A terrorist force starts an uprising and inflicts massive damage across an unnamed country. Efforts to defeat these terrorists through conventional means failed and the situation turns desperate; in response, a mercenary air force is assembled to take the fight to the enemy and free the nation from the terrorist forces. Although not officially canon, the game is widely presumed to be set in a small Yuktobanian protectorate; the Republic of Kaluga, within the Ace Combat universe of Strangereal.
Air Combat is mostly considered an "arcade style" flight game due to its semi-realistic physics and the fact that many planes can carry up to 65 missiles, an impossibility in real-life aircraft. The goal of the game is to destroy enemy targets dispersed throughout the various levels and earn money (extra money can be earned by destroying non-target, optional enemies) to purchase additional aircraft. In arcade versions, the player simulates an F-16 aircraft exclusively, but in PlayStation version, the player can choose from several different planes in the game ranging from F-4 Phantoms to Su-27 Flankers and Stealth aircraft, albeit painted in a special "Phoenix" color scheme. Later in the game, the player can select a wingman to accompany them during a mission, the player can "instruct" the wingman to perform one of three different actions.
Air Combat received mixed-to-positive reviews.IGN described the gameplay elements as "rock solid", though noted on its graphical flaws, stating that "the flickery images and bland colors do nothing to showcase the PlayStation's graphics prowess".Air Combat was awarded Best Flight Sim of 1995 by Electronic Gaming Monthly.
^"PlayTest: Air Combat". Official UK PlayStation Magazine (Future Publishing) (1): 80–81. November 1995. "In terms of excitement Air Combat is an A-class product but it doesn't deliver enough staying power. Its coin-op lineage is painfully apparent."
^NEW GAMES CROSS REVIEW: エースコンバット. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.342. Pg.32. 7 July 1995.