Ace Combat 04 Shattered Skies

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"I was just a child when the stars fell from the skies, but I remember how we built a cannon to destroy them and in turn how that cannon brought war upon us. War was an abstract thing, nothing more than a show on TV. Until on that final day of summer...."

The fourth game in the Ace Combat series and the first on the Playstation 2. Released in 2001.

In 1999, the gigantic asteroid Ulysses 1994XF04 entered Strangereal's atmosphere. In response, a coalition of countries decided to activate the weapon that they had constructed in anticipation of this disaster, the Stonehenge Turret Network. It succeeded in destroying the largest fragments of Ulysses but there were still many impacts; on the Usean Continent alone, 500,000 people were killed.

The Federal Republic of Erusea bore the brunt of the damage from Ulysses and was left crippled, economically. 5 years later, in desperation, they seized the town of San Salvacion as well as Stonehenge, due to its value as an anti-aircraft weapon with a range that covered practically the entire continent. Almost overnight, Erusea had achieved complete air dominance and began a massive invasion, pushing back all of the other countries. This was the start of the Usean Continental War.

The other nations banded together to form the Independent State Allied Forces (ISAF) but were still beaten back, in no small part due to the power of Stonehenge, and prepared to make their final stand at North Point, on the northeastern tip of the continent. This is where you come in -- you play one of the few remaining ISAF pilots stationed at North Point, callsign Mobius One. It is up to you, and you alone, to turn the tide against Erusea. You do this in a rather spectacular fashion at the very start of the game.

Shattered Skies was one of the groundbreaking games of the series. It was instrumental in laying the foundations of Strangereal along with Electrosphere and all the previous games were retconned to take place in the same universe. It also completed the refinements to the controls begun in Electrosphere and which have formed the basis for all games since. Even today it remains one of the more highly regarded Ace Combat titles.

Tropes used in Ace Combat 04 Shattered Skies include:
  • The Alliance: ISAF.
  • Airstrike Impossible: To attack Megalith in the final mission, you have to fly through a series of tunnels to Attack Its Weak Points. The last tunnel? You're relying on the ground team to get the exit doors open in time for you to escape, because there's no room for you to turn around inside.
  • Anti-Villain: Yellow 13.
  • Award Bait Song: "Blue Skies".
  • Awesome but Impractical: The FAEB. You get only 8 of them, whereas the most UGBLs you can get is 18, and the damage improvement is not enough that you can't destroy more targets with the larger number of wimpier bombs.
  • BFG: The centerpiece of the Erusian military is -several- BFG's referred to as the Stonehenge Turret Network, due to the arrangement of the giant cannons in a ring a few thousand feet in diameter. These guns are capable of downing almost any aircraft within their range, which covers the better part of the Usean continent, a landmass approximately the size of Australia.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: The AWACS Sky Eye tells the pilots it's his birthday in the Back From the Brink mission, implicitly asking them to give him victory for a present. Happens again exactly one In-Universe year later, during the decisive battle for Farbanti.
  • Book Ends: Mobius One's involvement in the war officially begins and ends on Sky Eye's birthday, September 19th.
  • Cosmetic Award: Partly averted, as you have to pay for alternate paint jobs.
  • Crowd Song: Pilots celebrate the destruction of the Aegir fleet by singing their national anthem. Later, the people in San Salvacion also celebrate their liberation by singing the same anthem.
  • Downer Ending: The game begins as Yellow 13 shoots down a fighter, which crashes into the narrator's house, killing his parents, dog, and any other family he may have had. San Salvacion, the place where he lives with his heavy-drinking uncle, is occupied by the Erusian forces, and he soon meets Yellow 13 face-to-face, and by a musical fluke, becomes good friends with him. Yellow 13 is known for his impressive kill record and how he has never lost a member of his squadron. He also meets Yellow 4, the only female Yellow and Yellow 13's closest friend/possible love interest. You (as Mobius One), meanwhile, are featured in the newspapers, and Yellow 13 decides that you would make a good rival. The narrator's crush, the barkeep's daughter, is a member of the town's Resistance; she bombs the runway, which cripples a few planes and injures Yellow 4. In the cutscene before you take down Stonehenge, there is some foreshadowing as Yellow 4 goes up into the air with a faulty engine. As you defeat Stonehenge, five Yellows appear; if you were paying attention, you know that this includes 13 and 4, and as you shoot down a Yellow, you hear 13 over the radio ("Eject, Yellow Four." ... "Did anyone see Four get out?") and the mission ends as they fall back. Later, you take down the entire new Yellow Squardon, including 13, thus taking out one of the few friends the orphan narrator has. Before he dies, he manages to chuck Yellow 4's handkerchief out of his plane, where the narrator collects it, then writes to Mobius One several years later with questions about 13.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Beautifully averted; Mobius One ("that ribbon fighter") single-handedly turns the tide of the Usean Continental War. Especially awesome in the mission "SIEGE OF FARBANTI", where you can hear chattering from the ground soldier saying "The ribbon fighter is here! We're going to win."
    • Probably the best examples come from Whiskey Corridor: early on in the mission, one ally will say "I don't care if it's a lie! Tell them Mobius 1 is flying cover!" Shortly afterward, an Erusean soldier refers to you as the Grim Reaper.
  • Epilogue Letter: The entire framing device, a set of letters written to the player character Mobius One by a man who was a kid at the time of the war. He is writing to you to reassure you that Yellow 13 did not begrudge you killing him by shooting him down over Farbanti, and telling you his story so that you know his understanding of the man you killed, and whose love interest you killed before that, is accurate. He concludes in a heart breaking manner, stating that 'Yellow 13 died happy.' You never learn Yellow 13's, or the kids names either.
  • The Empire: Erusea is this to the ISAF's Alliance.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Yellow 13 disapproves of putting AA guns on hospitals.
  • Evil Is Dumb: The Yellows never fire QAAMs at you, which is a good thing.
  • Five-Bad Band: Although Erusea's Yellow Squadron doesn't fit the roles listed in the trope, Yellow Thirteen always has his flight approach in a five-plane "V" formation.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: The most prominent nickname for Mobius One (a one-man airforce) is "ribbon".[1]
  • Genre Blindness: One ally has the uncanny tendency to say "watch me earn my ace wings today" at the start of missions where Stonehenge ends up shooting at you.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: The Yellows have lost levels in badass by the last time they get fought.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: It is literally impossible to shoot down the Yellow Squadron in the mission where they first show up. The AI is ramped up to ensure that no missile will EVER hit them (not even a QAAM,) and they're agile enough to keep flying circles around you to avoid gun fire. Even if you do hit them, they're immune, and the only way to beat the mission is to escape to the refueling zone as the mission dictates.
  • I Am Spartacus: In 04, when taking on Megalith, the fighter wing Mobius One is part of is renamed Mobius Squadron in his honor.
  • If I Can't Have You: The Eruseans eventually realise that they can't hold onto San Salvacion and try to blow it up instead.
  • Instant Death Radius: In 04 getting within range of Mobius One's QAAMs was effectively a death sentence, unlike the nerfed versions in later games.
  • Kick the Dog: In 4 some Eruseans set up an AA gun on a hospital in the narrator's hometown, prompting Yellow 13's displeasure.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: Averted with Erusea's Colourful Theme Naming.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: In the mission "Deep Strike", there's a ravine. After splashing the targets, you get a warning that Stonehenge is firing your way and you need to take your plane below 2000 feet. Guess how you do that? It also applies to the spare visible missiles in "Megalith".
  • Legacy Character: Edge, or Nagase from the second and third games, returns as first officer of a civilian airliner you have to protect.
  • Lowered Monster Difficulty: Befalls Stonehenge and Yellow Squadron.
  • Mighty Glacier: The A-10 Thunderbolt always has the highest defense rating out of all the planes from AC04 onward, but is one of the slowest.
  • Number of the Beast: "Megalith" has Mobius One start at 6666 feet, and it is something of a level from hell with that tunnel-flying.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The final mission's briefing theme. Normally there is music for mission briefings, but this is just the sound of a beating drum and ambiance. Justified, since the briefing stresses how important it is considering the target is a fortress that could launch missiles on any intended target, including asteroid fragments.
  • Four Is Death: Mobius One is referred to as the Grim Reaper. And he's the player character from 04.
  • Thirteen Is Unlucky: Yellow Squadron from 04 combines this with Four Is Death.
    • Bravo One from the same game does this too: his team gets up to the 13th floor of Megalith before they're ambushed.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: "Rex Tremendae" and Megalith - Agnus Dei.
  • One Riot, One Ranger: "One Resurgent Erusean Military, One Ribbon Fighter".
  • Parental Abandonment: The narrator loses his parents when a downed plane crashes into the cape with his family home.
  • Pet the Dog: In one cutscene Yellow 13 is briefly shown holding a small dog and petting it. Later reinforced when he saves the narrator and the barkeeper's daughter from military policemen.
  • Pixel Hunt: There's an early mission where you have to shoot down cargo planes hidden behind radar jamming, though you can shoot down the E-767's causing it. A later mission then requires you to manually identify and shoot down radar-jamming zeppelins with your gun in a valley.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The mission result screen for the penultimate mission "Siege of Farbanti" notes that the victory over the Eruseans came at a high cost. In an earlier mission (specifically, the assault on Stonehenge), the briefing notes that HQ is predicting a 40% casualty rate for the mission.
  • Real Men Fly Pink Raptors: The Ace paint scheme for the MiG-29 is pink.
  • Rousing Speech: Subverted. One of these is delivered as you choose your plane for Megalith, without a dedicated cutscene or subtitles, and thus it's easy to miss.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: No matter which Yellow Squadron bird you down in the "Stonehenge" mission, it will always be Yellow 4's... even if you used the XMAA missiles to shoot down four of the five at the same time.
  • Shout-Out: Every main-series game since Shattered Skies has included Mobius One's paint scheme for the F-22 Raptor, and Mobius himself also appeared in Operation Katina and the Gauntlet. Zero and 6 also have paint schemes based on Yellow 13 for the Su-37 and Su-33, respectively.
    • In the game itself, there is the Sky Kid bar and Air Ixiom. They're named after older Namco games called Sky Kid, and Star Ixiom.
    • In one mission you have to protect two civilian airliners. On one of them the captain is unable to and the plane is taken over by a First Officer Nagase.
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability: Yellow Squadron.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Hitting an allied plane with your machine guns will cause SkyEye to shout at you to cease fire.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Yellow 4 and the poorly-maintained engines.
    • A lesser example from the same game: Stonehenge has eight cannons, but one is out of commission during the assault on it.
  1. Of course, this is because of his plane's insignia, which happens to be a Möbius strip.