give your wingman an order. This is done very easily by pressing the D pad in one of four directions. As I said, most of the time, you won't need to give your wingman commands as in the default mode he will cover you, so you can get on with the job of destroying the enemy. Among the commands you can issue there is obviously defend and attack, but one useful command lets you decide whether you will let your wingmen use their limited supply of special weapons. Giving commands to your wingmen is very easy even in the heat of a dog-fight; the only limitation is your thinking time. The wingman's main aim in the game is to create a diversion for the enemy, so rather than shoot you they will go for your wingmen first.
As you progress through missions you will earn cash which will enable you to purchase new planes in the future. You will also have an experience meter which will measure and count your skills in your current plane. If you manage to fill up this meter an even better aircraft will become available for you to purchase once you have saved your pennies.
The difficulty level in Squadron Leader can be set, but in general shooting down enemies is quite easy. The main problem you are faced with is the number of enemy planes that will attack at the same time while you are trying to carry out the missions goals. If an enemy locks on to you and fires a missile you should be able to avoid the hit most of the time by pulling of an evasive manoeuvre. Once you add up everything you have to do, like fight off the enemy, carry out your objective, not hitting any of the scenery and managing your wingmen you will find that you are never short of something to do in Squadron Leader.
On top of the campaign modes Ace Combat Squadron Leader offers a fantastic arcade mode. This mode does away with the story and focuses on pure fast paced action which will progressively get more difficult through time allocated missions. While this mode is good for a quick play, the main campaigns are by far more engrossing and entertaining throughout.
Squadron Leader is a great looking game, as mentioned earlier the aircraft models are very nice indeed. In a game like Ace Combat graphics are very important in making the whole experience as realistic and believable as possible. So I'm pleased to report that Squadron Leader is a beautiful looking game, everything from the terrain below to the clouds and missile trails are spot on and the frame rate doesn't flicker in the slightest. The cockpits of each plane and the heads up displays are very well executed also, but you have a choice whether to view the cockpit or the out outside of the aircraft.
The sound in Squadron Leader is also very good and plentiful. For starters there is the soundtrack which drives the action or increases the suspense. Then there is the radio chatter which is almost constant at times. The voice work behind the chatter is mostly of a very high standard. The rest of the games sound effects are also very good from the sound of missiles launching from your left and right to the familiar whiz of the machine gun and finally to the deep roar of your afterburners, it's all very satisfying.
Ace Combat Squadron Leader manages to improve on the already capable Shattered Skies. It's not a complete overhaul by any means but everything is brought up to date and the game has a few nice additions like the wingman commands. If you are after a flight combat simulation this is not for you. Squadron Leader takes all the best bits from a simulation and mixes it up with arcade style game play to give you something which is full of fast action packed game play and great fun to play.
8.5 out of 10