Video Game Review – Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

Disclaimer: This review is written by a longtime Ace Combat fanboy.

Here’s a trailer of the game in order to set the stage and give you a little on what to expect:

Second disclaimer: If this trailer full of awesome explodeyness and allround adrenalin-pumping didn’t get you interested, you probably have no interest in the rest of this review.

Ace Combat has always been about flying awesome planes around in awesome aerial combat whilst shooting down others in at fist-pumpingly awesome manner, and this game is no different. However, they’ve had a go at spicing it all up with some new stuff that wasn’t in previous games and shaking it all about. Gritty dark reboot type thing, like Batman Begins.

Here’s some of the new stuff:

  • Moving from a parallel dimension to more or less our dimension. Previously, all AC games were on a sort of parellel earth with different geography and countries (although always vaguely reminiscent of real countries), but all the same plane manufacturers as we have in our world. That allowed us to have great mixes of planes without having to think over why someone had Russian and American planes in the same air force. Since they had developed it over several games, I felt a rather strong attachement to it and was concerned that putting things in the real world would make things more boring. However, they avoided this by completely disregarding boring stuff like politics, economy and logistics which is a bit silly at times but generally rather fun. Also, doing battle over cities you recognize from the real world is kinda awesome and gets automatic bonus points from me since I study geomatics.
  • Helicopters! (Aw hellyeah-acopters.) For the first time in AC you get to hover if you want to, but then you’ll probably get shot down by a PRG-toting maniac on the ground. Quite fun, but some issues with control and general playability. Still, it’s fun to ambush armoured columns by waiting for them to drive onto the Moscow boulevard you’re hovering at the end of.
  • Miniguns! You get to stand behind a minigun and blast the hell out of people on the ground. Makes for a nice distraction, but glad it’s not the entire game.
  • Strategic bombers and AC-130s ! What’s not to like? Eminently satisfying one-off missions, just the right amount of this kind of gameplay.
  • Dogfight mode. As seen in the trailer, you can initiate dogfights where you get up close and personal. To begin with I thought it was kinda silly, but by the end I had really warmed to it. Adrenalin-pumping excitement which really gives life to encounters with enemy aces and lets you fly through some ridiculous setpieces.

The new stuff is generally good, and the old stuff is classic Ace Combat, the kind of game where when you get shot down you pound the sofa pillows and shout “I’ll get you next time, Markov! AGAIN!”.

Third disclaimer: This kind of behaviour may worry girlfriends, boyfriends or anyone else within hearing distance.

Also, there’s a bunch of online stuff which I haven’t tried yet, but it’s probably a bit less off the hook and considerably harder. (But still fun, no doubt.) I would recommend this game to anyone has enjoyed previous Ace Combats and anyone who thinks a video game directed by a Japanese Michael Bay sounds fun. All in all, I give this game fanboy/10.

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