Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Review

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Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Review

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is solid fun dogfighting, but smoke and mirrors hide some disappointment.

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As someone who plays Lock On, just a few seconds of gameplay were enough to leave me incredibly bewildered. Is this game even played in an actual 3D space? Or does it just present you with bogeys who flash in front of your screen at dizzyingly short distances so you can shoot them? Can they even approach you from any direction except dead-ahead?

It looks like a game in an old school arcade machine with better graphics.

I played the demo after absolutely loving Ace Combat 6, and was completely turned off from ever playing the finished copy. It was like Micheal Bay directed the damn thing, it was nothing but flash without any real substance... Save for the helicopter mission, that was just a chore to play through (terrible controls + camera ahoy!), I've never played any of the earlier Ace Combat games, so I can't really have a say on the whole 'stagnating' thing I keep hearing about, but if this is the direction the series is going in... Well, I'm not planning on getting any of the further games in the Ace Combat series should this be the case.

You've got "dofighting" instead of "dogfighting."

BakaSmurf:
I played the demo after absolutely loving Ace Combat 6, and was completely turned off from ever playing the finished copy.

Amazingly, this will be the first AC I skip out on since 2, and that was because of financial issues, not an objection with the game.

I've been a pretty big fan of the AC series, but having played the demo, I'm so totally underwhelmed.

The review sums it up pretty well: "rental."

Well, that, to me, is a big letdown.

Urrrggg... im not really a die-hard fan of this genre but the whole "Getting oil on your 'face'" from combat just makes me cringe. Swing and a miss guys, i get that you think people need to be engaged in this way but making your game into an FPS is not the answer.

I'm not actually seeing what's wrong with the oil on the screen effect, but okay. :/

Personally, my only complaint was that the story (lauded to be written by some guy apparently quite big in military literature circles) was practically non-existent. I had no idea what i was supposed to be doing before each mission as there was no briefing screen to give me details on my targets.

It's a real blast once you get used to it (and switch the controls back to classic so you can actually fucking roll the plane.) and DFM in the multiplayer? Hell Yes. i had a literal five minute dogfight with someone on deathmatch where we were both countering each others counters. Played like a fighiting game.

I love this review for reminding me of Descent.

Never actually played one of the Ace Combat games though so whatever.

I'm just glad he mentioned X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter. Someday, I'll get a crack team of geeks together and make a new X-Wing game. We'll pretty it up, add some new features that the old Windows 95 games didn't have, and give it to everyone for free; while Lucasarts throws a fit because they haven't been able to make a decent star wars game in at least the last 5 years. They can try to stop us, but by the time Lucasarts' lawyers find out it exists, it'll be too late.

...Assuming they don't run out of ideas before I can get my team together, and they make some god-awful reboot of X-Wing.

My thoughts, as a long time Ace Combat fan (taken from my post on ACS):

Speaking of which, is anyone here from ACS, by any chance? I go by KonoBaka there.

When I first saw video of this game I was blown away but after playing the demo, Im gonna pass, I really don't like how the dog fighting mechanic feels, I played the hell out of ace combat... 4 I think and really enjoyed it but this one.... ehh, the music is awesome and it looks fantastic but I want the old style of play back.

The other complaint I had was the lack of a superweapon to take out toward the end of the game. Anyone else remember taking out the falling SOLG satellite at the end of AC 5? That was especially fun while flying the Falken, where you could use its laser to literally carve the thing into pieces.

Which brings me to the next point: Ace Combat games have, in the past, included some seriously overpowered fictional aircraft (the aforementioned Falken from AC5, the CFA-44 Nosferatu from AC6, X-02 Wyvern from AC4, and the ADFX-01/02 Morgan from AC0 are some examples). Where the heck are planes like these now? The closest thing we got this time around was the PAK-FA, and that is an actual fighter being developed by the Russians today. I get that they would seriously unbalance the multiplayer, but at least let us have something like that in single player.

I'm a little disappointed by the scripted events in particular.  While reducing the sim elements can create some antipathy from me, the lock-on mode might add to immersiveness and if it creates a new element in multi-player, might actually be pretty great.  It's important that the artist not intervene with such jarring effect as that billboard sequence though, especially in a game.

Shia-Neko-Chan:
I'm not actually seeing what's wrong with the oil on the screen effect, but okay. :/

The problem with the oil effect is most likely the realism.  Travelling at supersonic speeds at angles where the oil (if hit in a particular area to actually leak oil) would fall is not likely to stain your craft, unless your trajectory is aimed at crashing into the debris already (the angle of his capture certainly wasn't).  Even if being hit by oil, it would end up a specks or streaks, not big gobs.  Also, your real view wouldn't be a 2D glass pane of a windshield, obviously.  P.S. I'd like to see a bit more content in your post next time.

Now to be a little critical of the review.  In the video portion, the sound of the game effects/sounds during the talk-over was much too muted.  It was of especially poor execution during the cut-scene, where you had flapping mouths, but no way of letting us in on the actual feel of the dialogue.

I really want to pick up this game from the demo. The DFM mode has riled a lot of veteran's feathers from skimming around online but I think it's more of a knee jerk reaction to change than anything. I've heard it's made the online multiplayer playable and fun instead of the crap I put down after an hour in AC6's online. And the nay-saying I hear is most of the same fanboy crying of "ruined my franchise FOREVER." and the like.

The chopper controls from the demo were a bit wonky but still enjoyable and not nearly enough for me to throw away how awesome the flight mission was. Anyone with a brain could tell that half the mission was fighting planes with tutorial armor to teach the basics and could take 4 missiles until the right mechanic was taught. The end fight just as the demo was closing against about 4 or 5 enemies with all the training wheels off felt just awesome.

When I pick up some money I'm still getting this one. I like how Project Aces did this little side-game to their main series to try these things out too. Instead of trying to radically change the next main game in the series they did this little offshoot to get some reaction and broaden the fanbase a bit. Was a smart move.

arealperson:
I'm a little disappointed by the scripted events in particular.  While reducing the sim elements can create some antipathy from me, the lock-on mode might add to immersiveness and if it creates a new element in multi-player, might actually be pretty great.  It's important that the artist not intervene with such jarring effect as that billboard sequence though, especially in a game.

Shia-Neko-Chan:
I'm not actually seeing what's wrong with the oil on the screen effect, but okay. :/

The problem with the oil effect is most likely the realism.  Travelling at supersonic speeds at angles where the oil (if hit in a particular area to actually leak oil) would fall is not likely to stain your craft, unless your trajectory is aimed at crashing into the debris already (the angle of his capture certainly wasn't).  Even if being hit by oil, it would end up a specks or streaks, not big gobs.  Also, your real view wouldn't be a 2D glass pane of a windshield, obviously.  P.S. I'd like to see a bit more content in your post next time.

See, the problem with criticizing a feature like that because it isn't realistic is flawed reasoning really, because it obviously wasn't an attempt at realism in the first place. I guess it'd be kind of like playing Resident Evil and criticizing it for having Zombies because "zombies don't exist lol".

It just sort of rubbed me the wrong way when I'd heard his dismissive "Whatever dude" tone aimed at something meant to be cinematic, dynamic and fun, rather than realistic or believable.

Shia-Neko-Chan:

arealperson:
I'm a little disappointed by the scripted events in particular.  While reducing the sim elements can create some antipathy from me, the lock-on mode might add to immersiveness and if it creates a new element in multi-player, might actually be pretty great.  It's important that the artist not intervene with such jarring effect as that billboard sequence though, especially in a game.

Shia-Neko-Chan:
I'm not actually seeing what's wrong with the oil on the screen effect, but okay. :/

The problem with the oil effect is most likely the realism.  Travelling at supersonic speeds at angles where the oil (if hit in a particular area to actually leak oil) would fall is not likely to stain your craft, unless your trajectory is aimed at crashing into the debris already (the angle of his capture certainly wasn't).  Even if being hit by oil, it would end up a specks or streaks, not big gobs.  Also, your real view wouldn't be a 2D glass pane of a windshield, obviously.  P.S. I'd like to see a bit more content in your post next time.

See, the problem with criticizing a feature like that because it isn't realistic is flawed reasoning really, because it obviously wasn't an attempt at realism in the first place. I guess it'd be kind of like playing Resident Evil and criticizing it for having Zombies because "zombies don't exist lol".

It just sort of rubbed me the wrong way when I'd heard his dismissive "Whatever dude" tone aimed at something meant to be cinematic, dynamic and fun, rather than realistic or believable.

Thanks for elaborating. I was trying to explain on his behalf, by the way, I think I would need some more playtime, personally. But the realism's still a fair thing to bring up, seeing as the universe is semi-realistic jets, it just might seem all the more jarring.

What I missed on pointing out the first time was also the 'it's like COD' factor. It's one thing to blow up in a ridiculous way, but to make an effect resembling the game everyone's cynicism revolves around, it might just stick out that little bit more.

Umm.. The video breaks around 1:35 when the reviewer says: "Except for the final battle with the..."

Then it's completely frozen and no audio is playing until he's talking about the multiplayer.

I love the Ace Combat series but Assault Horizon is BETRAYL!
I hate it and I think it sucks, the worst Ace Combat I've played.

Might be that DFM improved the MP but I have to say that I give a damn shit about the MP. I only care about the SP and it sucks in AH.

Old series fails to sell well, tries to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Rinse.

Repeat.

Series had been on a slow decline since Ace Combat 04. 5 I actually quite enjoyed, not sure how everyone else felt about the system of getting upgraded planes but I liked it. Yeah, I'd say 4 and 5 were pro and the other ones have been merely alright.

I played the first game (Air Combat), the fourth game (Distant Thunder) and the demo to this one. If I were to plot a graph I would say that the series peak at 4 and went into a steady decline on it's way to this one. but who knows, maybe five and six were awesome, I'm not having much luck in tracking them down for a reasonable price.
It's till fun but it feels a tad gimmicky and I HATE the way they take control away from me. I don't feel like I earned that guns kill I feel like I was hand held all the way up to it.

I've been wanting to give this game a Redbox when I get a chance, tho there are a few others that are ahead in line atm

Same old complaints crop up over this game that crop up with every long running game series.
MOOOAN they've changed nothing.
MOOOAN they've changed something.
MOOOAN they've changed it all.

Ill probably pick this up in the new year sometime. Other games are on my radar for now.

I've been playing since Air Combat and played all console releases, this one by far is a huge let-down (especially since I had it pre-ordered since last year). DFM are for players that can't keep up with what's going on on the screen and should have been locked to if you were playing on easy (as well as the stupid novice controls, I was ready to throw the game out until I went into the options and changed the control scheme). On-rail chopper gunner sequences belong in FPS games. The trailer started to put me off when you realize that for the first time the game is based in reality (the enemy ace called the player an American dog or something to that effect).

I don't know, I'd feel less betrayed by this game if they called it something else.. but then if they did they wouldn't have the fan base behind it, bit of a double edged sword that

wooty:
Same old complaints crop up over this game that crop up with every long running game series.
MOOOAN they've changed nothing.
MOOOAN they've changed something.
MOOOAN they've changed it all.

The problem is, they've changed things for the worse. No one complained when something like the the wingman command system was added to the series, because it added a certain depth. Everything they've done to this game is of the gimmicky spectrum. I was hoping that the Original control scheme might save the day. But instead, now it's impossible to play it without the Optimal control scheme if you're playing with a gamepad - the control scheme that doesn't let you roll and restrains turning. It's literally turned into an on-rail shooter.

To recap...

-No fictional experimental prototypes
-No wingmen commands in SP (to dumb down gameplay)
-QTEs for maneuvers
-Regen health
-Helo gunner mission, complete with a gunner who wears a skull mask.
-Set in the real world to make it more 'contemporary', with the unmissable Middle East setting
-A Russian antagonist named Markov, which doesn't at all remind you of the other Russian antagonist Makarov.

Assault Horizon has none of the charm that the series used to have.

The problem isn't that they changed things up, it's what they changed made the game worst. I still remember trying to balance out speed while aiming at the super carrier in the last ace combat game.

It was an epic and satisfying moment. Developers must get this into their thick skull: simulations are better than preset mechanics. The dog fighting felts like ace combat on rails and that's just sad.

Even a simple game like angry bird or tiny wings got more simulated mechanics than this. If you want a plane crashed into a building as the building crumbles and go up in flames, do it so that it can and MAY happened by chance, don't pre-programmed the scenes.

EDIT: their other big mistake is that they release it about the same time as batman AC and Dark souls, 2 games that thrives on giving player freedom and challenge while their game is based in rails.

Personally I love Zero the most (Argo my name). I tried AC:AH but did not like it. Not one bit. Mainly the dogfight mode. It does the aiming and flying for you basically, plus if it is scripted events that means a waste of valuable missiles. Plus I tried to play the game without using DFM but to no avail. You cannot hit anything that is not stationary without the help the damn thing. It is one thing to put a useless and annoying battle gimmick into an already near-perfect formula, it is another to make that same gimmick mandatory. Now for us Ace combat fans I propose we lock this up in the basement and pretend never it happened.

Oh and I also blame it's suckage on the fact it does not have a number in it's name like the good Ace Combats do.

arealperson:

Shia-Neko-Chan:

arealperson:
I'm a little disappointed by the scripted events in particular.  While reducing the sim elements can create some antipathy from me, the lock-on mode might add to immersiveness and if it creates a new element in multi-player, might actually be pretty great.  It's important that the artist not intervene with such jarring effect as that billboard sequence though, especially in a game.

The problem with the oil effect is most likely the realism.  Travelling at supersonic speeds at angles where the oil (if hit in a particular area to actually leak oil) would fall is not likely to stain your craft, unless your trajectory is aimed at crashing into the debris already (the angle of his capture certainly wasn't).  Even if being hit by oil, it would end up a specks or streaks, not big gobs.  Also, your real view wouldn't be a 2D glass pane of a windshield, obviously.  P.S. I'd like to see a bit more content in your post next time.

See, the problem with criticizing a feature like that because it isn't realistic is flawed reasoning really, because it obviously wasn't an attempt at realism in the first place. I guess it'd be kind of like playing Resident Evil and criticizing it for having Zombies because "zombies don't exist lol".

It just sort of rubbed me the wrong way when I'd heard his dismissive "Whatever dude" tone aimed at something meant to be cinematic, dynamic and fun, rather than realistic or believable.

Thanks for elaborating. I was trying to explain on his behalf, by the way, I think I would need some more playtime, personally. But the realism's still a fair thing to bring up, seeing as the universe is semi-realistic jets, it just might seem all the more jarring.

What I missed on pointing out the first time was also the 'it's like COD' factor. It's one thing to blow up in a ridiculous way, but to make an effect resembling the game everyone's cynicism revolves around, it might just stick out that little bit more.

Heh. Well I usually do elaborate, but people rarely ever read what I say anyway, so since I was short on time, I figured it wouldn't really matter that much. Kind of ironic that you paid attention to that post out of all of them. :P

In any case, I don't understand the point about realism being a fair point just because this has semi-realistic graphics to it. Hollywood does this all the time to make a better impact on the viewer and generally, it makes a funner experience. Effects like droplets of blood flying toward the screen when a guy gets punched in the face, first person view, ridiculous ways to dismember each other and more have all been in highly rated movies and the cinematic experience wouldn't be the same without them. The same thing works on the player for a video game. Giving dynamic feedback like that makes the player feel like there is more going on. It's not just a Call of Duty thing.

I dislike Call of Duty as much as the next guy, but I always give credit where it's due. CoD always knows how to make the gamer feel like he's actually doing something. Point counters, blood on the screen, bullet impact sounds, and flying objects off of the enemy player when he dies all count as feedback and give us more of a sense of progression and satisfaction. That is exactly the same thing that the oil on the screen effect adds to in this game. Simply being like CoD when the reason why we dislike it isn't the effects in the first place strikes me as odd.

Call of Duty isn't even the first game to really do this anyway. I'm pretty sure Doom had similar blood effects, albeit less impressive.

The oil on the screen effect isn't even particularly ridiculous or out there. It only requires the viewer to put forth a little willing suspense of disbelief and think of the camera as a tangible object for a second.

If everyone's willing suspense of belief is drying up and people are becoming jaded toward these kinds of effects these days, then they'll probably die out to less dynamic gameplay and effects and that genuinely saddens me. :/

Solo-Wing:
Plus I tried to play the game without using DFM but to no avail. You cannot hit anything that is not stationary without the help the damn thing.

Are you sure? I have been able to score some hits without using DFM. Granted that it was hard, but unless I am wrong scoring hits has been difficult in the ace combat games in general.

Hardcore_gamer:

Solo-Wing:
Plus I tried to play the game without using DFM but to no avail. You cannot hit anything that is not stationary without the help the damn thing.

Are you sure? I have been able to score some hits without using DFM. Granted that it was hard, but unless I am wrong scoring hits has been difficult in the ace combat games in general.

No i always found it easy. Also I have beat AC4 and ACZ on Ace difficulty. This was on normal. I could not land a hit on almost any of the enemy jets. Occasionally I got lucky but that was with the unimportant ones. The game makes it impossible to hit someone without DFM.

From all the reviews I've seen, I won't be buying this one. AC3 is always going to be my favorite. Great story (JPN version), great fictional planes, and a futuristic sci-fi feel. AC Zero and AC4 were great too, AC5 was good, but not great. They should make another sci-fi anime style AC game like AC3, I would definitely play it.

5 was great too. It had everything AC needed.
6 is what I would call good or okay but not great. The new optional objectives were a nice addition to the campaign and it introduced online multiplayer to AC however MP was unpolished and the story was lackluster and sometimes downright annoying.
Still I would prefer 6 over AH.
Until 6 I did not see any issues or negative trend with the AC series at all. 4, 5 Zero these are on par. If there was a noticeable downwards trend then it started with 6.
I see the need to change things up from time to time to keep the franchise fresh and interesting. No problem but DFM really was way too much. Not to mentioned the removed RPG elements from the game like credits to buy and upgrade planes and special weapons or removed wingmen control.

Solo-Wing:

Hardcore_gamer:

Solo-Wing:
Plus I tried to play the game without using DFM but to no avail. You cannot hit anything that is not stationary without the help the damn thing.

Are you sure? I have been able to score some hits without using DFM. Granted that it was hard, but unless I am wrong scoring hits has been difficult in the ace combat games in general.

No i always found it easy. Also I have beat AC4 and ACZ on Ace difficulty. This was on normal. I could not land a hit on almost any of the enemy jets. Occasionally I got lucky but that was with the unimportant ones. The game makes it impossible to hit someone without DFM.

Not true.

I have been playing the game some more today and it all seems to basicaly boil down to 2 things whether or not you will hit anything:

1. Whether you are trying to shoot down LEADS or just regulars.
2. The circumstances at the time of shooting the missiles and what kind of missiles you are using.

LEADS appear to be much better at avoiding missiles then other fighters to a point that regular missiles are almost useless against them if you aren't in DFM, but shooting down regulars with regular/standard missiles without dogfight mode is very much possible and only really requires some good timing and a little planning, and its even easy if you are using special missiles.

Here is what I believe is the true reason people are whining: People spend no real time lining up their shots and just dump a missile after missile towards enemy fighers the moment the targeting reticule turns red and then get supprised into bits when their missiles miss and start to whine about "how hitting shit is now impossible without DFM".

The fact that hitting LEADS with normal missiles can now be extremely difficult is indeed annoying, but the majorty of the fighters you fight in the game aren't LEADS, so its merely annoying rather then game braking. I also haven't bothered using the ASM against ground targests either since its not hard to kill ground units without doing so.

The only major issues I have with the game are some of the scripted events and when the camera suddendly decides to focus on some exploison somewhere in the middle of nowhere for no fucking reason when I am in the middle of a fight.

I mean it looks nice and all, but that dog fight mode takes it out for me, not to mention the seemingly boring story line. No other AC game seems to come close to AC4. Now that's a game that knew a few tricks. It was just the story or gameplay it was the fear. The game taught you to fear your enemies and their creations, allowing you to slowly rise to their challenges.

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