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Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is a flight action game for the PS4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. The game is the latest in a long-running franchise that pits players as pilots flying against seemingly impossible odds against the backdrop of war. While dogfighting, strafing, and bombing are all part of combat, there's no blood or gore shown in battle. Planes and vehicles, when destroyed, explode into large fireballs. Swearing is frequently used in dialogue, with "ass" and "s--t" used most often by pilots in comments. There's also one cutscene where characters appear to be drinking, and references to opening bottles of wine to celebrate. Players interested in playing the PS4 VR missions will have to purchase a VR headset, which is sold separately. Players should also be aware that the difficulty level of the game can spike suddenly, forcing many replays of missions and increasing frustration.
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What's it about?
ACE COMBAT 7: SKIES UNKNOWN is set in the middle of a conflict between the Osean Federation and the Kingdom of Erusea. The Kingdom launches a massive surprise attack upon the Osean forces, capturing the former Osean president along with a large amount of territory. Players are cast as Trigger, an Osean pilot that tries to repel the invasion along with the rest of his squadron. Unfortunately, during a rescue mission of the president, Trigger is accused of shooting down the escape plane, resulting in a court martial and the assignment to a penal base. Over the course of 20 missions, Trigger will fight alongside a variety of pilots and squadrons to regain standing in the air force, eliminate the Erusean threat, and bring an end to the war. Based on how successful players are during missions, they'll acquire resource points that can be used to purchase new planes, weapons, or plane upgrade parts. They can also earn these points through multiplayer matches. PlayStation 4 owners can get farther into the cockpit with VR missions, making the action seem much more explosive in the skies.
Is it any good?
The latest installment in this long-running flight franchise brings fast-paced action to the skies, and while difficulty can sometimes be steep, there's a lot of aerial fun to be had. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown brings players into a new conflict between two rival nations. They'll face off against a variety of hazards, ranging from anti-air vehicles to drones and even enemy fighter aces. The story can be somewhat confusing, especially because Osea, Erusea, and the continent of Usea where this takes place all sound very similar. That makes it possible to mix up sides and storylines, especially with the cutscene narrators. Fortunately, you can ignore that in favor of destroying your objectives from the seat of your plane that's bristling with missiles and ammunition. Each plane (many of which are real planes, like A-10s, F-16s, and others) is incredibly nimble and responsive, and in minutes, you'll feel like you've been soaring through the skies for years. Pulling off inverted turns and high-speed banks and flying through canyons will start to feel like second nature. If you have a PS4, you can dive further into this with the VR missions, which really make you feel like a top gun.
That's extremely important, because the difficulty can really soar between some missions, especially in annihilation missions, where you're tasked with reaching a specific score in a limited amount of time. These can be some of the hardest stages to complete, because you have to be incredibly accurate, destroying your targets quickly to rack up enough points to pass the level, all while avoiding incoming fire. While the difficulty of these missions decreases as you unlock some of the more advanced planes (which require a lot of multiplayer matches or fights through previously cleared missions), they'll still test your flying skills, which can possibly frustrate you as you replay them over and over. Annoyance aside, Ace Combat 7 flies with action that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about positive character traits like perseverance. The pilots in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown frequently face seemingly impossible odds and still accomplish their goals. Can you take anything from this perseverance and apply it to your life?
Is the violence in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown affected by the lack of realistic violence shown, even though you're constantly destroying enemies? Would the violence be intensified if you were destroying pilots from real countries instead of the fake nations in the game?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.