Video Game: Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War aka: Ace Combat 5
"You keep flying like that and you'll die real soon!"
The fifth game in the Ace Combat series. Released in 2004. The setting? The year is 2010. The place is Osea, on the Osean Continent of Strangereal. The truth...is war. Although they have been staunch allies for 15 years, the Union of Yuktobanian Republics has provoked and declared war upon the Osean Federation, conducting a massive invasion. The opening salvos are fired at Sand Island, an Osean training base where four cadets are on the verge of completing their training: Kei "Edge" Nagase, Alvin H. "Chopper" Davenport, Hans "Archer" Grimm, and Blaze (that's you!). Circumstances force these four to the forefront of the Circum-Pacific War where they will become the heroes known as the Wardog Squadron and, later, the Demons of Razgriz.Meanwhile, in another story, it has been one year since the end of the Usean Continental War and the hostilities have more or less been stopped. However, yet another group of rogue Erusian officers have vowed to keep fighting the good fight. Calling themselves "Free Erusea", they have raided an abandoned factory from the war and seized a rather large arsenal of weapons. To defeat them, the Independent State Allied Forces initiate Operation Katina — complete and total pacification of all enemy forces. To this end, they deploy the hero of the war, Mobius One, to get the job done, with a little help, of course, from AWACS Sky Eye.Unlike its predecessor, The Unsung War attempts to place the protagonists and their various struggles and follies in the spotlight, rather than having them alluded to in the background. It also experiments in-game with a system for commanding and customizing wingmen. The Arcade Mode, as described above, is included free as part of the game. For the actual events that would lead to the alliance between Osea and Yuktobania, see the next game in the series.Now has a character sheet. Please add all character-relevant tropes there.
Tropes found in the game :
All There in the Manual: Among other things, the full (Japanese) text of the fairy tale "A Blue Dove for the Princess" that Nagase is so fond of can only be found on the official site of the game.
Anvilicious: In-Universe, two of your wingmen talk at great length about how much they hate war, while flying combat sorties. This becomes less of a problem when the truth about the war comes to light and they're no longer forced to fight a war they don't believe in. One does, anyway; the other one dies before that.
Attack Drone: The Yuktobanian super-submarine "Hrimfaxi" and the Osean "Arkbird" spacecraft both deploy UCAVs in an attempt to defend against the player's attacks. A formation of X-45 UCAVs also appear in Operation: Desert Arrow intent on attacking an Osean tank column.
The final opponents of Operation Katina are a flight of X-02 Wyverns functioning as UCAVs. ISAF Command specifically thanks Mobius One for helping recover data on them.
Badass Boast: For Project Aces, "Nothing Else Comes Close" seen when the game first loads and just before the lengthy post Fortress cut scene (instead of something about Razgriz.) Given how highly regarded the game is by fans it's pretty prophetic.
Battleship Raid: The two Scinfaxi-class submarines (Scinfaxi and Hrimfaxi).
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: In-Universe. The FALKEN's description says it's a prototype plane the Belkans are engineering. You are given a message saying that special plane parts have been located when you discover them in the game, basically lampshading that you are unlocking an Infinity+1 Sword. However, the FALKEN itself is never encountered or mentioned anywhere in the story.
There's also Sea of Chaos where this haunting song plays throughout. One might think, "Da hell is this" until it's revealed Anderson played the song across all radio frequencies to evoke precisely this reaction.
Bilingual Bonus: Almost completely, even. The translated game keep the Japanese voice tracks and providing option for English sub in the process.
One that works both in- and out-of-universe is the AWACS that supports you in the penultimate level. He introduces himself as "Oka Nieba", claiming "that would mean 'Sky Eye' in your language". Indeed, Oka Nieba is Polish for "Eye of Heaven".
Boss Remix: Several: First is Burst Missile, played when you encounter your first burst missile which is a darker, slower sounding version of the Scinfaxi and Hrimfaxi themes. Then we receive Mother Goose 1, which takes motifs from Mask, played in the mission "8492." The same motif is reprised for your battle against the Grabacrs. White Bird (Part I) is a heroic sounding theme for when you're defending the Arkbird, but then White Bird (Part II) comes up as an equally heroic sound for an entirely different reason, when you do battle with the Arkbird. It could be argued that all of the latter songs were written first, then their progressions were reused for the former themes, but because you encounter them first, they're boss remixes.
Captain Obvious: Most of the orders and chatter fall under this, especially grievous when characters make comments like, "The sub's diving!" 20 seconds after it actually does.
Also played straight by allied NPCs during Yuktobania's Pearl Harbor-esque opening offensive:
"This is not a drill..." "Oh, thanks for the heads-up, you idiot!"
Another gem from Swordsman: "Don't take any unnecessary risks! We can't afford to die here." As opposed to the many places we can afford to die, I guess. He also gets "Don't be predictable. They're gonna be aiming for you." and many, many other observations that the enemy may well want to do mean things to you.
Chekhov's Gun: Early in the game, Grimm and Chopper discuss how vulnerable the Arkbird is when it descends into the atmosphere to change course, and how "it would be in trouble if someone started shooting at it right now." Later in the game, when the Big Bads take over the Arkbird, in order to use it as a weapon to escalate the war this is precisely how the Ghosts of Razgriz are able to attack it and shoot it down.
Clown Car: The Hrimfaxi and Arkbird can spawn an unlimited number of UAV drones to fight off.
Clown Car Base: Mission "ACES" is the worst offender. You can choose between every plane you own. Since there are 53 playable aircraft and of each you can have a full squadron of 4, it means that the Kestrel can carry up to 212 planes! (Real-world Nimitz class carriers hold a maximum of 90 planes, less than half of that)
Cold War: Happens between Osea and Yuktobania until the event of Belkan War where they become allies after that, but their relationship deteriorating again and totally cut off shortly after the game's story begun. Insiders from the American and Russian stand ins seek to make the Cold War hot. The penultimate mission begins with the country's presidents which echo Reagan/Bush and Gorbachev.
Colony Drop: After communication with the SOLG is severed from the ground, it's programmed to fall from orbit directly into the capital of Oured.
Continuity Nod: In the penultimate mission, an allied Yuktobanian AWACS shows up, giving its call sign as "Oka Nieba" or "Sky Eye," the AWACS from 04.
A few nods to Ace Combat 2 are there if you look, such as the design of the Osean mass driver, and the two Scinfaxi-class submarines being reminiscent of the "Extra Powerful Burst Missile"-firing Dragonet subs from the penultimate levels.
During an assault on a fortress, the ground troops are disheartened to learn that they have to attack for the fourth time, until they learn you're coming to assist. Also provides some Mood Whiplash: one of the soldiers asks why there are only three of you flying (Chopper was killed in the previous mission), and another soldier says only good boys can see the fourth one. Nagase's pain can be leaned on.
Anyone who has played 04 will know why Mobius One is legendary, and even then he exceeds the expectations of ISAF Command.
Dummied Out: Squadron Leader misses the Falken unlockable plane as well as the option to use the Japanese dub.
Expository Gameplay Limitation: In the first mission, Blaze's lock-on function is disabled so he cannot fire on the enemy planes while his CO tries to hail them on the radio. The reason for this is that Blaze's superiors explicitly forbade him from opening fire, and his CO overrides that order only after the hailing attempts fail.
Fatal Family Photo: Played around a bit. During the D-Day-esque mission, Soldier A at the very beginning of the level starts to tell Soldier B something, then decides to wait until after the fight. Afterwards, depending on how you do, A will inform B that B either forgot his lucky charm, or, congratulations! Has a new son.
Also played around a bit with squadron member Grimm. During the same D-Day-esque mission, he mentions having an older brother who is a member of the ground forces and is participating in the operation. Later on, that same brother is revealed to be also serving in a combined-arms offensive in the later part of the game. Both turn out fine.
During Mission 06, "White Bird Part I", Chopper comments on how easy it would be to shoot down the Arkbird while it's flying at sub-orbital heights. Guess what White Bird Part II mainly consists of.
During the same mission, One of the rookies is shot down and panics, leading him to scream out "The Eject Handle's stuck!" in terror. The reason for crashing and the line in question are the exact same as the ones during Chopper's death.
Gameplay Ally Immortality: Your squadmates can inexplicably survive the Scinfaxi's burst, and it gets to the point that you wonder if anything can kill them. Until it does. There are some who will die, such as every single rookie in Front Line when the burst missile comes crashing down.
Genre Blindness: Front Line: "I've got a good feeling! I'm going to make it!" The Journey Home: "Damn! I thought this was going to be an easy job!"
Grey and Gray Morality: While the Yuktobanians are the initial aggressors, Osea responds to their failed invasion by launching their own full-scale invasion of Yuktobania with intent to take it over, calling it "liberating" the other country. Both sides become A Lighter Shade Of Gray when it's revealed that Belka had manipulated both nations into the war and the leaders of both Osea and Yuktobania never wanted the war and work to end it as soon as they're rescued.
Guns Do Not Work That Way: At one point, Perrault fires a Beretta 92F pistol at the protagonists after accusing them of being enemy spies, his gun clicking empty after firing only six shots, despite the real Beretta 92 having a 15-round magazine.
Heroic Sacrifice: Captain Bartlett diverts a missile from Nagase's six and is shot down over the Sand Island coast at the beginning of the game. Rescue crews are unable to find him, and his fate is never made clear until, near the game's end, it is revealed that he was picked up by a Yuktobanian ship and escaped from custody before he could be put into a POW camp. He later joined a Yuke resistance movement and sent mission data to the Kestrel, taking to the skies again in order to assist Razgriz Squadron in the battle at Sudentor.
Chopper insists on waiting until the stadium is fully evacuated before bailing out. When he finally decides to do so, his plane is so badly damaged that his canopy won't blow and his ejection seat isn't working, resulting in his death. It's then confirmed in a cutscene that the stadium was successfully evacuated with no civilian casualties.
Hold the Line: In mission 17, the player is tasked with defending November City from a Yuktobanian air strike until reinforcements arrive.
Instant Death Radius: The radar coverage circles in the Solitaire mission will fail you for flying into them. The earlier mission Handful of Hope plays around with this, in that you can fly through said circles just fine, but then the transport plane you're leading will follow you and get shot at by friendly SAMs.
Getting caught in the blast radius of a burst missile detonation is likely to result in this too.
Interface Screw: There is one during a briefing when a missile hits the Kestrel.
It's a Wonderful Failure: If you Take Your Time in the final mission and don't complete the objective until the timer runs out, you get treated to a short cutscene of the SOLG vaporizing Oured.
Joke Plane: The Hawk T.1, a mere training aircraft for rookies. Subsonic with no afterburner. Add insult to injury in that there's a painfully long mission where you HAVE to fly that thing... and can't fight back because you're unarmed.
Lethal Joke Plane: The Hawk T.1 in every other mission is armed with QAAMs, and actually has good maneuverability and handling characteristics. note Explains why the Red Arrows, the RAF's aerobatic team, fly it IRL. Also, the RAF had plans to use its Hawk T.1s as short range fighters in the event of invasion, equipped with Sidewinders and ASRAA Ms.
Kick the Dog: Missions 11A & 11B have the Yuktobanians launching simultaneous attacks on a civilian international airport and releasing toxic gas in an Osean city. Which attack you end up being with repelling depends on the result of a coin toss.
Lampshade Hanging: When Bartlett is introducing his squadron to his old girlfriend. When she guesses the identity of the Heroic Mime, Bartlett's response is "That goes without saying."
Also, unwary players may be shocked out of their shoes to hear a deep, booming voice cry, "Blaze, engage!" However, it's just Chopper screwing around.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: Despite being grounded and hauled up for an inquest during which the 8492nd squadron is mentioned repeatedly and only allowed to fly again due to a handily-timed terrorist attack, everyone barely remembers the event at all by the time Fortress rolls along.
They hadn't forgotten, but it did take a few seconds for them to make the connection. And to be fair, they were rather tired at the time.
Level Grinding: Planes are divided into "families" that, in Real Life are generally upgrades or variants of each other, and later planes in the family are unlocked by killing enemies with the previous model.
Mook Maker: The Hrimfaxi and Arkbird will produce an endless supply of UAVs until the source is destroyed and cut off.
Moral Event Horizon: In-Universe: a major part of the backstory is that Belka detonated seven nuclear warheads on their own territory (in Zero, you get to witness it firsthand). That was pretty much the point where everybody realized just how savage the war had become, and a cease fire was negotiated shortly afterward. The fact that Strangereal doesn't seem to have nuclear proliferation makes it even worse; nukes are very exotic and far more terrifying than they are to us in the real world. That's saying a lot.
My Country, Right or Wrong: Averted, as your wingmen don't believe the war with Yuktobania is justified at all. Either because the writing is very obtuse or because it's just too subtle, they get flanderized by players who view them as unrealistically pacifist. Their extreme viewpoint actually has a basis in the plot, as they listen to their own president personally tell them that he doesn't want a war and is doing everything he can to make peace, only for them to be literally invading Yuktobania shortly thereafter. When it comes out that the entire thing is engineered by a third party and the president wasn't lying, they're just as eager as anyone to fight the real enemy.
No-Gear Level: One particularly difficult level has you escaping pursuers... in unarmed Hawk T 1 A trainers. To make matters worse, the Hawks aren't particularly fast, though they are very maneuverable. On the other hand, your pursuers keep a fairly reasonnable distance between you and them, so the only way to risk getting shot is to deliberately letting them approach.
Peace Conference: An attempt by the Osean President for talks with the Yuktobanian Prime Minister in North Point. A False Flag Operation was carried out after the President's plane goes down, by Belkan Grey Men posing as an allied squadron.
Propaganda Machine: Backfires on the Grey Men when the vice-president of Osea, filling in for the President, tries to give a pro-war speech at a massive public event. If the Vice-President isn't on the Gray Men's payroll, they at least maneuvered him there because they knew he would be pro-war. How does the audience in the stadium respond? By singing an anti-war song. And they keep singing as he begs them to agree with him.
Reality Ensues: Seen in Captain Bartlett's Taking the Bullet moment, where the missile stays on him despite his doing maneuvers that would have thrown off a standard missile in-game.
Sad Battle Music: In mission 17, after Chopper crashes, the previous aggressive music abruptly stops and for a minute or so, there is no music at all. Then, just as new waves of enemies arrive, a Simple Score of Sadness picks up and plays until the end of the mission. It's made even worse by your remaining wingmen sobbing quietly on the radio.
Shout-Out: The name of the arcade mode, Operation Katina, comes from one of the planets in the Star Fox universe; Star Fox Assault was in development by the same team at the same time as Ace Combat 5.
As mentioned numerous times, if anyone wondering what Reiko Nagase was up to between games, well she...or her sister, becomes a Bad Ass fighter pilot.
The default F-14 is done up in white with black tails and yellow ribbons. You might think this is a Shout-Out to Super Dimension Fortress Macross, but both Roy Fokker's plane and this one are replicas of the famous real life squadron VF-84, the Jolly Rogers.
Huckebein the Raven was a mischievous German comic book character, who also lent his name to an experimental plane from World War II that was never built.
The same song is also sung by the audience in the stadium mission "Journey Home" while you're desperately trying to stop enemy aircraft from bombing said audience. Made even scarier because you realize they're singing instead of evacuating.
Springtime for Hitler: Your performance leads to the war going a bit too well for Osea, when the conflict was engineered by Belkan infiltrators to grind down both superpowers. Naturally, they take steps to correct this by removing you from the picture, which ultimately causes the whole plot to unravel.
Stealth-Based Mission: Subverted in one mission, which is set up to minimize the chance that the target will detect the player's squad, but you get detected no matter what you do. A later mission plays this straight, as you can only allow the enemy to notice you after you've accomplished your main objective. There's a third mission that combines this with an Escort Mission: You have to escort a transport plane on a secret mission through a friendly AA defense net, which won't harm you but will shoot at the plane you're escorting since they're not using a recognized IFF signal.
Story-Driven Invulnerability: Captain Hamilton. You can shoot him down in the big open area, or Edge can and credit Blaze for the kill. He just gets a new plane and comes after you again.
Stupid Sacrifice: Chopper. He deliberately crashes his damaged plane into a recently-evacuated stadium in the middle of a city, ostensibly to avoid civilian casualties. The "stupid" part comes from the fact that he could have aimed for any number of other places, most obviously the large body of water next to the city, which would've allowed him to eject safely without endangering civilians. However, he had deliberately tried to keep his damaged plane up in the air for as long as possible to help with the defense of November City; they only had four planes taking on several squadrons, so having only three planes up in the air would've been understandably difficult. By the time he actually had time to evacuate, his ejection handle was already jammed and damaged beyond repair, making his crashing anywhere a moot point; he's still going to die.
A Taste of Power: Operation Katina lets you use the F-22 Raptor. The campaign mode of Unsung War bumps you back to a dinky F-5 Tiger and you won't see a Raptor or something of equivalent capability for quite a while.
Unless you beat Katina, which unlocks the Raptor for purchase much earlier than it would be otherwise (and gives you the awesome Mobius 1 paintjob).
Tech Tree: You unlock new planes by completing missions, but these planes are mostly just the basic models, and to get the more advanced modifications, you need to fill the basic plane's kill bar by raking up high scores in the campaign or free missions. While most "trees" are pretty linear, some feature honest branching, such as Su-27 basic fighter upgrading into both Su-32 frontline bomber and Su-35 air superiority fighter, and the latter, into the iconic Su-37 superfighter.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Perrault declares the Wardog squadron to be spies and takes shots at Pops, Genette and Grimm and is then never mentioned again. AWACS Thunderhead disappears entirely as well after Pops takes his place as Mission Control. Most likely because, after the squad leaves Sand Island, they shift their focus onto an entirely different aspect of the war, and as such never cross paths with their old unit (except for Captain Hamilton at the very end, since he's part of the group instigating the war).
What the Hell, Hero?: The first two missions pretty much consist entirely of your squadron shooting down Yuktobanian jets without permission. Bartlett is able to justify fighting back in self defense because they were shot at first, but it isn't surprising that a full-out war breaks out after the second.
Yanks with Tanks: Osea is very clearly inspired by the United States. The leader is a president who is voted into office for a number of terms (at least two are mentioned, but it may be more) and a vice president. They largely use U.S. or NATO-designed ships, aircraft, tanks and weapons and their cities are modeled after American cities. The capital, Oured, in particular is very similar to Chicago, right down to the ersatz Sears Tower.
You Are in Command Now: Despite technically having more flight and combat experience, Edge insists on making you the squadron leader against the protests of Thunderhead, who gave the order.
You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Basically everyone's reaction when the Yuktobanians manage to haul a freaking battleship (with escorts!) into the middle of a desert during Operation Desert Blitz.