Aurelian Air Force, led by ace pilot Gryphus One who, as one of the last survivors of the Gryphus Squadron, bears the mark of The Southern Cross (Gryphus One is later named Nemesis by Leasath). As Aurelia's last hope, Gryphus One must liberate his country and restore peace to the land.
- Gryphus One is the silent protagonist and main character of the game. The player controls Gryphus One throughout the entire game.
- Rick is Gryphus Two and is introduced in the first mission. However, he was killed in a SWBM attack by the Gleipnir.
- Roy is Gryphus Three, and was killed in action by the same SWBM that killed Gryphus Two.
- Eugene Solano is the Gryphus Squadron's AWACS, callsign Crux, he is present in every mission to assist Gryphus One.
- Diego Gaspar Navarro is the leader of the Leasath Armed Forces.
- Albert Gennette reappears from Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War as the narrator. Originally he wanted to finish up the cover story of the war as quickly as possible because he hated the weather of Southern Hemisphere, but this changes as he heard stories of the Southern Cross as well as the conspiracies behind the war.
The player plays the role of the flight lead in Gryphus Squadron, of the Aurelian Air Force. Ace Combat X also includes a multiplayer mode, using wireless Ad Hoc for up to four players. There are two modes: Cooperative Mode, versus 2-6 A.I. controlled fighters, and a versus mode. The versus modes include Dogfight-Survival, Dog Fight-Shoot Out, Base Attack (attack/defend), Air Superiority (King of the Hill), Beacon Battle (Capture the Flag) and Escort Mission. The wingman command system is no longer available because of the limited number of buttons on PSP. It is one of the easiest games on PSP to pick up the controls but there are advanced controls for masters of the game and those who like a challenge on a game. After meeting certain game conditions, the player can choose 4 different paint schemes for each unlockable aircraft. Certain planes may be "tuned" for improved performance by unlocking and purchasing parts in Campaign Mode, examples of which include thrust-vectoring nozzles, advanced canards and higher-powered engines. The HUD is almost the same as the other Ace Combat games, except the player is allowed a visual of the target on the upper-left of the screen, and a Multi-Purpose Gauge on the upper-right. Medals are awarded by completing various objectives in Campaign Mode and Multiplayer.
Players gain money by destroying enemies, points being converted directly into credits. Once the mission objectives are complete, the player is awarded bonus money for performing above and beyond the requirements of the mission objectives. With special missions that require landing or refueling in mid-air, bonus money can be earned by completing said tasks quickly and accurately.
There are four levels of difficulty: Easy, Normal, Hard, and the unlockable Ace level. The difficulty mode affects how many enemies are in a stage, how smart/accurate the enemies are, how much damage the enemies can take, and how much damage the player's airplane can take. On the Ace difficulty level, a single missile from the enemy will deal approximately 95% damage to a standard-defense fighter (if not destroy it immediately), whereas on the easiest level it would deal about 20%.
Like some other Ace Combat games, the player can choose their own route through the campaign, which affects how the game progresses. There are 3 points where missions branch out into multiple paths, marking segments of the game; the longest campaign a player can undertake requires the completion of all 17 available missions, while the shortest amounts to a count of 10 (medals are awarded accordingly for meeting both of these conditions).
Most of the missions in the game are laid out as simply "search-and-destroy", where the player must engage a target and destroy it within a time limit; the only variations to this layout depend on whether the targets are air-to-air or air-to-ground. The variety of mission-altering factors include but are not limited to:
- Escort (where the player must protect an ally from destruction by the enemy)
- Air Restrictive (where the player must remain below a certain altitude/speed)
- Jamming (where the player's radar and lock-on will be hindered or disabled)
- Assault on Base (where the player must attack/destroy an enemy stronghold)
Two or more of these factors may be combined during certain missions.
List of recycled elements from Ace Combat 04
The game has a notable amount of things recycled from Ace Combat 04. Namco likely did this to save time and show the PSP's early capabilities of PS2-like graphics.
- Various plane models were brought in the game from AC04.
- The hangar from AC04 is exactly the same- the lights are all still 2-D sprites, though the music is different. The way stats are measured is also carried over.
- The physics of the game were carried over- instead of Ace Combat 5's updated physics, the planes now lock onto other planes at 920ft away.
- The Head-up display is nearly the same, though it received a few upgrades.
- The sound effect when hitting a target with the machine gun is the same as well.
Ace Combat X has an ad-hoc multiplayer mode that features competitive modes but no CO-OP missions to play. However, teams can be formed in most game modes. A maximum of 8 players can play in one lobby at any time but any open slots for missing players can be replaced with computer controlled aircraft which the host can choose their side(Red or Blue) for the game as well as their skill level(Rookie, Normal, Veteran, Ace). The A.I. player's aircraft can be chosen by the players on the corresponding sides to whatever they have unlocked(ex:Fenrir with SP color 2). The A.I. players will have infinite missiles(or no missiles if handicap is given) and can be customized to change it's homing capability like regular human players. A.I. players will not be able to use or select any SP weapons whatsoever. In game however, all A.I.'s will only attack human players and nothing else due to bad A.I. programming. Neutral units and SAMs will never attack an A.I. aircraft because of the technical limits of the PSP. In any Battle Royal matches(Free for all), the host will not be able to have any A.I. players in the game due to their behavior to attack human players only rather than each other.
Main article: List of aircraft in Ace Combat X
Ace Combat X features a large amount of aircraft despite the limitations of the PSP, having a total of 40 aircraft(29 real-life aircraft and 11 fictional or prototypes), surpassing Ace Combat Zero. The fictional ones can also be "tuned" to further modify their stats.
The flagship aircraft of the game is the F-22A Raptor. The super-fighter introduced in this game is the Fenrir, although a number of other fictional planes are featured in the game, including the XFA-27, the very first superfighter in the Ace Combat series whose only appearance until then was in Ace Combat 2.
- While Namco Bandai Games is listed as the company that produced and published Ace Combat X, the European cover art shows the old Namco logo.
- There are several references to Norse Mythology:
- Leasath's FENRIR is named after a Giant Wolf Fenrir or Fenrirsulfr.
- The medal "Mark of Vioarr" refers to Odin's son Vioarr slaying Fenrir.
- The airborne fortress Gleipnir is named after a bind that holds Fenrir.
- The two aces SCARFACE ONE and Z.O.E. refers to the two Ace Combat 2 characters, SCARFACE ONE and Z.O.E. Commander.
- The Gryphus Squadron is named after the Andean Condor (Vultur Gryphus)
- Aurelia is similar to South Korea both geographically and in its political relationship with its northern neighbor. Aurelia provided Leasath with large amounts of financial aid during and after its civil war. Despite this generosity, most of Leasath still holds animosity towards Aurelia due to state-sponsored propaganda.
- Ace Combat X is the first in the series to feature tunable aircraft and tuning parts.
- Certain original aircraft in Skies of Deception bear a resemblance to aircraft from the anime Sentō Yōsei Yukikaze. For example, the Fenrir's airframe resembles that of the B-503 Super Sylph, while the XR-45 Cariburn looks like the FFR-41MR Mave.
- Allied NPC fighters will engage enemy aircraft until the target enemy's health is damaged to a certain point, then they will attack other enemy aircraft or follow the player.
- Although the physics engine was recycled from Ace Combat 04, aircraft in Ace Combat X will stall much easier, and usually begin losing altitude at around 350mph, unlike AC04, where aircraft usually lose altitude at around 250mph.
- Ace Combat X is the only "modern" Ace Combat game not to feature a song as part of the soundtrack.
- It is the only game with no female characters.