“When history witnesses a great change, Razgriz reveals itself; first, as a dark demon. As a demon, it uses its power to rain death upon the land, and then it dies. However, after a period of slumber, Razgriz returns; this time, as a great hero.” –Albert Genette
With Nagase safely returned, Osea stage an offensive on Yuktobanian forces in the Jilachi Desert, successfully destroying their command headquarters and capturing an airfield. Wardog Squadron is then invited to poerform a ceremonial flyover in November City while the Osean Vice President gives a speech, but Yuktobanian aircraft enter the airspace, forcing Wardog to engage them while reinforcements are called in. During the confusion, the enigmatic 8492nd Squadron call off the reinforcements and Davenport ends up taking damage. Unable to eject, he crashes into the stadium and dies. Wardog later assists with the assault on Cruik Fortress as Osean forces press towards the Yuktobanian capital and are successful in neutralising its defenses, but en route to an allied escort, come under attack from the 8492nd Squadron. At Sand Island, Wardog is forced to escape with their mechanic, Wolfgang Buchner, after commander Allen C. Hamilton brands them as traitors. They rendezvous with Marcus Snow, who shoots down Wardog’s aircraft and secretly has the Kestrel pick everyone up. On board the Kestrel, Wardog learns that Vincent Harling is held at Stier Castle and participate in an operation to free him. Information also reveals that the Grey Men, hardline Belkan nationalists, were the ones who manufactured the antagonism between Osea and Yuktobania. Its members include politicians, businessmen and military command, unified by a desire to take revenge on both Osea and Yuktobania after their defeat in the Belkan War. To this end, they orchestrated Harling’s kidnapping and the replacement of Yuktobanian Prime Minister Seryozha Viktrovich Nikanor, as well as secretly prepare nuclear weapons to carry out their act of vengeance. After freeing Harling, Wardog is redesignated as the Razgriz, and tasked attacks the Belkan facility at Mount Schirm after carrying out reconnaisance that points to nuclear weapons being stockpiled here. They are successful, and later, Razgriz heads off to assist anti-war factions in Yuktobania, providing air support for them while they dismantle a Belkan warhead. The Belkan squadron, Ofnir, arrives to fight Razgriz, but they are shot down. Belkan operatives capture the Arkbird and plan to use it to detonate the remaining nuclear warhead they have over Okchabursk, Razgriz manages to shoot down the Arkbird. It turns out that Captain Bartlett had survived and joined the Yuktobanian resistance. He rendezvouses with Razgriz, bringing Nikanor with him. With the leaders secured, Razgriz engages and shoots down Grabacr Squadron before returning to the Kestrel. However, the Osean fleet comes under fire from Yuktobanian vessels. While Nikanor heads off for Oured to meet with Harling and issue a joint statement demanding an end to this war, Razgriz sinks the pursuing Yuktobanian forces and the Osean forces sent out to deal with the Kestrel. Information from Bartlett reveals the Belkans had completed construction on the SOLG, an Osean weapon that was abandoned after the previous war ended. The Grey Men intend to use the SOLG to launch the V2 MIRV. Mid-briefing, the Kestrel is sunk, but not before Razgriz takes to the skies for an all-out attack on the SOLG’s control facility in Sudentor. They are joined by friendly Yuktobanian and Osean aircraft alike, and after clearing out the ground defenses, Blaze heads into the tunnel to destroy the control unit while Bartlett flies in from the opposite end to take out the backup controls. Both are successful, and Hamilton is killed when he collides with a plane. On New Year’s Eve, the SOLG begins descending into Oured, and Razgriz sortie to destroy it. With its core units annihilated, the SOLG explodes harmlessly over Oured Bay, bringing the Circum-Pacific War to an end.
Whereas Skies Unknown explored the dangers of entrusting warfare, of life-or-death decisions to machines, The Unsung War speaks to the idea that warfare (and indeed, a majority of the world’s ills) are the consequence of collusion amongst a small group of shadowy elite. The Grey Men are the real foe in The Unsung War, manipulating events from behind-the-scenes, fuelling hatred between Oseans and the Yuktobanians with the aim of destroying them both to settle a perceived slight. Radical groups that possess little more than a few Twitter accounts and spirited, but untrained youth are unlikely to be threats, but when these groups are financially stable and have members in critical parts of a society, they can begin dealing real damage to peace and stability. These activities occur far from the public eye: to Oseans and Yutkobanians, it would simply appear as though the two governments were going to war with one another in response to the other’s actions. The Grey Men are shown as kidnapping politicians and ordering special squadrons beholden to them to create atrocities that furthered the hatred between the two nations. One method the Grey Men are not explictly stated as employing, but very likely to have been used, is the act of media collusion, in which multiple news outlets repost content with the same tone and opinion within a very short period of time with the aim of giving the impression that multiple “independent” sources all reached the same conclusion on a given topic. Because of the scope and scale of media outlets, it would be quite tricky for journalists to all hold the same opinion on something in such a synchronised manner (even if people do agree, the evidence chosen and method in which a conclusion is reached would all differ at least slightly): only a powerful guiding force would be able to achieve such a level of cohesiveness. When multiple sources reach the same apparent conclusion, the public is left to believe that what’s being reported is indisputable fact, and in this way, those who manipulate the media could, in theory, control how the public think. It is not inconceivable that the Grey Men also had people bankrolling both Osean and Yuktobanian media, allowing them to create events and amplify feelings of hatreds through the news. Such a foe can seem unbeatable, but The Unsung War gives players a chance to fight back against this injustice in a manner consistent with Ace Combat: take a missile-laden aircraft into the air and blow up assets helpful to the Grey Men, frustrating their plans to the point where the truth is exposed to the world. In this way, The Unsung War suggests that while shadowy societies like the Grey Men can manipulate the world to a hitherto unprecedented extent, the will of a few determined individuals, in the right place and at the right time, can shut down even the most well-organised of plans. The build-up to this in The Unsung War is exceptional, and through the game’s second half, players really do feel as though they’re making a tangible difference in Strangereal. Every single part to the Grey Men’s elaborate machine of revenge taken down feels immensely satisfying, and The Unsung War makes it abundantly clear that every action Razgriz takes has relevance in a larger context.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Last I left off, I’d just finished recovering Nagase from the frozen taiga of Yuktobania’s northernmost regions. Here, Wardog is sent out to the Jilachi Desert, and since I ended up replying “yes” to Chopper’s song, I was sent on over to Operation Desert Arrow. The distinct circular farm patches here are a result of center pivot irrigation, a form of irrigation in which equipment is rotated around a pivot, creating a circular area where crops can be watered. The technique was devised in the 1940s by a Colorado farmer named Frank Zybach, and the technique is remarkably efficient, reducing soil compaction and labour costs.
- While centre pivot irrigation is an American innovation, it has been used elsewhere in the world: Saudi Arabia also employs the technique, and indeed, these desert missions have a distinctly Gulf War aesthetic about them. These are the only two desert missions in the whole of The Unsung War, and according to players, I ended up choosing the easier of the two missions: Desert Blitz is said to be an infamous mission owing to how its objectives are placed, but the prize is worth it: there’s a hidden hangar that needs to be destroyed in order to secure the last of the parts for the legendary Falken.
- For the first time since picking up the Ace Combat 5 strategy guide at the local library, I finally fly over the skies of November City, a major Osean population centre inspired by Toronto and Los Angeles. The tower seen to the right of the image resembles the CN Tower, and the proximity of the stadium to the observation tower is reminiscent of how close the Rogers Centre is to the CN Tower. There’s an aesthetic about November City that can’t be found anywhere else in The Unsung War; the mission is set during the evening, and players simply need to fly over the stadium.
- A mission without enemies would be dull, and moments after the fly-over, Yuktobanian aircraft appear over Osean airspace, prompting an evacuation. Nothing can be seen on the ground, as players will be completely focused on shooting down the enemy fighters. Missions like these typify Ace Combat‘s ability to do more with less: the game itself is about flying awesome aircraft armed to the teeth and blowing up entire squadrons on one’s own, but an incredible amount of the story is presented through the communications chatter that players overhear.
- By placing dialogue at key points in the game, The Unsung War is able to create a sense of urgency and connect the players’ actions to a much larger context. Engaging flights of Yuktobanian fighters while stadium crews below begin evacuating spectators clearly conveys players to the idea that Blaze and Wardog squadron are playing an essential role in keeping enemy fighters away from the stadium. For this mission, I flew the F-15S/MTD, an experimental version of the F-15 equipped with a unique 2D nozzle that could use thrust vectoring and increase its performance at low speed.
- The unlock system in The Unsung War is simple enough: some aircraft are unlocked for purchase after completing certain campaign missions, and player performance in campaign mission yields currency to buy aircraft. Using an aircraft enough will unlock the next iteration of the aircraft in the tree, and all aircraft in The Unsung War have a unique special weapon. The F-15S/MTD is equipped with XMAA, medium air-to-air missiles that can lock onto four targets simultaneously. These are reasonable missiles against distant air targets, and are especially fun to employ against targets that are still in formation.
- Eventually, a flight of F-117s will show up and crash the party, while Davenport dies in a crash after his aircraft sustains damage and he is unable to eject. The mission has a melancholy to it as a result, and despite the lingering mystery resulting from the 8492nd Squadron’s conflicting instructions, the loss of Davenport is tangibly felt. I’d come to greatly enjoy his banter during missions: he reminds me a great deal of Skies Unknown‘s Count, who similarly clashed with Bandog in highly amusing ways. When Spare Squadron’s pilots get transferred over to Strider squadron, the exchanges decreased, but Count remained an interesting character.
- I’ve skipped over a few missions for this post, passing over the assault on Cruik Fortress, Wardog’s escape from Hamilton’s rogue pilots and being guided through perilous skies to escape the treacherous 8492nd: The Unsung War is a superb game where every mission is unique, and every mission is enjoyable, but there are some missions that particularly stood out for me. Thus, I resume with the strike against Stier Castle in the heart of Belka, a land ravaged by war: during the previous war, in a bid to destroy their foes, they utilised nuclear weapons in the Waldreich Mountains, and this has left the area scarred. There is a moodiness about this mission, and Stier Castle itself is covered in grey.
- Looking back, it would be fair to say that Skies Unknown‘s Shilage Castle was probably inspired by Stier Castle – both missions entail defending ground forces assaulting the castle. However, The Unsung War, the mission aims are only to take out ground targets and allow President Harling to be extracted, whereas in Skies Unknown, once the castle is seized, Trigger must do battle against Mihaly and his top-of-the-line Strike Wyvern. The lack of a single powerful ace in The Unsung War is noticeable, and while both the Ofnir and Grabacr squadrons are said to be formidable, they can be destroyed in moments with the right aircraft.
- I opted to go for the F-22A Raptor for this mission despite the prevalence of ground targets. Aircraft in Ace Combat have special weapons that make them suited for a specific role, and planes with stronger ground capabilities are simply those with dedicated anti-ground special weapons. Beyond this, a plane suited for anti-aircraft operations can still hold their own in missions with an emphasis on ground targets, so for this mission in Belka, I found no difficulties in using the F-22A to deal with air and ground foes alike. Of all the missions in The Unsung War, the operation to retrieve President Harling from Belka brought back memories of winter days during my youth, when I’d spend snowy weekends visiting the local mall.
- The snow-covered, overcast atmospheric surroundings create a sense of death that I’d long come to associate with this time of year, and it does feel like Belka ends up being the punching bag of The Unsung War, being a nation whose citizens suffer as a result of the games that their politicians play. Although Wardog squadron can’t directly take the fight to the Grey Men, their actions directly contribute to the Grey Men’s plans falling apart. The level of collusion shown in The Unsung War was scripted for the game’s story, but it is disappointing that in reality, there are analogues of this occurring.
- I can think of no better example than the recent debacle with the MY2022 app: a few weeks ago (in fact, on the day I published my thoughts for The Unsung War‘s first half), all the media outlets in the nation simultaneously ran the same story about how the Citizen’s Lab allegedly gained access to the MY2022 iOS app’s source code and found “serious security risks for personal information” because the app doesn’t use SSL. This media’s assertion is laughable because there is no source code in a compiled executable (i.e. the .ipa files that iOS devices utilise to store apps), so there is no way that the Citizen’s Lab would have performed a code review to back such claims. Since iOS 9, all apps submitted to the App Store need to enforce TLS (Transport Layer Security) support, and the networking libraries have built-in support for TLS.
- As such, to state that the MY2022 app isn’t compliant with authority, one would need to prove that the endpoint connections aren’t secure. The resource names are typically stored in the app’s source code, which, as previously mentioned, isn’t included with the .ipa file. If vulnerabilities are indeed present, they were found in some other way, but the media has obfuscated things to the point where they’re erroneously suggesting that the Citizen’s Lab gained access to MY2022’s source code. For most people, this explanation would be sufficient evidence of the app’s developers caught in wrong-doing, but a developer would find it strange to claim that the Citizen’s Lab is able to do something that, by definition, is not possible. That every news outlet across the nation broadcasted the story at the same time is reminiscent of the level of coordination was previously seen with the “Gamers are Dead” incident some years earlier.
- This sort of thing does seem to suggest that there might be forces at work to denigrate the 2022 Winter Games, and on that note, today marks the first day of the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. China ended putting on a solid showing at the opening ceremony in spite of bad press; the events were a sight to behold, from the nation’s entries and performances, right up to the torch lighting and fireworks. I’ve never found the Olympics to be an appropriate arena for political games and are more interested in Canada’s medal counts at such events. Back in The Unsung War, I participate in an assault on the Mount Schirm complex, where the Belkans are holding nuclear warheads. Sustained fire on the tunnel entrance buries the opening, preventing the Belkans from accessing their stockpile.
- However, at least three warheads were secured, and so, Razgriz squadron next head off to assist resistance members in Yuktobania: they’ve managed to secure one of the Belkan nuclear warheads. Thanks to tight anti-air defenses, Razgriz must stay within the canyon walls to avoid anti-air fire. This mission likely inspired the opening segment of a similar mission in Skies Unknown, in which players must navigate a narrow canyon in order to maintain surprise over the Eurusean forces. There is a little more tolerance here in The Unsung War, and players can actually fly briefly over the canyon walls before the enemy anti-air weapons kick in.
- Once the forces in the river valley are destroyed, Ofnir Squadron will appear. They’re also under the Grey Man’s pay, but despite their fearsome reputation, I promptly shot them down: the F-22A’s XMAA missiles made short work of most of the enemy fighters, and a brief dogfight allowed me to down the rest. With this last mission in the books, The Unsung War enters its endgame – the Belkans’ machinations are now out in the open, and they’ve seized control of the Arkbird, a joint Osean and Yuktobanian project that sought to push the two nations on a path of cooperation after the first Belkan War ended. Equipped with lasers, the Arkbird was designed to remain in low Earth orbit and destroy asteroid fragments.
- By the events of The Unsung War, the Grey Men operatives seize control of the Arkbird and outfit it with a nuclear warhead with the aim of destroying the Yuktobanian capital. Nagase’s love of the Arkbird signified her love of peace, and so, when the Arkbird’s symbolism is corrupted by warmongers, she must now participate in the operation to destroy the very thing that represented her optimism. This was The Unsung War‘s way of showing how even symbols can be corrupted over time by shadowy organisations like the Grey Men. When this happens, people must set aside their own feelings and do what is necessary.
- In order to catch the Arkbird, I ended up flying the MiG-31M Foxhound, the fastest plane available in The Unsung War. Equipped with unmatched acceleration and the highest top speed of any aircraft, the MiG-31M is a true interceptor, designed for catching up to bombers and taking them out of the skies. The Advanced Long Range AA missiles the MiG-31M runs in The Unsung War can lock onto four targets at once at long ranges, making them a powerful tool. On my first few attempts, I got vapourised by the Arkbird’s defensive lasers, but once I figured the laser out, it was a matter of attacking the Arkbird’s engines.
- The Arkbird also deploys UAVs called Vogels. These UAVs are a precursor of sorts to the MQ series that show up in Skies Unknown, and while they’re uncommonly manoeuvrable, they are also surprisingly durable. I opted not to attack them, leaving them to my wingmen to deal with: instead, I focused on their launch ports after destroying the laser that was firing on me. Once the Belkans realise the Arkbird is too damaged to attack Yuktobania, the operative on board changes his plans to detonate the nuclear warhead over Osean territory. Dialogue creates a sense of urgency, pushing players to continue hitting the Arkbird.
- Once the Belkan operative activates the Arkbird’s final emergency booster engine, it will appear on the player’s HUD, and destroying this will end the level. The Arkbird will plummet into the ocean below, its nuclear payload lost forever, and in the aftermath, it turns out that one of the resistance fighters who’d been aiding Razgriz is none other than Captain Bartlett. After he was shot down, he managed to escape Yuktobanian captivity and ended up joining the resistance. With help from Nastasya Vasilievna Obertas, Bartlett proves instrumental in unveiling the plans the Grey Men had for the world, and once the Arkbird is destroyed, Razgriz squadron heads out over to the Pobeda Peninsula in order to assist in a critical operation: Bartlett and Obertas have managed to free Yuktobanian Prime Minister Nikanor from the Grey Men’s clutches.
- Razgriz head off to a far-flung corner of Yuktobania in order to rendezvous with Bartlett at the crack of dawn. Numerous checkpoints lie along his path, and at certain points, Bartlett will ask Blaze whether or not he should take a shortcut. Shortcuts will introduce more checkpoints that Blaze will have to deal with; if the checkpoints are not destroyed, Bartlett’s convoy will be wiped out. While the presence of ground targets suggest an anti-ground aircraft will fare better, the presence of enemy air means it’s easier to go with a fighter.
- Slowing down and making use of guns will be sufficient in taking down the checkpoints. Throughout the mission, Nagase and Grimm will feel a little more relaxed than they have all game; having Bartlett back is great, and while he’s not quite the motormouth that Davenport is, Bartlett has a sense of humour and is always willing to lighten the mood up. As it turns out, he and Obertas were fromer lovers, leading him to take on the callsign “Heartbreak One” after she left him. This was something I’ve long wondered about, and being able to experience things for myself meant one more mystery in The Unsung War was solved, doubling my respect for the game.
- Once Bartlett’s convoy reaches the Yuktobanian airfield, he will disembark and attempt to seize control of a C-1 transport in order to escape and bring Prime Ministor Nikanor to safety. Several tanks and anti-air guns defend the airfield, and once they’re destroyed, Bartlett will attempt to take to the skies. The sun begins rising, and Grabacr squadron will appear. The time has therefore come to put the F-22A’s advanced multi-target missiles to use here. This elite squadron, along with Ofnir squadron, are composed of former Belkan nationalists, and were persuaded by the Grey Men to join their cause.
- The fact that the Grey Men have infiltrated almost every level of infrastructure in both the Osean and Yuktobanian nations speaks to how dangerous hidden organisations can be; it is only though Razgriz’s efforts that they are stopped. With all that is going on out there, I wouldn’t be surprised if shadowy organisations were manipulating the world’s chaos from behind the scenes, hiding behind lies and proxy soldiers to do their bidding. I ended up shooting the entirety of Grabacr down to finish off the mission, although all of the pilots manage to eject, allowing them to fight another day.
- Razgriz squadron returns to the Kestrel, but the Osean fleet soon comes under fire from Yuktobanian vessels. Despite Nikanor’s message, the fleet continues to come under fire, forcing Razgriz into the skies. For this mission, I took the F-35C into the skies: armed with the long-range anti-ship missile, the F-35 is ideally suited for anti-surface warfare. The long-range anti-ship missiles in Ace Combat can sink enemy ships with ease, and in some situations, are useful in ground operations. While lacking blast damage, these missiles are effective against individually tough ground targets in The Unsung War.
- Armed with the F-35C, this mission became remarkably enjoyable: the anti-ship missiles can acquire a lock from range, allowing one to destroy two ships quickly. From here, one can then strafe the remaining ships in a formation to quickly sink them. The atmospherics surrounding The Unsung War‘s final mission is unparalleled, and there’s a sort of finality about them now that the Grey Men’s machinations are out in the open. The end is evidently near, and the game’s pacing really picks up. One after another, the Yuktobanian fleet is put on the sea floor, and even when rogue Osean forces show up, I still had enough anti-ship missiles left to sort them out, too.
- While the F-35C is rated for anti-ship combat, it performs admirably against air targets, as well. The numbers in The Unsung War appear to indicate how well a given aircraft performs in a role owing to its special weapons, and each aircraft type is limited to one kind of special weapon, hence this value. By Skies Unknown, each aircraft comes with one set of special weapons, but can equip different special weapons once they’re purchased, increasing their versatility. Project Wingman, an independent title, features aircraft that can carry three different kinds of special weapons simultaneously.
- I have been eying Project Wingman with interest: it’s made by a three-person team but nonetheless has managed to capture the Ace Combat aesthetic very well. Returning to The Unsung War has reignited my interest in arcade-y flight games, and I suddenly found myself excited to try out more Ace Combat-like games. Project Wingman fits the bill quite nicely, and I’ll be writing about my experiences in the demo version on short order: the footage I’ve seen of Project Wingman looks very promising, and my interest in seeing the demo will be two-fold. First, I’d like to make certain my machine can run it, and second, I have read that there are small differences between Project Wingman and Ace Combat‘s mechanics. While minor, these are substantial enough so I’d like to get a feel for things before diving head-first into Project Wingman.
- We’ve come to it at last: the two missions I’ve longed to play the most in The Unsung War. With Prime Minister Nikanor and President Harling appearing together on national television to shake hands and demand the beligerent factions to lay down their weapons, a coalition of Yuktobanian and Osean forces accompany Razgriz squadron on one final offensive against the Belkans: under the snowy skies of Sudentor, Razgriz gets to work destroying ground targets so allied forces can assault the facility holding the SOLG. The SOLG (Strategic Orbital Linear Gun) is an Osean weapon that was originally designed to counteract Yuktobania and later, Belka, but after the wars ended, it was abandoned.
- The Grey Men managed to get the SOLG to an operational state, and have modified it so it fires a MIRV rather than kinetic projectiles. This information comes late in the game – the threat posed by the MIRV is that Belka now has a superweapon capable of wiping out half the cities in either Osea or Yuktobania. As such, it is unsurprising that both nations’ appetite for war has dulled, and now, it’s a flight to take the SOLG out of the game before it causes unspeakable calamity. Sudentor is a former Belkan city that became incorporated into northern Osea after the first Belkan War, and, as the headquarters of Gründer Industries, is a large city with numerous research parks and a sizeable central commercial district.
- I ended up picking the Su-34, one of the most effective anti-ground aircraft in the whole of The Unsung War, for this strike at Sudentor – its payload of advanced anti-ground missiles can lock onto multiple targets at once, have a large blast radius, and the missiles perform a top-down attack, allowing them to strike targets from behind cover. These proved useful, since Sudentor is a target-rich environment. For the mission’s first part, the goal is simple enough; one needs to remove all of the foes between allied ground forces and the SOLG control’s entrance tunnel.
- I’ve always wondered whether or not the skies over Sudentor is a consequence of the weather, or the urban pollution and smoky skies resulting from the fact the area is a major industrial centre. In Skies Unknown, I had the chance to fly over Anchorhead Bay during a night operation, and the modernised graphics show a vibrant urban area. Being able to revisit iconic Ace Combat locations in a future title is always a possibility: Skies Unknown brought players back to Shattered Skies‘ most famous areas, so I remain optimistic that one could revisit places like Sudentor in a future game.
- We finally come to this moment at last: the tunnel flight I’ve always wanted to experience for myself. The Su-34 has above average stability and handling traits, so it was time to gently guide it into the narrow tunnel leading to the SOLG’s control systems. Experienced players will have memorised the tunnel’s interior layout, right down to the shutters, and therefore, can blast through at full speed. However, since this was my first time, I allowed the plane to fly at its default airspeed and hit the brakes whenever I felt uncomfortable with manoeuvring in the tunnel itself.
- In the end, being careful meant I was able to finish the mission without crashing into the tunnel walls, and this tunnel flight is actually more straightforward than the flight to escape the 8492nd from Sand Island, which had a few tight turns and large obstacles within. A few of the shutters will begin closing as Blaze passes through the tunnel, but they close slowly enough so one could roll a little to squeeze underneath them. Unlike Skies Unknown, exiting the tunnel is straightforwards, too: there’s no need to manoeuvre between the pillars of an orbital elevator and then fly vertically.
- While Blaze flies in from one end, Bartlett will enter from the other side. Both are able to coordinate a strike on the SOLG’s core components, severing its connection to the surface, and next comes the most suspenseful moment: Blaze must fly past Bartlett without crashing into him. Bartlett will call the player’s turn so no one crashes, but keeping right on the tunnel will prevent the mission from ending prematurely. Aircraft will have entered from behind players, and for most of the run, there’s nothing that can be done about them. Even Hamilton has joined the fight against Razgriz, and with him on Blaze’s six, the only thing left is to keep flying. Eventually, Bartlett will say Hamilton was killed by a ricocheting plane.
- Personally, I would’ve loved to have fought Hamilton in a one-on-one, the same way I fought Mihaly, but because of Razgriz’s focus on stopping the SOLG, there’s no chance to do so. Once the core components are destroyed, shutters will begin closing, making it imperative to fly back out into the night skies. It was such an incredible rush to exit the tunnel and finish this mission. However, there is one more surprise that The Unsung War has for players: the Belkans had programmed a failsafe into the SOLG, and it’s begun descending for Oured. If it is allowed to crash and detonate its payload of MIRVs, the Osean capital will be devastated. As such, Razgriz is asked to put everything on the line one more time to save Oured.
- Thus, on the morning of New Year’s Eve, Razgriz takes off from a freeway near Oured’s harbour and soars into the pre-dawn skies, with fire in their hearts and a grim determination to destroy the Grey Men’s final weapon. This mission has long resonated with me for its unmatched symbolism, and I will actually be returning come New Year’s Eve, with the Wyvern and Falken in hand, to discuss why The Unsung War‘s New Year’s Eve mission is so significant. On the topic of New Year, this past week saw the arrival of the Chinese New Year, and we celebrated in style with a poon choi (盆菜), a special festival meal comprised of a mouth-watering array of ingredients (abalone, conpoy, whole prawns, chicken, thick-cut pork belly with the skin, oysters, BBQ pork, fish balls, cabbage, broccoli and shiitake mushrooms, to name a few).
- This year’s poon choi was a ways larger than the one last year despite costing the same, so I am to take it that my favourite restaurant in town is doing well. Unsurprisingly, it was delicious, and as one of my friends puts it, it’s the best of Cantonese cuisine put into a single bowl. Back in The Unsung War, I’ve finished off the remains of the Grabacr squadron by blasting them with the F-22A’s multi-target missiles, leaving me plenty of time to fly on over to the SOLG’s point of descent. The SOLG was originally designed to be a coilgun, so I’m guessing the idea behind giving it an MIRV was to accelerate these nuclear warheads to a point where they couldn’t be intercepted. The SOLG is the final fight of The Unsung War, being an unmanned weapon on a collision course with Oured.
- Solar panels and a rotating counterweight system will block the SOLG’s core systems from a direct hit: one must time their shots so that their missiles find their mark. The SOLG’s movement makes it feel like one is standing still, and it takes some finesse to avoid colliding with the SOLG’s main barrel, as well as any fragments that come off the SOLG. However, the SOLG is not the toughest foe I’ve ever faced in an Ace Combat game (that goes to the ADF-11F units, Hugin and Munin, that were encountered at the end of Skies Unknown). Here under the rising New Year’s Eve sun, I finished off the SOLG, and found myself wondering if Oured’s citizens were aware of Razgriz’s accomplishments here on this day. Destroying the SOLG brings the Circum-Pacific War, and The Unsung War, to an end. Truth be told, I never thought that I’d be able to do the Sudentor tunnel flight or take on the SOLG for myself.
- That January afternoon some ten years earlier, I wistfully watched the YouTube videos of gameplay, when I was supposed to be reviewing alkene and alkyne reactions for organic chemistry, and balanced trees for computer science. I suppose that if I’d played The Unsung War then, the distraction would’ve caused me to fail out of university outright: nowadays, circumstances are different, and while the current cohort of students might be fighting their way through properties of a B tree or the Diels-Alder reaction, I’m able to kick back and blast planes without worrying about midterm I: with The Unsung War in the books, I’ve now fulfilled a dream I’ve had for about seventeen years. I will reiterate that I’m glad to be at a point where I’m no longer troubled by electrostatic properties of various functional groups for organic chemistry, and with this post in the books, my plans for this month are to wrap up posts for Halo Infinite, revisit Ragnarok Online now that I’ve gotten my own private server set up, and knock out posts for a few anime I’ve been watching in between Slow Loop.
With this, I’ve now experienced Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War in full; I’ve found the answers I’ve been seeking out since picking up The Unsung War‘s official strategy guide at the public library all those summers ago. The Unsung War is a fantastic game, and having now gone through it, my appreciation of Skies Unknown doubles for the fact that The Unsung War had polished so many aspects that would become staples of the Ace Combat franchise. To see Project Aces bring The Unsung War‘s best features into Skies Unknown speaks volumes to how far ahead of its time The Unsung War was: everything from mechanics to aesthetic were not only faithfully reproduced, but improved upon in Skies Unknown to produce the first proper Ace Combat game since 2007’s Fires of Liberation, and the first true Ace Combat experience for PC players. Altogether, it should be evident that I had a great deal of fun going through The Unsung War, and despite the game’s age (it’s 18 years old at the time of writing), it manages to hold out very well, both from a mechanical and thematic perspective. More than once, I found myself wishing for a modernised remaster of The Unsung War. However, I understand that this is highly improbable given the state of gaming today (microtransactions are favoured over games that allow players to unlock everything through replay and skill alone), and with news of a new Ace Combat in development, one cannot help but hope that several locations from The Unsung War will be revisited in this new instalment. Ace Combat 7 brought players back to Stonehenge and Farbati, so it is possible that the new Ace Combat could give players a chance to revisit Sudentor, Stier Castle, November City and Oured itself. This is an exciting thought, and having finished something that the me of a decade ago would’ve thought impossible, I turn my attention to where I go next for Ace Combat; The Unsung War‘s final mission, The Unsung War, is set on New Year’s Eve, and I’d always felt there was something special about this particular mission’s aesthetic. In discussions with my best friend, we ended up reaching a conclusion on what this was, although to my surprise, this topic has never been explored anywhere else. As such, I do have future plans on covering the significance of a December 31 mission in The Unsung War in the context of the Circum-Pacific War and what this meant for The Unsung War‘s story. Similarly, to keep myself busy while awaiting whatever the next Ace Combat instalment is, I’ve begun looking at Project Wingman: the gameplay looks solid, and as my best friend notes, arcade flight games with bombastic weapons and entertaining stories have the makings of a summer experience. Although said friend can’t put his finger on why this is the case, I think I’ve got an answer: big, explosive experiences are the hallmark of a summer blockbuster, an indulgent and entertaining experience perfectly suited for those long and warm days of summer. Project Wingman satisfies this criteria, and in fact, I ended up picking this up during the Lunar New Year sale and will begin my journey in this experience shortly.