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Trial Missions are a series of bonus missions featured in Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, unlocked as a reward for completing the main storyline. Completely unrelated to the game's plot, Trial Missions are designed to test the player's flight and combat abilities in a variety of scenarios lifted directly from the campaign.

Initially, only the first stage is available. New stages are unlocked by finishing the previous one with a "B" rank or higher, contrary to campaign levels. The player can choose to either play in "Score Attack" or "Time Attack" modes, which measure rank by points and time, respectively.

Mission 01: Target Sweeper

  • Type: Air-to-Ground, Air-to-Air
  • Time Limit: 1:50
  • Area: Megafloat

The stage takes place in the middle of an ocean, over a group of large structures with construction equipment, buildings and asphalt roadways located among them. The objective is to destroy as many targets as possible before the time limit expires.

The targets are spawned in a serpentine, S-figure pattern. The main targets are unmanned balloons spread across the stage. Other types of targets are also featured, which include grounded C-130 transports, dummy ground targets (marked "Dummy TGT"), container ships, buildings and cranes.

Mission 02: Dogfight

  • Type: Air-to-Air
  • Time Limit: 2:00
  • Area: Unknown

The second stage takes place in a large desert area next to an ocean, and is the first trial mission to involve actual combat. The player has a two-minute limit to achieve the highest possible score.

The enemies in this stage are purely combat aircraft. There are various types of enemies found throughout the mission, which have a corresponding score reward for their destruction - the F-4s provide 50 points for each kill, the EF-2000s provide 80 points, while the F-22s reward 120 points.

Mission 03: Goose Hunt

  • Type: Air-to-Air
  • Time Limit: 1:30
  • Area: Ice Creek

"Goose Hunt" is an air combat-based stage set in the northern Ice Creek region. Similar in nature to "Dogfight", it gives the player the objective of destroying as many targets as possible within the given time limit. However, the main difference is that missile targeting is permanently disabled, forcing one to use machine guns instead.

The majority of the enemy targets in this mission are F-5E Tiger II fighters, with rare Su-35 jets accompanying them. The key to a high ending score in this section is skill with the use of guns, wasting the least amount of ammunition possible when attacking and landing as many shots as possible.

Mission 04: Acrobat Ace

"Acrobat Ace" stands out from the previous missions in that it does not involve combat or targets of any kind. Instead, it is meant to test the player's flight and movement abilities, hence its name. The stage is set in Gnome Ravine, lifted from the campaign mission "Safe Return".

The game gives the player the task of following a course through the level, which is indicated by ring-shaped checkpoints. The route starts above the ravine at over 10,000 feet, and slowly descends towards the valleys of the area. Later on, the path descends ever lower into the ravine itself, leading to a low-altitude run through the mountains, and ends on a cliffside leading to an open area. There are 24 checkpoints in total.

Mission 05: Face Off

  • Type: Air-to-Air
  • Time: No time limit
  • Area: Unknown

"Face Off" is the fifth and final Trial Mission, unlocked after clearing all previous four stages. Like missions 02 and 03, it is focused on dogfighting.

In this mission, Mobius One is tasked with engaging and defeating the 5-plane Yellow Squadron in a combat match. The player begins the mission spawning directly in front of the enemy units, which almost immediately break off to engage. As enemies, the Yellows are not very aggressive and can be overwhelmed individually with a constant offensive, although they can evade missile better than ordinary pilots.

Trivia

  • The "fly-through-halos" concept of Trial Mission 04 was carried over to Ace Combat 05: The Unsung War Tutorial mode.
  • Most of the trial maps are based on maps from the actual missions. The only differences are the music, weather and time of day.

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