When it comes to naming some of the best flight simulator games on a console, the Ace Combat series always pops out in everyone’s mind. Since the franchise’s debut in 1995 on the PlayStation One, the series has sold a total of ten million units worldwide. At the time of the series’ launch in 1995, the Ace Combat games remained as an exclusive brand for Sony consoles until the Xbox 360 came out. This generation, gamers have received several Ace Combat series but they weren’t as well received as the older Ace Combat games.
To reinvent the series, Namco Bandai has released a new title, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. The game is not part of the main Ace Combat series but rather a spin-off title. Compared to the other Ace Combat games, how is Assault Horizon any different? Let’s take a look in the HOTs and NOTs in our review.
As soon as I heard that there was another Ace Combat game coming this year, I already knew what to expect; same arcadey gameplay that I’ve become accustomed to for so many years. What I didn’t know is that there are ground fights that is new to the series. If you love playing Call of Duty games, one of the best missions that you might love is when you are able to call in an airstrike via the helicopter or a plane dropping bombs. In Ace Combat, you get to be that helicopter or a plane that will do all of the things you wish you could do in the Call of Duty games.
In Assault Horizon, the campaign mission is pretty diverse. You won’t get to be on the plane all of the time where you will just have to take down targets. This time, the game will pretty much get you on and off through aerial assault and mix it with ground fights. When it comes to ground fights, it doesn’t mean that you will be a soldier on foot and kill those rebels. Instead, you will be the air support for the ground team. One of the best missions I’ve played in the game is when I was on a helicopter and was tasked to eliminate all of the ground rebels. The experience was unforgettable and as I fan of the franchise, it felt that Project Aces really did something new for once in the series.
DFM (Dogfight Mode)
Assault Horizon lives up to what the series has been known for – an arcade-like feel of a flight simulation. To some, it may get a little old but to make it somewhat new and easier for players who are annoyed by the controls and mechanics of the game, Project Aces introduces a new mode called Dogfight. In the new DFM or Dogfight Mode, you are now able to lock onto other enemies’ jets. Once you are locked in, and depending on how you maneuver your aircraft, you can tail the enemy no matter how fast they fly through the airspace. A red circle indicator will flash when the target has been locked and then you can launch your missiles.
New Multiplayer Mode – Conquest
Another feature that Ace Combat fans are addicted to is the online multiplayer that was introduced in Ace Combat 6. The modes that we all love from past Ace Combat games are back and a new mode called, Conquest, has been introduced to Assault Horizon. In the Conquest Mode, two teams of eight will take turns in either defending or attacking a world capital such as the Washington D.C. Players can pick whether they want to be fighters, attackers, or bombers and all of them can fly simultaneously. What makes the mode somewhat challenging is that every aircraft has their own pros and cons. The first time I played it, I kept on dying. Once you learn all how to play with all the aircraft, it can be an enjoyable experience.
Lots of things to do in the game!
The campaign of Assault Horizon isn’t really long. Average gamers can finish the game in roughly six to eight hours. I really recommend finishing through the campaign as you get to unlock levels at each mission. Once you’re done with the campaign, there’s a bunch of things that’s waiting for you and that’s the online multiplayer. As mentioned earlier, there is a new mode called Conquest. For those who loved the deathmatch and the co-op missions, it’s there and it’s fun.
Story is still lacking but it’s there!
The story in all of the Ace Combat games I’ve played are somewhat average. When Fires of Liberation was released on the Xbox 360, the story was forgettable and I pretty much focused on the online play instead. In Assault Horizon, expect the same “hollow” story. To me, the story is as confusing as past games and fans will pretty much care less about it and simply skip it to play the game already. The game starts off in Africa where a group of soldiers are on a mission to eradicate the rebel forces, which was Russia. From there, all kinds of plots are being revealed and one of the things that you will notice right away is they keep shifting in one story to the next that will make it very confusing.
Controls Learning Curve
Even though I’ve played Ace Combat for so many years, I still can’t get used to the controls. In Assault Horizon, there are new control settings. It’s not much different to past controls of Ace Combat games, but newcomers to the series will have a hard time adjusting to it. If you’re new, give yourself some time mastering it, but once you know the controls and the mechanics of the game, you will pretty much enjoy it. I can promise you that!
Visuals are Dated
For a next-generation game, Project Aces still hasn’t focused much on the visuals. As soon as the first cutscene was played, I was dismayed as to how the characters look. They’re not what I was expecting considering lots of recently released titles look fantastic. Of course, when you’re at the airspace, the sky looks beautiful but as soon as you do ground fights or look at the ground, the graphics are kind of blurry and you can see how dated it looks.
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is far from perfect. For fans of the Ace Combat games, this may be the best one yet. The introduction of ground fights will be very refreshing to fans of the series, especially the fun Conquest mode that adds up a lot of replayability for the game. Despite having a story that is lacking substance and the visuals being somewhat dated, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is a flight simulator game that you shouldn’t miss out.
[Editor’s Note: Ace Combat: Assault Horizon was reviewed on the Xbox 360 hardware. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Review,