Crowning Music of Awesome: One of, if not THE best soundtrack of the series. Which is saying quite a lot! Favors a more Western-inspired orchestral score over the Rock/Electronic tracks in the previous games, all of which is composed by many signature composers of the Namco Sound Team. This entry is also significant for being the game in which Keiki Kobayashi became the main composer of the series, a position that until that point had Tetsukazu Nakanishi (although he still played a major role). Other composers were Junichi Nakatsuru (the main composer of the Soul Series), Hiroshi Okubo, and even new assets like Katsuro Tajima and the ACE COMBAT5 Chorus Team. All of which performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. Throw in a few of the classic synth/guitar segments from the previous games, some Ominous Latin Chanting, and an Oscar Bait theme song performed by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn to boot, and you get pure distilled awesome. Some highlights:
It was about this point in the trailer, mixed with the awesome visuals, that made fans decide this was the best game yet, maybe in all the series.
Even Better Sequel: To 04, being about twice as long as any other game thus far, and also adding the new squadron control mechanics and a more character-driven narrative, this game often ends up as many fans' favorite. On the flip side, the same two attributes mentioned above are why some other fans dislike it.
Game Breaker: The Raptor or any fighter with XMAAs or XLAAs in the final mission becomes a literal example where the first fight can be finished in about ten seconds. It's supposed to last much longer, but get it right and the in game speech cannot keep up with you winning so easily.
Even better if you take the FALKEN and its TLS to the final mission - one sweep of it through the enemy aces, a few minutes of uninterrupted monologue, and then cutting the goddamned SOLG in half with another sweep.
Oddly enough the UGB, and only for the last mission on the assault on SOLG specifically. A single direct hit on SOLG can take out half or more of the designated targets and makes what should be a challenging mission a breeze. The developers of the game likely didn't anticipate this because the UGB is an air-to-ground weapon only and the SOLG can only be locked on with air-to-air weapons (though being an unguided weapon, that doesn't exactly stop the UGB from being able to hit it).
Stop Helping Me!: Some of the allies in the game can get like this, when they have an annoying habit of asking you trivial questions at the absolute worst times, especially Chopper. This comes to a head in Mission 7, where Edge will ask you a question, then Chopper, then Archer, on top of another question or two if you don't have them set to the orders the game thinks you should have them at, all the while the player is desperately trying (and likely failing) to concentrate on flying and fighting. Worse yet, in Mission 10 answering Chopper's seemingly irrelevant "Face of the Coin" question chooses your next two missions without stating as much or giving any clue as to which two missions those are. One path gets you the alright ones, the other gets you the Four Horsemen.)
That One Level: Four Horsemen, which requires you to coordinate with your wingmates to take out four radar stations at exactly the same time. You have to fly at just the right speed to be in position for your strike, and you have to account for the time it takes your missiles to travel as well. Also, for the last radar station, Chopper's radar malfunctions and you have to break off and line up the attack again, which will probably mess up your timing. And if you get any of this wrong, you have to start the whole mission over again.