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.
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.
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.