Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War

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"You keep flying like that and you'll die real soon!"


The fifth game in the Ace Combat series. Released in 2004. The setting? The year is 2010. The place is Osea, on the Osean Continent of Strangereal. The war. Although they have been staunch allies for 15 years, the Union of Yuktobanian Republics has provoked and declared war upon the Osean Federation, conducting a massive invasion. The opening salvos are fired at Sand Island, an Osean training base where four cadets are on the verge of completing their training: Kei "Edge" Nagase, Alvin H. "Chopper" Davenport, Hans "Archer" Grimm, and Blaze (that's you!). Circumstances force these four to the forefront of the Circum-Pacific War where they will become the heroes known as the Wardog Squadron and, later, the Demons of Razgriz.

Meanwhile, in another story, it has been one year since the end of the Usean Continental War and the hostilities have more or less been stopped. However, yet another group of rogue Erusian officers have vowed to keep fighting the good fight. Calling themselves "Free Erusea", they have raided an abandoned factory from the war and seized a rather large arsenal of weapons. To defeat them, the Independent State Allied Forces initiate Operation Katina—complete and total pacification of all enemy forces. To this end, they deploy the hero of the war, Mobius One, to get the job done, with a little help, of course, from AWACS Sky Eye.

Unlike its predecessor, The Unsung War attempts to place the protagonists and their various struggles and follies in the spotlight, rather than having them alluded to in the background. It also experiments in-game with a system for commanding and customizing wingmen. The Arcade Mode, as described above, is included free as part of the game. For the actual events that would lead to the alliance between Osea and Yuktobania, see the next game in the series.

Tropes used in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War include:
  • All There in the Manual: Among other things, the full (Japanese) text of the fairy tale "A Blue Dove for the Princess" that Nagase is so fond of can only be found on the official site of the game.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us
  • Anvilicious: In-Universe, two of your wingmen talk at great length about how much they hate war, while flying combat sorties. This becomes less of a problem when the truth about the war comes to light and they're no longer forced to fight a war they don't believe in. One does, anyway; the other one dies before that.
  • Arc Number: 8492.
  • Attack Drone: The Yuktobanian super-submarine "Hrimfaxi" and the Osean "Arkbird" spacecraft both deploy UCAVs in an attempt to defend against the player's attacks. A formation of X-45 UCAVs also appear in Operation: Desert Arrow intent on attacking an Osean tank column.
    • The final opponents of Operation Katina are a flight of X-02 Wyverns functioning as UCAVs. ISAF Command specifically thanks Mobius One for helping recover data on them.
  • Award Bait Song: "The Journey Home".
  • Badass Crew: The Demons (later Ghosts) of Razgriz.
  • Bald of Awesome: Peter "Pops" Beagle, Wardog/Razgriz's mechanic who is later revealed to be a former Belkan fighter ace who defected when ordered to nuke a city in his own country during the previous war.
  • Battleship Raid: The two Scinfaxi-class submarines (Scinfaxi and Hrimfaxi).
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Subverted by the Arkbird.
  • Berserk Button: Kill one of the Wardog Squadron and the rest will become the Demons of Razgriz, annihilating everyone in their path as the enemy collectively shits themselves.
  • BFG: Apparently some Osean cops like this trope:

"Hey, what's that in your back seat?"
"It's my anti-tank rifle. Brought it from home."

  • Non Sequitur Scene: In-Universe. The FALKEN's description says it's a prototype plane the Belkans are engineering. You are given a message saying that special plane parts have been located when you discover them in the game, basically lampshading that you are unlocking an Infinity+1 Sword. However, the FALKEN itself is never encountered or mentioned anywhere in the story.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: Grimm reveals that his birthday is coming up next week during a quiet break between the two final battles.
  • Boss Remix: Several: First is Burst Missile, played when you encounter your first burst missile which is a darker, slower sounding version of the Scinfaxi and Hrimfaxi themes. Then we receive Mother Goose 1, which takes motifs from Mask, played in the mission "8492." The same motif is reprized for your battle against the Grabacrs. White Bird (Part I) is a heroic sounding theme for when you're defending the Arkbird, but then White Bird (Part II) comes up as an equally heroic sound for an entirely different reason, when you do battle with the Arkbird. It could be argued that all of the latter songs were written first, then their progressions were reused for the former themes, but because you encounter them first, they're boss remixes.
  • Canon Immigrant: Edge has incarnations that appeared all the way from Ace Combat 2, where her callsign is the same, and her rough features are the same, and in Ace Combat 3 Electrosphere (the Japanese version), where in a very specific news broadcast that you can only view in taking a specific path, you can see a person's photograph below Dision's, clearly spelling Kei Nagase, with a very similar face as the Kei Nagase that we know. Shattered Skies has a brave airline first officer who tries to control a plane after terrorists shoot the pilot: Nagase. This shouldn't be that surprising though, check the article below.
  • Captain Obvious: Most of the orders and chatter fall under this, especially grievous when characters make comments like, "The sub's diving!" 20 seconds after it actually does.
    • Also played straight by allied NPCs during Yuktobania's Pearl Harbor-esque opening offensive:

"This is not a drill..."
"Oh, thanks for the heads-up, you idiot!"

    • Another gem from Swordsman: "Don't take any unnecessary risks! We can't afford to die here." As opposed to the many places we can afford to die, I guess. He also gets "Don't be predictable. They're gonna be aiming for you." and many, many other observations that the enemy may well want to do mean things to you.
  • Character Development: Chopper's pacifism seems to go away as you progress; in "Open War" he's glad that your targets are unmanned aircraft, but then by "Journey Home" just before he gets hit with a missile he complains that he's lost count of how many kills he has.
  • Cherry Blossoms: The Zipang F-14D.
  • Clown Car Base: Mission "ACES" is the worst offender. You can choose between every plane you own. Since there are 53 playable aircraft and of each you can have a full squadron of 4, it means that the Kestrel can carry up to 212 planes! (Real-world Nimitz class carriers hold a maximum of 90 planes, less than half of that)
  • Cold War: Happens between Osea and Yuktobania between Zero and 5.
  • Colony Drop: After communication with the SOLG is severed from the ground, it's programmed to fall from orbit directly into the capital of Oured.
  • Continuity Nod: In the penultimate mission, an allied Yuktobanian AWACS shows up, giving its call sign as "Oka Nieba" or "Sky Eye," the AWACS from 04.
  • Crowd Song: The audience in the stadium during "Journey Home" sing the song of the same name in protest to the war.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Wardog Squadron repaints their aircraft in an overall black paint scheme when they become the Ghosts of Razgriz.
  • Death From Above: You and your wingmen spend many missions in the game delivering this to the enemy. There is also the orbital laser from the Arkbird spacecraft and the burst missiles from the Yukes.
  • Delaying Action: Mission 17 a Type 2 (Hold them off until the cavalry arrives).
  • Disturbed Doves: Done in the very end, combined with a soundless shot of a howling Kirk (Chopper's dog).
  • Doppelganger Spin: AWACS radar jamming creates this effect.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Beautifully averted. Wardog Squadron is eventually renamed the Demons/Ghosts of Razgriz.
    • During an assault on a fortress, the ground troops are disheartened to learn that they have to attack for the fourth time, until they learn you're coming to assist. Also provides some Mood Whiplash: one of the soldiers asks why there are only three of you flying (Chopper was killed in the previous mission), and another soldier says only good boys can see the fourth one. Nagase's pain can be leaned on.
    • Anyone who has played 04 will know why Mobius One is legendary, and even then he exceeds the expectations of ISAF Command.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Also played around a bit. During the D-Day-esque mission, Soldier A at the very beginning of the level starts to tell Soldier B something, then decides to wait until after the fight. Afterwards, depending on how you do, A will inform B that B either forgot his lucky charm, or, congratulations! Has a new son.
  • A Father to His Men: Pretty much every protagonist character.
  • The Federation: Osea (which it's full name spells it out for you) and Yuktobania. At one point, Belka's full name was the "Belkan Federation" but it was more along the lines of The Empire.
  • Five-Man Band
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Your squadmates can inexplicably survive the Scinfaxi's burst, and it gets to the point that you wonder if anything can kill them. Until it does. There are some who will die, such as every single rookie in Front Line when the burst missile comes crashing down.
  • Genre Blindness: Front Line: "I've got a good feeling! I'm going to make it!" The Journey Home: "Damn! I thought this was going to be an easy job!"
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: At one point, Perrault fires a Beretta 92F pistol at the protagonists after accusing them of being enemy spies, his gun clicking empty after firing only six shots, despite the real Beretta 92 having a 15-round magazine.
    • Perhaps the pistol was fired nine times before that?
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Almost averted. Blaze is shown in a couple of photographs- in one, his face is covered by another person, and in the other there are several unknown characters with no indication which (if any) of them is him. Some later cutscenes show the entire squadron, though if Blaze's head is even in the frame the view is too far away to actually see what he looks like. And in one of the earliest cutscenes, multiple pilots are seen talking, but the view switches to a front shot of Bartlett just before it can pan over to show one specific pilot's face. During the missions, the pilot's faces are obscured by their oxygen masks and helmet visors as well, so forget trying to catch a glimpse of him there either.
    • This extends to the second man in two-seater aircraft as well - the Su-34 and A-6 in particular, which have seats aligned more like a car than a plane, doesn't allow you to look very far to the sides in cockpit view, just to prevent you from getting a close look at your co-pilot.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Captain Bartlett diverts a missile from Nagase's six and is shot down over the Sand Island coast at the beginning of the game. Rescue crews are unable to find him, and his fate is never made clear until, near the game's end, it is revealed that he was picked up by a Yuktobanian ship and escaped from custody before he could be put into a POW camp. He later joined a Yuke resistance movement and sent mission data to the Kestrel, taking to the skies again in order to assist Razgriz Squadron in the battle at Sudentor.
    • Chopper insists on waiting until the stadium is fully evacuated before bailing out. When he finally decides to do so, his plane is so badly damaged that his canopy won't blow and his ejection seat isn't working, resulting in his death. It's then confirmed in a cutscene that the stadium was successfully evacuated with no civilian casualties.
  • Hold the Line: In mission 17, the player is tasked with defending November City from a Yuktobanian air strike until reinforcements arrive.
  • Instant Death Radius: The radar coverage circles in the Solitaire mission will fail you for flying into them. The earlier mission Handful of Hope plays around with this, in that you can fly through said circles just fine, but then the transport plane you're leading will follow you and get shot at by friendly SAMs.
    • Getting caught in the blast radius of a burst missile detonation is likely to result in this too.
  • Interface Screw: There is one during a briefing when a missile hits the Kestrel.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: If you Take Your Time in the final mission and don't complete the objective until the timer runs out, you get treated to a short cutscene of the SOLG vaporizing Oured.
  • It's Raining Men: The raid on the Arkbird's linear catapult combines this with Tank Goodness. Yup, tanks para-dropping from C-17s.
  • Joke Plane: The Hawk T.1, a mere training aircraft for rookies. Add insult to injury in that there's a painfully long mission where you HAVE to fly that thing... and can't fight back during.
  • Kick the Dog: Missions 11A & 11B have the Yuktobanians launching simultaneous attacks on a civilian international airport and releasing toxic gas in an Osean city. Which attack you end up being with repelling depends on the result of a coin toss.
  • Kill Sat: The Arkbird, and later the SOLG.
  • Lampshade Hanging: When Barlett is introducing his squadron to his old girlfriend. When she guesses the identity of the Heroic Mime, Bartlett's response is "That goes without saying."
    • Also, unwary players may be shocked out of their shoes to hear a deep, booming voice cry, "Blaze, engage!" However, it's just Chopper screwing around.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Despite being grounded and hauled up for an inquest during which the 8492nd squadron is mentioned repeatedly and only allowed to fly again due to a handily-timed terrorist attack, everyone barely remembers the event at all by the time Fortress rolls along.
  • The Last DJ: Captain Bartlett, probably.
  • Last-Name Basis: Thunderhead only ever refers to Chopper as his rank and his last name. He finally calls him "Chopper" seconds before Chopper's death.
  • Level Grinding: Planes are divided into "families" that, in Real Life are generally upgrades of each other, and later planes in the family are unlocked by killing enemies with the previous model.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Some of the special weapons allow you to fire a volley of up to four missiles simultaneously.
  • Mook Maker: The Hrimfaxi and Arkbird will produce an endless supply of UAVs until the source is destroyed and cut off.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-Universe :a major part of the backstory is that Belka detonated seven nuclear warheads on their own territory (in Zero, you get to witness it firsthand). That was pretty much the point where everybody realized just how savage the war had become, and a cease fire was negotiated shortly afterward. The fact that Strangereal doesn't seem to have nuclear proliferation makes it even worse; nukes are very exotic and far more terrifying than they are to us in the real world. That's saying a lot.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Subverted in that one of the Belkan pilots (one of their top aces in fact) takes an opportunity to defect after said nuclear explosions.
    • This trope is also averted as your wingmen don't believe the war with Yuktobania is justified at all. Either because the writing is very obtuse or because it's just too subtle, they get flanderized by players who view them as unrealistically pacifist. Their extreme viewpoint actually has a basis in the plot, as they listen to their own president personally tell them that he doesn't want a war and is doing everything he can to make peace, only for them to be literally invading Yuktobania shortly thereafter. When it comes out that the entire thing is engineered by a third party and the president wasn't lying, they're just as eager as anyone to fight the real enemy.
  • My Nayme Is: Ustio's capital is shown on the world map as "Dilectus". It gets changed to "Directus" in Ace Combat Zero.
  • The Neidermeyer: Perrault.
  • New Meat: Archer is fresh out of basic at the beginning of the campaign. Surprisingly, he goes on to be incredibly badass. Double rare: he keeps his New Meat status, but is the best wing on your team in game.
  • Nicknaming the Enemy: The Oseans refer to Yuktobanians as "Yukes".
  • Old Flame: Nastasya for Bartlett.
  • 108: Wardog Squadron is the Osean Air Defense Force, 108th tactical Fighter Wing Detachment. Four Wings of Sand Island devastating the enemy. Maybe Namco believes in Significant Numbers?
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: "The Unsung War".

Cum historia, mutat valde Razgriz

  • One Man Airforce: Lampshaded in the Arcade mode, where the briefing outright states that they sent in only Mobius One because he is superior to an entire air wing.
  • Orchestral Bombing: See the ominous Latin chanting entry above.
  • Peace Conference: An attempt by the Osean President for talks with the Yuktobanian Prime Minister in North Point. A False-Flag Operation was carried out after the President's plane goes down, by Belkan Grey Men posing as an allied squadron.
  • Propaganda Machine: Backfires on the Gray Men when the vice-president of Osea, filling in for the President, tries to give a pro-war speech at a massive public event. If the Vice-President isn't on the Gray Men's payroll, they at least maneuvered him there because they knew he would be pro-war. How does the audience in the stadium respond? By singing an anti-war song. And they keep singing as he begs them to agree with him.
  • Reality Ensues: Seen in Captain Bartlett's Taking the Bullet moment, where the missile stays on him despite his doing maneuvers that would have thrown off a standard missile in-game.
  • Reds with Rockets / Russians With Rusting Rockets: The Yuktobanians appear to be a mix of these, having Russian names and speaking with (mostly) Russian accents, and using a mix of Cold War era and modern Russian-made aircraft in their inventories.
  • Sad Battle Music: In mission 17, after Chopper crashes, the previous aggressive music abruptly stops and for a minute or so, there is no music at all. Then, just as new waves of enemies arrive, a Simple Score of Sadness picks up and plays until the end of the mission. It's made even worse by your remaining wingmen sobbing quietly on the radio.
  • Shout-Out: The name of the arcade mode, Operation Katina, comes from one of the planets in the Star Fox universe. (Star Fox Assault was in development by the same team at the same time as Ace Combat 5)
    • As mentioned above numerous times, if anyone wondering what Reiko Nagase was up to between games, well she...or her sister, becomes a Badass fighter pilot.
    • The default F-14 is done up in white with black tails and yellow ribbons. You might think this is a Shout-Out to Macross, but both Roy Fokker's plane and this one are replicas of the famous real life squadron VF-84, the Jolly Rogers.
    • Huckebein the Raven was a mischievous German comic book character, who also lent his name to an experimental plane from World War II that was never built.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Kei "Edge" Nagase, the only female pilot in the Wardog squadron. She's gentle and soft-spoken, often compared to a princess by her comrades, and the most idealistic character in the game. She's also the only trainee to survive the massacre at the beginning of the game. When she gets shot down, the narrating reporter Genette thinks that she did so deliberately to avoid having to kill any more enemies; after she's rescued, they find out that she captured the enemy soldiers sent to capture her, and he says he has to rethink his image of her.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Deliberately invoked by Captain Andersen in the "Sea of Chaos" mission. The background music is actually him playing "The Journey Home" over the Kestrel's radio.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: Subverted in one mission, which is set up to minimize the chance that the target will detect the player's squad, but you get detected no matter what you do. A later mission plays this straight, as you can only allow the enemy to notice you after you've accomplished your main objective.
  • Stop Helping Me!: Some of the allies in the game can get like this, when they have an annoying habit of asking you trivial questions at the absolute worst times, especially Chopper. (Worse yet, in Mission 10 answering his seemingly irrelevant "Face of the Coin" question chooses your next two missions without stating as much or giving any clue as to which two missions those are. One path gets you the alright ones, the other gets you the Four Horsemen.)
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability: Captain Hamilton. You can damage him, but you can't shoot him down.
    • Actually, in the last mission, you can shoot him down in the big open area. He just gets a new plane and comes after you again.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Chopper. He deliberately crashes his damaged plane into a recently-evacuated stadium in the middle of a city, ostensibly to avoid civilian casualties. The "stupid" part comes from the fact that he could have aimed for any number of other places, most obviously the large body of water next to the city, which would've allowed him to eject safely without endangering civilians. However, he had deliberately tried to keep his damaged plane up in the air for as long as possible to help with the defense of November City; they only had four planes taking on several squadrons, so having only three planes up in the air would've been understandably difficult. By the time he actually had time to evacuate, his ejection handle was already jammed and damaged beyond repair, making his crashing anywhere a moot point; he's still going to die.
  • Tagalong Reporter: Albert Genette. Justified by the fact that his article on the Wardogs are pretty much the only thing he is known for. Plus, his close association with them would have probably made him a traitor in the command's eyes, too.
  • Taking the Bullet: Captain Bartlett does this for Nagase early on.
  • A Taste of Power: Operation Katina lets you use the F-22 Raptor. The campaign mode of Unsung War bumps you back to a dinky F-5 Tiger and you won't see a Raptor or something of equivalent capability for quite a while.
    • Unless you beat Katina, which unlocks the Raptor for purchase much earlier than it would be otherwise (and gives you the awesome Mobius 1 paintjob).
  • War Is Hell: Nagase is infamous for preaching this trope throughout the campaign.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The first two missions pretty much consist entirely of your squadron shooting down Yuktobanian jets without permission.
    • Then again, they were shooting at you first.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: To some extent, the pacifistic Edge also fits this as shown by her dismay at the conversion of the Arkbird into a superweapon.
  • You Are in Command Now: Despite technically having more flight and combat experience, Edge insists on making you the squadron leader against the protests of Thunderhead, who gave the order.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Basically everyone's reaction when the Yuktobanians manage to haul a freaking battleship (with escorts!) into the middle of a desert during Operation Desert Blitz.