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Ace Combat: Assault Horizon
Score: 82%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: NAMCO BANDAI Games America
Developer: Project Aces
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1; 2 - 16 (Online)
Genre: Simulation/ Flight/ Fighting

Graphics & Sound:
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is by no means a bad looking game. The planes are sharp and detailed. There's plenty of flash from gunfire, and effects like the plume of dirt from machine gun fire hitting the ground. You get those awesome shaky cam effects from a boost of speed, and other effects that put you in the action. In short, it's great looking and everything works together nicely. The locations are also pretty authentic looking, going around the world from Dubai to Washington D.C.

The music is a mix of orchestral score, guitar rock scores, and exotic sounding music depending on the location, much like what you'd get in a military warfare movie. Sometimes it's moving and inspiring sounding, leading you to believe that you're on a mission to bring hope to the world, 24/7. It does just what background music is supposed to do, and it does a great job at it. The voice acting is just fine, from the friendly jabs between military comrades to the cool, but urgent chatter that happens during the actual air combat. It's all where it needs to be for a heavy action military fighter.


Gameplay:
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon puts you in the shoes of a seasoned fighter pilot, going on various missions around the world. Occasional cut scenes flesh out the characters around you, but for the most part, this story isn't heavy on character development (although your character does struggle with his own personal demons and nightmares).

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon doesn't have much to offer in the way of gameplay variety, but hey, it's something of a flight simulator. You're not going to be able to do very much other than get into dogfights and look at the sky. There is some variety in the vehicles, upgrades, and multiple special weapon options. Sometimes you're a gunner on a helicopter as well. But really, you've got to love flight fighting sims to absolutely fall in love with this game.

Online gameplay options give you plenty to do when you've mastered the basics of fighting the computer opponents. Deathmatch, for example, is a chaotic free for all, that I happened to be terrible at, but there's plenty here for the seasoned flight veteran. There's also a couple of variations on defending and destroying bases called Domination and Capital Conquest. There are plenty of goals you can tweak in a game to make it a unique challenge as well. You can also adjust your weaponry and vehicle abilities to give yourself an edge as you progress. For those that want a little more cooperation and harmony, there are also some Co-Op missions that you can bring in a friend for.


Difficulty:
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is very manageable on the lower diffuclties. If you're not really into the flight sim thing, this is definitely a place where you can hang out and have fun. There are also some settings you can adjust to make things easier. After playing for a while, I couldn't imagine what "Flight Assist" would do to make things easier, but it turns out it will help keep you from crashing into the ground on those really wild stunts. So at its basic level, things are pretty easy.

Things can still be confusing if you're trying to get down to the nuts and bolts of the game. Acronyms are used everywhere, and although it may be easy to pick up FLR for flare and MSL for missile, sometimes you wish they'd just spell a word out. Just figuring out what the heck you're supposed to do in a game can be just a little confusing because of little things like this. The tutorial, however, is excellent, so learning the control basics shouldn't be a big roadblock to playing the game like a pro.


Game Mechanics:
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon has its controls down. It's not much more complicated than that. Out of the gate, everything handles smoothly. You can turn and flip without getting hopelessly disoriented, and even if you do, you can easily auto-level your plane out. Initiating dogfights enters you into a mode where your plane automatically follows the enemy, to a certain extent. You'll still have to make adjustments to keep up with quick turns and evasive maneuvers by your opponent. There's plenty to learn in order to get better, even if the game makes the basic controls easy.

Overall, Ace Combat is a pretty solid, action-oriented flight game. You want to get out there and shoot down loads of enemies, pull some fantastic flying stunts, you got it. This game doesn't waste much time on anything that's not action. It's probably a good introduction for newbies to this genre too. Just don't expect it to pull you in if you're not into flying.


-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

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