Review by KerberosPanzer
"Its a Very Different Game, But That's Not a Bad Thing"
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon has to be the single most controversial entry in the series. The game breaks away from the clean visuals and the fictional world to offer its own gritty take on aerial dogfighting. When the game trailers came out, the fans reacted with cautious optimism. When the demo came out, all hell broke loose, with gamers examining every single flaw of the game. However, its safe to say that the demo was not a good representation of the full game.
This is the biggest change to the franchise. ACAH introduced the CRA/DFM system, which puts the camera at a cinematic perspective as you chase the enemy. However, this system is not "on rails" as so many people put it. Enemy planes will jink, weave, dodge, generally do everything they can to break out of DFM, and they will. DFM is not the automatic win that AC fans feared it was. However, it can be a little frustrating at times when your target suddenly breaks out of DFM, and you suddenly find yourself diving at mach 2 with only 1000ft to pull up. The camera in DFM also gave me motion sickness for a little while. 2 helicopter levels are also in here, and if you played Apache Air Assault on the arcade settings, its not too different from that. You hover, bank, shoot, and do a barrel roll every once in a while. The on rail shooting sections with the AC-130 and the door gunner are just that, rail shooting. But the real meat of the game is in a jet, going mach 2 and taking callsigns. It is the most intense flight combat game I ever played, and it does a great job keeping me glued to the controller.
Being an Ace Combat game, the graphics are nothing short of excellent. Detailed plane models, extended smoke trails, and the best explosions I have ever seen. The environmental effects are also awesome. There's one mission where you're dogfighting above a hurricane, and if you enter the storm, your plane will start shaking as the winds toss it around, and water drops will slide across the virtual camera lens as you struggle to get out of the system. Damage modeling is great here, and the game isn't afraid to show it off, showing the burning wreckage in glorious slow motion. The cockpit view is also good, but the painted on pilot reflection is a bit weird. The ground textures look ugly when your close to it, but if you're that close to the ground, you're probably blowing everything up on it.
Eargasm. Yeah, that's the appropriate word here. The soundtrack is amazing, ranging from epic orchestral pieces to some rockin tunes. Explosions have a shock to them, and your cannon finally has some punch to it, sounding very loud and very fast. Also, there is a small touch that I think some people missed. Your warnings will change depending on the plane your flying. Russian planes have Russian warnings, French planes will have French warnings, etc. It's small, but adds to the immersion. If you have 5.1 surround sound, crank up your volume and enjoy the ride.
Its not really great, but it does its job. NATO vs Russian rebels, you know the drill. However, I do like how its a bit more subtle than the previous entries. Comparing one pilot to a demon or a god is a bit ridiculous to me.
This is a solid game, and is at least worth a rent. It put excitement back into an increasingly stale genre, and is definitely an Ace Combat game that you should try out. It gets 8 Trinity missiles out of 10.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/13/11
Game Release: Ace Combat: Assault Horizon (US, 10/11/11)
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