Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Review
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With Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, a respected series takes a nose-dive.
- Online play is fun
- Lots of explosive audiovisual spectacle
- Impressive re-creation of real-world geography.
- Dogfights require little skill
- Chopper missions require little skill
- On-rail missions are long and boring
- The entire game is all flash, no substance.
In Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, the last action you take is not to participate in a thrilling dogfight, or to victoriously soar through the clouds in an F-14 Tomcat. No. The very last thing you do in this airborne action game is to press a button to pump your fist in the air. No single moment exemplifies the spirit of the new and soulless vision of Ace Combat better than this display of alpha male bravado. Assault Horizon provides heaps of the visual spectacle you'd see in a summer blockbuster--but absolutely no depth. Gone is the devotion to heartfelt storytelling of previous Ace Combat games. Gone are wingmate commands, varied mission objectives, and even (mostly) the fear of crashing into anything. Assault Horizon is about being in your face. Like most visual spectacles, those in this game draw your eye for a short while, and even provide some shallow entertainment. But no matter how loud and bright the explosions get, they can't disguise the obvious: Assault Horizon is so easy and repetitive that it almost plays itself. It is so busy being a movie that it forgets to be a game.
Most missions put you in the cockpit of an aircraft and whisk you to the skies, where fighters and bombers soar through the clouds, waiting for your missiles to strike. Like previous Ace Combat games, Assault Horizon is more of an arcade flight combat game than a simulator. You fly a number of different aircraft, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. But they are similar enough that you feel immediately comfortable regardless of your choice. In the sky, you lock on to enemies and let your missiles fly when they are in range, or speed in close enough to let loose a barrage of machine-gun fire. These are real-world jets, albeit ones that don't need refueling and that carry an unrealistically large amount of ordnance.
Assault Horizon takes the arcade aspects of previous games and distills them even further. Now, you don't even need skill to triumph in the air; when you close in behind an enemy jet, you can tap the shoulder buttons to initiate dogfighting mode. In a dogfight, the camera zooms in, and you automatically follow your target in a minigame in which you must hover your reticle over your foe and fire missiles when it turns red. Dogfights aren't fully on rails, however. You can break out of the dogfight if you need to evade other aircraft, and must maneuver to keep your intended victim within your sights. You can also turn the tables on fighters that engage you in this manner, tapping your bumpers at the right time to circle behind and change your role from victim to executioner.
Dogfighting mode makes a slick first impression. The cinematic camera angles impart a sense of speed and danger as you hurtle through the air at the mercy of your enemy's whims. When your fatal missile hits its mark, the camera might cut away from the action to show the flaming wreckage plummeting downward. It's a flurry of fire and metal that's enjoyable to watch and listen to at first. Sound effects are bombastic, without ever drowning out radio chatter. The blurry ground textures of previous Ace Combat games have been replaced with nicely detailed cities. Most past installments occurred in fictional settings, but Assault Horizon takes place in our own familiar world. Care obviously went into the choice of locations. Dubai, for example, is an effective backdrop because its man-made geography is instantly recognizable from the air.
But games aren't just meant to be seen; they're meant to be played. And Assault Horizon falls quickly into a rut because its entertainment value lies solely in the production elements. The gameplay? Hollow and repetitive. Everything has been reduced to a minigame. Need to win an air superiority mission? Initiate dogfighting mode again and again. Done deal. Have to take out a series of ground targets? Initiate another kind of on-rails sequence that removes any potential challenge. Even landing is a minigame in which you just hover a cursor in the right place. You can sometimes (but not always) avoid dogfighting mode if you want a more traditional flight combat experience, but doing so hammers home how thin the missions are. Previous Ace Combat games had you taking on giant airborne carriers, flying through caverns, and battling in monsoons. Assault Horizon's few attempts to mix things up--an attack on an aircraft carrier, taking down a few bombers--are comparatively trifling.
This game is totally underrated. this is a arcade flight sim not a realistic flight sim. This game actually innovate with new modes unlike Hawks 2. Action is not a bad thing and you expect this to have action because it is a arcade game...
There are realistic flight sims(none of the ace combat games fall into this category) Then there are really good arcade flight sims(Ace Combat 1-6) Then there are the average arcade flight sims(HAWX) Then there is the failed mutated disgrace that only ADHD, small-minded, COD trolls can appreciate(Ace Combat AH.)
Just thought you needed to update your definitions ;)
When this came out, I was excited. When I played it, I was disappointed. I traded it in the next day. As an Ace Combat fan that has played since 4, 5, 6, X, and Zero, this was a HUGE let-down. Dog fight mode wasn't fun. Helicopter and Turret/Bombing missions weren't fun either. Difficulty wasn't an issue at all, it just wasn't fun.
I buy the Ace Combat games for... well, YOU GUESSED IT, flying jets. The game took place in our world, not Strangereal - the usual Ace Combat world. That was a bad move IMO, as it was essentially Americanized.
It feels like they tried to appeal to the COD crowd with this installment in an attempt to broaden their fanbase. As I am NOT a fan of COD, this game didn't appeal to me.
Hopefully Namco has learned from these mistakes and the next installment will be better. Nothing was wrong with their old formula. In fact, the 3DS version of Assault Horizon was a completely different game and in a VERY GOOD way. It was a step back to what us fans know and love with the addition of quick maneuvers and missile evasion. My only gripe was that missions were too short. Other than that, it was great.
I give Ace Combat Assault Horizon for the PS3 and 360 a 3/10.
I give Ace Combat Assault Horizon LEGACY for the 3DS a 9/10.
Note: These are my opinions. You don't have to like it, but they are what they are.
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"The very last thing you do in this airborne action game is to press a button to pump your fist in the air."
Thanks for ruining the ending for us, jacka$$. I just wanted a review of the game, not for you to spoil the last moments of the game. .
@to384737849 Right, because that totally reflects everything that happens in the entire game's story or even in the last five minutes or so, right?
Completely agree. I appreciated past AC games (and absolutely adored Unsung War) because of the stories that get me involved into the whole scheme of things and make fighting much more meaningful. Assault Horizon feels just a tad above drop-coin-play-game without coins. It's just so flat. Worst game purchase I made this year.
This looks like a pretty underrated game. I'm playing it now, didn't finish yet but still gives me the same feeling as unsung war with the tracks and gameplay. After all dog fight mode is optional except for lead targtets. I only use DFM when things get too rough, i like shooting stuff the old fashioned way. Of course the story in unsung war was way more epic story wise. Well thats cause i haven't tried online yet cause i'm internetless at home atm as i just moved out.
mediocre games some times are fun but that score also means the are not likely to be worth paying the price of a new game
I believe it should have deserved at least a 7 out of 10. I haven't played the game but I watched the walkthrough videos and seen it's story. It deserved a lot better.
It is not that bad. The story is good. Addition of helicopters and gunships is a great idea. DFM makes dog-fights more intense and fast paced. The only problem is that the missions last for a very long time which makes you tired and lose the tension. I say that Namce made a bold decision to renew its own series.
Pretty spot-on, this review. I'm amazed you didn't go for the obvious targets, though, like the fact that many of the DFM sequences are scripted and boast enemies that are invulnerable until a specific moment. This game is a wash, and if it weren't for the multiplayer aspect, it would be a complete and utter failure.
What happened to the series? Ace Combat 2, 3 anybody? They were absolutely amazing games. Had that in-between Japanese and American vibe, experimental units and missile tyes. Now flying an F/A18 in Battlefield 3 feels almost as good. Not that AC:AH is a bad game. I'd rate it higher (compared to other games and following the "overall it's a weak game - 8/10" trend).
- Player Reviews: 26
- Game Universe:
- Ace Combat Assault Horizon (X360, PS3),
- Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy (3DS),
- Ace Combat: Joint Assault (PSP),
- Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation (X360),
- Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War (PS2),
- Ace Combat Advance (GBA),
- Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War (PS2),
- Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere (PS),
- Ace Combat 2 (PS),
- Air Combat (ARC, PS)
- Number of Players: