Ace Combat titles have been renowned for their fun, over-the-top, arcade-style gameplay, but it’s been a few years since Ace Combat 6.
Luckily for AC fans, Namco Bandai has released Ace Combat Assault Horizon, a spin-off title for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, that for the first time, takes place on Earth. Past titles have taken place in an alternate reality, which have also featured fictional aircrafts, which isn’t the case with Assault Horizon.
The development team has used real locales such as Miami, Dubai, Paris, and Moscow (just to name a few), and rendered them beautifully, thanks in large part to satellite imagery to replicate the actual cities.
Throughout the game, players will take on various mission objectives which include the typical air battles, mixed in with some Apache helicopter strikes and bomber missions that add a little variety to the formula. In many ways, Ace Combat Assault Horizon feels like a completely different game, but as a spinoff title, it’s allowed this sort of break from the norm. Whether longtime AC fans will dig the change of pace is to be determined but new players will likely feel at home right away.
Luckily for both vets and rookies alike, the game offers up two main control schemes – namely Original and Optimum. The Original setting feels much like the usual control scheme reserved for ‘Expert’ mode in previous titles. Players will have full control of their aircrafts, while being able to roll during combat. Optimum on the other hand, which is the game’s default mode, prevents players from doing full rolls, but adds to the stability of the game.
Perhaps “Optimum” is best used for beginners, due to the game’s new system dubbed “Close-Range Assault.” The new feature brings the action a little bit closer to the player, as opposed to the “far away” point of view that Ace Combat fans are used to. Players will see this new system during “Dogfight Mode” and “Air Strike Mode”, which is for air-to-air battles and air-to-ground combat respectively.
Though I’ve played a few Ace Combat titles in the past, this one may be the more enjoyable one I’ve played in some time. Maybe it’s due to the more realistic nature of the game, or the fact that we get to jump into other types of missions, but overall, it feels like a nice direction for the game. Surely Ace Combat 7, or whatever the next iteration of the regular franchise, will probably return to its roots, but this works just fine for now.
The game still offers up online and co-op modes which are easily the best part of the game, with standard death matches and other base destruction games being included. Players can also drop in and out of matches at will which helps to keep the action going and avoids waiting periods, which is always welcomed.
At the end of the day, Ace Combat Assault Horizon is a fine title that longtime fans should enjoy, while newcomers will appreciate the easier learning curve. While not perfect, there’s enough action here for anyone looking to their air combat fix.
Final Score: 4 / 5