E3 2011: Ace Combat 3D Hands-on Preview

By Colin Tan on June 23, 2011, 8:19PM EDT

Ace Combat 3D made a surprise debut at Namco Bandai's Level Up event in Dubai and it's no surprise that it showed up at E3 as well. The game was playable on the 3DS at Nintendo's booth so here are our impressions of the portable flight combat sim.

Ace Combat 3D - Dog fightsThere isn't much to say about the demo, considering how short it was. Ace Combat is a series known for some compelling stories and characters in addition to solid flight mechanics, but the context just wasn't there. In any case, the mechanics were pretty standard and jumping into the experience was easy enough.

Flight controls are mapped to the circle pad, afterburners to the R button and weapons to the face buttons. There's also a "Cinematic Action" button mapped to the Y button that adjusts the camera for a more cinematic look while homing in on the nearest target or dodging missiles "“ various actions are performed depending on the situation. It's a pretty standard setup and one that works.

One might imagine that the 3D adds a lot to the experience, but surprisingly it really doesn't. When there's nothing in the background to suggest depth, the 3D doesn't really work. It doesn't help that the landscape is quite barren as well. Moreover, with the lack of depth comes the lack of speed, or at least the sense of it. As opposed to Assault Horizon's frantic dog fights, Ace Combat 3D feels slow and sluggish.

Ace Combat 3D - Near missWhat was neat were the sound effects. Despite being on a handheld device, the sounds of jet engines, weapon systems and comm chatter sounded pretty good and the soundtrack pumped up the excitement, making the experience that much better. It'll also be interesting to see if Project Aces implements Assault Horizon's new Close Range Assault system. It will certainly be a great experience to see in 3D, what with all that action going on.

In any case, Ace Combat 3D was only just announced and, so far, does not have a scheduled release anytime soon, suggesting plenty of time for improvements. The E3 demo was only just a taste of the potential, hopefully Project Aces and Namco Bandai can create an experience worth buying.

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