Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol
by Diego Beltrami
Ace Patrol is without a doubt born from Sid Meier’s game design style of clear rules and interesting decisions. It’s a game about managing a lot of possibilities one at a time. It’s a incredibly simple game with an equal incredible depth.
In Ace Patrol you control a small group of pilots (from one and up to four) in varied but simple missions that go from attacking or defending a certain target, eliminating all enemies or making reconnaissance runs. The turn based flow makes you choose one manoeuvre from all the ones your pilots have learned and have the ability to realize at that moment. This makes it a game of deciding what the best move is while still planning ahead. It’s not about doing the move that makes the most damage that turn, it’s about the movement that will let you do the most damage during the mission, or run away, or hide in the clouds, or maybe distract the enemy planes so your other pilots get a better shot. There are a lot of possibilities and a lot of variables, as there is so much G-Force your pilots can endure, so they won’t be able to do crazy piloting all the time, so choosing wisely is the most important thing.
It’s very tight. All the mechanics works flawlessly with each other and really supports the setting. And it can be HARD. The game can be unforgiving, one small mistake and your main pilot could be down to 40% of it’s health and with a burning engine. It’s one of those little jewels with very simple mechanics with a lot of depth to them and it’s not something you often see as well put together as this game.
And not to mention how well all these mechanics plays with the setting, and how well does the game take advantage of it as well. You have four pilots that can be named and earn nicknames which adds a lot of personality to the rooster (perhaps something they learnt from Xcom). It oozes charm, from the pilots portraits, the manoeuvres animations to the simple and colourful art style.
Above all, Ace Patrol’s greatest achievement is feeling like a great board game while doing things that are too complex for one.
It’s a shame that it only supports hot seat multiplayer.