Ace Combat Infinity is Namco Bandai's upcoming free to play aerial combat game for the PlayStation 3. Project leader Kazutoki Kono says that for this game, they're going back to the roots and standards of the Ace Combat series.
The content of the game is looking fairly robust. There will be a campaign mode and an online competitive mode, but according to Kono, the campaign mode is "more of a tutorial" with the real meat of the game being in the multiplayer.
In terms of controls and gameplay, the game is mostly intuitive in a very user-friendly way. Even if you've never played an Ace Combat game before, you can probably pick up the controller and in a few minutes, you'll have the basics down.
The game will also have customisable sets where players can save different loadouts of planes, weapons, and other options to select for different missions. While previous games have included other types of aircraft, like helicopters, Ace Combat Infinity will only have planes.
Multi-player will be competitive co-op, with groups of up to 4 vs 4 competing over enemy killcounts. Kono stated that while they do have a system model for a multi-player deathmatch mode, it will not be included as "it would make the game complex and discourage newcomers and novice players" -- the target audience of the free to play model.
Kono noted that the main focus of Ace Combat Infinity is to lower the monetary hurdle for new potential players who might feel too intimidated by a full price game to try it out, and to make it easier for players to get to know the Ace Combat series. Kono showed enthusiasm for the free to play model, saying that it could be highly beneficial for both developers and gamers, allowing them to build games together.
Of course, there's no such thing as a free lunch. The game's multi-player mode will incorporate a "fuel" model where players have a set amount of fuel that is depleted by deploying. Fuel replenishes over time, but can also be purchased. There will also be purchasable items as well. Kono has stated, however, that "as long as you are willing to take the time, you can play the entire game for free."
Ace Combat Infinity is scheduled for release on the Japanese PlayStation Store this year. No news on a Western release.