Ace Combat: Assault Horizon ReviewRando Evans
The games of the Ace Combat series have never tried to be flight sims but they have always felt as if they had the same respect for the super-engineered and precise machines, along with the men and women who fly them. Players of the Ace Combat series have been dedicated fans since Air Combat in 1992 and while we've seen improvements (especially upon graphics) there has always been a similar feeling to the series.
Cut to Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. In a day and age of Gears of Wars, and Modern Warfare, where bro-ish 'tudes and over-the-top gore have made their way to popularity (neither an inherently bad thing) it's unfortunate that Ace Combat: Assault Horizon has attempted to change its personality to cater to this group and compete.
Story has never been huge in the Ace Combat series, but Ace Combat: Assault Horizon does even worse with a loss of respect to the brave fighter pilots, a focus on over-the-top explosions and even a little bit of blood. With almost no personality to our heroes who walk along a paper thin plotline the last thing you'll care about in AC:AH is the story (at least what little of one there is). There are no emotional connections apparent between any of the characters. Emphases on simply destroying, burning, and killing takes over instead of a rich, detailed, and driven plotline. This is little heartbreaking coming from a series which did the latter so much better.
You'll still be flying real aircraft you'll be flying over real cities, and everything looks absolutely gorgeous. Explosions, planes, camera angles, city textures there isn't anything here that won't impress you visually. Which is part of the problem Ace Combat: Assault Horizon comes off like the next big budget, ultra-explosive Hollywood film. Amazing to look at, perfect for a couple hours to break the summer heat and chow down on some popcorn, but not much else.
Gameplay still remains generally the same in some aspects; however they take the slick, fast paced action of the series, and attempt to make it even slicker. Every fight can be instigated into a dog fight mode where one-on-one, you can attempt to take down an enemy jet. However cool it looks (camera angels zooming around, explosions going off) it seems flat in the gameplay department. It doesn't really take any skill to bring down an enemy. In fact you'll find Ace Combat: Assault Horizon seems to mostly be about shooting things, watching them blow up, which I'll admit has been true of the past games in the series, but this time around everything seems easier, flashier, and has a whole lot less soul. It would have been nice to see some challenge, but every combat situation and mission seems to have been nerfed from the previous games, making Ace Combat: Assault Horizon a breeze to play through, without getting your adrenaline pumping much at all.
There's something so off about Ace Combat Assault Horizon like they took an old TV series and tried to make it edgy and cool for a new generation. Imagine if they remade Matlock, and Matlock was a foul-mouthed, time-travelling lawyer with a robot who had saw-blades for hands. Okay, it's not that severe, but you get the point. Still, if you're the kind of player who likes to fly around, and kill things, and couldn't care less about whose flying the vehicles of destruction, you might find some joy here, otherwise fans of the series and those looking for some substance will be vastly disappointed. But that's not to say Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is completely bad just flawed and a huge step back for a beloved series.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.