Jet Lancer Review – Take To The Skies!
Ever since the beginning of time, man has looked to the sky and saw it as something to be conquered. Nowadays, we can do the same with video games. Ace Combat has been a huge proponent in simulating the flight of an aircraft, while still giving that arcadey feel it’s always been known for, able to pull off insane tricks while still giving the thrill of a good dogfight. As far as indie games were concerned, there was no need to give it a shot. Then comes in Jet Lancer.
Jet Lancer is an aerial combat shooter developed by Vladimir Fedyushkin and Nicolai Danielsen, and published by Armor Games Studios. Through this game, the developers set out to give you the feel of actual aircraft combat, while bringing you to a sci-fi setting in a 2D perspective.
The story is that in a futuristic world, you play as Ash, a failed military pilot turned ace mercenary pilot working with a contractor. Utilizing a new military prototype (that they didn’t legally procure), her job mostly consisted of dealing with sky pirates…at least, until mechanized weapons began to threaten the very cities she is paid to protect. As she uses her ace flying skills to take down these metal beasts, she flies down a rabbit hole that her ethics refuse to let her out of.
The writing is actually pretty good. You learn to understand each character’s motivations rather quickly and how they tick. While Ash is not a perfect character, as she definitely has flaws, I was able to empathize with her and better understand her by the end of the game. You also spend enough time with her comrades to connect with them. Even some of the minor characters that keep coming back have their quirks that can make them charming…or irritating.
When you start off Jet Lancer, you takeoff into the sky, breaking you out into the colorful graphics where you immediately get a feel for the controls. Jet Lancer controls like a dream, feeling both smooth while also maintaining that high intensity feeling in dogfights. With the versatility allowed, you can pull off a multitude of tricks and maneuvers, like turning off your thrusters mid air to allow for faster turning. There is a feeling of weight in your movements.
However, it’s when you get into combat that the feel of Jet Lancer truly shines. Combat is a lot of fun, especially when you get into some intense fights where multiple jets are homing in on you. In these situations, it’s important to dodge, which can avoid nearly all damage that comes your way, which, if done right, will temporarily improve your bullets. Not only that, but dodge has the ability to negate damage done to you if you dodge out of the attack. These, as well as some other abilities I’ll later talk about, conform together into this high stakes, high paced battle for the skies.
All of this is only boosted by the well done sound design, giving you a truly immersive experience. Zooming through the explosions of your foes while multiple are still sending their missiles your way hasn’t felt so satisfying since Ace Combat. You’ll feel the power of the craft as it paints the sky in white streaks, with the hum of your minigun memorable in your ear as you tear down those pesky Sky Pirates.
That isn’t even to mention Jet Lancer’s superb score. Fat Bard, the composer, did a fantastic job making the game’s music perfectly fit with the pace and style of Jet Lancer. I would say the music is a mixture of high octane aerial combat and anime, as well as adding in a few somber surprises in specific segments that elevate the scenes they are in.
And Jet Lancer has some awesome scenes. You’re going to see some pretty cool stuff throughout this game; things that got me hype for what was about to happen, a lot of that is due to the score and the style. Jet Lancer is full of style and presentation, making sure the substance has a loving companion.
Once the excitement of fighting for the skies dies down, you get transported to Jet Lancer’s overworld, where you cruise around in an aircraft carrier, find missions, and change your loadout. Your loadout starts off rather simple: minigun, guided missiles, and a missile swarm, each of which are in their own category: primary, special, and charged.
As you go through the game, you’ll obtain more special and charged abilities, as well as modules that can be installed into your jet to improve a specific aspect of it. Take care, however, as you can only install a certain amount of modules at a time, requiring you to think ahead as to what will work best for you in the next mission.
The missions in this game do provide a lovely variety, from objectives as simple as “clear the area” to the more difficult “reach the high score”. I’ll admit, Jet Lancer has a few balancing issues, but nothing too difficult. In those high score missions, you might just barely reach the required score before the mission ends. In fact, one mission in particular gave me trouble due to some things about scoring not being properly explained, like unguided missiles giving more points than guided ones.
Ace Flying, Pilot!
So the game can get difficult, but it doesn’t stop being fun. Every enemy you face will give you a new challenge, and the bosses are no different. Each boss is lovingly animated and well realized, giving you some awesome foes to go up against to test your mettle.
However, the difficulty doesn’t end when the credits roll, as there is a New Game Plus that raises the difficulty, changes the AI, and adds in a few extra modules that can up the ante. All this only serves to make the intensity of aerial combat more than just intense.
Even without the New Game Plus, I feel like I’ll be coming back to just feel that high intensity feeling when in the midst of chaos. Jet Lancer has everything an aerial combat game needs: frantic action, pulsing music, smooth controls, with a decent story in there to keep you occupied and determined.
If you’re looking for something a little high paced and beautifully crafted, there isn’t much else to say about Jet Lancer. The people that put their work into this game show their passion in the art, and I would say the results speak for themselves.
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Game reviewed by Freelance7 on the Nintendo Switch. Game provided by Armor Games.