The iDevice release of this flight combat game is conceivably the greatest invention since the toy Spit-Fire and the rampant imagination. Expectations have soared, excitement has taken off and flight puns have gone rogue; littering every dribble of text about this title.
Unfortunately for flight fans everywhere however, Ace Combat XI: Skies of Incursion fails to deliver on anything but the awkward and mundane. You'll be left wishing you could get back your £4.99.
The People's Republic of Leasath has invaded the Federal Republic of Aurelia, war is at hand and only you and your trusty iDevice can turn the tide of battle. Expectations of epic aerial battles strike the mind, simple commutes become conflicts for nationhood. That is until around 30 minutes of play and the game ends at the fifth and final mission.
Skies of Incursion feels like playing a lengthy demo. The campaign is short and the story is poorly told. There is no multiplayer or customization on offer, and the only nod to additional content is the variety of aircraft to choose from, which are only unlocked through payment or completion.
When playing Ace Combat you feel like you're playing a cut down and diet version of what has gone before. The developers haven't so much as adapted the game to iDevice than jammed in everything it could into a small package, picking out choice elements and handing it to fans with a sneer.
As well as feeling that the game is short and unworthy of the series, Skies of Incursion doesn't adapt well to the iDevice. The tilt based control system is uncomfortable and awkward. Flying and aiming feels like wrestling down an alligator that can't support the weight of its own head. A simple tilt up or down will see you wrangling with your plane trying to train your vision back towards your target. Politely put, it is infuriating
To attack an enemy requires keeping it in sight until the target box around it becomes red. A simple tap of the on-screen missile button will then dispatch the enemy aircraft. But the real challenge is keeping it in sight. The alternate weapon is the machine gun, but it's manually aimed and combat utilising it is simply impossible.
Skies of Incursion fails. Attempting to play the game requires steely grip, great care, attention and the patience of a saint. To credit it, there is an option to calibrate the view and customise the controls. But even with this the controls are temperamental.
Ace Combat XI: Skies of Incursion is a game that's hard to recommend to anyone. It won't please fans of the series, nor will it appeal to the casual iDevice audience. The game can be fun and entertaining but there are far too many hoops to jump through to get there.