The game features arcade-grade flight physics, but otherwise is a decent approximation of a little-explored period in air combat, when propeller-driven planes first began to be replaced by jets on a large scale. It contains Internet multiplayer and two linear single-player campaigns, one putting you in the shoes of a US Air Force pilot in the UN coalition, the other portraying a Soviet Air Forces pilot flying for North Korea. Only five planes are playable but many more are present.
- United States Air Force:
- North American F-51D Mustang
- Lockheed F-80C Shooting Star
- North American F-86 Sabre
- North Korean People's Army Air Force:
- Yakovlev Yak-9
- Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 Fagot
Tropes present in Sabre Ace:
- Artistic License History/Artistic License Military: The North Korean campaign portrays a Soviet pilot flying under North Korean colors, but the Soviets didn't deploy their air forces onto the front lines until April 1951.
- Bottomless Magazines: AI planes have infinite ammo for guns but player planes don't, and the MiG-15 only has 200 rounds for its cannons (which is still more than the real-life plane had).
- Cool Plane: Though only the F-51, F-80, F-86, Yak-9, and MiG-15 are playable, the game features a wide variety of American aircraft, from prop fighters like the F-82 Twin Mustang to other lesser-known jets like the F-84 Thunderjet. The non-playable Soviet planes are limited to the Tupolev Tu-2 bomber.
- Damage Over Time: A seriously damaged plane may catch fire and lose power.
- Dan Browned: The game advertised itself as having realistic flight physics, but GameSpot's reviewer describes them as not much better than arcade level, even by 1997 standards.
- Eject... Eject... Eject...: Aircrew members jump out of prop planes and bombers and use ejector seats to get out of jets. It's game over if you eject over enemy territory (there's a couple of US ships off either NK coast that you can aim for in an emergency), and you'll be penalized for abandoning a plane that hasn't taken serious damage (if you're not trailing smoke, don't eject).
- Escort Mission: Missions for both sides have the Player Character flying escort for bomber wings, and one for the USAF has you escorting General Douglas MacArthur as he flies to the front lines for an inspection.
- Frontline General: An early USAF mission has you flying escort to a passenger plane containing none other than General Douglas MacArthur. Truth in Television: MacArthur was in real life inspecting UN positions under fire as early as three days into the war.
- Improvised Weapon: If you're equipped with drop tanks for a mission it's possible for you to drop them in such away that an opposing aircraft will run into them (usually an instant kill).
- Never Trust a Title: You won't fly the F-86 Sabre until fairly late in the USAF campaign: you'll be in an F-51 for half of it, plus several missions flying an F-80.
- Nose Art: The Mustang model used in the game has a shark mouth painted on it.
- Old-School Dogfight: The first air-to-air missile didn't enter service until four years after the Korean War ended, so all air combat in the game takes this form.
- P.O.W. Camp: If you eject over enemy territory you'll end up in one of these as a Game Over.
- Ramming Always Works: It is possible to ram other airplanes, although this predictably ends in a Mutual Kill most of the time.
- Real Award, Fictional Character: You'll dynamically earn medals based on your conduct in missions, such as an Air Medal every four air-to-air kills in the USAF campaign.
- Sink the Lifeboats: Pilots will bail out of their planes after being shot down. Their parachutes can be destroyed by flak or machine guns, causing them to plummet to their deaths with a Stock Scream.
- Sniping the Cockpit: It's possible for a pilot to be killed by a strike to the cockpit, although if this happens to the Player Character, the game over for some reason doesn't take effect until your plane actually hits the ground.