Ace Patrol took the App Store by storm back in May, and now there’s a brand new version doing battle over the Pacific Skies. Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies is a new edition of the original that maintains the same turn based aerial combat, but with the World War II theme of the Pacific theater, as compared to the World War I battle over Europe in the original. Most of the same factors are maintained, but a major difference is that Pacific Skies is $4.99 for the entire game, while the original Ace Patrol was free to play with multiple in-app purchases. If you’re the type of person who likes the pay one time to get the full game, then this is the Ace Patrol for you, and you can even use the original as a free trial.
Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies comes complete with 180 missions that pits you against enemy aces, defending your base, bombing enemy battleships, and more. The battles take place in Pearl Harbor, Midway and Guadalcanal, though most of the action is conducted over open waters. The entire game is made from the ground-up for touch that turns the skies in a grid based array, and on each turn you have a series of arrows to choose from to pick your move. You simply double tap an arrow to perform the given maneuver, and when you’re in range of enemies, the game shows you damage percentage based on each move. There are five difficulty levels to choose from, and you can choose to play as either American or Japanese pilots from the Army and Navy of the respective countries. As you successfully complete missions, you can upgrade your pilots with new planes, new skills, and new maneuvers.
Ace Patrol was, and is still a great game, and at the most basic level Pacific Skies just gives you more of the style. It’s effortless to control the action, allowing you to focus on the strategy at hand, which there is a lot of. On any given turn, you have about 15 different directions to choose from, and you usually have a few planes to control going against an enemy force with as many, or more planes. Not only can you move in a 360 degree plane, but there are also vertical levels since you’re battling in the air, and you can also seek cover in cloud banks. Once you get in range of enemies, there are the obvious choices for the greatest damage, but that can put you in a spot to be destroyed by another enemy, so you have to constantly balance your decisions. That’s what any good strategy game in based on, and Ace Patrol nails it, while making it accessible and friendly to a large number of potential players.
All of the aerial combat is delivered brilliantly with a deluxe 3D graphics engine that includes animated cut scenes when you do damage on an opponent. It’s simply such a well designed experience that keeps you actively engaged across the lengthy single player campaign, and there’s also an online multiplayer option. The only real drawback is that the original Ace Patrol exists, and there’s virtually nothing new this time around beyond the theme. It’s similar to Rayman Fiesta Run, in that the game is dragged down depending on your familiarity with the original, because you’re given more of the same. It would be great to see some nuances, or changes, and instead you’re doing the same exact things, which can lead to some obvious repetition. The strategy required is also largely unchanged, for some definite bland moments. Pacific Skies is still a great game, but it can’t be judged alone because the predecessor does exist, and distracts from the unimaginative extension.
Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies ($4.99, Universal) delivers excellent strategy action that is well suited for iOS making it a should buy. It’s great to have the whole game for $5, and if you can, give the free original a try to see if it’s right for you. It would be nice to see more than a new theme, but the Ace Patrol style is still a stand out in the App Store.