Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is an exhilirating battle that makes you feel like Maverick from Top Gun

ACE COMBAT returns this month – and the popular air combat franchise is shaping up to be better than ever.

Twelve years after the last installment in the franchise, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown looks set to use the full processing power of the PlayStation 4 and XBox One.

Bandai Namco

Ace Combat 7: Skies unknown is a white-knuckle thrill ride[/caption]

Ahead of its release, The Sun got our hands on with Ace Combat and felt our knuckles get white as we battled over deserts and forests in supersonic fighter jets.

Set in 2019, Ace Combat pits the player as ‘Trigger’ a flying ace for the fictional Osean Air Defence Force in their conflict with the Kingdom of Erusea.

Promising air-to-air dogfighting as well as bombing runs, the action came thick and fast in the couple of missions we got the chance to play through.

Flying through the air at dizzying speeds, there is a real thrill when you blast a bogey out of the sky.

UP IN THE AIR

No one truly enjoys flying, do they?

I’ve not been afraid of flying since I was a kid, but I can’t exactly say I ever look forward to sitting in a metal box a mile above the ground while travelling at 500mph.

But when an email arrives asking if you’d like to learn how to dogfight in a stunt plane you can’t say no – you might never get another chance to do it.

I repeated that to myself as I nervously arrived at the West London Aero club in Berkshire.

After a quick bacon roll and a debrief, we were in our Top Gun-inspired flight suits and meeting the pilots.

We’d be reanacting the kind of dogfighting you get in the game – taking turns as the leader and follower – to learn how to tail a bogey or shake him off with evasive manouevres.

After an increasinbly nervy wait on the ground, we were finally up in the sky on a gloriously sunny day.

The stunt plane was barely big enough for my 6ft+ frame – you could feel every slight twitch of the stick and every gust of wind shake us.

My pilot Ed – who had taught Idris Elba how to do stunts on TV last year – finally got into the acrobatic moves and… it’s hard to explain the feeling your body goes through.

At the end of the flight I was told we’d hit -2g and +6g – to put that into context, the UK’s most thrilling rollercoasters hit about 4.5g.

We did loops, barrell rolls and corkscrews. At one point we just flew upside down for what felt like an eternity (pictured).
It’s completely discombobulating.

The easiest way to describe the feeling is that the outside of your body is being pushed in one direction while your insides are being completely pushed as hard as they can in the other.

It’s exhausting and, unfortunately, that bacon roll had come back to haunt me.

Sweat was pouring down my face. I was swallowing every five seconds. My stomach was tied in an impossible knot.

I had to reach for the sick bag and I was moments away from giving up.
But I was the first person in the plane and down on the ground there were half a dozen others waiting to sit in this cockpit.

I managed to pull it together – after begging Ed not to do any more tumbles or loops – and we landed without safety.
On a transatlantic flight a couple of weeks after going in the stunt plane, I was woken by some violent turbulence, the worst I’d ever had in fact.

Unlike the rest of the flight, I was able to shut my eyes and drift off back to sleep – a jumbo jet is a walk in the park compared to a two-person propellor plane.

By Tom Sheen

Bandai Namco

The game evokes memories of hit 80s film Top Gun[/caption]

Panic rises when you find yourself in the cross-hairs of an enemy and you have to take evasive action to avoid going up in flames yourself.

It’s not just a case of firing missiles and rockets and hoping for the best – it takes patience and skill to time your sorties to perfect.

Misjudge your speed, altitude or angle of attack and you’ll have no chance at blowing up that radio tower or shooting down your target.

You’ll find yourself muttering the words: “I feel the need… the need for speed!” no matter how much you try and stop yourself.

Bandai Namco

The player controls Trigger in thrilling dogfights and bombing sorties[/caption]

Ace Combat 7 sticks you right back into Top Gun – that glorious world of Maverick, Goose and Ice Man.

We didn’t get much of a chance to see what the story mode would look like, but the developers have promised the most in-depth campaign in the history of the franchise.

Getting through the missions without any mistakes will take at least 10 hours.

But Bandai Namco say that if a player wants to explore the game and unlock all the aircraft and hidden items it’ll be closer to 50.

Bandai Namco

The developers are promising the most complex ever story mode[/caption]

There’s another ace up the sleeve of this air fighter: VR.

Without giving too much away, the VR capability is incredible.

It’s a dizzying, death-defying thrill ride that left me feeling sick – although that may have been due to the fact I’d nearly been sick in after doing loops, barrell rolls and going upside down in a two-seater stunt plane…

ACE COMBAT 7: SKIES UNKNOWN (PS4/PSVR/Xbox One/PC)

COMING: 18/1/2019

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