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Video Game / Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War

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"Hrimfaxi... It looks like you're up against Razgriz itself up there."

"When history witnesses a great change, Razgriz reveals itself...first, as a dark demon. As a demon, it uses its power to rain death upon the land, and then it dies. However, after a period of slumber, Razgriz returns. This time, as a great hero."

The fifth game in the Ace Combat series, released in 2004, set mostly in Strangereal's Osean Continent in 2010. Although they have been staunch allies for 15 years, the Union of Yuktobanian Republics provokes and declares war upon the Osean Federation, conducting a massive invasion with nary a warning. The opening salvos are fired at Sand Island, an Osean training base where four cadets (or "nuggets") 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.

Four years prior, 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.

In 2019, Ace Combat 5 was ported to (but not remastered for) the PlayStation 4, exclusively as a pre-order bonus with the release of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (Xbox One preorders instead came bundled with Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation). There are currently no plans to release the game separately.

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.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Several times throughout the game, mostly by Yuktobania.
    • The first time it is against an Osean mass driver, attempting to take the space center to prevent them from launching a laser cannon for the Arkbird that can turn the tide of the war. Downplayed in that they were not seeking to permanently hold the base, only to take it over long enough to sabotage the launch operation. Once the invasion fails, they instead just try to destroy the mass driver from afar with cruise missiles.
    • The second attempt is a full-scale invasion, with the Yukes trying to take Sand Island (which is also the protagonists' home base) and establish a foothold from which to launch an invasion of the mainland. They get dangerously close to succeeding with help from their resident superweapon the ballistic missile sub/aircraft carrier Scinfaxi, but the Oseans pull through in the end thanks to some timely help from the now laser cannon-equipped Arkbird.
    • The third attempt is similar to the first in that it was not intended as a permanent occupation, but this time is done against a civilian airport; Yuktobanian tanks arrive in disguised transport planes and proceed to attack the runway and terminal, in revenge for a supposedly Osean bombing of a Yuktobanian school on the mainland.
    • The Osean Marine unit Sea Goblin does this twice, first to a Yuktobanian prison camp to free POW's, requiring Wardog to defend them against counter-attack, and again to a Belkan castle headquarters in order to rescue the Osean President who was kidnapped to escalate the war between Yuktobania and Osea.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Vice President Appelrouth takes over once President Harling is kidnapped, escalates the war by invading Yuktobania, which is exactly what the Grey Men aimed for, rallies the citizens for war during what was meant to be a peace ceremony, and calls the real president's broadcasts revealing the truth of the war "enemy propaganda". Nevertheless, it's never revealed if he was a Grey Men associate, a warmonger who only sought conflict, or just as much of a pawn as everyone else.
  • 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.
  • Arc Number: 8492.
  • Artistic License – Military: The "Blind Spot" mission had a pivotal plot point in which Wardog squadron is accused of attacking a civilian university in the combat area, which obviously you don't do (you're assigned to attack air targets only). However, due to jamming, the picture is unclear and Wardog ends up taking the blame due to being the only (official) unit in the area. The problem is that planes are equipped with gunsight cameras to confirm kills. A review of those cameras, or even just the mission recording of inertial positioning, or any of a number of other backup systems, would have proven Wardog innocent.
    • In that case, gunsight camera footage could have been conceivably used to catch Pops and Wardog ejecting from their stolen training jets before Swordsman shot down their planes at the end of Final Option (instead of just tracking the "kills" via radar), since they were then believed to be traitors by their commanders.
  • Artistic License – Physics: During the final mission, The SOLG, a massive nuclear equipped satellite, is sent on a collision course with the Osean capital of Oured. Razgriz destroys it, which somehow causes it to vaporize in midair with no damage done to anything, rather then continuing along it's previous trajectory as a big radioactive, flaming mass as one would more reasonably expect for something like 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.
  • Award-Bait Song: "The Journey Home".
  • Badass Boast:
    • For Project Aces, "Nothing Else Comes Close" seen when the game first loads and just before the lengthy post-"Fortress" cutscene, instead of the usual line from the story of Razgriz. Given how highly regarded the game is by fans it's pretty prophetic.
    • In-game, Ofnir gives one the first time you directly face them, in the middle of a ravine covered by anti-air defenses that they choose to follow you into.
      Yuke Helicopter: Ofnir Squadron, flying through this ravine is extremely dangerous.
      (small pause)
      Ofnir: Ofnir 1 to all planes. No obstacles to our flight observed.
  • Battleship Raid: Several levels have you taking on a particularly large, multi-target monstrosity as the focus of the level or its second half: "Front Line" ends with you sinking the Scinfaxi and "Demons of Razgriz" focuses on you taking out its sister sub the Hrimfaxi, both of which are submersible aircraft carriers with tons of UAVs, antiaircraft guns, and burst missiles; "White Bird Part 2" is focused on taking out the Arkbird after it's been hijacked, shooting out various engines and its self-defense lasers; and "The Unsung War" ends with you shooting down the SOLG, taking it apart piece by piece, before it can crash into the Osean capital.
  • Berserker Tears: After Chopper is shot down, the enemy pilots start panicking over the sudden display of the true power of the Razgriz. You can hear your squadron trying and failing to hold back the tears as they tear through the enemy.
  • BFG: Apparently some Osean cops like this trope:
    "Hey, what's that in your back seat?"
    "It's my anti-tank rifle. Brought it from home."
  • 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 may be confused until it's revealed Andersen 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.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: If you're unsure of how to give your Wingman Commands as a captain in "Narrow Margin," Chopper will tell you to start the game over from the Tutorial.
  • Calling Your Attacks: A bit of hindsight humor; Whenever Thunderhead activates Electronic Counter-Counter-Measures to overcome enemy jamming, he shouts, "ECCM! RESTORE COMMUNICATION LINK!" It's not hard to imagine him saying that while hammily mashing a Big Red Button.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • The transport intercept mission has many false targets appear on your HUD and radar. When you discover they are being broadcasted from a jammer plane, Chopper will ask, "So, it's a trick?"
  • Chekhov's Army: When you and your squadron are falsely accused of treason, the crew of the aircraft carrier Kestrel are the only ones who know you're innocent, so they help you fake your deaths, provide a hideout and fight the real enemy, the Grey Men. Swordsman also joins your squadron.
  • 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 Belkans 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.
  • Cherry Blossoms: The Zipang F-14D.
  • 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). Considering the franchise's Hyperspace Arsenal, sure why not?
    • Possibly justified in-story: The aircraft you get post-Razgriz came from an intercepted cargo ship ferrying Belkan weapons. The Kestrel might only be carrying the naval-capable jets, since in every carrier-based mission before Aces you can only launch naval aircraft. As for how they transfer over the four aircraft you want (or launch them off the deck of an aircraft carrier) that's probably Gameplay and Story Segregation, though while choosing your planes, you are told to pick whatever you want, and they'll make it take off.
  • 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 resembling the one on the Comona Islands from "Toy Box", the reappearance of the ADF-01 FALKEN for no particular in-story reason, and the two Scinfaxi-class submarines being reminiscent of the "Extra Powerful Burst Missile"-firing Dragonet subsnote . Aces at War also establishes that the Osean astronaut that sabotaged the Arkbird just before the Razgriz attacked it and shot it down was named John Harvard, same as the AC2 wingman "Slash" (though it's not 100% confirmed whether it's the same person or just another case, like Nagase, of an Osean character just happening to share the name of a Usean one).
    • An early mission sees Wardog Squadron escorting a government plane on its way to North Point, a Usean country that was both the final level in Ace Combat 2 and the allied HQ in Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies.
    • In the mission 'Chain Reaction', one of the civilian aircraft parked inside Apito International Airport is from the 'Air Erusea' airline, notable by its orange rose emblem on the vertical stabilizer. A couple of planes with the designated 'AER' are asking permission to land at the airport. There are also planes from the 'Air Ixiom' airline (the airline that the other Kei Nagase was working in as a co-pilot in 04) waiting to land as well.
  • Creator Provincialism: In the same manner as Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere - the American and PAL releases feature the exact same box art, except for the Spanish and French versions, which replace the F-14 Tomcat on the cover with, respectively, a Eurofighter Typhoon and a Dassault Rafale.
  • Crowd Song: The audience in the stadium during "Journey Home" sing the song of the same name in protest to the war.
  • Deathbed Promotion: When Chopper is shot down and killed in the mission "Journey Home", he is granted a posthumous 2 rank promotion, making him the highest ranked pilot in the Wardog flight.
  • Death from Above: You and your wingmen spend many missions in the game delivering this to the enemy. There is also the orbital laser from the Arkbird spacecraft and the burst missiles from the Yukes.
  • Delaying Action: Mission 17 is a Type 2 (Hold them off until the cavalry arrives), until the 8492nd Squadron jammed the comms to prevent the cavalry's arrival.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • On mission 12A, enemy Stingers in the jungle will engage you if you fly too low, as warned in the briefing. They do not show on radar or the HUD, but you can trace where the missile comes from and destroy the SAM sites with your guns. That's not the dev part; enemy soldiers will report casualties, and be shocked that hiding in the jungle won't work. On the other hand, your allies will tell you to stop taking unnecessary risks and focus on the mission.
    • On mission 18+, when you're ambushed by the Belkan Squadron, you're told to head east and leave the area to complete the mission. However, you can stay behind and shoot down all enemy planes to complete the mission.
  • Die or Fly: invoked quite literally in Mission 4, "First Flight" during the early hours of the war between Osea and Yuktobania when Yuktobanian Rockwell B-1B bombers and Panavia Tornado GR1 fighter-bombers escorted by McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II and General Dynamics F-16C fighters attempt an early evening bombing raid on Osea's isolated Sand Island airbase. A Fighter-Launching Sequence ensues, with the player character and his two wingmen — themselves recently-minted rookies, with only a taste of combat under their belts — taking off (amidst bombs falling on nearby hangars, and enemy jets Buzzing the Deck) in their aging Northrop F-5 fighters to engage the Yukes before they can bomb the base to smithereens. The only problem? There are three Osean fighters pitted against what amounts to at least a dozen or more Yuke planes all bearing down on the sparsely-defended airfield. Enter the completely untested rookie Osean pilot Grimm, who given the Yuke assault is forced to either prove himself in some high-intensity aerial combat or die trying. He succeeds and gets permanently assigned to Wardog Squadron.
  • Disc-One Nuke: If you beat Arcade Mode, you can unlock the F-22 Raptor, complete with Mobius One's paint job, very early. It can give you an S rank through basically every air-to-air mission in the first half of the game, and parts of the second.
  • Disturbed Doves: Done in the very end, combined with a soundless shot of a howling Kirk (Chopper's dog).
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Done for dramatic effect - many of the levels in the pre-Razgriz section of the game deliberately mirror prominent levels from Ace Combat 04 before it - such as the amphibious landing taking place during a rainy night just like 04's Operation Bunker Shot, or the great battle in the desert on the way to the enemy capital just like 04's Whiskey Corridor. This is done so the player's squadron leaving Osean service at the same point in the game 04 ended is more of an unexpected twist.
  • Doppelgänger Spin: AWACS radar jamming creates this effect.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: A minor one: after the mission in which Chopper is shot down, you can still hear his voice saying "Wardog, launch" after picking your planes. It's not until you rescue the Osean President and are renamed the Razgriz that the error is corrected.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Beautifully averted. Wardog Squadron is very quickly labeled as the "Demons of Razgriz".
    • 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.
    • At the same time, however, it's funny that the four protagonists are getting all the praise (and a photo of the four is even in the newspaper), but the co-pilots of their twin-seated aircraft are forgotten; especially that the mainstay aircraft in the game is the F-14A. Radar Intercept Officers are important too!
    • Anyone who has played 04 will know why Mobius One is legendary, and even then he exceeds the expectations of ISAF Command.
  • Easter Egg: In mission 14 and 15, you can find a snowman next to some barracks at a base in the north-central part of the map. It serves no purpose. It's just a smiling snowman with a red scarf.
  • Emergency Trainee Battle Deployment: All but one experienced pilot on Sand Island are wiped out in a surprise attack by an unknown aggressor, leaving only the trainees on active duty. One of them is the Featureless Protagonist, who is joined by three others (one of whom is not even out of his basic flight training yet) on desperate missions to defend the air base—and the four of them eventually become one of the most decorated units of the Osean Air Force. Osea later attempts to pull this off intentionally, transferring all trainees from a nearby Heierlack Base to Sand Island, but they all get wiped out in the very next real battle.
  • Escape Sequence: Mission 19; after the Wardog Squadron is framed for treason, they are pursued by the 8492nd. Justified as they are only flying Hawk training jets, which were all that they could get their hands on, as the base had locked down all the actual fighters in their hangars.
  • 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 enemy escorts arrive and start shooting at them.
  • 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.
  • A Father to His Men: Pretty much every protagonist character.
  • The Federation: Osea (which its full name spells it out for you) and Yuktobania. At one point, Belka's full name was the "Belkan Federation" but it was more along the lines of The Empire.
  • Finish Him!: When you heavily damage the Scinfaxi, the Arkbird rips a hole in it with its laser, leaving it defenseless and unable to launch more fighters. After that, Thunderhead tells you to "Blast it out of the water!" Subverted, as while he's ordering Wardog to do the deed, he's not actually forcing them to do something they don't want to do, considering how much damage and loss of lives the Osean forces had suffered from said submarine's missile attacks.
  • First-Person Snapshooter: One Stealth-Based Mission replaces all of your weapons with a camera for a recon mission over an enemy base.
  • Foreshadowing: All over the first half of the game.
    • After the conclusion of Mission 05, Wardog Squadron, low on fuel, lands at Hierlark Air Force Base in North Osea, and Nagase muses on the fact that despite the territory being called "North Osea", many of the locals still feel nationalism towards Belka and thusly prefer to call the territory "South Belka". As it turns out, one such entity with leftover nationalism is the North Osean arms company "Grunder Industries" which is secretly part of the Grey Men plot, and directly contributed resources towards their conspiracy. The penultimate mission of the game is set over and in one of their main facilities where the remaining warmongering splinter factions have gathered.
    • During Mission 06, "White Bird Part I", Chopper and Archer discuss 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 next 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.
    • During mission 15, your beacon tracker gets jammed by an E-767. Fly closer and you'll see Belkan Air Force markings. Guess who's behind the war.
    • The actions of the supposedly Osean 8492nd Squadron are so obviously questionable it seems only you the player figure out they're not Osean. But whether you do or don't, the unexpected twist is that they ain't Yuktobanian either...
    • When Wardog is questioned over the fact that the Osean president disappeared right after they finished covering his damaged plane to the ground, Nagase mentiones that they turned over top-cover to the 8492nd squadron. The fact that Osean High Command has no idea who the 8492nd squadron is should be a pretty clear hint that something fishy is going on.
    • Who do you hear over the radio just before it cuts out, directly preceding an attack on Yuktobanian civilians that implicates Wardog Squadron? None other than the 8492nd squadron.
    • Pops and Genette examines the wreckage of a Yuktobanian fighter in one cutscene, and find out it's made by Gründer Industries, the same company that makes weapons for Osea. And, it's run by the Belkan government. In the same cutscene, Pops talks about a rumor that after the Belkan War, Osea began to hire Belkan pilots to strengthen the Osean military. The only true part of the rumor is that the 8492nd Squadron are Belkan. Strengthening Osea? Not so much.
  • 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.
  • Gang Up on the Human: In Sea of Chaos, you face nationalist Yuktobanians while defending defecting Yuktobanian ships, and a nearby Osean fleet accuses the Kestrel Fleet and the Razgriz of being traitors who sided with the Yukes and opens fire. The nationalist fleets show no interest in engaging each other, nor do their airwings make any effort to fight each other, and will instead fly alongside each other to try to shoot you 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!"
  • Genre Throwback: Operation Katina, the game's bonus mode, hearkens back to the series' arcade roots, featuring fast-paced gameplay with minimal story elements and gameplay mechanics to restock your missiles during the mission.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: The subtitle "The Unsung War" refers to the Wardogs' final missions as the Ghosts of Razgriz, which never officially took place, just as the Ghosts themselves never existed. Subverted later on, when epilogue reveals that the Osean President declassified everything 10 years after the war ended, finally allowing the Ghosts' story to be told. By that point, however, the Ghosts of Razgriz had long since faded into history.
  • Great Offscreen War: The Belkan War, at least until Zero put it firmly onscreen.
  • 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, the leaders of both Osea and Yuktobania never wanted the war, and both 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 and his gun clicks 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.
  • Home by Christmas: During Osea's assault on Cruik Fortress, Lieutenant Colonel Nelson will state: "Looks like we'll be able to enjoy the new year with our families...thanks to Sand Island." The Osean ground forces are bogged down until December 31.
  • "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.
  • Interface Spoiler: Noticeably averted. At the end of the mission where you're running away in training jets Snow's communication text is red, even though everyone in Wardog knows he's actually an ally.
  • 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.
  • It's Raining Men: The raid on the Arkbird's linear catapult combines this with Tank Goodness. Yup, tanks para-dropping from C-130s.
  • Joke Character: 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. Once you get regular access to it, though, it gets QAAMs.
  • Just Following Orders: One of the main themes of the game's rather anvilicious criticism of war.
    Chopper: These guys are just going to storm in head on following orders! That's how war is fought and that's why I hate it!
  • 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.
  • Kill Sat: The Arkbird, and later the SOLG.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • When Bartlett is introducing his squadron to his old girlfriend, and 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.
  • Large Ham: AWACS Thunderhead is much louder and more passionate about his job than SkyEye was. Allen Hamilton, Ashley Bernitz, and Michael Heimeroth quickly become this in the last missions.
  • 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. Wardog, at the very least, does remember it after a few seconds, but everyone else not only forgets the event in question, but goes along with everything the 8492nd says regarding the Wardog squadron supposedly being traitors.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The entire war between Osea and Yuktobania was manipulated by a secretive group of Belkan nationalists known as the "Grey Men" as revenge for their country's defeat in "the war 15 years ago."
  • 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.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Some of the special weapons allow you to fire a volley of up to four missiles simultaneously.
  • Magikarp Power: Thanks to the "kill rate" system through which planes unlock variants, some rather lackluster planes, like the MiG-21 bis (basically equivalent to the starter F-5E with an arguably worse SP weapon) and the F-4E Phantom II (a large fighter with sub-par handling and arguably the worst SP weapon in the game, which also forces you to go through the even less maneuverable F-4G Phantom II Wild Weasel) can eventually unlock the MiG-21-93, which carries QAAMs and fights at a similar level to the F-14D or X-29A, and the F-4X, which uses XMAAs and operates on about the same level as the F-15C and Su-27. Other aircraft trees also get better with newer variants, but few increase in performance so dramatically.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It seems to be somewhat ambiguous as to whether or not the Razgriz squadron actually possesses any supernatural abilities. It sure seems like it to their enemies though. The narration and radio chatter reactions make it seem like Blaze or the squadron as a whole are literally possessed by the Demon of Razgriz during the mission in the North Sea, titled - wait for it - "The Demon of Razgriz." From that point on, the squadron's trajectory matches the legend of the demon's perfectly: The demon "awakens" after the aforementioned mission,note  and spends the next few missions canonically wiping the floor with the Yuktobanians and basically being their boogeymen.note  After the level "Final Option," the demon is symbolically killed when Wardog is accused of treason and forced to fake their deaths.note  Without Wardog backing the Oseans up, the war between them and Yuktobania bogs down and the Belkans attempt to destroy both sides using stolen WMDs, but Wardog returns as "Razgriz Squadron" and foils their plans, ending the war as heroes after previously pursuing it as an inadvertent villain.note 
  • Mêlée à Trois: In the latter half of the game, it's Osea vs. Yuktobania vs. The Grey Men vs. You. It's an interesting variation in that the primary conflict is between the latter two, with the others split in allegiance to them, knowingly or otherwise - those that are blinded by anger and hatred continue fighting the war as they had been, playing into the former's hands, while those who are sick of the war and want to stop it break formation and join up with the latter.
  • Missing Man Formation: An allied squadron performs one for Chopper.
  • Mook Maker: The Scinfaxi, Hrimfaxi and Arkbird will produce an endless supply of carrier jets or 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 Belkan 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, and it is heavily implied to be specifically because of what the Belkans did to their own country 15 years before the game's setting that nukes in Strangereal have such a taboo.
    • If you didn't hate the fanatical Grey Men before the mission "White Bird Part II," you definitely will when the hijackers, with their plan to use the stolen Arkbird to provoke another escalation of the war foiled, instead decide to just steer the Arkbird towards the closest landmass and detonate their entire nuclear payload to take as many innocent lives along with them as they can, specifically just to spite Razgriz. It makes that final "Damn you, Razgriz" once you foil that plan too so much more satisfying.
  • 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 invading Yuktobania barely more than a week later. 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.
    • The next game reveals that Osea as a nation all has similar pacifist leanings due to the horrors of the Belkan War. Specifically, the seven nukes, as well as the bombing of Hoffnung.
  • The Neidermeyer: Lieutenant Colonel Ford, the man sent from the Osean mainland to take over for Bartlett after he is shot down and captured comes off at this. Instead of helping Wardog Squadron mop up the Yuktobonian aircraft attacking Sand Island, he opts to try and land instead. You know, while planes are actively bombing the runway. Granted, he was low on fuel, but the way he blatantly ignores the ATC denying him clearance to land due to the attack shows how full of himself he was. Fortunately for Wardog, though unfortunately for him, he ends up getting shot down while arguing with Chopper, leaving Blaze to take over.
  • Nerf: Compared to the previous title, Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, QAAMs have been nerfed hard. While they were nearly perfect seekers that could be treated as fire-and-forget free kills in Shattered Skies, here they are only slightly better than normal missiles, save for doing twice as much damage. In some cases, especially at extremely close range, their slower launch may actually make them less useful than normal missiles.
  • Nicknaming the Enemy:
    • The Oseans refer to Yuktobanians as "Yukes".
    • After Wardog sinks the second of the two Scinfaxi-class subs, the ''Hrimfaxi", this time without the aid of an Orbital Laser, and in the partially frozen waters of the Razgriz straight (named after the story of Razgriz), the Yuktobanians' take to calling your squadron "The Demons of Razgriz".
    • After Wardog Squadron are declared traitors by the war mongers and Gray Men spies, and "shot down" by Swordsman, they vanish from the main conflict. Then people suddenly see a mysterious new squadron, in raven black aircraft. After seeing how they fight, and seeming to be nearly invincible, they begin calling your squadron over the radio "Ghosts of Razgriz". And just like "Demons of Razgriz", it's also a mission name were it becomes official.
  • No Endor Holocaust: In the final mission, the SOLG is sent on a collision course with Oured, Oseas Capitol city. Despite being a massive hunk of metal armed with nuclear weapons plunging into the atmosphere with an incredible amount of kinetic energy, it's destruction appears to cleanly remove the threat to the city or the bay next to it, with no debris continuing it's initial trajectory or causing any radioactive dispersal as one would expect.
  • No-Gear Level:
    • Two of them. One particularly difficult level has you escaping pursuers... in unarmed Hawk T1A 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 reasonable distance between you and them, so the only way to risk getting shot is to deliberately letting them approach. A little while later you have a Stealth-Based Mission where you can choose whatever plane you want, but your weapons are replaced with camera equipment to photograph an enemy meet-up.
    • A downplayed version is used earlier in the game; rather than taking away all your gear, you are simply forced to fly a plane that been outfitted with gas bombs meant to nullify chemical weapons, and as such your only offensive armament is your machine gun. At first this isn't a problem, since the first half of your mission simply consists of dropping the gas bombs on pockets of poison gas, but then the enemy shows up in attack choppers, forcing you to engage them with only machine guns.
  • Oh, Crap!: As is standard in Ace Combat, you and your squadron become respected/feared by the enemy forces as the story progresses. Upon learning that your flying in the combat area, expect enemy radio chatter to begin to get really worried.
    • Mission 13: "Demons of Razgriz". A mission taking place in the Razgriz Straits. As Wardog Squadron deal ever increasing damage to the Hrimfaxi, a Scinfaxi-Class submarine, this time without the aid of the Arkbird's Orbital Laser, the crew and Yuktobanian Command suddenly realize just how screwed the Hrimfaxi is. By the end, Yuktobanian bestows the name of "Demons of Razgriz" to Wardog, named after mythological Razgriz from a popular legend in Osea and Yuktobanian.
      Hrimfaxi Commander: All this damage from four planes!? How is this possible!? What the hell's going on!? Are the Oseans using some kind of black magic!?"
      Yuktobanian Command": "Hrimfaxi, it appears you're up against Razgriz itself out there."
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: "The Unsung War" tells the story of Razgriz, in Latin. (The English lyrics below are spoken In-Universe by a character, and are an approximate translation, not a literal one.)
    Cum historia mutat valde, Razgriz (When history witnesses a great change, Razgriz)
    Revelat ipsum, primum daemon scelestus est (reveals itself, first as a dark demon)
    Cum potentia caenum daemon fundet (As a demon, it uses its power to rain)
    Mortem in terram, deinde moritur (Death upon the land, and then it dies)
    Cum somnus finis, Razgriz surget (However, after a period of slumber, Razgriz returns)
    Magnus heros est (This time, as a great hero)
  • One-Man Army:
    • At one point in the campaign, Chopper outright admits that Blaze "could singlehandedly change the tide of this war".
    • Lampshaded in the Arcade mode, where the briefing outright states that ISAF sent Mobius One in on his own because he is superior to an entire air wing.
  • Orchestral Bombing: See the ominous Latin chanting entry above. Well, it's not exactly bombing, but rather shooting down a satellite.
  • 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.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Chopper's death for the Wardog Squadron. Your allies all wipe out the opposing forces, with the terrified enemies all claiming that your squadron have become possessed by demons.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Bartlett gets to give a short one to Hamilton in the penultimate mission.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When the Yuktobanians shoot down and kill Chopper, the rest of the Wardog Squadron collectively goes berserk and show them why they've earned the nickname the "Demons of Razgriz". The rest of the battle has the Yukes trying to flee in absolute terror as three planes rip through their entire assault forces with no remorse.
  • 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 by the name of "Into The Dusk" picks up and plays until the end of the mission. It's made even worse by your remaining wingmen sobbing quietly on the radio.
    • "White Bird (Part II)" plays when you're forced to shoot down the Arkbird, which has been sabotaged by the Grey Men.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Of the four original members of Wardog Squadron, it's comic relief Chopper who dies when the story takes a darker turn.
  • 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, and it was also special in that Namco co-developed it, likely being the reason for the shout out.
    • As mentioned numerous times, if anyone wondering what Reiko Nagase was up to between games, well she... or her sister, becomes a badass 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.
      • Speaking of Macross, in the Sea of Chaos mission, the Yuktobanian forces joining the Kestrel brings to mind the Zentraedi forces joining the SDF-1 in the climax of Macross: Do You Remember Love?.
    • 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. From the same book came the mysterious "Men in Grey", likely the origin for the name of the Grey Men.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • Deliberately invoked by Captain Andersen in the "Sea of Chaos" mission. The background music is actually him playing "The Journey Home" over the Kestrel's radio.
    • 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. It gets scary once you realize they're singing instead of evacuating.
  • Spell My Name With An S: Ustio's capital is shown on a world map in the introduction as "Dilectus". It gets changed to "Directus" in Ace Combat Zero.
  • 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. They take steps to correct this by removing you from the picture, which ultimately causes the whole plot to unravel.
  • Spy Ship: The second mission has the player character and his squadron investigating a reconnaissance vessel that had launched UAVs near the Osean shoreline. Later in the game, the Andromeda's signal intercept capabilities play a key role in the plot.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: Subverted in "Demons of Razgriz", 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, "Solitaire", plays this straight, as you can only allow the enemy to notice you after you've accomplished your main objective. The mission "Handful of Hope" 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 after it follows you into a danger zone since they're not using a recognized IFF signal and their radar was damaged from an earlier hit.
  • 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.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Two cases of Gameplay and Story Segregation, where both Captain Bartlett and later Nagase are unable to shake off a missile that remains agile enough to follow after them when most missiles in the game can be easily dodged with a sharp turn.
    • At the start of the game, Osea has been entirely at peace for 15 years. As a result, nobody in command has any idea how to actually fight a war, with catastrophic consequences recurring throughout the game.
  • Taking the Bullet: Captain Bartlett does this for Nagase early on.
  • Tanks, but No Tanks: The Yuktobanian "Airborne Tanks" are actually BMD-1 infantry fighting vehicles. Despite not being true tanks, they take as much punishment as their more heavily armored cousins.
  • 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 the basic Su-27 fighter upgrading into both the Su-32 frontline bomber and the Su-35 air superiority fighter, and the latter, into the iconic Su-37 superfighter.
  • Unfriendly Fire: During "Lit Fuse", a soldier from Company D will ask you to bomb his overblown and incompetent captain. Blaze can offer to oblige, but before he gets a chance the soldier gets bombed by the Yukes.
  • War Is Hell:
  • The War Just Before: Fifteen years prior to the events of the game, the nation of Belka raged war against the world for resources. Eventually the war turned against them with the two superpowers of Osea and Yuktobania, as well as other nations, pushing against them. After losing ground and territory rather than allow enemy forces to invade the birthplace of Belka, the Belkans dropped seven nuclear bombs between the northern and southern parts of their nation. This brought an end to the war with the allied forces claiming victory. Fast-forward fifteen years to the events that would take place over the course of the game, feeling that they were humiliated, forces within Belka orchestrated events causing Osea and Yuktobania to go to war with one another hoping it would weaken them both.
  • 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).
    • Likewise for Captain Bartlett, who isn't mentioned again after blowing past you in the penultimate mission's tunnel run.
  • 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 time.
  • 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.