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Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies
Released in 2001, Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies follows the events in the war between Erusea and ISAF after a massive asteroid, Ulysses 1994 XF-04, strikes the continent of Usea. You play as the pilot Mobius 1, in a struggle to single-handedly put an end to the war and defeat both Erusea and the Yellow Squadron.

 

Very Easy run (Single Segment): 2:25:48 by Nicholas 'Sir VG' Hoppe

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Good morning troops. Get suited up, in your planes, and ready to head into the skies.

Speed Run Rules

* Completed on Very Easy Difficulty
* Single Session
* Takes Damage to Save Time.

WARNING NOTICE!

Those people who easily suffer from motion sickness should NOT watch this speed run! This run contains a number of aerobatic maneuvers and other twists and turns that could make you sick on watching it.

END WARNING NOTICE

Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies is the first of the Ace Combat games to arrive on the PS2, and IMO is one of the best semi-realistic games around. I've played a few other AC games (5 and 0) but only this one sucked me in. Maybe it was the idea of a lone pilot kicking ass and ending a war. Maybe it was the starting mission (Sitting Duck) that was a more exciting start. Who knows. But this game is a lot of fun to play, even if you aren't typically into flying type games, which I'm not.

The game is divided into 18 missions, spanning a timeline starting in 2004 (hence the title, 04, instead of the typical numbering scheme). While most of the missions end after a certain objective, a few of them have a set time frame. So while doing this run, I had to create a list of priorities.

* Priority 1: Complete the run as fast as possible. This applies to 14/18 missions.
* Priority 2: When the run has a set time limit (or a portion of the mission is a set time), aim for an S-Rank. Four missions are a set time (6, 8, 10, 16) and half have at least a large section with a set time (5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13, 15, 16, 17). While most people who play this game say that 11 is also a set time, the mission can be completed an alternate way. Explanation later.
* Priority 3: When #2 applies, make the run as entertaining as possible. As such, if I run out of missiles and have plenty of time left, I go back to refuel and restock. You'll see this at several points in the run (like Mission 6).

Since this game has a lot of great story elements, I will try to incorporate them into my notes.

I decided this summer to go back and improve this run after spending time with the other Ace Combat PS2 games, since my skills have improved a bit. But certainly the biggest reason why I went back to this was from playing Arcade Mode in Ace Combat 5, which features Mobius 1 in a sequel story. That, and my fight against Yellow Squadron on Mission 17: Siege of Farbanti sucked.

* Prologue

The story is told by a young boy, writing a letter to you (Mobius 1) after the war. His parents were killed by a downed plane, which was shot down by Yellow 13, a member of the Erusean Yellow Squadron.

In 1999, a huge asteroid (Ulysses 1994XF04) was destined to hit Earth. A project, known as Stonehenge was designed to take out this threat. However, the asteroid suddenly split into a huge number of pieces, and despite the best efforts of the Stonehenge, a number of large pieces hit the earth, creating numerous large craters and killing hundreds of thousands of people. After this, Erusea uses its military to take over the continent of Usea, and also takes over Stonehenge, which is found to be a great anti-aircraft weapon. The opposing force, ISAF, is pushed off the mainland and onto the eastern coast.

* Mission 01: Sitting Duck

Erusea sends out 6 bombers to hit the ISAF HQ. You are lead by AWACS (call sign SkyEye). The mission is simple - shoot down the 6 bombers before they are able to carry out their mission. The biggest change to this from the prior version is the improvement in killing the front right bomber.

New Time: 01:15.53 (C Rank)
Old Time: 01:40.21 (C Rank)
Time Saved: 24.68

* Mission 02: Imminent Threat

This time, ISAF is on the offensive. We fly to a close base (Rigley Air Base) to destroy the bombers stationed on the ground there. Slight improvement to my attack pattern, but not much changed here.

New Time: 01:18.16 (B Rank)
Old Time: 01:35.18 (C Rank)
Time Saved: 17.02

* Mission 03: The Northern Eye

Here's our first opportunity to give Erusea a big setback. This mission involves hitting a radar base, which taking it out will allow us to move in further on the continent, in our goal of taking out Stonehenge. Upon destroying the radars, you must return to the return line on the south part of the map. The attack was the same as the prior run, but on returning from Radar 2, I turn to the left instead of the right.

New Time: 02:21.35 (C Rank)
Old Time: 02:22.80 (A Rank)
Time Saved: 1.45

* Mission 04: Blockade

Operation Hunting Hawk involves shutting down an Erusean air corridor. There are 3 targets (C-17s), and 2 E-767s carrying electronic jammers to protect them. You don't need to hit the E-767s, but hitting them makes finding the C-17s a lot easier. Not much changed here from last time.

New Time: 00:55.75 (C Rank)
Old Time: 00:57.85 (C Rank)
Time Saved: 2.10

* Mission 05: Lifeline

The Aegir Fleet of the Erusean forces is entirely dependant on a single oil refinery plant. Since they're stupid to do so, we'll blow it up and cripple them. Operation Early Bird takes place at dawn, meaning that any time you fly east, you'll be looking straight into the sun, which is a bit annoying. The first part is a set time (10 minutes), the 2nd part is not. Pretty much the same length, just had more fun with the attacks.

New Time: 11:15.51 (S Rank)
Old Time: 11:21.36 (S Rank)
Time Saved: 5.85

* Mission 06: Invincible Fleet

Now that we've destroyed the oil refinery plant (mission 05), the Aegir Fleet is stuck at harbor. This makes them very good targets for our crew. The entire mission is a set time, so I'm purely aiming to take out what I can. Since this is a set time length, nothing to improve here timewise.

New/Old Time: 15:00.00 (S Rank)

* Mission 07: Deep Strike

Operation Blackout is an attempt to destroy a solar power plant operated by the Eruseans, built at one of the locations of the craters made by the 1999 asteroid. However, shortly after its destruction, we're attacked by Stonehenge (which is halfway across the continent!) and a number of our forces are destroyed. The first part of the mission is easy, while the 2nd is extremely annoying, since you have to fly through the ravine. If you're over 2000 feet in altitude at the wrong time, Stonehenge's attacks will destroy you. The biggest change to this was in how I flew out. Instead of trying to weave in the canyon at the end, I actually increased my altitude between Stonehenge attacks and flew over it until I needed to go below 2000 ft.

New Time: 03:00.26 (C Rank)
Old Time: 03:12.53 (C Rank)
Time Saved: 12.27

Prior to Mission 08, I buy an F-14A, which gives me air-to-air missiles (XLAAs) and better maneuverability.

* Mission 08: Shattered Skies

The mission involves an ISAF launch site, planning on putting a spy satellite into space. However, the Eruseans have engaged an air battle to stall us, while 5 B2 bombers approach to ruin our plans. Even Yellow Squadron has appeared to make life difficult. This is my favorite mission in the entire game...one big furball, as the game puts it. There's two parts to the mission, both are set time limits, so nothing to improve here either.

New/Old Time: 13:00.00 (S Rank)

* Mission 09: Operation Bunker Shot

All of the fighting so far has basically been off the east cost of Usea. Now is the beginning of the plan to reclaim the mainland. This battle is a combined air/land battle in a spot on the SE corner of the mainland. Stonehenge is out of range, so we can move in here, however the enemy still has the advantage to destroy land troops unless the air forces come and help. The first part is timed, the 2nd part ends after the destruction of the 6 A-10s. I actually lost a little under a second here since the last 2 A-10s took forever to get hit by the XLAAs.

New Time: 10:45.93 (S Rank)
Old Time: 10:45.01 (S Rank)
Time Lost: 0.92

* Mission 10: Tango Line

We've moved in slightly inland, and are now, unfortunately, within Stonehenge's firing range, which comes into play 3 times in the mission. The objective is to take out a base and move inland. Mission has a solid time limit, so I just destroy as much as possible. Noting to improve here either, just time to have some fun destroying stuff.

New/Old Time: 20:00.00 (S Rank)

* Mission 11: Escort

Air Ixiom 701 & 702, civilian aircrafts, were shot at on take off and are flying crippled. Several Erusean fighters are scrambling to destroy it. This time, Mobius 1 is flying solo to destroy them. There are two ways to complete the mission. One is to simply support the aircraft until it arrives in ISAF airspace (the end of the time limit). The other is to destroy all of the enemy aircraft. They appear in 4 waves. First is up at 23,000 ft. Next is at 6,000 feet, then again at 23,000 feet, then the last one is at 6,000 ft again. My XLAAs sucked this time around compared to the old run. Boo hiss.

New Time: 03:43.96 (S Rank)
Old Time: 03:02.20 (S Rank)
Time Lost: 41.76

However, it's stated that they were not just civilians, but civilians carrying bombs, which is why Erusea was targeting them and trying to shoot them down.

* Mission 12: Stonehenge Offensive

Now that we've proceeded far enough inland, it's time to take out Stonehenge. This will severely cripple Erusea and allow us to easily and freely move over Usea. The first part involves taking out the 7 guns that make up Stonehenge, then after that a quick battle with Yellow Squadron. The battle with Yellow Squadron ends when one of the targets is downed (as stated in the cutscenes, Yellow 4 is the victim of Mobius 1). I got the jammer on the first trip, but the guns did give a bit of trouble since they didn't want to go down. Major time saved here compared to the old run.

New Time: 02:06.21 (C Rank)
Old Time: 03:14.08 (C Rank)
Time Saved: 1:07.87

* Mission 13: Safe Return

Operation Blindman's Bluff is probably the most interesting of the bunch. The first portion involves a difficult task of taking out a bunch of blimps that serve as radar jammers, so missiles in this portion are pretty worthless. To make matters worse, the weather and landscape are against you. The blimps are difficult to see when looking at the landscape (similar colors) and the sky is foggy, though it does make blimps higher up a bit easier to see. You need to hit a certain number of targets in order for the radar to clear when the reconnaissance aircraft arrives, since it can't fly through the fog very well. The XLAAs were failing me a bit again, especially on that last target, so I lost about 4 seconds. Grrr.

New Time: 08:03.56 (S Rank)
Old Time: 07:59.33 (S Rank)
Time Lost: 4.23

Prior to Mission 14, I buy an F-15E and all of its weaponry (XMAAs and Cluster Bombs).

* Mission 14: Breaking Arrows

Undoubtedly, this is the most annoying mission of the game. This takes place back closer to the eastern coast and involves shooting down a bunch of inbound missiles. There are three rounds to the mission. The first involves a large group of missiles. The second involves a larger group of "smart" missiles that break off into 2 groups when at least one of them is destroyed. After that, the 3rd round is a single missile that is a nuke (or at least a missile packed with a ton of explosives). Which if that wasn't bad enough, it's uber-smart, weaving, bobbing, and dodging and is very difficult to hit. And if you're too close when you do hit it...BOOM! I lost some time due to the 2nd set not wanting to go down.

New Time: 03:05.48 (C Rank)
Old Time: 02:44.50 (C Rank)
Time Lost: 20.98

* Mission 15: Emancipation

This takes place over a town that is rebelling against Erusea by ending a blackout. Granted the lights over the city are mostly no help, it still makes a few items easier to see. In this mission, it's very critical to watch your altitude, since it's VERY easy to hit the water and not realize it, since it is midnight and very dark out. The first part of the mission is a set time, but then a bunch of "blackjacks" (TU-160s) arrive to try to flatten the city. Improvement came from a new strategy to take out the TU-160s faster.

New Time: 12:14.71 (S Rank)
Old Time: 13:11.16 (S Rank)
Time Saved: 56.45

* Mission 16: Whiskey Corridor

This land battle takes place over another area that was devastated by the Ulysses meteor. Goldberg Crater is the most prominent crater and is in the center of the area. Mission is a set time limit, and with the victory here, Erusea is running out of room to run. Nothing to improve here timewise once again.

New/Old Time: 20:00.00 (S Rank)

* Mission 17: Siege of Farbanti

This mission is staged on the far west coast of Usea and is the capital of the Erusean forces. Talks of another superweapon, Megalith, have been noted and we hope to shut down Erusea before they can use that to push us back. The first part involves mainly the defeat of Erusea. While you don't have to destroy the choppers at the end (which carry some of the commanders as they try to escape the capital), might as well while I'm waiting, right? After the timed portion, Yellow Squadron returns for one more showdown. Unlike Mission 12, all 5 need to be shot down and they're all after your hide for taking out Yellow 4. I barely make it through a winner. MUCH better fight against Yellow Squadron this time around.

New Time: 13:38.43 (S Rank)
Old Time: 15:28.83 (S Rank)
Time Saved: 1:50.40

* Mission 18: Megalith

Just when it seems that the war is over, it's not. One year after the surrender at Farbanti, a bunch of rogue forces have taken over Megalith and plan to unleash mayhem. Part of the group includes a rebuilt Yellow Squadron. This time, Mobius 1 is accompanied by the ISAF forces, all codenamed "Mobius" and all carry the trademark "Ribbon". In order to disable Megalith, 3 large generators must be blown up. This will allow the ground crew (located on the 13th floor) to get further inside and allow them to open the panels. This is necessary as Mobius 1 flies into Megalith to destroy the largest missile and effectively shut down Megalith. Since there is no end time displayed, the below time is an estimate. Biggest change came from a strategy change in missile order, and how I attacked the 3rd and large missiles.

New Time: 04:02:80 (C Rank)
Old Time: 04:55:20 (B Rank)
Time Saved: 52.40

New Total Time: 2 hrs 25min 48sec according to the save file.
Old Total Time: 2 hrs 29min 30sec according to the save file.
Time Saved: 3min 42sec

Is the war really over? Only history will tell. However, one thing is for certain. Heroes really do exist.

Big thanks to shatteredskies.net for a bunch of information while preparing these notes, to Gbness for his plane guide at GameFAQs, and Masamune2 for his great maps.

This run is Copyright (C) 2009 Nicholas "Sir VG" Hoppe and IMAMYTH Colosseum (http://www.imamyth.com/ and http://www.youtube.com/user/SirVG) and is allowed for downloading and private viewing. Permissions for hosting this run have been granted to Speed Demos Archive and their YouTube channel. Public viewing of this run is prohibited without prior permission from the creator. The selling or distribution of this run for profit in any way, shape, or form including (but not limited to) selling on eBay and television for profit is prohibited without prior permission from the author. Hosting on other websites (including other YouTube accounts) is prohibited without consent from the runner or IMAMYTH Colosseum. Any violation of the above listed may result in legal action. Requesting for public viewing/posting of any IMAMYTH Colosseum run, including this run, can be done at IMAMYTH Colosseum's Website. Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies is Copyright (C) 2001 Namco (now Bandai Namco).

"We came. We saw. We speed ran."

Sir VG, signing out.

FIN

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