Posted by Benjamin Webb on Feb 14, 2013

Ace Combat Assault Horizon: ENHANCED EDITION Review

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Ace Combat Assault Horizon: ENHANCED EDITION

Developers: Project Aces
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Platform: PC
Release Date: Out Now
Price: $34.99 (Buy Here)

Overview

The Ace Combat series has been around for a fair few years now, since the Playstation 2 and Xbox era if I recall correctly, and the franchise has generally evolved as the series has progressed. However the games are best known for their adrenaline pumping and high velocity aerial dogfights in fighter jets, which have constantly proven to be fun and rewarding experiences.

When I heard that the title was coming to the PC, particularly this latest in the franchise, I was absolutely pumped to get my hands on it. For the most part this is a fun game, but it has a few flaws that stop it from being completely awesome. What are my complete thoughts, read on below.

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Story

The game is set in the modern day and a group of terrorists have created a new kind of bomb known as the Trinity Bomb. You as the player must take to the skies in a counter terrorist operation to take down these Russian terrorists and save the world. Or, you know, ‘Murrica. Because terrorists only care about bombing that place.

What makes the story interesting with Ace Combat Assault Horizon is that the story features American pilots taking on Russian terrorists in a game developed by Japanese developers. This is an incredibly strange combination, but strangely enough, the story works incredibly well. It’s like the producers have worked out how much pro ‘Murrica an audience can take before a game becomes a parody of itself and then avoids it. Hint! It’s very little.

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The cast of characters, while being mostly American, are often switched out during certain portions of the story. For instance, when you’re piloting a bomber you’ll be playing as a different pilot in comparison to the helicopters and the jet fighters. Often enough, you’ll be playing as different characters during a mission as well. I can remember a few missions where in one section you’ll be playing as a bomber or a helicopter and then finishing it off in a jet fighter.

The way the characters interact with each other throughout the story gives you a nice sense of camaraderie between the main cast of characters, which helps to build up the tension later on in the story. You can’t help but get into one particularly powerful moment towards the end of the game, it’s like, “what!?”. The story also has a few twists and turns that you can kind of see coming, however, this is an action game and not a game aiming to be high literature, so it can be forgiven.

I quite enjoyed the story of Ace Combat Assault Horizon, which is not something that I was expecting going in. Normally games that seem pro ‘Murrica are complete turn-offs. It was probably because of the Japanese developer without many American ties that made the story more realistic and bearable.

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Gameplay

Ace Combat Assault Horizon has some of the most fun dogfighting mechanics that I have experienced in an aerial combat game in ages. The game is just so fun to play as a fighter jet that you can just sit there and go back to play again and again. As a game that features aerial combat, it’s quite important that the aerial combat is actually entertaining. And it is! Which is great.

However, as strong as the jet combat is, the helicopter portions of this game are tedious as crap. Tedious is an understatement to say the most, the helicopter portions of the game are the most frustrating and the most annoying parts in a game that I have played ever in my entire life. It’s so sad to see that a game with such strong fighter combat is marred by a mediocre helicopter mechanic. What makes this quite annoying is that the helicopters are largely inaccurate and the resources you get to work with, while useful, deplete way too quickly. This is especially true later in the game when you have to fight a bunch of helicopters and ground units. I’d be fine with the helicopter portions if they were optional, or were shorter, but they’re not. They’re forced on you. They’re long. And they’re boring.

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This is a feature that I quite enjoyed but didn’t quite understand. All vehicles in this game feature regenerative health. This means that you can be on the brink of death with the fire and the flames ejecting from all sides of your vehicle, only to magically repair before your eyes. Now if they took 30 seconds to say it was self-repairing nanobots or something, it’d be fine. But there is no mention of this at all. And I absolutely loved it. Especially in the helicopter portions. Because, really, who wants to sink an hour into a helicopter mission only to have to do it again.

I have to re-emphasise that this is an action game and that there are portions of the game where you get to fly a  plane. These are most of the portions of the game. These are the fun portions. Do not let the sound of a couple of missions deter you from the rest of the game which is incredibly fun to play. Just know what to expect.

Visuals

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Visually speaking, for a PC game, it is quite dated in visuals. However, when you’re flying around at 2500KMp/h, you really don’t give too much of a damn about how dated it looks. The fun factor just takes over and everything is about the flight and gunning down MiGs.

What was cool about this ENHANCED EDITION of the game is that it comes with a bunch of DLC skins that were available on console with the game from the get go. This means that you get some awesome plane skins of awesomeness. Now, as an Otaku-type, upon seeing these skins based on the idolM@ster series of games I couldn’t resist applying these to every plane that they could be used on. And taking screenshots. Of all of them. I have to admit that flying around in a jet adorned with cute anime girls is quite appealing to me. And to top it off, made every dogfight that much more visually chaotic.

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Audio

Ace Combat Assault Horizon has a pretty rockin’ soundtrack. In fact, I think it is one of the things that make this game as fun as it is. It just pulls you right into the dogfighting experience, which is essential for the kind of game that this is.

As I mentioned earlier, this is a game with a pretty American cast as developed by a Japanese developer. Whilst the voice cast are actually American, the game has a level of pro ‘Murrica that is quite low, which adds a lot more believability and seriousness to the title. What the game does to make you care about the characters and story instead is that it treats the characters like actual people and not plot points with pro ‘Murrica dialogue.

Overall

Overall Ace Combat Assault Horizon ENHANCED EDITION is a pretty fun game. I absolutely enjoyed my time with the game and would heartily recommend it to anyone that loves flying, going fast and/or engaging in fun dogfights. Whilst it suffers from a couple of missions that detract from the experience, it is overall a positive experience when you combine all of the elements of the title. Heartily recommended title.

8-5-capsules-out-of-10

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