Video Game / Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation

"To all planes: We're going to take back Gracemeria today!"

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Go Dance With The Angels!

The eighth (seventh in the main Strangereal series, if you count Zero) game in the Ace Combat series. As Talisman, alias Garuda 1, you fight in the Anean Continental War of 2015 between Emmeria and Estovakia.

Ace Combat 6 was the first console game in the series to be released for a non-Sony system. It was released exclusively for the Xbox 360 in 2007 and became the best-selling game on that system in Japan.

Tropes found in the game :

  • Adventure Duo: Implied. Shamrock cracks wise and takes bets with the rest of the Air Force, while Talisman is said to take things a little more seriously.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: There have been a number throughout the series, but Ace Combat 6 shows one of these being in-air refuelled by no less than eight tanker aircraft at once. Amusingly, they're smaller than its engines.
  • Airstrike Impossible: Par for couse in an AC game; there's tunnel missions, and the final level has you fly into the barrel of a massive railgun that's preparing to fire.
    • Mission 10 is especially hilarious for lampshading this. Operation C for said mission has you flying through small tunnels to shoot down facilities. Despite having been done in a little over the past 15 years in historical battles against massive superweapons, both your allies and your enemies think you're insane for doing it.
    Bird Eater: Fighter jets diving into tunnels... That's never been done before.
  • Anti-Villain: The Strigons.
    • The Estovakians in general, they're portrayed as being desperate due to major damage to their economy and infrastructure, rather than evil. They also seem to treat their POWs humanely, the ones we see in the game don't appear to have been mistreated or abused.
    • Voychek seems quite ashamed of what his people have done and admires his adversaries' courage and tenacity.
  • Arc Words: "Go dance with the angels!", which gets repeated ad infinitum by just about everyone.
  • Arms Dealer: Lorenz Riedel, who you fought before when he was Gault 7 of the terrorist group in Zero.
  • Attack Drone: Ilya Pasternak has UCAVs under his command.
  • Back from the Brink: The Emmerian forces retreat to a military base on the far western part of the country. It's from there that they start to push back.
  • Badass Army: The Estovakian military.
    • In terms of gameplay, the Emmerian military is very much this, compared to allied armies in previous Ace Combat games. You'll routinely see your allies make kills, and in almost every mission, at least one of the other squadrons/ground teams are capable of completing their objective without your help and when you do help them out, they're more than willing to return the favor.
  • Badass Crew: The Emmerian Air Force, a close-knit group of Bash Brothers who basically turn the tide of war. Of course, the best example is your squadron, Garuda Team.
  • BFG: Chandelier, Estovakia's anti-meteor colossal rail gun. The weapon itself is about the size of the island right next to it, and the projectiles it fires are house-sized.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The second half of Mission 12.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: In-Universe, you end up fighting the Nosferatu, but it's not even mentioned that it's a special plane and has no impact on the story. Not even in the flight records.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Every minor enemy ace's callsign is in Russian. Strigon is named after a Romanian vampire, the Strigoi.
  • Bling of War: The "Golden King" takes this to ridiculous extremes, it's a Samurai-esque armour, made entirely out of gold. It apparently averted a war out of its sheer blingness. It ends up adorning an Emmerian tank.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Buying an aircraft skin DLC unlocks it right away, regardless of where you are in the story. Including the CFA-44.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Happens to the original Strigon leader, Voychek, after you shoot him down during the initial invasion, which causes him to shuffled over to a desk job in Intelligence.
  • Cherry Blossoms: The Zipang F-14D as a Downloadable Content.
  • Cherry Tapping: Perform only guns and/or only a single plane type (fighter, attacker, or multirole) for an entire campaign, albeit each results in an Achievement.
  • Cherubic Choir: "Chandelier/To All Things" from Ace Combat 6 is played throughout the final mission, during which you have to destroy a massive railgun while it rains destruction on your homeland from across the continent. The song also shifts into a rendition of "Fires of Liberation" at around 2:38.
  • Civil War: Partially what led to the events of the game.
  • Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Voychek has a rather similar face to Tommy Lee Jones. Considering he was famous in Japan for his BOSS Coffee commercials, quite many Japanese players point out the resemblance.
    • Toscha (AKA Strigon 12) bears a striking resemblance to a certain Maverick. Suddenly, his infamous cutscene with Pasternak starts to make a lot of sense...
  • Continuity Cameo: Veterans of Ace Combat Zero might recognize the bonus ace of Mission 9, Lorenz Riedel, formerly 'Gault 7'. He also appears in the Ace of Aces version of Mission 4 as Gault 7, along with the other three surviving members of his old squadron.
  • Continuity Nod: The P-1112 Aigaion is mentioned to be based on Belkan technology - as such, the sequence to shoot it down is exactly the same as that for the XB-0 Hresvelgr in Ace Combat Zero.
    • Not only that, an ace from that game appears in the same mission.
  • Crowd Song: When Matilda and Melissa finally reunite, the background characters can be heard singing "A Brand New Day".
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Emmerians have their "Golden King".
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: With all the money the Generals must have spent on a huge squadron of fighters, experimental fighters and UAVs, weapons of mass destruction, enormous flying aircraft carriers to launch said WMD, cruise missiles and city-killing railguns, you have to wonder why they didn't spend it on fixing Estovakia's crumbling economy and infrastructure.
    • All are justified except for Pasternak's CFA-44 Nosferatu: The Railgun was made BEFORE Ulysses as a possibility to shoot it down, but it didn't work out. The Aigaion was a desperate attempt to stop the civil war that ravaged Estovakia, which DID work and helped unite the country. The CFA-44 has no reason for existing whatsoever.
  • Delaying Action: Mission 7 is the type 1 (escape).
  • Downloadable Content: You can buy skins that allow you to fly a craft without buying it ingame, although you're restricted to using the default SP weapon unless you have bought the plane and extra SP weapons ingame (there's no DLC for that). Skins tend to look good, recall pilots/teams/squadrons from the older games, and have modified performance characteristics. Of special note, however, are The Idolmaster-themed skins which, in addition to being very high performance and having colored smoke trails on missiles, tend to have decreased standard missile counts and increased SP weapon counts due to the fact that the ammo counts are the height and three sizes (and for planes with a fourth SP weapon, weight) of the character on the skin; the exception is the A-10 skin, which has ammo counts that reference 765 Productions.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Beautifully averted, as usual for Ace Combat. Ilya Pasternak came to occupied Gracemeria just to fight Garuda One.
    • During the Ragno Fortress mission, if you take the operation that requires you to fly through the tunnels under the base, you can hear intercepted radio chatter from the garrison that can basically be summed up as "Holy shit he's UNDER OUR BASE, BLOWING OUR SHIT UP!" Emmeria Independence Radio's DJ outright fanboy the Garuda team in the same mission. Your fellow pilots even compare you to movie stars.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Ilya Pasternak is apparently something of a womanizer, judging by his dialogue and interaction with his Strigon wingmen. Toscha (Strigon 12), who has a fiancee met later in the story, lampshades that had he been a woman, he'd have fallen instantly for Pasternak.
  • Excuse Me While I Multitask: Basically every mission, where you juggle several ops at once and you have to choose which ones you want to do.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Inverted. The player's wingman Shamrock constantly mentions returning home to his family; however, when the heroes eventually recapture their capital, Shamrock finds out his wife and daughter both died.
  • A Father to His Men: Pasternak to his squadron.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Throughout several missions you have to aid your country's navy. The flagship of the fleet is "Marigold"... a Kirov-class battlecruiser.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: The Garuda team. A less obvious example, as Shamrock was pretty OK with being Garuda 2 from the very beginning.
  • Fractional Winning Condition: The operations system works this way: each mission is subdivided into several (three to nine) localized operations, wherein the Garuda team must complete certain objectives (provide close air support, destroy enemy planes, etc.). Completing an operation frees up its surviving allied troops to assist Garuda on other ops, so the choice of the first one is important. Winning a mission requires beating about two thirds of the available ops; ops can be failed if neglected for too long, but as long as the mission winning condition can still be met, it will continue.
  • Free-Range Children: Gracemeria is full of them, with the majority being war orphans.
  • Genre Blindness: City Lights: "This is Sky Kid. I'd just like to say, "mission accomplished.""
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: The Strigons have lost levels in badass by the last time they get fought.
  • Greater Scope Villain: The "Generals", the military junta that appear to be in charge of Estovakia are this. We never see any of them in the flesh or even learn any of their names, but they have the miserable, starving and desparate Estovakian population under their thumb until they're overthrown off-screen in a Coup D'etat.
    • Lorenz Riedel from World Without Boundaries also helped build and fund the Aigaion project based on the Hraesvelgr, which lead to the construction of the Aigaion and her escorts, the Generals' victory in the civil war, and the events of the game. However, he only appears in one mission and has no onscreen impact on the story whatsoever.
  • Harder Than Hard: Ace Of Aces mode. It's only available after you've completed everything else, and it loves to insert multiple Nosferatus, support airships, and even Pasternak into levels where they wouldn't appear normally.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Garuda 2 "Shamrock" fought his way back the capital city, only to find that his wife and daughter were killed during the invasion. Disgraced, he vows to leave the Air Force after Chandelier is destroyed. During the final battle, he decides to fly through a trench filled with AA guns in order to search for Chandelier's backup cooling unit. He confirms it's location, but his plane his heavily damaged, and he willingly lets it crash. In the ending cutscene, it is revealed that he survived the crash, but is confined to a wheelchair. He decides to continue living in order to see the peace he had been fighting for.
    • Although Shamrock does say he's going through rehab, meaning there's a possibility that he's slowly recovering and regaining use of his legs. Kinda helps avoid what might have otherwise been a Downer Ending.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The first mission, after the cruise missiles start hitting, has you up against the original twelve Strigon Squadron. They're flying mid-game Su-33's and have more health than usual, while you're flying the standard F-16. This helps cement the fact that Gracemeria is lost. If, however, you're skilled enough to actually hit them, or playing a New Game+, they can be shot down, and will respond accordingly.
  • 100% Completion: Ace Of Aces was DLC, so it's kind of like a Kaizo hack.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: The most outlandish example in the entire series. Missiles for each plane numbered from 50-80 in the previous installments. They can now reach up to '200' depending on the plane. Considering the far larger scale of the games' missions this was probably necessary.
  • It's Raining Men: A few missions combine this with Tank Goodness by way of airborne tanks.
  • It's Up to You: Improved since the previous games: The AI has been ramped up enough that they easily account for 50% of the kills on the battlefield, and although you are still an integral part of defeating the enemy army, the rest of the forces manage to accomplish a good number of the objectives while you are busy doing the others. Complete certain ops quickly enough, and you can call for an airstrike on the target area.
    • Both played straight and subverted in the mission, Weapons of Mass Destruction, where you and your wingmen are the only ones skilled enough to deceive an enemy radar net by flying through a valley, and subverted with a vengeance when an entire enemy fleet ambushes you after you destroy the convoy, and you're helpless to fight back (due to the unending missile barrage being thrown at you, you have no time to even aim), until your friendly allied squadron turns up and saves the day.
  • I Will Find You: Melissa and Ludmila are both journeying to Gracemeria to search for a missing loved one - a daughter for the former and a fiance for the latter.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: The DLC Gryphus Emblem F-22 literally breathes this trope. So much, that on the stat chart it looks like a perfect hexagon. The MiG-29 Fulcrum is also shown to be like this.
  • Just Plane Wrong: No, not every plane in the game SHOULD be able to perform High G turns... Or perhaps, maybe they should, given that it's a game.
  • Language Barrier: Between traveling companions Melissa (Emmerian) and Ludmila (Estovakian), which is why the latter comes across as The Quiet One most of the time. Though this makes their eventual friendship all the more touching.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Each launch of the ADMM special weapon in Ace Combat 6 targets 12 air or ground enemies at once, double that of the XMA6 and triple that of the XMA4, without expending that many missiles at once as they do; earlier games allowed no more than four simultaneous missile launches, and in each case one target = one missile. Its only weakness is that the weapon has a long reload time and that it has the same potential as the XAGM for being wasted against ground clusters that could have been destroyed with a single bomb. Nevertheless, that's potentially up to 216 struck targets on Normal... worse yet, even on Easy the CFA-44 Nosferatu "boss" (piloted by Ilya Pasternak) is not above using it on you.
    • Backfires on Pasternak though when you can call them in on him, through Allied Support — clearing operations and generally helping out your side allows you to call in fire support against targets in your view or who are attacking you, so no matter who's on whose six you can call in multiple missile shots almost at will.
  • Memetic Mutation: In universe. 'Go dance with the angels' was originally an in-joke in Melissa's family. But after her daughter used it to give the proverbial middle finger to an Estovakian propaganda broadcaster on national radio, it spread like wildfire through the allied forces.
  • Mauve Shirt Army: 6 has several allied squadrons/pilots/units that appear in every mission and are easily identifiable. They even have names, ranks and biographies if you care enough to look them up in the Assault Records.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: 6 subverts this when one of the Estovakian officers, despite still believing in this trope, hated the idea of allowing innocent civilians die, and willingly surrenders over the secrets to his country's last trump card, the Chandelier.
  • My Girl Back Home: A variant in that the girl back home is not prepared to just sit around and wait for her man to return to her, and instead chooses make the trek to Gracemeria to be by his side.
    • Shamrock has a family too. They don't make it through the game.
  • Mythology Gag: The F-16C and Su-33 both have "TYPE ACE2" DLC paint schemes replicating Scarface One's paint scheme for their respective planes... and they come with no special weapons whatsoever, because those didn't exist in AC2, and like the Eurofighter "TYPE ACE3", cannot perform high-g turns as high-g turns did not exist prior to 6.
  • Not Quite Dead: Shamrock.
  • Real Men Fly Pink Raptors: Some of the downloadable paint schemes for 6 plaster giant pictures of girls from The Idolmaster on your planes. Even better, they're better than nearly every plane in the game.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Ilya Pasternak - the new Strigon Team Leader - is this according to Strigon 12/Toscha Mijasik. Victor Voychek is one too, willing to learn more about Emmeria in his time there.
  • Redshirt Army: Played straight at first. In 6 your allies only become useful after you've earned the right to call in their help, after which it's averted with a venegance. When you do call on them, they can clear the entire screen in seconds.
  • The Republic: Emmeria.
  • Say My Name: Your AWACS after Shamrock is shot down during the last mission.
    "Shamrock! Respond! Marcus! Marcus!"
  • Shout-Out:
    • The DLC paint schemes for 6 include pictures of iDOL@STER girls.
    • Also, Sky Kid is named after an old Namco arcade game (which has had shout-outs throughout the series) and his wingmen (Red Baron and Blue Max) were the playable characters.
    • The random Emmerian tankers who enter Gracemeria via tunnels hidden in the forest in order to rob a bank and wind up liberating the Golden King (and presumably the trapped kids who'd "acquired" him) are straight out of Kelly's Heroes.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: The operators of the Chandelier in the final mission.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Shamrock's performance in the last mission is half this and half Death Seeker, as he's suicidal over his perceived failure to protect his family. The stupid part is that he had nothing to do with his family's death except in the most general sense of being a member of the military that was driven out of Gracemeria.
  • Theme Naming: The callsigns for allied pilots all follow a certain theme depending on the squadron. For instance, the 15th squadron's theme is types of falcons (Windhover, Lanner, Saker) and the 2nd's theme is snow (Avalanche, Blizzard, Serac). Garuda, your squadron, follows the names of lucky charms (Talisman, Shamrock), which is fitting considering your status as the Hope Bringer.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Zig-Zagged, which is a rarity in this series.
    • On one hand, enemy aces like any named targets and the Strigons, and even normal targets like bombers, can dodge your missiles like it ain't no thing, especially the Strigons and bombers because they can use chaff to render your missiles useless—even radar guided missiles.
      • All of the enemy airplanes can follow you with precision, regardless of what you do, that would make any Blue Angels member proud.
    • On the other hand, your wingman is metric tons more useful than in other games because he can actually bag kills and use certain SP weapons better than you can,note  and when you ask your allies for attack or cover support, they will be all over enemies like a bad headache, as their missiles are more accurate than even radar guided missiles!
  • 13 Is Unlucky: Strigon 12 believes this. Ironic, because his best friend died in the 13th mission.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Lampshaded during the Tunnel operation in Mission 10.
    Bird Eater: Aircraft flying through tunnels? THAT'S never been done before!
  • War Is Hell: Virtually every cutscene has one or more characters mourning dead loved ones or wondering whether war actually accomplishes anything.
  • The War Sequence: 6 explicates it, with the cutscene for the first mission showing that Talisman/Garuda One is (initially) just one amongst many pilots defending Emmeria, as well as the ally assistance system where helping allies to accomplish secondary objectives would lead to being able to get their help back later.
    • Calling for allied support and watching missiles streak toward a target from all directions is one of the more awe-inspiring sights in the Ace Combat series. And you can do it as much as you want.
  • Wartime Wedding: Strigon 12 and his sweetheart pull a Type 3 (marrying right after the war ends) in the epilogue.
  • Weapon of Choice: Talisman is shown on the boxart using the F-15E Strike Eagle, while Shamrock uses the F-16C Fighting Falcon. Appropriate, given they're multirole aircraft, and the game focuses on doing several operations at once.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: During the mission in the Moloch Desert, Shamrock disobeys direct orders from your AWACS Ghost Eye to cease fire and retreat in order to do battle with the Strigon squadron. Of course, this gets both you and Shamrock grounded until your next mission.
  • Whole Plot Reference: A nameless Ace Pilot single-handedly turns the tide of the war between his home country, the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Invaded States of America, and a fictionalized USSR/Russia, after the latter has conquered most of the former within days to gain resources after the devastation caused by the Ulysses 1994XF04 planetfall. His Arch-Nemesis is the leader of an elite enemy squadron who sees him as a Worthy Opponent and has A Father to His Men attitude to make you feel sorry for having to kill him. Meanwhile, on the ground, some unrelated individuals act out the War Is Hell routine in the intermission cutscenes. Now, is this Ace Combat 6 or Ace Combat 04? Also, some of the most striking mission overlaps:
    • "Vitoze Aerial Defense" (02) = "Sitting Duck" (01). The standard Ace Combat routine of "Destroy all incoming bombers before they reach our last line of defense".
    • "Anea Landing" (05) = "Operation Bunker Shot" (09). A take-the-beach-type of mission that marks the beginning of taking back the mainland.
    • "Heavy Command Cruiser" (09) = "Shattered Skies" (08). The big-ass air-to-air battle splitting the game in two.
    • "The Liberation of Gracemeria" (13) = "Siege of Farbanti" (17). The grand battle for the capital, culminating in a dogfight against the leader of the nemesis squadron. Also, "The Liberation of Gracemeria" (13) = "Emancipation" (15) in that you're liberating a major city from enemy occupation.
    • "Gracemeria Patrol" (14) = "Breaking Arrows" (14). Enemy fires cruise missiles, you have to shoot them down before they hit.
    • "Chandelier" (15) = "Megalith" (18). The Final Battle to destroy the last remaining giant superweapon of the enemy, complete with the remnant of the nemesis squadron and a Tunnel Flight inside said superweapon.
  • Worthy Opponent: Notably, Ilya Pasternak seemed to see you this way, as well as the world at large given the assault records' description of his death as a 'heroic sacrifice.' The reality is that he ambushes you after you take back your own capital while you're low on weapons and low on health while he's flying a plane somewhere between 'Weaponized UFO' and 'Archangel Michael Wielding God's Flaming Sword,' plus the several score drones he launches to fight alongside him. Yet even in this light he is apparently 'heroically sacrificing' himself, since it appears that he and everyone else in the world was certain that even then he was no match for the dreaded Talisman. You could argue that he could have been hopeful or even confident of his own victory and the heroic part come in since he told his whole squadron to bugger off so they wouldn't get all get killed by Talisman, but then you're really just raising the issue that it would have therefore been wholly expected that Talisman would have won against Pasternak and the entire Strigon Team by himself had they engaged with Pasternak. Probably true.
    • Considering you can call in allied support to gun down Pasternak it's pretty obvious that Pasternak isn't just fighting one ace, but the entire Emmerian military. Maybe he can take down Talisman, not a sure thing, but he's a dead man going up against those odds even with drone backup. His sacrifice was noble because it got his squadron out of a lost battle with their lives.

Alternative Title(s): Ace Combat 6

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