Published on October 17th, 2011 | by Kyle Spencer, Editor
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Review
Platform: Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PlayStation 3
Release Date: October 11, 2011
There hasn’t been many games that were released within the flight genre, but Ace Combat has always been the king of the skies in this department. Sure Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. gave it a solid run (the first one, not the second), but Ace Combat has always been able to master what others in its category have failed upon. Repetition and flight controls. With the release of Assault Horizon, the team over at Namco decided to take a different approach to this iteration of the franchise. Many have seen the commercials and tag-lines that read “The Call of Duty of the skies”. That does hold some weight but not in ways that I would have liked.
Ace Combat features a story that seems as if it was lifted directly from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. You are fighting against a group of Middle Eastern rebels who launch a ICBM directly at the United States. Seem like anything you have played through already, but from a different prospective? Even with the disappointing similarities that the game has to the original Modern Warfare, that necessarily isn’t a bad thing. I like the direction the Namco took by bringing the aerial dog fighting to a more Rural and urban environment and this shines through especially in later missions.
The game’s dog fighting is top notch. The controls are very fluid and effortless. There is now a new lock on system that keeps your plane in line with your target as long as you keep them in your sights. No more constant turning your plane into 360 degree turns and thrust to different angles. With this new lock ability you can now comfortably shoot your enemy with precision as long as you keep them in your line of sight. Some of you may think that this feature will make online play a bit cheap, but maneuvering out of missile fire is just as easy. You can still perform instant 360 moves to get out of the way of fire, and if you have squad mates they can come up behind your enemy and target them to move.
The game is beautiful to look at. It has been a little while since I have played a decent game that consisted of flying that didn’t feature many texture problems, but Ace Combat achieved that beautifully. You can fly around and not notice texture loads or pop-in. The environments are amazingly detailed and crisp to look at. Trust me when I say that dog fighting in a devastated Iraq looks pretty close to the real thing.
The plane damage also got a considerable advancement than previous iterations. You will notice that when you shoot down a plane and it is burning you can see the visual fire damage to the aircraft and the impact of the missile. If you have an engine on fire, that area of the plane will being to deteriorate leaving your options minimal.
The single-player adventure is fun to play. Namco included one of it’s new aircraft’s to the mix in the game with the inclusion of the Longbow helicopter. The mission that features this aircraft is boring and disrupts any pacing that the game had going in. The controls of the chopper are clunky and make flying a helicopter in Battlefield a piece of cake. Overall the story is satisfactory and jumps up in excitement about half way through the campaign. The campaign should take you roughly 9 to 11 hours to complete but has a solid and satisfying ending.
Accompanying the single-player campaign is a great co-op mode and excellent dog fighting multiplayer mode. One notable game mode was the base combat mode which puts two teams with bombers, helicopters and fighter jets fighting each other for each others bases. This game modes requires a lot of team work and communication so be prepared for slinging your controller around a lot if there is no communication.
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is a step in a positive direction for the franchise. The scenery is a nice change that opens up the market a little bit to COD fans. The game will fly under radars this holiday since it will be overshadowed by other big launches, but if you are looking for another game that features solid air combat and fun multiplayer, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is a solid contender for you money.
+ Solid Flight Controls
+ Great Visuals
– Weak Story