I don’t recall what the product being sold was, but several years ago a commercial boasted a tagline that has always stuck with me: “The Plus Means Better.” Whatever the product was, that was all well and good, but this product’s Plus version, well, now you’re cooking with gas! It’s an idea we’ve all held on to since childhood—pluses are good. Pluses give you more, they’re better. They’re positive ideas, thoughts, and things. Getting an 'A' is nice, but getting an 'A+' is perfection. Seeing a plus, you know you’re getting the best of the best.
So when Bandai Namco Games released Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy Plus for the Nintendo New 3DS, one would expect a re-release that bested the original 2011 air-shooter released on the original 3DS, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy. One would be wrong.
For those who have not played any entry in the Ace Combat series, the game is a flight simulator action hybrid known for its realistic aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor, despite most games being set in a fictional world. The game’s campaign mode is broken up into missions, most following the same routine: Find the target, blow it up. The amount of opposition starts small and works its way up to full-on squadrons gunning for the player.
The Plus re-release claims it takes advantage of the new features of the New 3DS, but taking advantage of them doesn’t particularly add to the game at all. The additional shoulder triggers accelerate and decelerate only mildly faster than the regular speeds, and the new C-nub, while adjusting the camera fine, didn’t necessarily help me find my enemies faster; I could find them just as easily via my map and radar.
The other functionality was interaction with everybody’s favorite NFC figurines, amiibo. The functionality was not overwhelming; placing an amiibo unlocks a skin for your plane along with some new weaponry, but the weapons can be found or purchased in game through the course of play as well. Admittedly, the Zelda amiibo unlocks a nifty design involving gold ribbons and the Triforce, but beyond customization, amiibo are not crucial to the gameplay.
So if the features new to Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy Plus aren’t all that “plus,” what’s left? The same game as released in 2011, unfortunately. The game suffers from the same repetitive missions from the original game, along with the razor-thin semblance of a plot. It’s a game that would be better suited in an arcade, where mathematically, the vast majority of players would crash and burn around the sixth or seventh mission, run out of quarters, and leave to come back another day, not having seen the entirety of the game.
On the handheld, where quarters are not an issue, gameplay quite frankly gets tedious. Even with a lack of story, the game could have been much more enjoyable had everything not led up to tailing the enemy and busting a turn simply with the Y button, which is how every mission started to feel.
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy Plus will definitely appeal to aviation aficionados who happen to game as well, but not to many other gamers. Either way, the “Plus” feels like a misnomer—the title doesn't offer enough new or entertaining features to justify a full-price purchase point for a four-year-old marginally average game.
Code provided by publisher. Review based on New 3DS platform; also available on 3DS.