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October 11, 2011



- Intense mission after intense mission, not matter if it’s in a jet, copter or bomber
- Good story written by military author Jim DeFelice, but the character dialogue during cut-scenes is generally uninspired
- Online play is good, but copter online battles are much more controllable and enjoyable than jet-focused fighting



- Dizzying and vertigo-inducing jet fighting, especially when gamers get down to the last enemy bogey needed to be shot down to complete a mission
- Even in copter combat missions, hard to actually see what ground units you are actually shooting
- Expect to replay the latter missions, particularly the stealth bomber and final fight in Miami, multiple times due to the tight timing and accuracy needs to complete them



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Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

Score: 8.5 / 10


ace combat assault horizon        ace combat assault horizon


Ace Combat Assault Horizon, the newest Ace Combat flight-shooter title in the long-running franchise, has flown under the radar of the hotly contested “my shooter game is better than your shooter game” war between Call of Duty and Battlefield. But no matter what side of the frontline you stand on in the Call of Duty-Battlefield brouhaha, gamers that take a moment to lay down their arms and jump in a cockpit will enjoy the intense jet fighting, copter combat and bomber mayhem that they will




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find in the excellent Ace Combat Assault Horizon on the Xbox 360.

Scribed by New York Times best-selling author Jim DeFelice, a military writing expert, the Ace Combat Assault Horizon storyline is actually very solid, entailing espionage, a huge military coup attempt, terrorism, revenge, double-crossing and heroism in the face of the


potentially world-altering unleashing of weapons of mass destruction. But while the story is really good, the dialogue inexplicably isn’t as strong supporting the many cut-scenes that bridge one chapter of the story to the next, seeming rather generic and uninspired compared to the amazing plot it supports.

Gameplay is completely focused on a variety of air combat, including jet fighters dog-fighting each other in the skies above a multitude of locales including Moscow and Florida, taking the controls of high-tech helicopters and battling ground-based units, using copters and jets to strafe and destroy sea vessels full of enemies or reaching the upper stratospheres to man a bombing run of hellfire-raising ferocity with the famous stealth bomber. Almost every single mission is overly intense, with enemy bogeys flying all around that you need to shoot down before they shoot you down, or ground enemies and vehicles that must be destroyed before they rocket-wreck the copter you’re flying. The most intense missions are the ones that require tight timing and pinpoint accuracy to complete them. Expect to play these missions particularly the stealth bomber run and final fight in Miami multiple times, though, because one little error in timing or accuracy and the mission will fail.

ace combat assault horizon          ace combat assault horizon


Gamers must get very comfortable using the left and right bumpers on the top of the Xbox 360 controller, because they are absolutely vital to piloting through all the missions throughout the game. By pressing both at the same time when the icons flash on-screen, they can either lock on to enemy bogeys gamers are pursuing or evade would-be pursuers (and instead counter-attacking that same pursuer) and also avoids missile fire from ground-based enemies or copters. Equally important is learning to use the right trigger to accelerate and the left to decelerate and turn.

Turning is extremely important, as gamers will need to be able to turn quickly to chase down evading enemies or to turn the tables on a pursuing enemy. And paying attention to the radar is another gameplay necessity to advance through the around eight hours of single-player campaign gameplay. Using the radar gives gamers a good read on where enemies are, especially n the heat of a battle. Using the radar tracking still doesn’t eliminate the dizzying and vertigo-inducing jet fighting, especially when gamers get down to the last enemy bogey needed to be shot down to complete a mission.

Those bogeys will have gamers twisting their planes every direction possible, and it can get frustrating. Crashing and burning that jet is easy to do when flying all around in disorienting positions, but by activating the flight assist feature, the plane will automatically attempt to avoid a plane-into-terra-firma disaster, although expect to smash into the ground plenty. Thankfully, it takes a few torpedoing-into-the-earth snafus to destroy the piloted plane and end the mission, so Ace Combat Assault Horizon allows for a few misfortunate crashes.


ace combat assault horizon          ace combat assault horizon


As far as planes, Ace Combat Assault Horizon has a ridiculous amount of aircraft to choose from, allowing gamers to decide which one they use for each particular mission.

Visually, the aircraft are remarkably detailed. The AH-64D Apache Longbow and MH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, a B-2A Sprit bomber, jets like the F-16C Fighting Falcon, F-14D Super Tomcat and the F-22A Raptor gives plenty of choices for picking planes and helicopters to fly that are graphically realistic. The cut-scenes that depict the storyline are very sharp visually also, as are the battle cut-scenes that show an awesomely destructive bombing hit or an enemy bogey being obliterated into nothing more than profusely “bleeding” metal.

Online, Ace Combat Assault Horizon is good, with up to 16 players partaking in one of four combat modes (including deathmatch) that don’t have the intensity of the single-player campaign, but isn’t too far off as gamers are now trying to avoid smarter human bogeys. Copter online battles are much more controllable and enjoyable than jet-focused fighting, however.

A great story, and ferocious and intense air combat missions in a variety of different flying war machines soars Ace Combat Assault Horizon to dizzying heights as a great skyward-bound fighting shooter.

– Lee Cieniawa

(November 14, 2011)


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