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Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War

by nine-gear crow

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Original Thread: "Yo Buddy, You Still Alive?" - Let's Play Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War

If you liked this LP, you might also like Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus by The Dark Id and Armored Core by ArclightBorealis

Introduction





Welcome everyone to Let's Play Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, the first entry in what will hopefully be a larger look at the Ace Combat series' Strangereal-based games. Much like the previous LPs I helped create with my partner in LP Crime Blind Sally, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, and Killzone/Killzone: Liberation/Killzone 2, this LP will also be an in-depth look at the fictional history, politics, setting, and characters of Ace Combat's Strangereal shared universe as told over the course of multiple games and done in in-universe chronological order.




To do this, we are starting things off here with Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War. Released in 2006 for the PlayStation2, Zero Project Aces' swan song for the PS2, and the second-to-last game released for that console generation before moving on (puzzlingly) to the Xbox 360 and Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation. Despite it being called "Zero", Ace Combat Zero is actually the 8th game in the Ace Combat franchise in terms of release order. It's called "Zero" because this is the earliest game in the Strangereal setting's in-universe timeline, and thus a natural starting point for this LP project.

The game was built off a refined version of Ace Comabt 5: The Unsung War's game engine, so you should be able to come back here and compare 5 to its successor when (and if) we get to it in the timeline. I will be highlighting what was changed and improved upon where I can in this run however.




Project Aces' Ace Combat franchise is a sprawling mass of games spread out over many different consoles and handheld platforms with several wholly unrelated continuities depending on which sub-set of games you want to look at. The games most people are familiar with and have played, however, are the ones we will be covering over the course of this Mega LP: the ones set in Strangereal.

These of course are Air Combat, Ace Combat 2, Ace Combat 3, Ace Combat 04, Ace Combat 5, Ace Combat Zero, Ace Combat 6, Ace Combat X, Ace Combat Xi, and the recently announced Ace Combat 7.

That said, I will not be covering the following games:








Now, the uninitiated among you might be asking yourself "What the fuck is a Shakespeare Strangereal?" And to that I say "welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Ace Combat!"

The majority of the Ace Combat games are set in a shared universe setting that has been dubbed by fans as the "Strangereal" world. The name originated from a trailer for Ace Combat 04 which contained the phrase "A strange, real world." Fans compacted the phrase into the portmanteau of "Strangereal" to describe the setting of the game. As you can see by the two world maps (the left one is "canon", the right one is fan-interpolated conjecture), the world of the Ace Combat series shares a number of similarities to our own while also being radically different. Namco itself would come to adopt the term Strangereal to describe the setting in more recent Ace Combat games such as Ace Combat: Infinity. It has also been implied that the Ridge Racer series also takes place in Strangereal, as background worldbuilding elements and settings from the Ace Combat games appear various Ridge Racer games, particularly the character of Reiko Nagase, who is implied to be a relative of several other Nagases who appear throughout the Ace Combat franchise.

Project Aces also previewed a trio of concept games at the dawn of the PlayStation3-era that used the Strangereal setting as well. They were, in no particular order, Brave Arms, a Metal Gear Solid 4/Bionic Commando third-person action/espionage game set in the Kingdom of Sapin; Second Season 01, a first-person cop drama game which appeared to be set in Oured, Osea; and Chain Lim!t, an Alpha Protocol-style action spy game with multiple user-determined solutions to action problems. All three games were either cancelled shortly after their announcement or were just internal proof-of-concepts that somehow were teased to the public as actual games before being pulled. Either way, they remain just another aspect of the enduring enigma that is Strangereal.

The Strangereal world is a massive, intriguing, and reactive place that gets developed a little more with each Ace Combat game set in it and elements of this setting speak to each other across multiple games. We're going to be looking at this setting from a near-pedantically scholarly viewpoint, so I hope you all have your over-analysis caps on like I do!

Because this is a thinking man's LP, not one of those "Shoot Visari in the face-RICO NO!!!" LPs. (Actually it is one of those LPs, don't tell anyone though!)

For the purpose of this LP series, we will be following the games in in-universe chronological order from 1995 to 2020. The order we will be going in will be Zero > 2 > 04 > 5 > 6 > X > 7 (depending on where it falls in the timeline when it eventually comes out). We even might do Air Combat and Ace Combat: Assault Horizon in some capacity for shits and giggles at the end as a bonus depending on how burnt out I am of Ace Combat in general and how good you've all been.

For more information about the Ace Combat franchise, please consult Acepedia, the Ace Combat Wiki. (Note: there's a lot of bullshit conjecture stuff on the AC Wiki, so read at your own risk. Also, lots of unmarked spoilers for the whole franchise.)



I'd prefer you didn't post spoilers, if you are one of those people who do know what happens in this and subsequent games. So try to avoid letting huge things that could ruin the game for people who are experiencing it fresh slip out like how Cipher is actually a collection of springs in a flight suit or how Pixy is voiced by Yuri Lowenthal.

Because that shit just sucks.





BONUS VIDEOS



ACES CURE PLANES has volunteered to show off a curtailed "what if" run of Zero on Ace Difficulty on the Mercenary path. He will be taking me and several other guest commentators along for the ride, so be sure to check his stuff out too.







Presenting the “Great Up-Till-Now Ace Combat In-Universe Timeline”. As we go through the games and possibly threads, this timeline will fill in with bullet points on events in the Strangereal world as new updates are posted.

1900s - 1910s


1940s


1950s

1970s

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990


1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

2005

2006






2030 - 2040
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