Video Game / Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception

"Listen up everybody! Don't fall behind the Southern Cross!"

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Skies of Deception is the first game in the Ace Combat series on the Playstation Portable and the ninth game in the series overall. Released in 2006. It focuses on the southern section of the Osean Continent where you play as a pilot in the air force of the Federal Republic of Aurelia. In 2020, they are invaded by their northern neighbor, the Democratic Republic of Leasath, on the pretext of retaliation for their involvement in a civil war. In just ten days their superweapon, the Gleipnir aerial fortress, wipes out almost the entire Aurelian air force. Gryphus One is the only survivor of his squadron and must lead the counterattack into Leasath territory.

The game brought a few new gimmicks into the series. The first was its campaign structure, where missions were chosen freely from a list of around 5 and could be done in any order, or not at all in some cases. The second was equippable parts that would boost certain characteristics of the chosen plane, often at a price. Albert Genette, the reporter from The Unsung War, returns to narrate the story of Gryphus Squadron.

Tropes found in the game

  • Ace Pilot: Again, you, the Southern Cross, responsible for single handedly turning the tide and winning the war.
  • Arms Dealer: Diego Navarro, the military leader of Leasath.
  • Anti-Villain: Unlike previous entries in the franchise, Leasath is portrayed horribly, taking pride and pleasure in causing suffering to the people of Aurelia. Mostly because they were duped into thinking they were exploited by the Aurelians.
  • Great Offscreen War: The Leasath Civil War. Despite not taking place during the story, it's the reason behind the current war, as Leasath blames Aurelia for exploiting it. Of course, this is entirely untrue, with Diego Navarro hiding the fact that Aurelia ACTUALLY PROVIDED AID to Leasath, and using all the food and money for arms sales instead.
  • Back from the Brink: As usual. The game begins with Leasath taking over 90% of Aurelia in ten days. After fending off a group of bombers attacking your last base AGAIN, you single-handedly turn the tide of the war.
  • Boss Remix: "Alect Squadron".
  • Bonus Boss: Scarface One and the Z.O.E. Commander.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The Fenrir.
  • Cherry Blossoms: The Zipang F-14D as a Downloadable Content.
  • Civil War: Partially what led to the events of the game.
  • Commissar Cap: Leasath commanding officer Diego Gaspar Navarro is seen wearing one.
  • Continuity Cameo: The game is narrated by Albert Genette, the same photojournalist who narrated Ace Combat 5. And his reporting skills have only gotten better in the five years since, what with uncovering a government conspiracy.
  • Covers Always Lie: The Leasathian F-5Es on the front cover are not only of a different paint scheme from those in-game, but that paint scheme is not available for the F-5E at all.
  • Deep South: A lot of people on both sides have exaggerated accents similar to those found in the southern United States. A bit a Fridge Brilliance can be pulled from this, though; Leasath and Aurelia are located on the southern part of the Osean continent, which is the Strangereal version of the United States.
  • Disc One Nuke: The XFA-27 may fit this. Also, the F-5E (able to be unlocked immediately after the XFA-27) is equipped with QAAMs. It's balanced by only carrying six, but still, that's effectively six free air kills.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Beautifully averted, as usual. Some allies outright fanboy Gryphus One in their radio conversations, and at the end it's shown that souvenir shops are selling stuff with his Southern Cross emblem.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The Leasathian bombing of a defenceless city in the first mission clearly shows that they aren't quite the My Country, Right or Wrong Punch Clock Villains of other titles. On the other hand, Albert's investigations show that Leasath is thoroughly taken in by Navarro's speeches about the eeevil Auralians, and indeed after his last military defeat and destruction of his latest superfighter they're...well, they're quite angry...
  • For the Evulz: The first Leasath Air Force bomber squadrons you encounter begins to bomb a civilian city. When their operator stops them, it is for wasting ordnance.
    • Leasath also takes pride in using gas attacks on civilians.
  • Fragile Speedster: The Cariburn.
  • Hero-Tracking Failure: The Meson Cannon can't keep up with Gryphus One if he flies fast enough.
  • Hero of Another Story: Albert Genette's the one who manages to take down Diego Navarro by revealing the truth behind the war.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: The Time Limit mission provides us with one as the player can't accelerate very hard at first, lest you detonate the sensitive ordnance you are carrying to disperse the poison gas that was spread on the city. The enemies in the mission, not aware of your limitations, ridicule your mediocre flying at first, wondering what made you so great in the first place. Their attitude quickly changes once you finish your task and jettison the ordnance, allowing you full maneuverability again.
  • Informed Equipment: Adding parts to planes doesn't change their appearance one bit.
  • Instant Death Radius: The Gleipnir's Shock Cannon. The mission "In Pursuit" also has an IDR with "high-performance SAMs" protecting a group of jammers from you.
  • Interface Screw: A SWBM detonating or a firing of the Shock Cannon results in the screen shaking.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Albert once again, being responsible for revealing Diego Navarro's true plans for the war.
  • Invisibility Cloak: The Digital Optical Stealth on the Gleipnir and Fenrir.
  • Invisibility Flicker: The Gleipnir needs to decloak to fire its Shock Cannon. Averted with stealth fighters that can remain off-radar even when firing missiles and decloak only pretty much arbitrarily.
  • Karma Houdini: Justified because this is entirely up to your performance. In one ending (Where you fail the last mission), Diego Navarro, the Leasath leader, escapes justice and his Batman Gambit still partially works out. In the other, he's torn apart by an angry mob.
  • Kick the Dog: You have Leasath bombing a defenceless city For the Evulz and the Hamlet unit's biochemical attack on Santa Elva, which may be a Moral Event Horizon-crossing.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: The game loves making use of this for its Remixed Levels.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Ninox 2 , who flies ahead of formation and gets wasted by the Meson Cannon for his trouble.
  • Level Grinding: It makes you unlock a set of colour schemes by kill farming too.
  • Meaningful Name: "Gleipinir" is the name of a magical chain that restrains Fenrir. Backstory reveals it was meant to record combat data for Diego Navarro's REAL superweapon, a super fighter named, you guessed it, Fenrir.
  • Mission Control: Crux, a by the book operator for you. He's also a good enough friend to know exactly why you don't grant poor Albert an interview.
  • Mook Maker: You have carriers doing this.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Averted in some cases; some Leasath soldiers aren't Just Following Orders but genuinely buy into Navarro's desire to see the destruction and downfall of Aurelia. Of course, he is a good speaker.
  • My Nayme Is: We have the Cariburn with a R, whereas King Arthur's first sword is Caliburn with a L.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The voice-acting in the trailer is much different than that in the game.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The game offers you various ways of breaking it by choosing or ignoring missions, and the final one is a Sadistic Choice that you can't avoid.
  • No Endor Holocaust: The Gleipnir's crashing into the Santa Elva river doesn't injure anyone, which Eugene remarks on.
  • Non Standard Game Over: Failing Standoff in the Skies II gives you a lovely cutscene of the Gleipnir slaughtering a civilian city with its Shock Cannon whilst Crux laments all the innocent people that have been murdered.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Subverted as a high enough defence allows you to get away with 90+ , maybe 80+ % damage taken... not that many planes are both that survivable and still good dogfighters.
  • Pixel Hunt: Ther's two missions (depending on your mission choices) with radar jamming, forcing you to eyeball tiny targets.
  • Punch Clock Villain: At least one Leasath shipman would rather be fishing than pursuing war with Aurelia.
  • Real Men Fly Pink Raptors: Gryphus One's Southern Cross emblem comes with some cutesy cartoon bird.
  • Red Baron: You get two names. Nemesis by Leasath, and the Southern Cross, by basically everyone.
  • Remixed Level: Lots of these.
  • The Republic: Aurelia.
  • Sadistic Choice: In general. You decide when and where to go, which sometimes leads to pretty hard choices, as you're losing something no matter what.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: A comedic variation. Albert has spent nearly a year in the sweltering Southern Hemisphere, covering a war and even revealing the conspiracy behind it... but he never got to interview Gryphus One.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: X is generally seen as a harder game in the series, with harder missions and, via Story Branching, the ability to make said missions even harder.
  • Shout-Out: Starting plane being the F-4E? Check. First mission protecting your base from bombers? Check. Anime-like cutscene stills? Check. The Raptor being the flagship fighter of the game? Check. Yeah, totally not familiar.
  • Stealthy Colossus: Gleipnir. It's bigger than an entire city, but thanks to stealth tech is hard to track and take down.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Gryphus one does have an important role in single-handedly turning the tide of the war, but it's ultimately Albert who manages to stop Diego Navarro by finding the truth behind it and revealing it to the people of Leasath.
  • Taking You with Me: As the lethally damaged Gleipnir is crashing, its pilot voices his desire to take as many Santa Elva civilians as he can even as his ground control pleads with him to aim for the river to minimize collateral damage.
  • Visible Invisibility: The Gleipnir and Fenrir use Predator-style shimmer for their Digital Optic Stealth.
  • War for Fun and Profit: The leader of the aggressive nation Leasath, Diego Gaspar Navarro, attacks the country of Aurelia in order to demonstrate the Fenrir, an amazing jet he was planning to sell.
  • Weapon of Choice: The F-22 Raptor for Gryphus One, again.
  • You Are Gryphus One: Just like Mobius One, you don't even have a callsign.

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