Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Project Aces
Release Date: 1/25/2013
Also Available On: PC Exclusive
The Good: Dog fight mode is fun, some nice lighting effects, planes look great, varied aircraft is a nice change
The Bad: Boring and repetitive missions, dull story and characters, horrid ground textures, explosions lack impact, dry dialog
I'm not really a plane combat fan, but Ace Combat has always been pretty fun. I checked out the Enhanced Edition thinking it fixed issues from the console version, not really. The game is a step back from other entries in the series and I found it pretty boring towards the end.
The story is one of the worst offenders. It's complete nonsense that you just won't care about. You play as three different members in a US air force squad and are trying to stop a Russian coup. Yawn, boring, let's go to sleep. How many of these boring military stories have been told? 100 too many. It doesn't help that the characters lack any personality and are just as boring to listen to. The developers also put in some awkward dialog that the was probably due to the voice actors. One guy will crack a joke and the other will try to add to it leading to fake awkward laughing and you're just sitting there shaking your head.
At least the dog fights are somewhat fun. You can choose from a myriad of planes like the F-22 Raptor, B1 Bomber, and all those other planes, hey I'm not an expert. One mission even has you using an AC-130 ripped straight out of Modern Warfare 2. Helicopter missions were added, and two missions involve you mounting a door gun on a helicopter. This is a nice change of pace, but I wanted more cinematic action or something in these fights. All 17 missions wound up feeling the same. You just chase around planes shooting them down and that's it. When you get a plane in your sights long enough your reticle will turn red and you can fire missiles. If you follow it long enough a green circle will flash and this will trigger DFM or Dog Fight Mode. This is probably the most cinematic the game will get. You will automatically follow the plane and all you have to do is keep it in your sights. Once the big circle turns red you can fire your missiles and machine gun fire doesn't hurt either. Some times the enemy can fly over you and come up from behind, this time you are the victim. Slow down enough until a green triangle flashes and you can turn back on the enemy.
That seems fun and all, but when you do it to the 100th plane you will die of boredom. The helicopter sections aren't much different because you just fly around killing everything on the ground and occasionally an Apache or HIND. The game controls really well, but I felt it was bare bones. The change in plane types was a breath of fresh air, but the best ones weren't used often enough. It also doesn't help that missions drag on for practically ever. I would shoot 30-40 planes in just one mission and it would still carry on, it drove me nuts. It doesn't help that the dialog is boring and grating with the same military mumbo jumbo over and over again. The game is just dry and dull after the first few missions, I was surprised I finished the game.
You may think co-op and online play helps but it doesn't because no one is playing online. Think of this as a single player game. I was also disappointed in the lack of weapons you could choose. There were maybe 4 or 5 to choose from through the whole game and most planes felt useless. Why pick a lesser plane when I can just stick with the best one through the whole game? Challenge maybe? I guess it's for plane aficionados.
My biggest disappointment would be the graphics. Sure they get a nice upgrade with slightly higher resolution textures and some better lighting, but the ground textures are just awful. When you get close to the ground there's nothing there. Just flat textures of grass and dirt. Some times a few buildings will pop up, but it looks like an unrezed Google map. I also thought the explosions lacked oomph and just looked like strange glitches in the physics rather than explosions or planes falling apart. Missile cams are dull because of this as well.
Overall, Assault Horizon is a step back for the series and lacks any potential moments you would remember. The story is dull, the characters are boring, and the only fun feature is the dog fight mode that you will get tired of quickly. Only hardcore Ace fans should play this or anyone desperate for a flight game in the rarely approached genre.
(Based of PC Version)