|Genre(s)||Combat flight simulator|
A terrorist force starts an uprising (and inflicts massive damage across an unidentified country, later retconned to Skully Island which is part of the continent of Usea); efforts to defeat these terrorists through conventional means have failed and the situation turns desperate. In response, a mercenary air force is assembled to take the fight against the enemy and free the nation from the terrorist forces.
Air Combat is considered an "arcade-style" flight game due to its semi-realistic physics and the fact that many of the planes can carry up to sixty-five missiles (an impossibility in real-life aircraft). The goal of the game is to destroy enemy targets dispersed throughout the various missions and earn money to purchase additional aircraft or employ wingmen. Extra money can also be earned by destroying "non-target", optional enemies. The player can choose from 16 different planes ranging from F-4 Phantoms to Su-27 Flankers and Stealth aircraft, except they are painted in a special "Phoenix" color scheme. Replaying the game after beating it once unlocks the normal color scheme for these aircraft. The game has multiple missions spread out over the campaign map, making it possible to not clear all missions in a single playthrough. Later in the game, players can select new pilots to be their "wingman" during a mission, by assigning them one of three tasks. Each wingman has his own corresponding aircraft, and deducts a fee from the player's credit haul at the end.
Air Combat received mixed-to-positive reviews; IGN described the gameplay's elements as "rock solid", although they noted on its graphical flaws, stating that "the flickery images and bland colors do nothing to showcase the PlayStation's graphics prowess". Air Hendrix of GamePro similarly described the graphics as bland, with backgrounds and explosions lacking the "detail and polish" seen in most PlayStation games. He also found the early missions simplistic and uninteresting, but said the later missions show compelling strategic depth, and concluded, "Despite Air Combat's substantial flaws, patient arcade-shooter fans will gradually get caught up in the gripping gameplay." A brief review in Next Generation stated "This decent flight game is one of the earliest PlayStation titles and hasn't aged as well as some". Air Combat was also awarded "Best Flight Sim of 1995" by Electronic Gaming Monthly.
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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.
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