As the year is wrapping up, it’s time to think about what came out this year. It was a very ho-hum year for gaming. Whether it be games coming out later than expected, or ones delayed until next year, it seems that 2019 is the year that is gearing up for the swan song of yet-another console generation. Next year has so many games with confirmed release dates that are going to blow the effing minds out of people, and it’s clear that major companies all want to finish as strong as they possibly can. With that being said, what is the game that has most stood out to me this year?
I will say that 2019 is the year of sleeper hits. Games that came out of nowhere and really impressed me. AA projects that were more reserved, and as such made the most of their limited resources. The game that has stuck with me the most out of those is the one on this post, my favorite game of 2019. So, without further ado, my favorite game of 2019 is…
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
Just recently, I caught up on all the extra mission DLC that was in the Season Pass I got for this game, and man that was fun! For those who were unaware, I think that fighter jets are the raddest thing ever. It’s the reason that Top Gun is such a guilty pleasure to me. As corny as it is, the film had jets being awesome fighter jets. So when I saw the trailers for this game, bringing flight sim combat back to a new generation of gaming, my thought was – oh hell yes! Give me the most beautiful fighter jet in the world – the F-22 Raptor! Then it got released, and all my expectations were blown out of the water.
I will say that there was nothing about this game that was subtle. The characters aren’t subtle, the action isn’t subtle, and the plot is as bombastic as it gets. But man, getting into the cockpit of a fighter jet is oh so satisfying in this game. Whether you choose to play this like a classic arcade fighter sim, or go very realistic with it, this game has a ton of neat mechanics for you to work with, all of which are super fun. For my part, because I grew up on fighter games like Star Fox 64, I tend to play it in an arcade way. But it doesn’t take my appreciation for the kind of game it is away.
Everything in this game is smooth. Flying is smooth. The framerate is high on my PS4 Pro, which is essential for a game where you are flying through the air and taking on enemies in fast-paced dogfights. Every jet has its own personality, and getting to know them all is part of the fun. While the Raptor is my girl, there are plenty of other jets I love. Most notably, the F/A-18 Super Hornet (Navy love, Hooyah!), the F-35 Lightning II, the F-14 Tomcat (RIP, you beautiful jet), and the F-15 Eagle. Each of them is fun to fly. Dog-fighting is great, keeping on the tail of your enemy until you get missile lock, then waiting until they aren’t in a position where they can maneuver around your shot and taking it. There’s an art to being great at this game on high difficulty. It’s magical.
Sure, the story of this game is dumb. I found that while I was playing the DLC, I got so much more into the story. Not just because it was during a part in the main story where I loved the characters, but also because the narrative in the cutscenes corresponded with the narrative during gameplay. It made it connect so much more, whereas in the main game, it seems so disconnected from whatever you’re doing. Perhaps they can learn from this in whatever the next iteration of the franchise is.
If you love fighter sim combat games the way that I do, you owe it to yourself to play this game. It flew under a lot of radar, and it is a throw-back to a style of game that is pretty much dead. It’s so strange to me that a lot of my favorite games in recent years are unsung heroes. Back in 2017, it was Persona 5, a AAA JRPG. The fact that such a thing exists and was as spectacular as it was astounds me. In 2015 it was Life is Strange, an episodic game with a style and attitude like an Indie film. Were it not for how the last episode ended, it would be so much more loved by me. There are games that are doing some neat things, and I like to see that Sony is helping to foster this.
Hopefully this isn’t the last time I will see this franchise take flight. I can’t imagine what the next game will be, but I will be there to get behind the wing of my jet again. See if Raptor and I can’t do some crazy stuff again.
Until next time, a quote,
“What happens when two singularities go up against one-another?” – Analyst North, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown