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nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis

Welcome everyone to Let’s Play Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, the first entry in what will hopefully be a larger look at the Ace Combat series’ Strangereal-based games. Much like the previous LPs I helped create with my partner in LP Crime Blind Sally, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, and Killzone/Killzone: Liberation/Killzone 2, this LP will also be an in-depth look at the fictional history, politics, setting, and characters of Ace Combat’s Strangereal shared universe as told over the course of multiple games and done in in-universe chronological order.

To do this, we are starting things off here with Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War. Released in 2006 for the PlayStation2, Zero Project Aces’ swan song for the PS2, and the second-to-last game released for that console generation before moving on (puzzlingly) to the Xbox 360 and Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation. Despite it being called “Zero”, Ace Combat Zero is actually the 8th game in the Ace Combat franchise in terms of release order. It’s called “Zero” because this is the earliest game in the Strangereal setting’s in-universe timeline, and thus a natural starting point for this LP project.

The game was built off a refined version of Ace Comabt 5: The Unsung War’s game engine, so you should be able to come back here and compare 5 to its successor when (and if) we get to it in the timeline. I will be highlighting what was changed and improved upon where I can in this run however.

Project Aces' Ace Combat franchise is a sprawling mass of games spread out over many different consoles and handheld platforms with several wholly unrelated continuities depending on which sub-set of games you want to look at. The games most people are familiar with and have played, however, are the ones we will be covering over the course of this Mega LP: the ones set in Strangereal.

These of course are Air Combat, Ace Combat 2, Ace Combat 3, Ace Combat 04, Ace Combat 5, Ace Combat Zero, Ace Combat 6, Ace Combat X, Ace Combat Xi, and the recently announced Ace Combat 7.

That said, I will not be covering the following games:

  • Air Combat – The very first AC game is a sparse arcade-y game with zero real connection to the Strangereal games. It was later retconned into Strangereal with the mightiest of :shrug:s
  • Air Combat 22 – A literal arcade game.
  • Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere – It’s a bizarre sci-fi cyberpunk corporate warfare game set in the 2040s; too weird, not enough connections to the other games. Its English localization was also hilariously terrible. Lunethex is tackling Electrosphere for me.
  • Ace Combat: Joint Assault – A PSP game set on real world Earth, not a part of the Strangereal series.
  • Ace Combat Advanced – A GBA game also not set in Strangereal.
  • Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy – 3DS remake of Ace Combat 2, I’m going to be looking at it’s enhanced version Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy+… if I can. (I'm not spending $400-ish for a 3DS capture mod, and 3DS emulation is still spotty at best).
  • Ace Combat: Infinity – A freemium PS3 game built on Assault Horizon’s engine that takes missions from Strangereal and sets them on our Earth.
  • Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Trigger Finger – iPhone multiplayer game designed to hock Assault Horizon. Pass.
  • Ace Combat Xi: Skies of Incursion – It’s literally Ace Combat X told from the perspective of the game’s B-Team. It’s also not available on the App Store any more, nor was it available in Canada when it was anyway.

Now, the uninitiated among you might be asking yourself “What the gently caress is a Shakespeare Strangereal?” And to that I say “welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Ace Combat!”

The majority of the Ace Combat games are set in a shared universe setting that has been dubbed by fans as the “Strangereal” world. The name originated from a trailer for Ace Combat 04 which contained the phrase “A strange, real world.” Fans compacted the phrase into the portmanteau of “Strangereal” to describe the setting of the game. As you can see by the two world maps (the left one is “canon”, the right one is fan-interpolated conjecture), the world of the Ace Combat series shares a number of similarities to our own while also being radically different. Namco itself would come to adopt the term Strangereal to describe the setting in more recent Ace Combat games such as Ace Combat: Infinity. It has also been implied that the Ridge Racer series also takes place in Strangereal, as background worldbuilding elements and settings from the Ace Combat games appear various Ridge Racer games, particularly the character of Reiko Nagase, who is implied to be a relative of several other Nagases who appear throughout the Ace Combat franchise.

Project Aces also previewed a trio of concept games at the dawn of the PlayStation3-era that used the Strangereal setting as well. They were, in no particular order, Brave Arms, a Metal Gear Solid 4/Bionic Commando third-person action/espionage game set in the Kingdom of Sapin; Second Season 01, a first-person cop drama game which appeared to be set in Oured, Osea; and Chain Lim!t, an Alpha Protocol-style action spy game with multiple user-determined solutions to action problems. All three games were either cancelled shortly after their announcement or were just internal proof-of-concepts that somehow were teased to the public as actual games before being pulled. Either way, they remain just another aspect of the enduring enigma that is Strangereal.

The Strangereal world is a massive, intriguing, and reactive place that gets developed a little more with each Ace Combat game set in it and elements of this setting speak to each other across multiple games. We’re going to be looking at this setting from a near-pedantically scholarly viewpoint, so I hope you all have your over-analysis caps on like I do!

Because this is a thinking man’s LP, not one of those “Shoot Visari in the face—RICO NO!!!” LPs. (Actually it is one of those LPs, don’t tell anyone though!)

For the purpose of this LP series, we will be following the games in in-universe chronological order from 1995 to 2020. The order we will be going in will be Zero > 2 > 04 > 5 > 6 > X > 7 (depending on where it falls in the timeline when it eventually comes out). We even might do Air Combat and Ace Combat: Assault Horizon in some capacity for shits and giggles at the end as a bonus depending on how burnt out I am of Ace Combat in general and how good you’ve all been.

For more information about the Ace Combat franchise, please consult Acepedia, the Ace Combat Wiki. (Note: there’s a lot of bullshit conjecture stuff on the AC Wiki, so read at your own risk. Also, lots of unmarked spoilers for the whole franchise.)

Keep up to date with the ongoing history of Ace Combat right here.

I’d prefer you didn’t post spoilers, if you are one of those people who do know what happens in this and subsequent games. So try to avoid letting huge things that could ruin the game for people who are experiencing it fresh slip out like how Cipher is actually a collection of springs in a flight suit or how Pixy is voiced by Yuri Lowenthal.

Because that poo poo just sucks.

:siren::siren:BONUS VIDEOS:siren::siren:

ACES CURE PLANES has volunteered to show off a curtailed "what if" run of Zero on Ace Difficulty on the Mercenary path. He will be taking me and several other guest commentators along for the ride, so be sure to check his stuff out too.

nine-gear crow fucked around with this message at 00:43 on Mar 29, 2016


nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis

Presenting the “Great Up-Till-Now Ace Combat In-Universe Timeline”. As we go through the games and possibly threads, this timeline will fill in with bullet points on events in the Strangereal world as new updates are posted.

1900s - 1910s
  • The First Osean War between Belka and Osea erupts. The conflict rages for five years between 1905 and 1910.
  • The war marks the first time aircraft are used in combat roles during a conflict. The Belkan Air Force leads Belka to victory over the Oseans with their superior planes.

  • The Second Osean War erupts between Belka and Osea following decades of tension between the two nations. Belka annexes a large portion of North Osea south of the Waldreich mountains.

  • The Cold War between Osea and Yuktobania begins following the end of the Second Osean War.

  • The Belkan military invades and annexes the nation of Recta.
  • Belka begins selling munitions to the Union of Yuktobanian Republics on Verusa and the Federal Republic of Erusea on Usea.

  • The Tyumen Dispute between the Union of Yuktobanian Republics and its neighboring Republic of Kaluga erupts. During the climactic Battle of Zhytomyr, the Yuktobanian Air Force crushed the Kalugan military, though at the cost of numerous lives.

  • The Blood War between the Union of Yuktobanian Republics and the Republic of Romny is fought. Yuktobania claims victory after the Romnian Air Force collapses.
  • 17 December, 1987 – The Belkan Federal Law Review.

  • 8 February, 1988 – Belka permits its eastern territories to secede amidst economic strife. The newly established state of Gebet declares its capital at Mons.
  • 12 May, 1988 – The Republic of Ustio announces its independence from Belka. Directus declared new Ustian capital.

  • 18 December, 1989 – Project Pendragon initiated. Belka begins construction of a chemical laser weapon installation codenamed Excalibur in the mountain town of Tauberg to act as a missile defense system.

  • May, 1990 – Construction of Excalibur briefly halted after a violent riot by conservationists at the Tauberg construction site.

  • 29 August, 1991 – Northern Belkan territories sold off to the independent and FATO states. Northern islands and Five Great Lakes regions are ceded to the Osean Federation.
  • 2 September, 1991 – Yuktobania announces the development of 2 Scinfaxi-class nuclear submarines.
  • 16 December, 1991 – Territorial reformations are made. Boundaries of Ustio, Belka, Ratio, Recta, Gebet, Osea, and the FATO states are finalized.

  • November, 1992 – Economic woes in Belka continue. Far-right Fatherland and Workers Party wins majority in Belkan National Assembly, pledges to restore strength and stability to Belka.

  • 3 August, 1993 – Construction completed on Excalibur installation.

  • 14 July, 1994 – Excalibur chemical laser deemed fully operational by the Belkan government after successful test fire.
  • December, 1994 – The International Astronomers Union announces the discovery of the Ulysses 1994XF04 asteroid.

  • 25 March, 1995 – Belka launches an invasion of Ustio, Sapin, and Osean held territories following the announcement of the discovery of natural resources in Ustio.
  • 30 March, 1995 – The Republic of Ustio falls to Belkan forces. Valais Air Base in the Tyrann Mountains is Ustio’s last remaining military facility.
  • 1 April, 1995 – Osea and Allied Forces counterstrike action begins.
  • 2 April, 1995 – Operation Crossbow: Ustio’s Galm squadron repulses a flight of Belkan B-52s and escort fighters sent to destroy Valais AFB.
  • 15 April, 1995 – Operation Roselein: Galm squadron conducts a bombing raid along Route 171 in Arlon, Sapin to secure a supply line for the Allied Forces.
  • 20 April, 1995 – Operation Choker One: The Allied Forces begin their counter-attack on Belka. Galm Team is dispatched to Belkan Priority One Airspace B7R (Codename: The Roundtable) and is confronted by Belka's Indigo, Grun, and Rot fighter squadrons.
  • 24 April, 1995 – Operations Gelnikos, Round Hammer, and Costner: The Galm Team secures the shipping lane of Futuro Canal on the Sapin/Osea border, crippling Belka's ground and naval forces, and escorting the Osean flagship OFS Kestrel safely through the canal.
  • 12 May, 1995 – Operation Varsity: As the Allied Forces press closer to the Ustian capital of Directus, Galm Team provides top cover for an Osean paratrooper insertion into the occupied mountain town of Solis Ortus.
  • 13 May, 1995 – Operation Constantine: The Ustian capital of Directus is liberated by the Allied Forces. Galm Team provides air support for the advancing army and downs Belka's rapid response fighter squadron, Gelb Team.
  • 17 May, 1995 – Operation Hell Bound: Using Ustio as a springboard, the Allied Forces press into Belkan territory for the first time since the war's outbreak. The Galm Team is tasked with crippling the Belkan mountain fortress of Glatistant, the centerpiece of Belka's legendary Hydrian Line.
  • 19 May, 1995 – Operation Dynamo: The Allied Forces attack Belka's airbase, ground defenses, and air squadrons on Schayne Planes. Alpha Team focuses on the ground defense installation. Beta Team cripples Schayne AFB. And Theta Team mops up the base's fighter contingent.
  • 19 May 1995 (cont.) – Belka launches a surprise counterattack on the Allies during Operation Dynamo with their experimental chemical laser installation Excalibur.
  • 23 May, 1995 – Operation Judgement: The combined force of Galm Team and Crow Team is dispatched to Tauberg, Belka to destroy the Excalibur laser weapon.
  • 28 May 1995 – Osea announces the abrogation of its international non-aggression treaty with the Assembly of Nations.
  • 28 May 1995 (cont.) – Operation Battle-Axe: The Allied Forces launch a massive assault on the B7R airspace in Southern Belka, intent on crippling Belka's local air superiority once and for all. Galm Team and Crow Team are thrust into the center of this battle and encounter Belka's Schwarze, Schnee, and Silber Squadrons in the war zone.
  • 28 May 1995 (cont.) – Wolfgang "Huckebein" Buchner attempts to defect from Belka to Osea and is pursued by Schwarze Squadron into the B7R Round Table. He is shot down in the chaos of the battle and officially listed as "missing, presumed deceased."
  • 1 June 1995 – Operation Cannibal: Galm and Crow Teams are dispatched to provide top cover for an Osean bombing run on the city of Hoffnung, Belka. While the mission is intended to cripple Belka's war production facilities, the Allied bomber crews begin to take matters a little too far...
  • 6 June, 1995 – Operation Ravage: Galm and Crow Teams are sent across the Waldreich Mountains to rendezvous with an Osean strike team bound for the South Belka Munitions Factory in Sudentor. The operation is aborted after the Belkans detonate seven V1 nuclear warheads on their own soil in a last ditch effort to keep the Allied Forces from invading Dinsmark. In the chaos following the nuclear strike, Galm Two, Larry "Solo Wing Pixy" Foulke, turns against his wingmate Cipher and deserts the Ustian Air Force, fleeing the battlefield to parts unknown.
  • 13 June, 1995 – Operation Stone Age: The newly restructured Galm Team of Cipher and PJ are sent to investigate reports of a Belkan remnant contingent at the Yering Mine complex at Mt. Schrim and eliminate any hostile forces they encounter there.
  • 20 June, 1995 – The Belkan War comes to a close with the signing of the Treaty of Lumen at an official capitulation ceremony in Lumen, Osea (formerly Belka). Ratified by representatives from Osea, Belka, Ustio, Sapin, and Yuktobania, the treaty calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities between Belka and the Allied Forces, as well as the disarmament of the Belkan military, and the relinquishment of South Belka to the ownership of the Osean Federation.
  • 20 June, 1995 (cont.) – Operation Broom: As the capitulation ceremony gets underway in Lumen, the Allied Forces launch one final covert assault upon a Belkan contingent hiding in the coastal town of Anfang, Belka, who refuse to abide by the cease fire order. Galm Team is dispatched on a three pronged operation: Mars Strike Team attacks the Belkan remnant's naval and land forces occupying the town, Mercury Strike Team bombs the makeshift runway in the highway tunnel just outside of town, and Jupiter Strike Team mops up the remnant Belkan Air Force unit stationed with the contingent, including the squadron's E-767 AWACS unit.

  • Early October, 1995 – The Sapin Air Force's Espada squadron goes AWOL from their airbase and disappears into Belkan territory. Similar incidents involving other fighter squadrons from Osea, Ustio, and Yuktobania are also reported around this time.
  • Late October, 1995 – Researchers from the Usean Universities of Shellsbridge and Comona determine the Ulysses 1994XF04 asteroid, discovered the year prior, is indeed on a collision course with the Earth. It will pass Earth's Roche Limit and impact the planet on July 3rd, 1999.
  • Early December, 1995 – The Federation of Central Usea (FCU) convenes a continental congress of the nations of Usea to discuss the Ulysses threat. After much debate, the nations of Usea agree to begin construction of a railgun network in a politically neutral nation in order to attempt to shoot down oncoming asteroid fragments. The central Usean nation of Delarus is chosen as the home of the turret network codenamed "Stonehenge". Development of Stonehenge and the existence of Ulysses is classified as top secret for the foreseeable future in order to prevent a global panic.
  • 25 December, 1995 – Operation Valkyire: Several high ranking members of the Belkan military stage a coup and reveal they have seized control over a large amount of former South Belka Munitions Factory and Project Pendragon assets. Under the command of former Project Pendragon chief engineer Dr. Anton Kupchenko, the organization calls itself "A World With No Boundaries", and lunches a surprise attack on the city of Lumen, Osea, with a massive gunship codenamed XB-0 Hresvelgr. After the XB-0 attacks Valais Air Base, Cipher and PJ are recalled to active duty to hunt down and destroy AWWNB's "Talon of Ruin". However, before they can strike, they are intercepted by the Espada Squadron, defectors from the Sapin Air Force.
  • 31 December, 1995 – Operation Thunderbolt: The Allied Forces launch a final strike on A World With No Boundaries' HQ at Avalon Dam to prevent the launch of their V2 WMD. Cipher and PJ are dispatched towards Avalon through the B7R Round Table, where they encounter interceptor squadrons lead by members of AWWNB's core leadership.
  • 31 Decemeber, 1995 (cont.) – Operation Point Blank: Cipher and PJ reach the Avalon Dam and disable the V2 launch control modules. As they celebrate their victory, they are intercepted Larry "Pixy" Foulke, piloting an advanced fighter craft known as the ADFX-02 Morgan. After killing PJ with the Morgan's on-board tactical laser pod, Foulke reactivates and launches the V2 MIRV. He is then shot down after a grueling final battle with Cipher and the V2 scuttles itself in mid-flight when the control transmission from the Morgan is terminated.

  • Early January, 1996 – Cipher resigns from the Ustio Air Force's Mercenary Division and leaves the country. All records of his involvement in the Belkan War are sealed by the Ustian and Osean governments due to the politically sensitive nature of his role in the post-armistice conflict against A World With No Boundaries. He is never seen again.
  • Mid Summer, 1996 – Terrorist forces seize control over the Skully Islands off the coast of Usea. They are defeated by the Scarface Squadron of the Federation of Central Usea's mercenary division. Nobody cared.

  • 7 September, 2005 – OBC's Brett Thompson interviews Erich "Phonix" Hillenberand (Schnee 1) for Warriors and the Belkan War at Jackson Hill International Airport in Jackson Hill, Osea.
  • 13 September, 2005 – OBC's Brett Thompson interviews Rainer "Cormorant" Altman (Gelb 2) for Warriors and the Belkan War at his home in Directus, Ustio.
  • 22 September, 2005 – OBC's Brett Thompson interviews Dominic "Vulture" Zubov (Schwarze 1) for Warriors and the Belkan War in an abandoned apartment complex in Oured, Osea.
  • 24 September, 2005 – OBC's Brett Thompson interviews Dietrich "Boss" Kellerman (Silber 1) for Warriors and the Belkan War at his dairy farm in Birneheim, Belka.
  • 10 October, 2005 – OBC's Brett Thompson interviews Dimitri "Blue Heron" Heinreich (Indigo 1) for Warriors and the Belkan War at his family estate in Lichtenburg, Belka.
  • 12 Octorber, 2005 – OBC's Brett Thompson interviews Dr. Detlef "Red Swallow" Fleisher (Rot 1) for Warriors and the Belkan War at his office at the University of Dinsmark.
  • 15 October, 2005 – OBC's Brett Thompson interviews Berhanrd "Night Owl" Schmidt (Grun 1) for Warriors and the Belkan War at Pop's Diner in Sudentor, Belka.
  • 20 October, 2005 – OBC's Brett Thompson interviews Marcela "Macarena" Vasquez (Espada 2) for Warriors and the Belkan War at a bar in Gran Rugido, Sapin.
  • 25 October, 2005 – Unable to track him down for an interview on account of his alleged death, OBC's Brett Thompson visits the grave site of Dr. Anton Kupchenko (Gault 1) at Holtz Public Cemetary in Dinsmark, Belka.
  • 31 October, 2005 – OBC's Brett Thompson interviews Anthony "Bedivere" Palmer (Sorcerer 1) for Warriors and the Belkan War at his office in Oured, Osea, on Halloween.
  • 11 November, 2005 – OBC's Brett Thompson interviews Joshua "Lucan" Bristow (Wizard 1) for Warriors and the Belkan War in his cell at Land Ford Federal Prison in Osea.
  • 25 November, 2005 – OBC's Brett Thompson interviews Larry "Solo Wing Pixy" Foulke (Galm 2) for the documentary Warriors and the Belkan War on the border of Delarus on Usea.
  • 30 November, 2005 – OBC's Brett Thompson charters a helicopter flyover of the now-defunct and flooded Avalon Dam facility. While exploring the shoreline of the Mund River, he comes across a makeshift grave site constructed out of F-16C wreckage, and a bouquet of flowers recently planted there in honour of the late Patrick James "PJ" Beckett. This is the closest Thompson ever came to encountering Cipher, missing him by mere days, possibly even hours.

  • 23 March, 2006 – Brett Thompson's documentary special on Cipher and the Belkan War, Warriors and the Belkan War, airs on Osea's OBC broadcast network.

2030 - 2040

nine-gear crow fucked around with this message at 09:56 on Feb 25, 2016

nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis

And now, a bonus entry into nine-gear crow's ongoing History of Ace Combat LP series.

Welcome to Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere (JP)! There are multiple factions to side with over the course of 52 missions as you take part in and ultimately shape the fate of the Usean continent during the 2040 Strangereal Corporate War between General Resource LTD and Neucom, the two largest conglomerates in the world that have grown beyond the constraints of Government as a whole, each side dominating the economy and daily life to the point that the inevitable conflict arises! As I have not (nor can I right now) play the Western version of the game, I cannot really show you the big differences. However, I know of a few and will bring them up in posts as I get my episodes ready. Suffice it to say that a critical character was entirely removed and replaced with a "haywire AI" and all the anime scenes were nowhere to be found, making it just another arcade shooter in the vein of Air Combat & AC2. The Japanese version has a full-fledged and animated storyline cut almost entirely out of the Western release.

Ace Combat 3 is the fourth game in the series and takes place at the very end of the known Strangereal timeline in the years 2030-2040. It was built off a refined version of the AC2 engine, featuring realistic physics in all environments and prettier planes & environments. Its story being at the end of the Strangereal era shows us what awaits at the end of the rabbit hole, but fortunately, its ties to the series are limited for a very specific reason and the setting is more an analogue to those 90s Japanese sci-fis you'd watch late at night. It being only the second game in Strangereal helps a bit. The story has its light and dark moments and is definitely worth a watch. The first disc has been translated by Project Nemo, which I'll use to as much effect as possible, and I'll translate the rest myself with their script with overlaid subtitles. The game menu's "Search" info tidbits I will post as soon as I can figure out the particulars on it. Until the 'Faith Park Dispute' as seen in the first four videos, UPEO had not seen any real action.

No spoilers!

Ace Combat 3 Introduction | [POST]

UPEO Route

General Resource Route

Ouroboros Route #1

Neucom Route #1

Ouroboros Route #2

Neucom Route #2 - FINAL

The Neo United Nations (NUN) is an international organization whose main purpose is designated to maintain peace, order and friendship between all nations, as well as possessing jurisdiction of international laws. It's intention is that it would intervene in various conflicts and facilitate peaceful cooperation. Not to be certain, but it is believed to be the successor of International United Nations, an organization which existed during the Usean conflict that helped to hold war against Erusea, and the Assembly of Nations, an organization mentioned in the Belkan War. As it is entering a new era of globalization, it changed its name to be Neo United Nations to prove their credibility of facing the new age. It was established within the USEA continent, their headquarters being located at Snyder’s Top on the north side of USEA.

The United Peace Enforcement Organization is a counter-measure organization aimed at maintaining peace and order, under the direct control of the new international organization, Neo United Nations. UPEO maintains the military force called the Special Armed Response Force in order to suppress various disputes currently breaking out in various areas. An organization of the NUN, UPEO was established to maintain peace on Strangereal. UPEO had no real mission or had undertaken significant actions until the 2030s. The NUN, while effective politically and diplomatically, saw that they could not fully enforce their guidelines due to their set position in the international playing field, so an armed intervention/enforcement corps - in effect, a permanent PKO - was created to handle those who continued to stand against the NUN’s directives, sanctions and orders.

UPEO were called into service by the Neo United Nations to monitor the situation between the two largest Companies on the planet, Neucom Inc. and General Resource LTD. (GR) As each conglomerate grew, tensions had begun to rise between the two very quickly. The NUN placed sanctions on each company and gave them areas in which they were allowed to operate, but neither company fully abided by these set rules. With the base of command in Snyder's Top, UPEO saw its first action during the Phase Park Dispute in the 2040s, an incident which put both Neucom and General Resource on edge. Fortunately, UPEO had grown into an organization boasting vast manpower, high-end technology, and extensive supplies behind it, making it a force to be reckoned with. Gilbert Park, the Supreme Commander of UPEO, was once an integral part of General Resource’s Head Staff and had been recommended by top GR officials to his current office at the height of UPEO. Park's extensive experience in his former corporation made him highly suitable for the position of UPEO Supreme Commander. Also in the UPEO administration, Gabriel W. Clarkson - a representative of the Usean Government - became the UPEO's official ambassadorial representative to the NUN and other political organizations.

During this conflict, many extremely talented pilots from the Usean Continent joined the UPEO’s ranks. Erich Jager and Fiona Fitzgerald, two of such pilots, had graduated at the top of their respective classes. Also, Rena Hirose, a child aviation prodigy, joined the UPEO pilot corps at the age of nine. All three pilots were assigned to UPEO’s Special Armed Response Force (SARF), which would see much action in the next few years.

General Resource Limited (GR Ltd.) is a corporate conglomerate with enormous financial capital that dominates all kinds of industries, and functions outside the framework of nations.

Globalization of financial markets progressed in line with developments in capitalistic principles, and corporate mergers and take-overs began to be frequent and common. As a result, prominent capital assets in all countries were ultimately combined and concentrated on a large scale. Within this wave of world-wide conglomeration, the General Resource Group attained enormous growth and developed into a huge multinational corporate entity. General Resource Ltd. was created as a result of a transformation within Grunder Industries, much like how Neucom Inc. had come from the Erusian Air and Space Administration. GR Ltd manages its own Defense Force known as the GRDF, featuring a two-man Ace Squadron of Abyssal Dision and Keith Bryant. The company focuses on older planes and upgrading them, while Neucom has created an entirely new generation of aviation.

General Resource in AC3 is simply a transformation of Grunder Industries, a critical player in the events earlier in the series. Suffice it to say for now, they are responsible for developing the COFFIN system seen in all aircraft in the 2040s, among other things.

Neucom Incorporated is one of the world's leading corporations during the 2040 period. Originally the EASA (Erusean Air and Space Agency or the Erusean Aeronautics and Space Administration), it was sold off some time after the Usean Continental War. Its success really took off after the acquisition of a larger Aerospace agency, which earned Neucom's Space Development division a place as "cutting edge." In their opening days, Neucom bought the Comona Islands (also known as Riass) Space Facility from the Usean Government. Neucom Inc. is comprised of 5 operational departments: Info, Space, Bio, Sphere and Publishing. The corporate name is a portmanteau of "Neuron" and "Computer".

The first product from Neucom’s sub departments was the Neucom Visual System (NVS). This was a computer program which operated on the Electrosphere which operates as a Broadcasting System and a Search engine. This becomes Neucom’s Main Broadcasting system in their own company as well as their main Software Product. As for their Aviation Field, Neucom shocks aviation experts across the globe with their new designs. Neucom’s new aircraft line is marketed as the ‘R’ series, the R standing for Radical (fitting, because of their aircraft's bio-design and advanced technologies). Their Radical Aircraft had incorporated many Configurations, Designs, Technologies and weaponry. The R-Series is also the first Neucom system to use the COFFIN System, which allows the pilots of vehicles to operate their machines during an conscious sub-conscious state, allowing them to operate their machinery much closer to its Specifications. One such prime example is the R-101 Delphinus 1. Their R-Series had become renowned for this, and many buyers had stepped forward.

In 2020, their very first aircraft designs, which they had a large part in creating were used in the Leasath-Aurelian war. These Aircraft used initial versions of the COFFIN System and preformed extremely well during their time in combat. In a sense, this was the beginning of Neucom's success in the military field.

Ouroboros is the name of an underground terrorist organization formed sometime during the 2030s, and the group behind the Usean Corporate War of 2040. They are a transhumanist group who believe that humanity can ascend to a new plane of existence by uploading their consciousness to the cyberspace known as the Electrosphere Network.

Their revolution officially begun with an amazing feat. They had somehow scrambled information within the Electrosphere and caused an information overload, causing Neucom and General Resource systems to malfunction and forcing them to suspend operations. Then, Aldair Carlos Nascimento, the Executive Director of General Resource, died when a system controlling his artificial heart had ceased to function. Ouroboros then continued to manipulate information and resources in the UPEO, General Resource and Neucom causing them confusion.

This then allowed Gilbert Park to order an attack by UPEO pilots using Neucom aircraft, on General Resource's headquarters in Expo City, leading the two megacorporations into an intense conflict even worse than the Faith Park Dispute. While UPEO tried to prevent a full-scale war between the two megacorporations, Ouroboros openly hijacked the Electrosphere (something thought to be impossible, even in theory) and made their revolutionary proclamation to the world.

Nemo is, as with all main characters in the Strangereal games, without body and voice. However, we will learn more of him as the game progresses!

Rena Hirose was born somewhere in Usea in April 27, 2021. She was born with Silverstone disease, giving her a fatal vulnerability to sunlight. She had an unnatural prowess in flying aircraft, joining General Resource at age 9. The company created a special extra-vehicular activity (EVA) suit for her, allowing her to move freely under the sun. In 2037, she was transferred to the UPEO. On the outset of conflict between General Resource and Neucom Incorporated, Rena was deployed with Erich Jaeger, Fiona, and Nemo to intercept a Neucom air unit passing near Expo City. After Gilbert Park became the commander of UPEO, she and her crewmates were transferred to the Special Armed Response Force.

When she was a child, Fiona Chris Fitzgerald received special education to become a pilot for selected children. At the age of 22, she received the Master of Arts in Aviation Engineering and Research from studying at Edwards University. Fiona joined UPEO in 2039, where she currently flies as a pilot in SARF.

Erich Rhoemer Jaeger grew up in a middle-class family and was a loved, impatient, and spoiled child. He had no confidence in himself and after successfully graduating from Oxform University with an International Political Science degree, Erich joined the Universal Peace Enforcement Organization at the suggestion of his parents. He later enrolled into SARF after its formation in 2040.

Born in Usea in 1997, Abyssal Dision was a pilot of the General Resource Defense Force, flying several successful sorties for the group in the past. He was one of the first known test subjects of General Resource's sublimation project. In 2018, Dision finished his academy in Sandbury Defense College, organized by General Resources Limited. He graduated with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. He then joined up with the GRDF on September soon after his graduation. During his time with GRDF, he was designated as Ace pilot after successfully carrying out missions he was assigned to in outstanding result, including his service of suppressing terrorist operations in 2026. Is partnered with Keith Bryan, and both form the two-man Ace team for General.

After graduating from a senior high school affiliated with Sandbury GR Defense College in 2028, Keith Bryan joined General Resource Ltd. He currently flies for GRDF alongside his buddy, Dision. Not much else is known about him.

The daughter of a wealthy Usean family, Cynthia was raised in a conservative background along with her sister Fiona, adopting an elitist and professional view of life, compared to the carefree attitude of her sibling. In 2033, she earned a master's degree in Genetic Engineering at the Chopinbrook University, then joined General Resource for the next four years. She then transferred to Neucom as a scientist, becoming Chief Consultant Pilot in the Neucom Emergency Unit and one of the leading researchers of the R-series of aircraft, operating under the TAC name "Priest."

The Special Armed Response Force (SARF) is UPEO's Armed Response Squadron. The SARF was formed in 2040 as a rapid reaction and interdiction force in armed conflicts, with Rena Hirose and Erich Jager as its first members. Their base was New Ark Airport in Expo City, home to the UPEO's headquarters. The squadron used a variety of aircraft, ranging from conventional models to export versions sold from the two main corporations. The latter, named with the "-U" suffix, led to accusations of UPEO becoming a "puppet" of both groups, in particular of General Resource Limited.

The General Resource Defense Force (GRDF) is the private military branch of General Resource Limited. It was originally established to show the public the effectiveness of General Resource products, but was later repurposed to be the company's primary military force after repeated attacks from anti-corporation groups. Staffed by the aces Dision and Keith, it is a force to be reckoned with in any engagement.

A recently formed private army utilized by Neucom Inc. True to their namesake, they were designated escort for all Neucom wings until mobilizing with newer R-numbers as a stronger fighting force. Currently, the only known Ace is Cynthia Fitzgerald, the Chief Consulting Pilot.

The EF-2000E Typhoon II is a modernized version of the EF-2000 Typhoon. It's manufacturer is unknown, but it's likely that the UPEO was responsible. As with most aircraft of it's time, it uses the Connection for Flight Interface, but it's modifications aren't as extensive as most other aircraft. Even though the original Typhoon was considered a high-end in the early 21st century, the Typhoon II isn't as capable as its predecessor when compared to other aircraft of it's time. Since it's performance is sub-par compared to newer UPEO aircraft, it was most likely retired.

The MiG-33 Fulcrum SS(Super Striker) is a fictional variant of the MiG-29A Fulcrum. It is a front-line fighter plane with high marks, an excellent starter plane for the game until more options are available. The MiG in other games takes the 29A form as well as a few others, and generally appears at the mid-points.

The F/A 18i Hornet ADV is a low-end General Resource multipurpose fighter, roughly equal to the EF-2000E Typhoon II fielded by the UPEO. An evolved model of the F/A-18E, it can be equipped with anti-air or air-to-ground missiles. However, the jet was rarely seen during the events of the Usean Corporate War, implying that it was unpopular among pilots. The UPEO model, the F/A-18U, was produced later. Similarly to the -I version, it was uncommonly deployed. It is the first plane the player has access to that fires up to 4 missiles, but lacks an adequate missile bank for long-term deployments.

The F-16XF Gyrfalcon is an upgraded F-16 Falcon. It has the standard array of modifications of other aircraft of it's era, including the installation of the Connection for Flight Interface system, enlarged flaps, installation of canards, and an engine with a higher thrust. This enhances the aircraft's mobility as well as the maximum speed, making it perfect for dogfighting.

Produced in the first half of the 21st century, the R-101 Delphinus #1 laid the foundation for Neucom's R-numeral series of aircraft. The jet was developed using Neucom's expertise in the aviation field, being built from newly developed composites and alloys. Powered by high-powered turbofan engines, it uses laminar flow control technology to dynamically manage airflow. The R-101 pioneered the AI-handled development techniques employed by Neucom by 2040. The R-101 was the main fighter aircraft of Neucom's armed forces during the Usean Corporate War, where it served on the frontlines. An export model, the R-101U, was sold to the UPEO to reinforce their own air fleet

trivia: named after Dolphins

The first dedicated attack aircraft of Neucom's R-series, the R-201 Asterozoa was developed to fulfill the ground attack role. It features a distinctive twin-fuselage design. Despite having durable armor, the Asterozoa's poor speed and mobility rendered it highly vulnerable to enemy aircraft. PSA: Never fly this thing. It's somehow worse than flying a brick. It's like flying a house.

trivia: named after Sea Stars

Based on the Su-37 Terminator, the Super Flanker is one the most advanced aircraft in the Universal Peace Enforcement Organization's arsenal. It was one of the first aircraft acquired by the group, being obtained along with other planes such as the MiG-33 Fulcrum SS and the EF-2000E Typhoon II to avoid accusations of a General Resource hardware monopoly. As with the original Su-37, it achieves superb maneuverability through aerodynamic features and three-dimensional thrust vectoring. It is a highly versatile machine in combat, being able to conduct air dominance and ground attack roles with ease thanks to its large fuselage. Over time, it underwent upgrades such as enhanced powerplants and canards, weight-reducing alloys and composite materials, the inclusion of arrestor hooks for carrier operations and an upgraded flight refueling system.

The Su-37 was one of the aircraft operated by the UPEO in the General Resource-Neucom conflict. A particular model, the Su-37R Super Flanker-R, was specially customized for SARF pilot Rena Hirose. It was mostly identical to the conventional version, the largest difference being the inclusion of the Electro-Neuron-Synapse-Interface (ENSI) system.

The second ground attack aircraft of the R-series, the R-211 Orcinus was first conceived as an evolution and upgrade to the R-201 Asterozoa. The Orcinus boasted stronger engines, greater damage resistance, stability and enhanced air combat capability. As with the R-201, the R-211 uses a combination of laser weapons and air-to-ground missiles, and uses similar wing morphing technology. It entered service with Neucom in 2040, seeing combat action in the Usean Corporate War. All in all a really good plane that could definitely hold its own in an air-to-air battle as well as dominating the ground.

Named for Killer Whales.

The Su-43 Berkut is a modified Su-47 Berkut, and is the most advanced fighter in UPEO's arsenal which saw action during the Usean Corporate War. The model has been outfitted with new avionics (which include ailerons to provide roll control along with canards/elevators providing pitch assistance and a redesigned aft cockpit area, presumably for extra fuel/electronics), the COFFIN system, and new engines that allow it to fly at speeds surpassing Mach 3, nearing Mach 4 in level flight. However, at this point the HUD will start shaking, probably an indication to slow down. Note: nothing happens if you maintain that kind of speed, and it is very possible to achieve hyper-sonic speed with this plane. Also This plane rules, looks badass, and destroys everything else with its looks alone.

The UI-4053 Sphyrna is an airship manufactured by the Universal Peace Enforcement Organization in the 2040s. A truly unique and revolutionary aircraft, it was later hijacked by the trans-humanist organization Ouroboros, becoming the group's main forward base and headquarters. It was to act as a mobile command and control center, aircraft carrier, and ECM support asset. It's defended by four miniguns and an AA missile launcher, as well as plenty of escort planes. It is named for the 'hammerhead shark,' which is a Neucom naming tendency. This may be coincidental, or suggest Neucom had a hand in developing it.

The X-49 Night Raven is an experimental demonstrator airframe developed by General Resource. It is the product of the Darkness of Enigma project, a secret General Resource undertaking that studied information on next-generation aircraft and advanced pilot-vehicle neural connection. It's equipped with Aeon Engines capable of reaching Mach-5 speeds and extremely powerful laser weaponry. The maneuverability of this craft is unparalleled.

The F-16XA Sakerfalcon, like the F-16XL and the F-16XF, features a cranked-arrow delta wing design to increase its speed and power while maintaining a moderate degree of maneuverability. It also features a lean towards ground attack whereas the F-16XF was strictly a fighter for air superiority. It fulfills its role as a fictional multirole utilized exclusively by General Resource.

The F-15S/MT Eagle+ is a modernized F-15 variant used by General Resource used in the initial stages of the corporate war, developed by General. It is said to be one of the oldest aircraft in their inventory, yet it was used by General Resource Defense Force aces, including Abyssal Dision.

An advanced derivative of the F-117A Nighthawk, the A/F-117X comes equipped with a COFFIN system and thrust vectoring nozzles with added afterburner capacity. The NAV Hawk is one of the main ground attack aircraft in General Resource's military arsenal. It is also used as a spy plane with its stealth capabilities.

The F/A-32C Erne is a multirole aircraft produced and operated by General Resource LTD. In real-world canon, the X-32 prototype lost the Joint Strike Fighter competition. In Strangereal canon, in spite of its defeat, the aircraft remained in development and was acquired by many countries as an alternative to the more expensive F-35C Lightning II. During the global transition to corporate governments in the 2030s, General Resource LTD. obtained several X-32s which subsequently underwent extensive airframe & hardware modifications, such as the inclusion of the COFFIN software. The final result was codenamed F/A-32C Erne.

As mentioned previously, the Erne underwent several airframe modifications, such as its unusual two dimensional thrust vectoring flap, steeper-angled wings and a ferri-type air intake. As well, the Erne possesses an extra engine, which combined with the air intake allows for a large increase of the aircraft's max speed towards mach 2, as opposed to the X-32's 1.6. The aircraft features a traditional passive stealth design although this does incur some penalties in terms of aerodynamic performance. As is standard on all combat aircraft during the time of the Corporate War the F/A-32C features a full COFFIN control system. Earlier production models had a more traditional hands-on cockpit followed on from the X-32.

The XFA-36A Game is capable of performing any task that a pilot can dream of. Its air frame, avionics and armament systems are extremely advanced and the aircraft employs a unique tailless system. During flight, the 3D thrust vectoring and near-vertical wingtips make up for the lack of vertical fins. As the Game breaks the sound barrier, the wingtips hinge downwards and pivot to maintain maneuverability and stability. The XFA-36A is first deployed by the General Resource Defense Force in mid-2040 just before major GR operations begin. It was the XFA-36A which took part in the famous "Operation: Hit and Run" and lead the GRDF attack on Port Edwards. Eventually, the terrorist group Ouroboros began to use these fighters. They were deployed sporadically during their operations, but were seen in full force during the attack on Megafloat. It's likely this plane was based on the McDonnell Douglas X-36, a prototype jet designed to fly without a tail.

The XR-900 Geopelia was developed by Neucom with the help of former General Resource engineers involved with the X-49 Night Raven, who abandoned the company after the Darkness of Enigma project's cancellation. Noticing the risks of the Opto-Neuron-Synapse-Interface system, it was developed as an unmanned aircraft from the beginning. Research on AI control was carried out under the "Gepetto Project". A conventional Aero Coffin cockpit was installed in early flight tests, but was removed in the final version. Although Neucom has established its naming convention for marine animals, the Geopelia is instead named for a genus of small-tailed doves. The XR-900s seen in the GR path are the only instance of this plane ever seeing combat. It's likely, but not confirmed, that Ouroboros or Dision had programmed these planes to awaken and attack if he was killed, or maybe he had even planned to use them later. Regardless, if these planes were left to their own devices, nobody would be able to put them down thanks to their unmatched specifications...

The R-311 Remora was first built as a Neucom counterpart to the General Resource-built RF-12A2 Blackbird II. The Remora's task was to escort R-531 Mobura transports at stratosphere altitudes. The Remora's low weight allowed it to be carried by Mobura (thus making the Remora a parasite aircraft). In order to stay airborne in the stratosphere, Remora have been forced to reduce maneuverability in lieu of speed.

I would also like to just say I think the Mobura is pretty cool. It's a stratospheric aircraft carrier and attack craft that nobody can reach. It's built to an imposing scale and it carries these fast moving little knife-shaped planes to defend itself.

The R-102 Delphinus #2 was an evolved model of the R-101 Delphinus #1, developed by Neucom to build on the success of the original version. It used a similar yet enlarged design, and used a single jet engine with a higher thrust-to-weight ratio as a powerplant, making it highly agile in combat. haha no. It was introduced in early 2040, being deployed during the Usean Corporate War along with the Delphinus #1. The R-102 was the first mass-production jet in existence to use energy weapons as part of its main arsenal, having a pulse laser serving the role of a conventional machine gun.

A spaceborne combat vehicle, the R-352 Sepia is the second space vehicle produced by Neucom, after the R-808 Phoca space shuttle. Using technology from the shuttle, the Sepia marks a major development in spacefaring vehicles by making use of Neucom-developed energy weapons, the first "star fighter" in history.

The Neutron Beam is the gun-weapon on the Sepia. This particular weapon is the result of Neucom research on space technology. Being an energy-based weapon, the Neutrom Beam does not suffer the problems of standard aircraft ordnance caused by space vacuum. The energy fired by this weapon is composed of superheated neutrons found in atoms-- it is the neutrons' high temperature that cause damage, instead of kinetic energy.

The Plasma Beam is the missile-type weapon used on the Sepia. Like the Neutron Beam, the Plasma Beam is a space-based weapon made by Neucom, and it is an energy weapon that consists of homing shots of plasma. It uses heat-based damage as opposed to kinetic-based damage.

The final expression of Neucom's famous R-10X aircraft line, the R-103 Delphinus 3 fuses the latest aviation technologies, such as energy weaponry and the COFFIN system, while including substantial upgrades over the previous models, such as a multi-wing airframe that greatly increases its maneuverability and state-of-the-art engines which give it an unprecedented advantage in terms of performance over other aircraft of its age. In the year 2040, the R-103 passed its test phases and mass-production was started. The plane saw action during the Usean Corporate War, and proved to be superior to other high-end aircraft of its era in some areas, like the F-22C Raptor II.

I really love the look of this plane, but its agility is still crap. What it does have going for it is acceleration and top speed, but in my opinion what wins any engagement is superior mobility.

Faith Park Dispute
In 2040, the first of many miscommunications between General Resource and Neucom had taken place. Afterwards, Neucom had said that it was a General Resource attempt to control Neucom growth and threatened General Resource. This was known as the Faith Park Dispute. The Neo-United Nations stepped in and talks were held. The conflict was settled immediately after this, with each group being assigned areas in which they are allowed to operate in, on the Usean Continent. Weeks later, Neucom Inc had began to expand it's business into General Resource territory despite their agreements. Now General Resource was asking for the Neo-United Nations (NUN) to step in. As the NUN talked to Neucom Officials General Resource dispatched it's GRDF to patrol around and over the new Neucom Facilities at all times. Tension was building and Neucom soon began to plan to form its own 'Response Team' to match the GRDF.

The NUN calls in the Universal Peace Enforcement Organization (UPEO) to reinforce all Neo-United Nations sanctions on the continent. However, as they arrive Neucom begins to vector Transport Flights directly over cities in General Resource territory escorted by Neucom's own Fighter Aircraft. Finally shots are fired. A SARF Unit is launched from Expo City Air Base and they intercept a large Neucom Transport group. The following aerial battle resulted in Expo City, the second largest city on the continent, taking much damage from aircraft which were shot down and crashed into the city or bullets and missiles which had missed their targets. The Neo-United Nations then put even harsher restrictions on each company because of this and established no fly zones around every major city on the continent. Unfortunately, this did not change anything.

The COFFIN System
The COnnection For Flight INterface system was developed by Gründer Industries after the Belkan War as a means to enhance pilot awareness in aerial engagements. The system consists of a cockpit covered with a completely sealed steel canopy, separating the pilot from the exterior. Vision is achieved through a series of CCTV cameras installed on the outer canopy that relay information to the user in real-time, projecting them in a honeycomb patterned screen. COFFIN replaces the conventional HOTAS (throttle and stick) system with biological and neural sensors that monitor the pilot's vital signs, as well as voice recognition systems. Combat systems associated to COFFIN were developed in 2020 to improve the performance of aircraft using second-generation systems, ranging from offensive hardware such as the Argus missile tracking program to autopilot technology for preventing flight accidents. Second-generation hardware has the ability of limiting the effects of spatial disorientation, further increasing a pilot's capabilities.

There are two ways the Aero-Coffins are operated, using two unique systems. The first is the most common in AC3, known as ENSI, or Electro-Neuron-Synapse-Interface, which created this connection. This method was created by Neucom, specifically by a scientist named Simon who we've yet to meet. They are called Aero-coffins because of the fact the pilot is isolated in the cockpit and is able to see in 360 degrees using the multitude of CCTVs or other monitoring devices located around the cockpit of a COFFIN plane. The ENSI system enables the pilot to control a plane through biosensors, and with mental commands, referred to as 'fly-by opto.'

In the AC3 universe, there exists an Inter-Satellite-Network, or In-Sa-Net. It is a global network created in the 2040s that allows for distant communication from anywhere in the planet, used by both military and civilian personnel. It's been theorised that the In-Sa-Net can be used to control vehicles from distance with the COFFIN system, but the potential feedback, nerve damage, response lag, and even vulnerability to hacking have made the operation unfeasible.

The other method of establishing the COFFIN connection is with ONSI, Opto-Neuron-Synapse-Interface, which uses the pilot's brain as the main COFFIN processor unit. It requires special implants on the cervical vertebrae, and the increased brain activity can lead to fatal brain damage. The only known pilot equipped with ONSI is Rena Hirose.

The D.O.E Project
Now, to mention something about the D.O.E Project, or Darkness of Enigma. It lasted from 2028 to 2033, and led to the development of the ONSI system. Rena Hirose was used as a test subject in this project, and a later interview with her revealed the project to the public. General suffered criticism over their ethics, and the project was dismantled. Most members of the DOE team left for Neucom as a result. We'll find out more in the General route!

nine-gear crow fucked around with this message at 05:14 on Mar 28, 2016

nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis

"Glacial Skies"

Ace Combat Zero Promo Trailer
Mission 1: Operation Crossbow – April 2nd, 1995

The frame story and main story of Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War kick off as “Solo Wing Pixy” recounts the beginning of Ustio’s counter attack on the Belkan forces that have invaded the nation and his time with the mysterious pilot known only as “Cipher”.

Overview: A flight of Belkan bombers threatens to destroy Valais Air Base, the last remaining unoccupied military facility in the nation of Ustio and must be shot down or turned back before they can reach their target.

Be forewarned, because this is a crash course to the world of Ace Combat, this post may run a little long. Subsequent posts will not be this long. I promise.

Ustio 6th Air Division, 66th Air Force Unit
  • Galm 1 – [REDACTED] “Cipher” [REDACTED]
  • Galm 2 – Larry “Pixy” Foulke
AWACS Operator: “Eagle Eye”
Squadron Composition: F-15C Eagle (x2 - canon* Cipher's plane is player-determined)

A pair of mercenary pilots hired by the Ustio Air Force. Larry Foulke, and a pilot known only by the callsign of Cipher were assigned to the 6th Air Division of the 66th Air Force Unit of the Ustio Air Force. Stationed at Valais Air Force Base in the Tyrann Mountains, the Galm Team inadvertently became the tip of the spear for Ustio’s counter attack on Belka after the remainder of the nation’s military forces fell to Belka in the opening days of the war. OBC’s Brett Thompson has dedicated his documentary series “Warriors and the Belkan War” (our framing device for this game) to chronicling the Belkan War through the actions of the Galm Team and Cipher, as told by Pixy.

It’s no coincidence that the Galm Team’s unit numbers spell out “666”, given that Cipher will go on to be known as either “Demon” or “Demon Lord” as the game progresses. The allusion is doubly significant because Galm (a mistranslation of Garm or Garmr) itself is a literal hellhound. Or rather a Hel hound. In Norse mythology, Garmr (much like Cerberus from Greek mythology) guards the gates of the realm of Hel, which is lorded over by the goddess Hel herself, which is the place where the unvirtuous dead of Norse society are sent to suffer for all eternity in its frigid wastes. Garmr’s howl will signal the beginning of Ragnarök and he will be unleashed to wreak havoc on the gods of Asgard during the final battle. If any of this sounds slightly familiar, it’s because Christianity later appropriated the name and concept of Hel to conceptualize its own place of eternal damnation for the unrepentant, conflating it with the Jewish afterlife of Sheol, the Greek underworld of Hades, and a literal flaming garbage pit outside of Jerusalem known as Gehenna where the Hebrews cremated their dead.

As a side note, one of my favorite biblical themed one-lines comes from the show Kings. When Ian McShane’s character King Silas is asked by one of his aides where she should tell his motorcade drivers they’re going, he quips in his most Ian McShane of ways, “Gehenna! We’re going to Hell!” Which is of course where the audience is introduced to Brian Cox’s character (Brian Cox of course played Scolar Visari in Killzone and Killzone 2).

See. It’s like poetry, it rhymes.

Real Name: Unknown
Callsign(s): Cipher, Galm 1, Demon Lord
Age: Late 20’s to early 30’s
Sex: Male
Nationality: Ustio (unverified)
Signature Plane: Player choice (F-15C in all promotional material)
Voice Actor: None
On-Camera Actor: None

Our player character and the subject of the documentary “Warriors and the Belkan War” by OBC’s Brett Thompson. Little information about the pilot known as Cipher survived the chaos of the Belkan War, not even his real name. What little other information there is about him has been classified by the Osean, Ustio, Sapin, and Belkan governments. Upon the revelation of the extent of his involvement in the war, Thompson searched for him in the hopes of having him headline his documentary on the Belkan War, but was never able to find him. Instead, he focused on examining his character through the eyes and experiences of those who flew with (and against) him over the course of the war, such as his wingman Pixy.

Cipher entered the Belkan War as a member of the foreign mercenary forces that Ustio contracted to supplement their devastated military. He was attached to the 6th Air Division, 66th Air Force Unit based out of Valais AFB and placed in command of the Galm squadron and assigned Larry “Pixy” Foulke as a wingman. His first sortie for Ustio was April 2nd, 1995’s Operation Crossbow to repel a flight of Belkan B-52 Stratofortress bombers and escorts from destroying Valais AFB itself and effectively ending Ustio’s ability to fight back against Belka.

For now, let’s just appreciate the mystery of Cipher. We will learn more about him over the course of the game.

And yes, if you’re picking up some cultural glosses, good on you. The term “cipher” (also spelled “cypher”) is the term for an algorithm designed to obscure information in the process of encryption. Or, conversely, to reveal information during a decryption process. A cipher is basically your “key” in the process, just as Zero’s Cipher is Brett Thompson’s key in-universe to uncovering the mysteries of the Belkan War. “Cipher” is also a literary term meaning a Tabula Rasa or blank slate character designed for a reader to project themselves into in order to enhance the immersive effect of the story, such as, say, when playing a video game starring a blank slate player character whose characterizations are revealed through your actions. Crono from Chrono Trigger, or Link from the Legend of Zelda games are ciphers, for instance, as are most barely-characterized protagonists from trashy romance novels. Bella Swan from Twilight, for example, is also accused of being a reader cipher.

The word cipher is also a stealth pun for the number zero. The Middle French “cifre”, Medieval Latin “cifra”, and Arabic “صفر” (ṣifr)—the root words of “cipher,” all mean “zero” in their respective languages. The more you know :eng101:

Right now, we’re locked down to the lower-end planes of Zero’s playable catalogue, but once we get the F-15C, I will be pretty much playing as close to “canon” Cipher as I can get unless I absolutely need to whip out another plane for a particular mission *cough*Avalon*cough*.

Real Name: Larry Foulke
Callsign(s): Pixy, Galm 2, Solo Wing
Age: 28 (38, frame narrative)
Sex: Male
Nationality: [REDACTED]
Signature Plane: F-15C
Voice Actor: Yuri Lowenthal
On-Camera Actor: Sean Ryan

A foreign mercenary fighter pilot contracted by the Republic of Ustio as an on-call supplemental pilot to bolster its suffering air force in a time of great need. Like his wingman and team leader Cipher, Pixy was attached to the Galm squadron of the Ustio 6th Air Division, 66th Air Force Unit based out of Valais AFB.

Pixy is something of a weathered political idealist at heart, ground down slightly by a heavy dose of cynicism by a life in the mercenary force. Having left his homeland behind at a young age, Pixy has spent his entire adult life traveling the world fighting one conflict after the next as a mercenary before eventually landing here in Ustio. Even after the Belkan War, as seen in the framing narrative, Pixy has continued to sell his services to those who need an extra gun on their side, in this case the Independent States’ Allied Force or ISAF of Usea (this places him right in the middle of Ace Combat 04’s main conflict, by the way).

Foulke earned the nickname “Solo Wing Pixy” in 1993 during a combat mission overseas. His F-15C Eagle was struck by enemy fire and had its right wing shorn clean off. Miraculously, Foulke managed to regain control over the aircraft and pilot it safely back to base, discovering only after he had landed that he had brought the plane home on a single wing. Since that incident, he has painted the right wing of every aircraft he has flown into combat red as both a reminder and good luck charm.

Think that’s a little too bullshit and anime a story even for an Ace Combat game? Well, guess what, it actually happened. In 1983, an Israeli Air Force pilot named Zivi Nedivi managed to fly his F-15 Eagle a full 10 miles back to base and land safely after its right wing was torn off in a mid-air collision with an A-4N Skyhawk training plane. Nedivi and his navigator only discovered the missing wing once the plane was on the ground, as it had been obscured by outblowing smoke and fuel at cruising speed. Nedivi said if he’d known he’d had only one wing at the time, he would almost definitely have bailed out and let the plane crash that day. Aviation experts attribute his miraculous landing to the utterly bonkers-wide body of the F-15 itself. Even with an entire wing missing, the F-15 still had enough surface area to it to maintain lift when accelerated to a high enough speed, which was what Nedivi did to keep the plane in the air long enough to bring it home safely.

I said it in the video, and I meant it: the F-15 even to this day is a goddamn beast.

Real Name: Brett Thompson
Callsign(s): None
Age: Late 20’s to early 30’s (described as being "still in school" at the time of the Belkan War itself)
Sex: Male
Nationality: Osean
Signature Plane: None
Voice Actor: Matthew Mercer
On-Camera Actor: None

An investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker for the OBC network in Osea. Thompson set out to uncover the hidden truths behind the events of the Belkan War after the Osean Government released a heavily redacted “official” report ten years after the Belkan armistice. Through calling upon his contacts in the Osean military and intelligence services for the release of unofficial and (in some cases technically illegal) unredacted documents concerning the war, he discovered the existence of the pilot known as the “Demon Lord of the Roundtable”, Galm 1 aka Cipher. After all attempts to contact Cipher for an interview, or even confirm if he was still alive failed, Thompson began cross-referencing pilots on either side of the conflict to have encountered Cipher and set out to interview them in his stead. His search led him across Osea, Belka, Ustio, Sapin, and even across the ocean to Usea where he found Cipher’s own wingman, Larry “Solo Wing Pixy” Foulke, aka Galm 2. Through these former aces, Thompson seeks to reveal the deeds of Cipher and the truth behind the Belkan War to the world at long last.

As our in-game documentarian, we don’t really get to interact with Thompson very much aside from his introductory narrations. Like Max Brooks’ narrator character in World War Z, he has seemingly excised himself out of the in-universe documentary we’re essentially a part of as much as he can. On a functional level, he follows a similar pattern from past and future Ace Combat games serving jointly with Pixy as our frame-story narrator. Several other games in the franchise follow this trend of having the gameplay as one story, and the narration as another story taking place a certain time after or alongside the player character’s narrative.

Yes I know that’s a picture of Ken Burns, deal with it.

Aircraft featured in Mission 1: Operation Crossbow

F-5E Tiger II
Manufacturer: Northrop Corporation
Role: Light fighter / trainer
Manufactured: 1959–1987
Status: In Service
Primary Operators: United States, China, Iran, South Korea... and Mexico, apparently (h/t: Kal-L)
Quick Facts:
  • A decent air-to-air choice for the start of the game.
  • Supersonic light interceptor fighter developed in the 1970’s as an upgrade to the Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter.
  • Used as an adversary exercise trainer aircraft by the US.
  • Only 492 F-5s are still in service as of 2014.

A low-cost, lightweight tactical fighter with respectable capability in all areas. Easy to fly and maintain, the “Tiger II” is employed in air forces around the globe.

Missiles: 52
UGB: 10
NPM: 8

J35J Draken
Manufacturer: Saab AB
Role: Interceptor
Manufactured: 1955–1974
Status: Retired, 2005
Primary Operators: Sweden, Finland, Austria, Denmark
Quick Facts:
  • Faster than the Tiger, not as good at air-to-air, but has more special weapon ammo.
  • Modernized version of the Saab J35 Cold War-era fighter
  • Used by the US in its post-retirement life as a pilot-training aircraft
  • The first fully supersonic fighter deployed in Western Europe
  • The last J35J flew its final sortie in 1999 and was replaced by the JAS 39 Gripen

An intercept aircraft capable of short take-off and landing (STOL). Its characteristic double delta wing design allows for low air resistance and high maneuverability at low speeds.

Missiles: 40
UGB: 8
RCL: 8

Manufacturer: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Role: Attack Bomber
Manufactured: 1975-1987
Status: Retired, 2006
Primary Operators: Japan
Quick Facts:
  • Slow, unresponsive and sturdy as a rock. The F-1 will be our primary bomber for the early game.
  • Japan’s first post-World War II fighter
  • Bears a resemblance to the French/British SEPECAT Jaguar
  • Used by the JSDF as an anti-ship and air-to-ground bomber with limited air-to-air capabilities
  • Used exclusively by the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force until its retirement

A variant of a training aircraft, this attack aircraft was developed as an air-to-ground and air-to-ship fighter. Its outdated design lags behind that of current fighter technology, but the compact and well refined design has earned it the trust of pilots and mechanics alike.

Missiles: 56
RCL: 10
UGB: 12
LASM: 10

Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas
Role: Air Superiority Fighter
Manufactured: 1967-2019 (projected)
Status: In Service
Primary Operators: United States, Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia
Quick Facts:
  • Default plane of Pixy, can be unlocked for Cipher halfway through the game
  • Cipher is depicted in canonical source material as flying an F-15C Eagle
  • One of the most successful air superiority fighters of all time
  • Boasts a perfect 100+:0 kill:death ratio in combat air sorties, with the majority belonging to Israeli Air Force pilots
  • Used as a test-bed for anti-satellite missiles, but the project was terminated in 1988

Nicknamed the “Eagle,” this air superiority fighter boast top-class maneuverability and superior payload capacity, as well as outstanding mission survivability.

Missiles: 70
XMAM: 16
UGBL: 10
QAAM: 14

Manufacturer: Boeing
Role: Strategic Bomber
Manufactured: 1952-1962
Status: In Service
Primary Operators: United States, NASA
Quick Facts:
  • Referred to as the “Stratofortress”
  • Designed to be a Cold War-era deterrent munitions (read: NUCLEAR!) carrier
  • 85 B-52s are still in service with nine more on reserve
  • Expected to remain in service until 2040
  • Played a prominent role in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb
  • Served as the namesake of both a hairstyle and a band (who took their name from the hairstyle, not the plane)

Full Name: The Republic of Ustio
Capital: Directus (mislabeled “Dilectus” in Ace Combat 5)
Continent: North Osea, Belkan Subcontinent
Head of State: Prime Minister (conjecture)
Government: Democratic Republic
Real World Analog: Switzerland, Poland, France

The Republic of Ustio is the protagonist nation of Ace Combat Zero. Each Ace Combat game has a protagonist nation or faction representing a nation or group of nations on behalf of which the player operates. Cipher and Pixy will be fighting for Ustio here in Zero.

Ustio is one of the youngest independent states on Earth, Ustio was originally part of Belka’s southern frontier until the 1988 Belkan Federal Law Review. Following on the heels of the permitted secession of the territory that later became the nations of Gebet and Recta, the south-eastern provinces of Belka also declared their independence from the Principality in a bid to recover from Belka’s economic nose-dive on their own.

On May 12th, 1988, the southern provinces announced their declaration of independence and the Republic of Ustio was formed, naming the former southern Belkan metropolis of Directus as its new capital. Belka reluctantly but peacefully acknowledged it’s new southern neighbor while it continued to founder economically, and Ustio was permitted entry into the Assembly of Nations. In December of 1991, Ustio’s borders were finalized as Belka sheared off the last of its failing territories to Osea, Sapin, Gebet, Recta, the FATO sates, and Ustio itself. Ustio, however, lost half its former eastern territory to the nations of Recta and Ratio.

Overall, Ustio would have been a footnote in world history if not for the Belkan War. It has no particularly strong military, economic, political, or cultural importance to the world or even the Belkan subcontinent, it instead was made famous by outside factors, notably by being the sword that Belka ultimately fell and died upon of its own choosing. Located in the center of the Belkan subcontinent of North Osea, Ustio is a land of many high snowy mountains and little flat land. Though relations with Belka have been cool since its secession, Ustio quickly allied itself with its southern and western neighbors, the Kingdom of Sapin and the Osean Federation, respectively. And it is these two nations that have come to Ustio’s aid since the outbreak of the Belkan War.

In March of 1995, Ustio was one of the first nations to fall to Belka’s attempt to reclaim its lost territory by force. By early April 1995, nearly 90% of Ustio had been successfully occupied by Belka, which then used its military facilities as a springboard to launch into Osean and Sapish territory. Ace Combat Zero begins with Ustio on the brink. On April 1st, 1995, Osea, Sapin, Ustio, and Recta (with aid from both foreign mercenary forces and the Union of Yuktobanian Republics in the far west) launched a counter offensive to liberate Ustio from Belkan occupation and force them out of all other illegally occupied territory by any means necessary.

We begin the game one day after this announcement, on April 2nd, 1995.

Full Name: The Principality of Belka
Capital: Dinsmark
Continent North Osea, Belkan Subcontient
Head of State: Chancellor (conjecture) Waldemarr Rald
Government: Fascist
Real World Analog: Germany, Arthurian Brittan

Belka is one of the oldest and most culturally robust nations on the planet, boasting a heritage that dates back to the Middle Ages, probably even further than that. Ask any Belkan and they will boast to you to no end about long and storied history and culture, exemplified by the legendary Belkan knights. Though the power and influence of the Belkan aristocracy has waned since medieval times, many pilots in the equally legendary Belkan Air Force claim descendence from historical knight families and model themselves off of the Belkan knights of old.

Geographically speaking, the one-time Belkan Empire covered almost half of the subcontinental area that holds its name, covering, at its height, territories currently held Osea, Sapin, Ustio, Recta, Ratio, Gebet, and the FATO states. From the 18th to late 20th centuries, Belka was considered a world superpower to rival the likes of Osea and Yuktobonia, at the very least. And despite its massive loses financially and territorially, the bulk of its military power remained intact throughout the collapse, or was at least rebuilt in the decade between the 1988 Federal Law Review and the beginning of its 1995 invasion of Ustio.

The defining feature of the Belkans as a people is their pride and sense dignity. Belkan society teaches one to take pride in their work and in themselves, and to be proud of one’s accomplishments, like the knights of old would. However, that sense of pride can easily be twisted into arrogance and ultimately resentment. And when that pride is wounded, it can see terrible things wrought in the name of trying to restore that lost pride and honor.

When Belka’s economy began to falter in the late 1970s and early 1980s, that selfsame Belkan pride began to take the first of many crushing hits that would ultimately end in its ruin. A series of territorial disputes with Osea in the 1940s, and the invasion and assimilation of Recta in the 1970s left it drained economically, and a massive redistribution in spending to the military in 1987 sealed the nation’s fate. By December of 1987, Belka’s economy was in a full-blown nosedive, and its eastern territories capitalized on the opportunity presented by the growing weakness and instability in Dinsmark to make their bids for independence. Out of the chaos of this reformation came the nations of Ustio, Gebet, as well as Recta, now free of nearly 20 years of Belkan occupation.

As Belka’s economic woes continued into the early 1990s, the political climate in the nation turned toxic, and the extreme right-wing Democratic Liberal Party (known informally as the Fatherland and Workers Party) swept into power with a majority in the National Assembly in the 1992 election on a wave of anti-Osean resentment and ire over the nation’s lost strength and pride. DLP leader Waldemarr Rald was sworn in as chancellor (I’m assuming the leader of Belka is a chancellor because Belka=Germany in Strangereal, but there is actually no canonical position named for Belka’s head of state unlike Osea and Yuktobania, just FYI).

Under Rald and the now-politically enshrined Fatherland and Workers Party government, Belka underwent a massive military and political upheaval, rebuilding and consolidating itself into a military fascist state. The Belkan economy was rebooted as one giant factory designed to fuel Belka’s growing war machine as Rald stoked the Belkan populace with promises of the restoration of the Belkan Empire of old.

And on March 25th, 1995, Belka launched a surprise multi-front invasion of Osea, Sapin,and Ustio, beginning what is known as the Belkan War.

Full Name: The Osean Federation
Capital: Oured
Continent: North Osea
Head of State: President
Government: Federal presidential constitutional republic
Real World Analog: United States of America

A federal union of 68 states. The Osean Federation is the largest nation on Earth and is (disputably) its single greatest and most powerful superpower. Osea has been a world leader in the realms of science, technology, art, literature, finance, and space exploration for decades. It is also the home of the Assembly of Nations (AN) world headquarters and is a prominent member of the G7 international economic organization along with Yuktobania, Anea (represented jointly by the nations of Emmeria, Estovakia, and Nordennavic), the FCU (Federation of Central Usea), Verusa, Nordlands, and the Federal Republic of Erusea.

Osea is also the homeland of Ace Combat Zero’s narrator of sorts, Brett Thompson, a documentary producer and journalist working for one of Osea’s major broadcast networks, OBC (the Osean Broadcasting Corporation). The Osean head of state is its president, an elected official serving a four-year term in office and term-limited to three consecutive terms. The presidential office and residence is the Bright Hill complex in Oured (analogous to the White House in Washington, DC).

The Osean military is the strongest martial force on the planet, in terms of sheer numbers and estimated offensive capability, at the very least. And with good reason too, as Osea is effectively fenced in globally by nations that don’t particularly like it very much. Whether it’s Yuktobania across the Ceres Ocean to the west, or Estovakia to the north, to Erusea to the east on Usea, or Leasath down in South Osea, or the Principality of Belka right on its doorstep—the point remains that the Osean Federation, despite presenting itself as a paragon of a just, free, and peaceful society, has made its fair share of enemies over the last century with its international actions. As such, its military is on constant alert to repulse potential treats to the Osean homeland.

For those of you coming into this LP series from mine and Blind Sally’s other in-depth examination LP of the Killzone franchise, if you’re seeing any similarities between Osea and the ISA in terms of a public image/private action dichotomy: good for you! Yes, just like the Vektans in Killzone, the Oseans in Ace Combat are a very troubling lot. They are, functionally, the good guys, yet they get up to a lot of stuff that causes more problems than it solves on a global scale. We’ll be seeing that a lot more in our examination of Ace Combat 2, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy (which is a remake of 2 designed to bring it more in line with the rest of the Strangereal continuity), and Ace Combat 5 regarding Osea’s troubling dealings, but for now I’ll just leave you with what is going to become an oft-repeated refrain across this LP series: “Osea is not the good guys.”

Our first instance of “Osea is not the good guys ™” comes in this opening update, for that matter. Following the 1988 Belkan Federal Law Review, where Belka began its catastrophic hemorrhaging of territories and set the stage for the Belkan War itself, Osea swept in and exacerbated the situation by effectively annexing nearly a third of pre-war Belka and swallowing it up to create it’s 66th, 67th, and 68th states. So as you can imagine, it did not sit well with the right wing reactionaries that eventually became Belka’s governing party that their chief international rival planted their flag on nearly a third of Native Belkan Soil while its eastern third also slipped away to become Ustio, Recta, and Gebet. So it’s no surprise really that the brunt of the Belkan invasion in early 1995 was into Osean-held territory. Nobody can piss off people in Streangereal quite like Osea.

While we’ll be hopping in and out of Osean territory in Ace Combat Zero, our dealings with the superpower are going to be indirect at best. We’ll be seeing Osean forces in action in the game later on, however, including several named squadrons and pilots, as well as some cameo appearances coming up by a few units that will become major players in the plot of Ace Combat 5. So pay close attention whenever named Osean units show up.

Full Name: The Union of Yukotbanian Republics (Союз Юктобанийских Республик | Soyuz Yuktobaniyskikh Respublik)
Capital: Ciningrad
Continent: Verusa
Head of State: Prime Minister
Government: Socialist Republic
Real World Analog: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

A pact of 40 provinces comprising the majority of the north eastern portion of the Verusan continent. The UYR is a one-party ruled military, economic, and technological superpower roughly on par with its international rival, the Osean Federation in terms of power. The Yuktobonian communist Politburo has held power in the nation since 1918 when a violent revolution overthrew the ruling monarchy and lead to the creation of the socialist state the world knows today.

Despite nearly a half century of a Cold War with Osea and its constant saber-rattling and posturing with its neighbors and overseas rivals, Yuktobania has surprisingly managed to keep the peace between itself and Osea. Nearly every geopolitical expert agrees that if an all-out war were ever to erupt between Yuktobania and Osea, it would prove catastrophic for not just both nations, but perhaps even the entire world given each nation’s respective military strength and armament of nuclear weapons.

For now, however, Yuktobania appears to be signaling its willingness to engage in a new era of cooperation with Osea and its allies. Spurred by mounting winds of political change in Ciningrad, the UYR has committed heavy logistical and moderate military support to the Osean-led Allied Forces currently fighting to repel the Belkan invasion of Ustio and its neighbors. In some cases, it is even helping to turn Belkan-made weapons back on Belka itself, as Yuktobania has been one of Belka’s top arms buyers since the 1970s—a turn that has no doubt angered many in Belka and could perhaps spell trouble for the UYR in the future.

Compared to Belka, Ustio, and Osea, Yuktobania’s presence in Ace Combat Zero is relatively minor, but we’ll be seeing a lot more of everyone’s favorite Cold War-aping ersatz commie state three games down the line (chronologically) in Ace Combat 5.

Full Name: The Kingdom of Sapin
Capital: Gran Rugido
Continent: North Osea, Belkan subcontinent
Head of State: King (or Queen, possibly Prime Minister, speculative)
Government: Constitutional Monarchy (implied)
Real World Analog: Spain, England

Along with Nordlands, Sapin was one of the stronger non-Belkan nations on the Belkan subcontinent, both before and after Belka’s collapse and reformation. Located on the southern tip of the subcontinent, Sapin shares boarders with its close ally Osea, as well as with Ustio and Ratio.

By and large, Sapin has maintained its position throughout history as a politically neutral entity. Its only politically advantageous move in recent years was the claiming of a relatively small portion of seceded Belkan territory between Ustio and itself after the Federal Law Review and border reformation in the late 80s and early 90s.

That said, Sapin is functionally responsible for the outbreak of the Belkan War. The Sapin-based Joint Research Group announced in early March of 1995 that a large vein of natural resources had been discovered in the mountains along the Ustio-Sapin border. The announcement provided Belka with a rationale to launch its planned territorial reclamation campaign and on March 25th, 1995, the Belkan War began. By April 1st, 1995, Belka had steamrolled through Ustio and had pressed deep into Sapin as well, coming within striking distance of the Sapish capital of Gran Rugido.

With the Allied Forces now mounting their counter-attack on Belka to reclaim their occupied territory, Sapin has provided the second-largest number of planes, tanks, and soldiers after Osea, and has pledged to drive the Belkans out of their country and out of Ustio as well.

Geographically speaking, what little we see of Sapin over the course of Ace Combat Zero shows the nation to have both arid desert and temperate stretches.

Sapin is one of the enduring mysteries of the Strangereal world. There’s very few hard facts about it available, yet it plays a sizable role here in Ace Combat Zero. One of the three Project Aces-produced PlayStation3 concept games I mentioned in the OP, Brave Arms was to be set in Sapin and supposedly featured the protagonist character joining a revolution movement aimed at toping the Sapish government in the 2020s. But that game never made it past the concept stage and probably wasn’t more than a proof-of-concept piece anyway, so we have no idea if it or any of its plot elements are canon in Strangereal or not.

Beyond that, Sapin is something of an also-ran nation in the Ace Combat shared universe, something that deserved to get a lot more love and attention than it did and now probably never will because Namco accidentally murdered the Ace Combat franchise between Ace Combat 6, Assault Horizon, and Infinity... or maybe not now that Ace Combat 7 has officially been rolled out.

*This flag is non-canon and is only here for display purposes.
Full Name: The Republic of Recta
Capital: Cor
Continent: North Osea, Belkan subcontinent
Head of State: President (conjecture)
Government: Democratic Republic (conjecture)
Real World Analog: Unknown

A landlocked nation in the center of the Belkan subcontinent on North Osea. Little is known about Recta as a nation, except that it was involved in a war with Belka in the 1970s which ended in Recta’s military defeat and its assimilation into the then-Belkan Federation. It languished under Belkan rule for nearly twenty years until the Belkan Federal Law Review of 1988, where it seceded from Belka as a part of the newly independent nation of Ustio at the time. By December 1991, Ustio allowed for Recta to regain its independence and the Rectan Republic returned to the world stage as a sovereign nation for the first time since its fall in the 70s.

The opening cinematic of Ace Combat Zero implies that Recta is a part of the Allied Forces and has committed troops and pilots to the Belkan War, but they will never be seen or acknowledged if this is indeed true. It is implied through source material, however, that Recta does indeed maintain a standing army and air force, but while the Rectan Air Force is said have its share of highly skilled pilots, they are few and far between due to its sparser population and smaller economy compared to stronger nations like Osea and Sapin.

*This flag is non-canon and is only here for display purposes.
Full Name: Unknown
Capital: Centrum
Continent: North Osea, Belkan subcontinent
Head of State: Unknown
Government: Unknown
Real World Analog: Unknown

Now here’s where we start getting into the “Space Filler” countries. These ones are mainly here for posterity’s sake as Project Aces has published literally zero supplementary information on most of them. The only time we even see the majority of them are in the intro to Ace Combat Zero, or as a two-second flash on the Strangereal world map glimpsed at the start of briefings in Ace Combat 5.

The only two things worth noting about Ratio are that its northern portion was once a part of pre-war Belka, and then a part of pre-continental restructuring Ustio. Now, it’s just a big giant question mark in the center the map that will probably never be filled in.

*This flag is non-canon and is only here for display purposes.
Full Name: Unknown
Capital: Mons
Continent: North Osea, Belkan subcontinent
Head of State: Unknown
Government: Unknown
Real World Analog: Unknown

The Ace Combat Wiki, quite hilariously, literally sums up Gebet as “a landlocked country on the Osean continent.” Thanks, Acepedia :thumbsup:

But seriously, there is again literally zero to know about Gebet because there is no other existing information on Gebet. It’s claim to fame is that it broke free from Belka after Belka’s economy collapsed. “We’re a recovering balkanized failed state! Yay! :toot:

*This flag is non-canon and is only here for display purposes.
Full Name: Unknown
Capital: Unknown
Continent: North Osea, Belkan subcontinent
Head of State: Unknown
Government: Unknown
Real World Analog: Unknown

Welvakia is a country :effort:

*This flag is non-canon and is only here for display purposes.
Full Name: Unknown
Capital: Unknown
Continent: North Osea, Belkan subcontinent
Head of State: Unknown
Government: Unknown
Real World Analog: Unknown

The nation of Nordlands is one of the larger states on the far eastern extreme of the Osean continent. It shares a boarder with Wielvakia and the FATO states, and lies a short distance across the Cascade Ocean from the Federal Republic of Erusea and its capital city of Farbanti.

The only other fact of interest about Nordlands is that it is, according to supplementary material and in-universe background information, a part of the G7 nations, suggesting at the very least that it is one of the world’s leading economic powers, despite the lack of information that exists about it from an out-of-universe perspective. Beyond that, Nordlands (along with Wielvakia) holds the distinction of being the only nation on the Belkan subcontinent to never have been under Belkan rule at any point in its history.

*This flag is non-canon and is only here for display purposes.
Full Name: The FATO States / The Fato Federation (possible acronym, full name unknown)
Capital: Brunies
Continent: North Osea, Belkan subcontinent
Head of State: Unknown (Referred to as “Hopkins” by the AC Wiki)
Government: Leading Council (unverified)
Real World Analog: Unknown

Most of this is pulled from the Ace Combat Wiki, which is a tenuous source of information at best. But, gently caress it, Namco hasn’t published anything to contradict it and probably never will, so let’s see what Acepedia has (probably) pulled out of its rear end about FATO. Hell, I don’t even know where they got that flag up there from. The non-canon political map I posted alongside the “canon” map speculates that FATO stands for the “Federation of Aboriginal Tribes of Osea”, but that, again, came directly from someone’s rear end, and I’m only tentatively willing to indulge fanon here when it comes to Strangereal’s sadly numerous grey areas.

Canonically speaking, the FATO states purchased a small portion of north eastern Belka after the Federal Law Review, claiming a small chunk of territory between the northern coast and the border of what would eventually become Gebet, with the finalized border landing close to the Belkan capital of Dinsmark.

When Belka launched its invasion of its southern neighbors, it seemingly spared its former northern territories, such as those now held by FATO and Gebet, though it is unknown if Belka was planning to retake its northern and easter seceded lands after it had secured the south. The FATO states remained neutral for the course of the Belkan War, declining to provide aid to either Belka or the Allies during the conflict.

Belka, at the height of its power.


A quick note on the “Ace Style” mechanic. Depending on your actions in-game, you are graded on a sliding scale and assigned an Ace Style in one of three catetories.

A KNIGHT Ace flys by a code of honour and will refrain from destroying non-combatant targets like houses or infrastructure that may or may not be in use by the enemy, and will permit disabled or neutralized enemies (all targets that appear in yellow) to leave the battlefield unharmed.

A SOLDIER Ace will adjust his tactics with the tide of battle, destroying non-combatant targets where necessary, but never to an excessive degree. Maintaining a Soldier Ace Style throughout the game is perhaps the most difficult and requires you to be conscious of what you’re shooting down because you can very easily slip into Knight or Mercenary if you kill or spare too many yellow targets.

And lastly a MERCENARY Ace seeks to dominate the battlefield. No target escapes their wrath, active, disabled, or non-combatant alike. The Mercenary is all about earning the biggest paycheck they can grab, and that means shooting down and taking out every target they can, honour and finesse be damned.

Beyond that, the game will change slightly based on your Ace Style. Certain in-mission dialogs will play out depending on your Ace Style, you will encounter different boss squadrons at certain points in the game depending on what style you’re playing, and the subjects of Brett Thompson’s documentary interviews in the mid and late game will also change depending on your Ace Style. Note, that the over-all plot will remain the same depending on your Ace Style.

Also, the special target Aces that make up the Assault Records (which I will go over later) will change in missions depending on your Ace Style. So that means that to fill the entire Assault Records, you will actually need to play through the game at least 3 separate times to unlock each Ace Style’s specific mission. …And then do it all over again two more times to unlock Hard and Ace difficulty, because those also have unique Aces that don’t appear in other difficulties.

tl;dr: I probably picked the most singularly complex Ace Combat game to start this franchise LP on :suicide:

Frank Friedrich
30, Male, Belka
04.02.95 Operation Crossbow - Shot Down
F-5E Tiger II* Special Plane Colour Unlocked
Difficulty: Any
Ace Style: Mercenary

Assigned to an aggressor squadron that plays the role of the enemy in combat practice, he was sent to the front when the war situation worsened. He now serves as an instructor at the Heierlark Air Base in North Osea.

Felix Boesch
29, Male, Belka
04.02.95 Operation Crossbow - Killed In Action
J35J Draken
Difficulty: Any
Ace Style: Soldier

Having gone missing in action during an attack on the Valais Air Base, his remains were discovered in the surrounding mountains after the war. His remains were verified through dental records and, along with personal effects, sent to surviving family.

Rudi Kaltz
28, Male, Belka
04.02.95 Operation Crossbow - Killed In Action
F-4E Phantom II
Difficulty: Any
Ace Style: Knight

In 1987, he enlisted as a volunteer in the Belkan Air Force, and went on to forge a brilliant war record during the Belkan invasion of Ustio. During an aerial battle over Valais Air Base, he was shot down and killed by the Mercenary Pilots stationed there.

Oswald Baermann
34, Male, Belka
04.02.95 Operation Crossbow - Shot Down
F-117A Nighthawk
Difficulty: Expert
Ace Style: Any

After the war, he hid out in South Belka, presently North Osea, and organized a terrorist unit of former Belkan soldiers known as The Falcons of Dawn. To date he has organized seven acts of terror against the Osean Federation and remains at large.

Karlheinz Litbarski
42, Male, Belka
04.02.95 Operation Crossbow - Shot Down
Difficulty: Ace
Ace Style: Any

A member of the Belkan Air Force's Aviation Test Corps with a record of 6000 hours of test flight time under his belt. He moved to the front line shortly after the war's outbreak. He is now working as a consultant for the Osea Air Defense Force Technology Development Bureau.

Ace Combat Zero Original Soundtrack
Composer: Tetsukazu Nakanishi
Release: 2006
Discs: 2
Tracks: 23, 22

Tracks Featured In Mission 1 & Prologue

nine-gear crow fucked around with this message at 23:55 on Mar 27, 2016

Sep 4, 2011

Ask me about being the best dad ever.

Yeaaaaaah, I love this series and the PS2 games especially!

Really looking forward to this!

Dr. Snark
Oct 15, 2012

I'M SORRY, OK!? I admit I've made some mistakes, and Jones has clearly paid for them.
But ma'am! Jones' only crime was looking at the wrong files!
I beg of you, don't ship away Jones, he has a wife and kids!

-United Nations Intelligence Service

Much as I am overjoyed to see you guys run an entire Ace Combat megathread, I have to agree that Zero is the most complex one to start on because of the Ace Style mechanic. Much as I love this game to death, it is definitely the hardest to LP.

On the plus side, it does have one of the best (if not the best) soundtracks in the series, so there is that!

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!

Aw yeah. :neckbeard:

I simply adore the music for this series as its amazingly solid through and through. Yes, I even like the ACAH soundtrack quite a bit. :colbert:

However, you seem to have posted the wrong image for the Mitsubishi F-1. That's a Japanese F-4EJ.

Dr. Snark posted:

On the plus side, it does have one of the best (if not the best) soundtracks in the series, so there is that!

I think AC5 has it beat as a whole but Zero does have some amazing tracks as we'll hear. Heck, one of my favourite ones, Glacial Skies, is featured in this mission.

Cooked Auto fucked around with this message at 01:51 on Nov 17, 2015

Nov 13, 2012


nine-gear crow posted:

(seriously, were there even fans of Electrosphere?).

I mean, I was like ten and my Air Force brother likes the whole series. It was also our introduction to the series.

Wait, are you talking English or Japanese Electrosphere?

So do all of the games you're planning on LPing take place in the same world? Because…

nine-gear crow posted:

  • economic strife.

  • – Economic woes continue. Far-right Party wins majority, pledges to restore strength and stability.

  • asteroid.

  • launches an invasion
  • The Republic falls. last remaining military facility.
  • counterstrike action begins.

…I'm getting a little bit of déjŕ vu.

I would definitely be down for commentating on at least one of these games in the future. I'll admit that 5 and Belkan War are my biggest blind spots on the series; I watched my brother play them, but something about them just didn't hold my attention at the time.

Nov 8, 2009

Well that was some overwrought dialogue. Just how preachy is this game going to be?

Nov 12, 2012

Transform and waaauuuugh out!

Hell yes, it's about time that someone LP'd this awesome series!

Also, no, there were no fans of Electrosphere, because the English release was a horrifically gutted piece of trash with most of it's story and content removed, because whoever brought it over thought that English audiences were dumb and wouldn't get it.

nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis

Cooked Auto posted:

However, you seem to have posted the wrong image for the Mitsubishi F-1. That's a Japanese F-4EJ.

Oh, poo poo, you're right. I will fix that. Please, everyone, make sure you fact check what I post here. I'm striving for fictional accuracy here. Just don't give me poo poo about my flying style :argh:

Cythereal posted:

Well that was some overwrought dialogue. Just how preachy is this game going to be?

Incredibly :allears: Welcome to Ace Combat.

frozentreasure posted:

I would definitely be down for commentating on at least one of these games in the future.

I would be more than happy to have you on.

Space Kablooey
May 6, 2009

nine-gear crow posted:

Belka is one of the oldest and most culturally robust nations on the planet, boasting a heritage that dates back to the Middle Ages, probably even further than that. Ask any Belkan and they will boast to you to no end about long and storied history and culture, exemplified by the legendary Belkan knights. Though the power and influence of the Belkan aristocracy has waned since medieval times, many pilots in the equally legendary Belkan Air Force claim decadence from historical knight families and model themselves off of the Belkan knights of old.

I hope this is a typo. :v:

Nov 8, 2009

nine-gear crow posted:

Incredibly :allears: Welcome to Ace Combat.

Oh dear. All I know about this series is that it inspired the HAWX games and has some very silly superweapons as bosses.

nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis

HardDisk posted:

I hope this is a typo. :v:

MS Word poo poo itself as I tried and failed to spell "descendence". Nice catch.

Dec 12, 2009

by R. Guyovich

Hahah looks like I'm not the only one who spotted the rogue F4!

Jul 4, 2010

I hope you realize that because of the image you chose, you now have to play the game in Mercenary style.

Dr. Snark
Oct 15, 2012

I'M SORRY, OK!? I admit I've made some mistakes, and Jones has clearly paid for them.
But ma'am! Jones' only crime was looking at the wrong files!
I beg of you, don't ship away Jones, he has a wife and kids!

-United Nations Intelligence Service

Rorahusky posted:

Also, no, there were no fans of Electrosphere, because the English release was a horrifically gutted piece of trash with most of it's story and content removed, because whoever brought it over thought that English audiences were dumb and wouldn't get it.

The story I heard was that the Japanese fanbase (apparently) hated Electrosphere when it came out, so the devs thought it would be better to gut it for the American release, and then the American fans hated the gutted version.

There has been an English translation for emulations of the much better Japanese version of Electrosphere (or at least half of it) that came out not too long ago, though. Having seen a playthrough of it, I can say that it was much better before it came stateside.

I'd also be willing to do commentary if you're interested, Crow-I've played every single title on the list of games to be LP'd far too many times for my own good. I regret nothing

Nov 8, 2009

Dreadwroth posted:

Hahah looks like I'm not the only one who spotted the rogue F4!

HAWX at least had a couple of planes that in real life were nothing but the Japanese home-grown version of an American plane, but had superior stats because Japan.

Mar 3, 2011

Spider-Man's Amazing Construction Company

I'm delighted to see this series getting an LP; I look forward to seeing it get to 4 and 5 where I might actually have something interesting to say because I've actually played those games. :D

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!

You actually used the :sweden: Draken :sweden: in the first mission too. :neckbeard:
Fun Draken fact :eng101:, the plane was withdrawn from active service as late as 2005. In this case it was the Austrian airforce which retired theirs with F-5 Tiger II's until they got Eurofighter Typhoons.

I may or may not try to sprinkle in some extra fun facts about Swedish fighter aircraft present in this game as I'm pretty sure the Drakens successor, the Saab 37 Viggen or Thunderbolt is also present in one of these games alongside the JAS-39 Gripen.

Cythereal posted:

Oh dear. All I know about this series is that it inspired the HAWX games and has some very silly superweapons as bosses.

As I mentioned back when I LPed that series the HAWX games ripped a ton of stuff from the Ace Combat series. I mostly noticed stuff I recognized from AC5 but I'm sure several other parallels can be found as this progresses.

nine-gear crow posted:

Just don't give me poo poo about my flying style :argh:

Eh, I wouldn't worry too much. No one really game me much gruff for my flying in HAWX.

DivineCoffeeBinge posted:

I'm delighted to see this series getting an LP; I look forward to seeing it get to 4 and 5 where I might actually have something interesting to say because I've actually played those games. :D

Aside from this mission in AC0 I've only played AC5 to completion and most of ACAH.

Something that should once again be commented on is the music because a lot of the tracks have some great Spanish influences to them with castanets as heard in Glacial Skies.

Also, a couple of years ago I worked on an F-15C plastic kit that I had lying around and I couldn't resist making a slight altercation to it when I painted it:

It was a cold and snowy day...

Also, here's two photos I took from a Flight day last year at a nearby airforce base.

That, and the rest of the stuff I saw, was worth the sunburn.

Cooked Auto fucked around with this message at 02:30 on Nov 17, 2015

Jul 23, 2013

Just your friendly neighborhood photobomb raptor.

Speaking of the HAWX LP's , I still miss those vids. Someone really should re-upload them at some point. Anyways, looking forward to the rest of the LP! Even though PCSX2 is not a real PS2,I'll try to play along to the best of my abilities.

Nov 17, 2005
Damn stupid newbie

Oh Excellent. I do love this series on far to high of a level. Looking forward to this poo poo. I have a shameful number of hours sunk into the series.

The best part of 5 is still the Hori joystick. The stick that came with 6 was poo poo in comparison. Yet I still own both.

Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.

Cythereal posted:

Well that was some overwrought dialogue. Just how preachy is this game going to be?

Ace Combat is basically a mecha anime but with jets.

It is also FANTASTIC fun.

Jul 21, 2012

Night10194 posted:

Ace Combat is basically a mecha anime but with jets.

It is also FANTASTIC fun.

Complete with ineffectual pseudogermans that just won't stay down.

Long Live Belka

Jan 9, 2007

Don't post Small Dash!

The only flying combat game I've ever played it the original Star Wars Rogue Squadron. I'll be interested in seeing this, if only to understand just what the big deal is.

Apr 23, 2011

Although its not the first in the Strangereal game line, the Belkan War would leave scars across the Strangereal timeline. As for Electrosphere, the reason there's no fans for it is because instead of translating the original japanese game's storyline, they just cut it out entirely leaving behind a string of missions with only the mission briefings to act as the story conveyance.

Pity, because the japanese version is a very neat little cyberpunk story.

The Casualty
Sep 29, 2006
Security Clearance: Pop Secret

Whiny baby


For Fucks Sake, please be the first LPer to actually finish one of these games. Also I'm a huge aviation and Strangereal Ace Combat nerd so I'll be watching this with baited breath.

Jan 18, 2005

Heh... Spider-man... Web searches... That's funny. I should've trademarked that one. Could've made a mint.

I love Ace Combat. With that said:

nine-gear crow posted:

I hope I’m not breaking anyone’s hearts here (seriously, were there even fans of Electrosphere?).

I liked the more futuristic plane designs, even though the game should've been much better.

Dr. Snark posted:

Much as I am overjoyed to see you guys run an entire Ace Combat megathread, I have to agree that Zero is the most complex one to start on because of the Ace Style mechanic. Much as I love this game to death, it is definitely the hardest to LP.

I'll let you in a little secret of how I dealt with Ace Style: First, 100% Knight run, then 100% Mercenary run, then on the third run it's a matter of keeping balance, and bam you get Soldier.

I played 2,5 and Zero to death, and I hope you can showcase most of the nice paint-jobs you can win.


nine-gear crow posted:

F-5E Tiger II
Status: In Service
Primary Operators: United States, China, Iran, South Korea

How dare you forget about the mighty Mexican Air Force, just kept at bay by those tactic-lol rifles most americans keep under their beds? :argh:

Kal-L fucked around with this message at 06:31 on Nov 17, 2015

Feb 27, 2013

Let me fix your avisynth scripts! It'll only take me a couple horus.

I'll be watching these. I thought there was some other Bandai-Namco game series that had some titles set in Strangereal, though. I think it was a silly throwaway mention on a website by one of the developers of the games, though, so maybe it's for the best that it doesn't get touched up on.

Are any of the Strangereal titles' plots or content heavily modified between regions the way some of the early PS1 non-Strangereal ones were? I hope you mention any noteworthy differences if they come up.

Feb 15, 2011

Some things can't be unseen

I forget, does the dogfighting ever get more intense than this?

Aug 2, 2014

You did what in your cup?

VolticSurge posted:

Speaking of the HAWX LP's , I still miss those vids. Someone really should re-upload them at some point. Anyways, looking forward to the rest of the LP! Even though PCSX2 is not a real PS2,I'll try to play along to the best of my abilities.

Yeah I went to watch em and has been dead for a while and I've never even heard of viddler.

Apr 23, 2011

Ace Combat 4 and 5 are good war stories and the one in 6 is quite heartwarming as well.

When I played those games, I always used in-cockpit view. The only game that I used the external camera for was Assault Horizon and that was only because I needed it to get a handle on the new dogfighting mechanic.

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!

VolticSurge posted:

Speaking of the HAWX LP's , I still miss those vids. Someone really should re-upload them at some point. Anyways, looking forward to the rest of the LP! Even though PCSX2 is not a real PS2,I'll try to play along to the best of my abilities.

You know I'd love to but the problem is that back when I did them I used the fact that blip didn't really care too much about the music copyrights like YT does and that makes it hard to upload them anywhere without pretty much all of them being muted. I have all the footage still but there's no real place for me to upload them.
Had I the will for it I'd probably want to redo them all for YT and this time remember to turn on subtitles for HAWX2 from the start.

Aug 18, 2012

Long live Belka

The Casualty
Sep 29, 2006
Security Clearance: Pop Secret

Whiny baby

Gideon020 posted:

Ace Combat 4 and 5 are good war stories and the one in 6 is quite heartwarming as well.

When I played those games, I always used in-cockpit view. The only game that I used the external camera for was Assault Horizon and that was only because I needed it to get a handle on the new dogfighting mechanic.

I only ever use cockpit view as well. I enjoy the added immersion, plus the external camera makes gunnery more difficult. In general, flying in 1st person feels much more precise.

Jul 10, 2008

Gravy Boat 2k

This was the first game in the Ace Combat series to actually kick my rear end in its higher difficulties. I remember playing Mercenary style and getting absolutely donkey stomped later in the game. I feel like they buffed up the enemy AI for this game. There were times when I would notice enemies getting me on their tail just so their wingman could sneak up behind me and take me out. Freaked me the gently caress out the first time I noticed.

Nov 4, 2009

Get close to the explosion.

The Casualty posted:

For Fucks Sake, please be the first LPer to actually finish one of these games.


I mean, I know I never had AC6 archived because I felt like it was poorly done, but still. Credit where credit is due.

Feb 29, 2008

TyrantSabre posted:


I mean, I know I never had AC6 archived because I felt like it was poorly done, but still. Credit where credit is due.

That LP was what got me into Ace Combat, TyrantSabre.

McTimmy fucked around with this message at 09:43 on Nov 17, 2015

Feb 18, 2011

nine-gear crow posted:

tl;dr: I probably picked the most singularly complex Ace Combat game to start this franchise LP on :suicide:
Yes you did. :v:
Here's hoping that regardless of this you manage to overcome the Ace Combat LP curse and succesfully complete this, because it's one of my (and many others') favourite Ace Combat games.
The other being AC5, unsurprisingly.

Cooked Auto posted:

You know I'd love to but the problem is that back when I did them I used the fact that blip didn't really care too much about the music copyrights like YT does and that makes it hard to upload them anywhere without pretty much all of them being muted. I have all the footage still but there's no real place for me to upload them.
Had I the will for it I'd probably want to redo them all for YT and this time remember to turn on subtitles for HAWX2 from the start.
You could always upload them as unlisted and have them linked through the LPArchive? Maybe that might be enough to make it harder for Youtube to mute/take them down. :shobon:

radintorov fucked around with this message at 09:51 on Nov 17, 2015


Aug 18, 2012

ACZ is probably my favorite game of all time, and the one I've beaten the most. The core gameplay is pretty basic but there's an incredible amount of production value and attention to detail that really brings the whole thing together. Just remember that Knight path is worst path.

Also, eagle-eyed viewers will spot one of the long-running mysteries of the series in the intro, where the Autocracy (I think?) of Ratio annexes eastern Ustio and nobody seems to care.

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