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M.A.C.H. Modified Air Combat Heroes PSP

Published by Vivendi
Developed by Kuju Entertainment
Release Date: Out Now

There isn't a great deal of accessible air combat games around these days. Most air combat games, even if they aren't simulators, tend to take a more realistic approach and this tends to deter those who are looking for an air combat game that can simply be picked up and enjoyed with virtually no learning curve required. M.A.C.H. Modified Air Combat Heroes is a game of Mario Kart style races and dogfights, as well as offering a variety of challenges that can be enjoyed by all. It's ideal for playing in short bursts and above all it's immediately accessible with a no fuss control scheme that hardly anyone will have any problems with.

M.A.C.H. Modified Air Combat Heroes is set in 2049. The governments of the world have decided to switch to unmanned aircraft in order to take the human element out of air combat. Naturally this has cheesed off the fighter pilots who were suddenly unemployed. The old aircraft were sold to the highest bidders on the black market and soon enough an underground emerged with ex-fighter pilots, smugglers and rich hobbyists taking part in events. The aircraft ended up being modified to give their pilots the edge in races and combat events. 

The game offers Arcade, Career, Challenge and Multiplayer game modes. Arcade offers you the choice of Race and Dogfight events. Challenge gives you a tiered collection of challenges to undertake such as M.A.C.H. Dash, M.A.C.H. Mêlée and Time Check. Ad hoc multiplayer battles are also possible (for up to eight players) and the game even supports the PSP Game Sharing feature. By far the most interesting element of the game is the Career mode which allows you to progress through the Rookie, Pro, Ace, Elite and Hero ranks. In each rank you'll have a variety of tournaments to undertake. Here you'll be able to unlock other aircraft and earn cash to purchase upgrades for your aircraft.

It's easy to see the Mario Kart influence in M.A.C.H. Racing round courses and flying over question mark icons that give you a weapon or missile to fire at your opponents (of course they will be firing at you too) is definitely reminiscent of playing one of Nintendo's best loved titles. Of course it's not completely the same experience but it's just as accessible. You can steer with either the directional buttons or the analogue stick and flying is actually very easy to do. Double tapping your X button will use your afterburner. Your afterburner gauge will deplete as you use the afterburner but it can be refilled by flying low. Should the worst happen and you crash your aircraft into a cliff you're simply placed back on the course as quickly as possible, which is nice as it means you're not going to be punished for handling errors. Of course with races you're confined to keeping on a fixed course but in Dogfights you're allowed to freely roam but even here it's not really difficult to control the aircraft. The L button locks onto your enemies, which removes a lot of frustration from the game.

Where the game falls short is the lack of locations it has to fly around in. There are only a handful in the game and given the amount of events there is it means you'll be racing around the same locations time after time. The Career mode only seems to offer a couple of different events such as the races and dogfights which allows monotony to creep in. There are eleven aircraft to get your hands on and they do handle significantly different from each, which makes it worthwhile obtaining all eleven of them, but in all honesty more locations were needed and a Career mode offering a greater variety of events would have been appreciated.

The sensation of speed in M.A.C.H. is actually very good. The frame rate always remains smooth and keeps the action flowing nicely. What makes this smooth frame rate more impressive is the fact that the graphics are nicely detailed. The aircraft models all look good even though they are fictional aircraft. It's not just the aircraft that look good. The various locations you'll fly around all look great. The load times aren't too bad either, which is not something you can say about every PSP title.

M.A.C.H. is fine for deaf gamers. During the events there is an announcer who makes the odd remark here and there and these remarks are not subtitled. However, none of the announcer's remarks are of any importance and not being aware of them is certainly no problem. All tutorial messages are shown in text. All warnings of an opponent firing a missile at you are shown in text so you won't be taken by surprise.

If you're looking for an accessible air combat game for your PSP and don't mind a game that has a strong Mario Kart influence then M.A.C.H. Modified Air Combat Heroes is definitely worth considering. The controls are easy and the learning curve is practically non-existent when compared to other similar titles. The Career mode could have offered more variety in regards to having more event types and it's a shame that more locations to fly around weren't included in the game as there just isn't enough here. On the whole though, M.A.C.H. Modified Air Combat Heroes is an enjoyable game that's just right to play in short bursts when you're on the move.

Overall Game Rating 7.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

DGC Classification B
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M.A.C.H. Modified Air Combat Heroes is just the tick if you're looking for a Mario Kart style air combat game to play on your PSP. Essentially the Career mode could have done with a greater variety of event types and it really could have used more locations to fly in but otherwise it's an enjoyable game.