Generally favorable reviews - based on 57 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 50 out of 57
  2. Negative: 0 out of 57
Buy Now
Buy on
  1. Heavy on action and heavier on story, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War is without a doubt the finest flight combat game on the PS2.
  2. If you like air warfare, beautiful graphics, excellent sound, fabulous story, great gameplay and gorgeous cinematics than Ace Combat is the best possible choice for all your desires.
  3. PSM Magazine
    I found myself literally sweating bullets during most of the missions. [Holiday 2004, p.80]
  4. 93
    A marvelously done, tight, invigorating experience with few shortcomings but no real problems that destroy the universe.
  5. Despite its few visual sore spots, it's one wonderfully sharp looking title with an addictive nature that'll have you pressing for more.
  6. 93
    Yet another great example of a company not scared to leave the core elements of a great game alone and simply make small improvements.
  7. It may lack multiplayer or online play, which many, including myself, were hoping for, but the single player campaign clearly makes up for this.
  8. Play Magazine
    What's important here is the execution and level of player involvement, not that we haven't done all this before, because we have. And believe me, I was involved. [Dec 2004, p.78]
  9. The best flight title on the market to date on the consoles. You will have to boot up that PC to find one better that’s for sure, but the complexity that those games offer doesn’t measure up to the fun you’ll have with Ace Combat 5.
  10. Game Informer
    Through relentless intensity and hair-raising gameplay, Ace Combat 5 electrifies the digital skies and soars as one of the most exhilarating experiences in all of gaming. [Dec 2004, p.172]
  11. A great dogfighting title. While it is light on the simulation stuff, its portrayal of aerial dogfighting is extremely fun and that is most important of all.
  12. It’s hard to imagine how the single-player Ace Combat experience could get any better than in The Unsung War.
  13. Easy to pick up controls, an interesting story line and plenty of fast paced action will feed any adrenaline or action junkie’s desires.
  14. This game is drop dead gorgeous, has a good sound track, and is an absolute blast to play.
  15. AceGamez
    The intensity the radio chatter brings, matched with amazing music, exciting missions and fantastic storytelling makes one game that every gamer looking for a great action game should not miss, despite the short nature of the main story.
  16. One of the most compelling, atmospheric and in some places, downright beautiful combat flight simulations ever made.
  17. Unless you're the evil kind of person who eats kittens and hates candy, I don't think you'll get anything but satisfaction out of Ace Combat 5.
  18. Exactly how a console flight combat game should be. Dogfights are intense and hugely satisfying, the handling is spot on, the graphics are detailed and it all runs very smoothly. The story is surprisingly well crafted.
    Get it, it makes all other flight titles feel like you're flying a cargo plane full of rubber dog sh.t out of Hong Kong.
  20. Fans of aircraft combat titles should really enjoy Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War. It's got a good storyline, top-notch presentation and a great gameplay engine. Fast action, furious combat and flying fun make this a game you shouldn't miss.
  21. Ace Combat 5 adds a little, takes a little, but still ends up being the best in it's class. A top notch movie-like story helps that along, as well as a eye-melting graphic engine.
  22. I hated the last four Ace Combat titles, but now, I am a believer. The Unsung War offers up a great story, fantastic gameplay, and a gripping experience that you should have you by the balls from the beginning.
  23. Pelit (Finland)
    A light but very enjoyable flight sim with great weapons and a well written story. It is technically flawless and the best Ace Combat game so far. [PELIT Feb. 05]
  24. No matter how many bad songs there are, no matter how many planes you’ll never pilot or how much you want there to be multiplayer, Ace Combat: Squadron Leader is still a fantastic game.
  25. Weekly Famitsu
    8 / 9 / 8 / 9 - 34 gold [Oct 2004]
  26. This is more or less "Ace Combat 4" with a few slight upgrades and gameplay honed to near-perfection, but the formula's just a bit too familiar, and the lengthy missions may turn less patient gamers off before the story can suck them in.
  27. The game would have scored much higher had it managed to better balance its weapons’ issues, but it’s still worth buying if you are into flight simulators and don’t want to mess around with a computer game.
  28. A winning combination of arcade-style mechanics and rich, engaging presentation. Of course this game is not going to win over players who have little taste for manic aerial combat, or those who were looking for something really different from the previous games.
  29. netjak
    It's EXCELLENT fun with the flight stick, but it's also $130 plus tax for that had better be that good. (Add a +1 onto the gameplay, replay, and overall score for the scores with the Flight Stick.)
  30. A game that pairs superb combat gameplay with a mainstream market and as a result comes out as one of the first surprises for 2005 on the PS2.
  31. 85
    The game's detailed tutorial and isolated storyline pave the way for newcomers to the series, so if you've been contemplating becoming a pilot in the series that is Ace Combat, now is the time to do so.
  32. Ace Combat 5 isn't the huge step for the series that "Ace Combat 04" was, but it's still a great flight combat game, featuring grueling arcade-style action and plenty of surprises both in its mission design and its story.
  33. The lack of multiplayer or online play does hurt the title a bit, especially when multiplayer has been included in previous Ace Combat titles.
  34. 80
    For veterans, it'll feel like the same gameplay found in all previous Ace Combat games--and that's not necessarily a bad thing considering this is a shooter that's still worthy of sitting in first class.
  35. Official U.S. Playstation Magazine
    The trouble is, all this story is presented with some of the most god-awful writing and voice work I've ever heard. [Dec 2004, p.112]
  36. GMR Magazine
    Boasts ideal handling and control, near photo-realistic graphics, and digital surround sound. Where the game staggers is in its defiantly single-player focus. [Jan 2005, p.86]
  37. 80
    Console dogfighting really can't get much better than this.
  38. 80
    Many of the new features are gimmicky and unnecessary, but they don't really impact the core experience too much either way. Everything that is good about Ace Combat games is still here, only some things are a bit better and a few things are a bit worse.
  39. 80
    The biggest difference is the ability to manage your wingmen. Coincidentally, the game uses the same wingman commands we use when it's Ladies' Night at our favorite rum bar: attack, cover and disperse.
  40. 80
    Ace Combat 5 is not a major leap ahead of 2001's "Ace Combat 4"...But if you liked that game's impressively detailed presentation and instantly playable controls, then strap in and get ready to take off.
  41. Electronic Gaming Monthly
    If you liked "Ace Combat 4", this is more of the same good stuff - gorgeous planes, complex missions, and a real feeling of being in the middle of a war, thanks in part to scripted events, radio chatter, and the massive scale of it all. [Holiday 2004, p.109]
  42. 80
    With all these fantastic flight features, there's one glaring omission that casts a pall on Ace Combat 5. Put simply, no multiplayer.
  43. 80
    AC5 ups the ante once again for console dogfight games, combining the tight, exciting gameplay and gorgeous visuals and atmosphere of AC04 with added challenge and a superb story tied together by some brilliant cinematic cutscenes.
  44. The graphics are spectacular, rivalling the intense scenes in Top Gun, especially in the after-action replay mode. It's easily the slickest of the Ace Combat series.
  45. If you can summon up the courage to try a flight game for the first time, Ace Combat 5 - Squadron Leader will be a great place to start.
  46. 80
    The new Wing Command system coupled with the ability to choose their aircraft allows for an increased level of strategy and the in-flight conversations with them really adds a new layer depth and involvement to the series.
  47. games(TM)
    Perfect control, sound effects that make the best use of Dolby stereo, and combat that imbues the player with a genuine sense of urgency without sacrificing fun. [March 2005, p.104]
  48. Flying jets in the near future (2010) over the homeland of Osean and defending it doesn’t get more realistic or fun than this.
  49. A worthy successor to the Ace Combat series in almost every respect. Fans will love this game and many more may succumb to its charm.
  50. Official Playstation 2 Magazine UK
    Top flight sim that will take your breath away. [Jan 2007, p.106]
  51. Again, true flight enthusiasts will balk at the lack of takeoff/landing phases and since there is no multiplayer, Ace Combat 5 can't be recommended for anyone but airplane lovers.
  52. Playing Namco’s latest title was a challenge and there’s nothing hugely wrong with any of the work on the title just a total lack of involvement, nothing to draw you in, that all-important ‘X’ factor. It just didn’t take my breath away.
  53. The Unsung War doesn’t break any boundaries, but it perfectly fulfils expectations. What might look unambitious is in actuality an adventure that whisks you through brilliantly rendered backdrops with a touch more polish than previous iterations, always flying hard and successfully conveying the buzz of aerial combat. [Jan 2005, p.90]
  54. A game that fighter pilot wannabes will love, although it’s not quite as enthralling as perhaps it should be.
  55. It's not a bad game to any degree, is technically very polished with beautifully rendered craft bursting with technical detail and slick in almost every sense - but it lacks soul.
  56. Sadly, when it comes down to it, this is all just a very dull experience. You fly about a bit, shoot at some tiny dots, shoot at some more tiny dots, become irritated by shooting at tiny dots, stop concentrating and crash into the sea. Then you start the entire process all over again.
  57. It’s a shame, too, that the levels aren’t more exciting and spontaneous. Such predictability stops this game from being any more than an enjoyable flight simulator.

Awards & Rankings

#27 Most Discussed PS2 Game of 2004
#18 Most Shared PS2 Game of 2004
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 150 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 9 out of 150
  1. Feb 13, 2012
    This game is incredible. Although the actual game-play graphics are rather poor, the CGI animations during cut scenes is so high-quality thatThis game is incredible. Although the actual game-play graphics are rather poor, the CGI animations during cut scenes is so high-quality that there are even a couple of small moments when I mistake them for real actors. The plot is incredible, and is not just another cheap war game where you work your way into the enemy and hit their capital and wipe them out. The whole complication with the Gray Men of Belka made it really interesting, especially with the 8492nd Squadron and Captain Hamilton. Like the previous game in the series, Shattered Skies (A.K.A. Distant Thunder in Europe), it does not take the war lightly. For example, in the mission where you escort the Kestrel and other ships out of Port Hewlett, there is a brief cut scene in the middle, which is appropriate seeing as this is the first mission that you fight planes that aren't unmanned aerial drones, in which the news reporter narrates seeing living people drowning in the ocean after shooting down the Yuktobanian planes, and becomes emotional and begins saying "Just stop this! I can't take it anymore!" This game amazes me even further with the new addition of commands to your wingmen. The action your wingmen take can really change the course of the battle, because they do not go off and clear out enemies if you have them following you in cover-mode the whole battle. Full Review »
  2. Jun 23, 2013
    Ace Combat 5 is the best game of the Ace Combat series in my opinion. First of all, this game is much longer than the other two games on theAce Combat 5 is the best game of the Ace Combat series in my opinion. First of all, this game is much longer than the other two games on the PS2 having nearly thirty missions while the other games have around 18. Secondly, I like how this game incorporates the squadron as a whole, while AC04 is solo and ACZero is a duo. You actually grow to know your squadmates as the story goes on and more is revealed about them. Thirdly, this is the most challenging of the PS2 games in my opinion. I'm pretty good at flight sims and there were a few missions that I had a difficult time with. The challenge enhances the experience in my opinion. The storyline for this game is one of the most unpredictable I've come across in gaming, especially for the game being almost completely linear in nature, which is the only drawback in comparison to Ace Combat Zero. As far as overall gameplay goes, it obviously isn't the most realistic game out there, but the lack of realism makes the game more fun because nobody wants to only have 4 missiles and have to worry about blacking out. I don't give out tens often, but I feel this game really earns it based on the storyline and the gameplay which are both great in their own ways. Full Review »
  3. Sep 2, 2014
    Even today, a decade later, those characters I flew with for so many hours as a child are among the most memorable and beloved I know. AceEven today, a decade later, those characters I flew with for so many hours as a child are among the most memorable and beloved I know. Ace Combat 5 still soars as a dramatic, poetic anti-war story even today, so many years later. Blue skies, everyone. Full Review »