Ace Combat 7 Top Gun - Maverick DLC Review (PC): Does It Live Up to the Hype of the Movie?

Well, well, it looks like Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown decided to bless us with a nice surprise. A comprehensive collaboration between Project Aces and Paramount Pictures to bring us the AC7 Top Gun: Maverick Aircraft Set DLC. Does it live up to the considerable hype of the movie?
Ace Combat 7 Top Gun: Maverick DLC 23 photos
Photo: Project Aces
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The answer to that question is complicated and multi-faceted. After getting in a few good hours of gameplay, we think we're in good shape to find out. First thing's first, if you were hoping for some profound change in in-game mechanics or an eclectic set of new missions, this isn't the DLC for you. But as far as basic hangar expansions go, there are certainly worse choices for source material.

Without spoiling too much from the movie, both it and this Ace Combat 7 DLC's flying stock consists of a couple of special variants of known and beloved jets like the F-14A Tomcat and F/A-18 Super Hornet. Alongside the addition of novel concept airplanes like the Russian "5th-gen fighter," similar to the real Su-57, and of course, the Dark Star Hypersonic Interceptor.

Starting off with more established names in this DLC, the variants of the F-14A and F/A-18 Super Hornet look striking and even downright gorgeous in their new Hollywood regalia. With ample aircraft skins to choose from for each and with a standard and movie edition available upon purchase, there's a layout and weapons configuration to satisfy all tastes. It's also the F-14As first appearance in the Ace Combat "Strangereal" universe since the fifth installment of the game almost 20 years ago.

The F-14A features a considerable improvement in weapons loadout over the standard F-14D native to the game since launch. With 104 standard missiles and 22, 26, and 32 respective slots for each available special weapon, it's a vast improvement over the 84 standard missiles with 22, 14, and 56 slots, respectively, for the F-14Ds weapons layout. The most glaring exception is the F-14Ds 56 x8 air-to-air missiles.

Ace Combat 7
Photo: Benny Kirk/autoevolution
A similar case is true for the F/A-18 as well. Although this time, the special Top Gun: Maverick appears to be even more strikingly different than its F-14 counterpart. With distinct differences in weaponry between the standard and Top Gun variants, it gives the Super Hornet one of the most eclectic weapon loadouts in the entire game. With strong air-to-air and air-to-ground options that aren't a guarantee with every plane in the game. It's also the only aircraft in the game to feature player-controllable fuel drop tanks.

After a few blasts along some of the game's more intense missions, including the dreaded Alicorn submarine DLC mission and the final Dark Blue mission at the International Space Elevator, we find these changes only really change the gameplay to the extent of the special weapon you choose to go into battle with. It was undoubtedly a nice change of pace compared to the standard-issue aircraft that come with the game. But surely there are some who strive for something more.

Well, the Russian 5th-generation fighter largely doesn't disappoint. The perennial villain of the new Top Gun movie may only be a derivative of the Su-57 already in the game. But with added goodies like x-60 high capacity air-to-air missiles and 44 quad-launched air-to-air missiles, you'll have enough firepower to mow down entire squadrons of enemy airplanes without having to return to base even on the hardest difficulties if you're skillful.

And finally, we come to the real pièce de résistance, the Dark Star. A fictional aircraft so intimidating looking it made Chinese spy satellites overlooking the filming of the movie do a double-take. Of course, that hilarious little tidbit of information plus the overall striking look of this fictional hypersonic jet deserves an entire expose of its own. Rest assured, that's coming soon.

Ace Combat 7
Photo: Benny Kirk/autoevolution
But apart from all the new DLC airplanes, little trinkets like new the rearranged "Top Gun Anthem" music in multiplayer mode scored by Keiki Kobayashi and an instrumental version of Danger Zone in Team Deathmatch and Battle Royale modes makes for an experience ostensibly different from the base game's multiplayer.


If you're going to drop $19.99 to get the latest Ace Combat DLC in your collection, it's important to temper your expectations. The addition of new jets with novel weapons systems is awesome,  but if some grand expansion of new missions is something you were hoping for and expecting, you're probably going to be somewhat disappointed.

Even so, with everything in perspective, it's safe to pass down a rating of 3.5 out of five stars for one of the most unexpected moves Project Aces has made to their pride and joy game series in years.
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