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Review: Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy+

Feb 16 // Chris Carter
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy+ (3DS)Developer: Access GamesPublisher: Namco Bandai GamesReleased: February 10, 2015MSRP: $39.99 Back in the day Ace Combat 2 was the first flight simulator that I truly got into. It was incredibly easy to pick up and play, as it was extremely arcade-like in nature -- no lengthy Microsoft Flight Simulator manuals required. Although there were a few nuanced mission parameters like escort and protection goals, the basic idea was to blow everyone up. Although the genre has advanced far past that primal urge, it was a lot of fun back then, and in many ways, it still is. This time around, the story and mission types are slightly arranged, but always focus on the same concept of chaos. The narrative doesn't matter much (it's your basic regional war plot), because after that very short brief you're going to be hitting the skies and blowing shit up time and time again. Whether it's by way of a third-person view or a 3D-enhanced cockpit variety, it all feels great control-wise. Picking up pitches and yaws is simple and long or mid-range missile switching is cake. It's even easier with the Circle Pad Pro (or New 3DS C-Stick), which is now supported after its conspicuous absence in the original Legacy 3DS localization. Legacy+ gets the job done visually, but it doesn't look like any effort was made to smooth out some of the rough edges. It still walks and talks like the same game from 2011, which is tough to stomach given the full retail price. The "Plus" really is the head-scratching part of the moniker since it feels nearly identical to the original outside of amiibo support. In essence you can use six different amiibo (Mario, Luigi, Peach, Link/Toon Link, Samus, and Fox) to unlock new Nintendo vehicles, just like Mario Kart 8. It's not all that exciting even for Nintendo fans, since all you're doing is unlocking on-cart DLC. The one saving grace of this whole feature is the existence of question mark blocks scattered about the world, which can net you a plane sans amiibo (presumably for non-New 3DS owners). It's a nice little feeling to blow up a block, even if it's just a fleeting sensation. Ultimately, Legacy+ feels like a half-measure. It lasts roughly four hours, and that's about all she wrote. There are the aforementioned amiibo unlocks, but right now that feature is only available to New 3DS owners while Nintendo figures out when to announce and release the adapter for legacy portables. There's very little justification for actually buying this new package, and the amiibo stuff really should have come as a free update for existing owners. Or at the very least, Namco could have stuck in some multiplayer support or something this time. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy+ is a great way for Ace veterans to relive a classic on the go, provided that they didn't already buy the original release in 2011. There's just not enough here for entice anyone to double-dip or shell out the full price if you aren't a sim-junkie. While the publisher should be chided for releasing an iteration as rushed as this, they are lucky that the core package was already decent to begin with.
Ace Combat 3DS review photo
That '+' is pretty stingy
Japanese publishers have some truly confusing localization titles sometimes. In 2011, Namco Bandai released Ace Combat: Assault Horizon for the PS3 and Xbox 360. It was a grittier take on the franchise that added real-wo...

Ace Combat Infinity photo
Ace Combat Infinity

Ace Combat Infinity teaser looks like proper Ace Combat

Things look Strangereal up here
Aug 02
// Josh Tolentino
Namco Bandai's just dropped a new teaser for Ace Combat Infinity, and I'll be damned if what's shown doesn't look like proper Ace Combat. Let's go down the checklist of "Ace Combat-y Things", shall we? Vaguely awkward-soundi...

Oh look! A new Ace Combat game for the PlayStation 3

Jul 19
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Ace Combat: Infinity has just been announced. The teaser trailer doesn't really reveal much other than some lady humming like crazy. Calm down, lady. I'm PRETTY sure we can expect jets fighting in the skies and stuff. Oh, an...
Namco Bandai teaser  photo
Namco Bandai teaser

Namco Bandai launches teaser site, likely Ace Combat

Is Project Aces involved?
Jul 12
// Chris Carter
Namco Bandai has launched a teaser site for a project known only as "New Title," in addition to this other possibly related (but not confirmed) site that specifically mentions Project Aces. As many long time Ace Combat fans k...

Namco Bandai sale photo
Namco Bandai sale

Namco discounts Artorias of the Abyss and more on PS3

PS3, Vita, and PSP games are half price
Feb 05
// Jordan Devore
As a nice complement to Square Enix's Final Fantasy sale this week, Namco Bandai also has some discounts for PlayStation gamers going live soon. This is an assorted bunch, with the clear highlight being Artorias of the Abyss ...
Ace Combat photo
Ace Combat

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon finally available on PC

PC users get to play with 'Enhanced Edition'
Jan 26
// Harry Monogenis
It's been quite the wait, but fans are now able to experience Ace Combat on their PCs with the release of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon: Enhanced Edition. What warrants the 'enhanced edition' tag at the end, you may ask? ...

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon heading to PC next year

Also releasing for consoles digitally
Nov 27
// Jordan Devore
Originally released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in October of last year, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is now scheduled to get a PC release in Q1 2013 by way of Steam. Unfortunately, this version will rely on Games for Window...

Ace Combat Assault Horizon DLC turns Tomcats to Valkyries

Mar 21
// Josh Tolentino
And now for the latest report from your Namco Bandai crossover collaboration DLC expert, me. Thankfully for you people sick of Idolm@ster-themed DLC*, the latest update for Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is for an anime property...

Namco wants to sell you some Ace Combat DLC for 'free'

Dec 27
// Josh Tolentino
Well, it's free only in the monetary sense. The true price for getting a set of new skills for Ace Combat: Assault Horizon's multiplayer mode is...your e-mail address!!! To pay that cost, you'll need to register an account on...

Give thanks! Assault Horizon has its Idolm@ster skins now

Nov 25
// Josh Tolentino
Yes! In a time of giving thanks for things, I give thanks to Namco Bandai for answering one Ace Combat fan's sincere wishes. Assault Horizon finally has its Idolm@ster-themed skins! And to think...

Assault Horizon gets planes, skins, but STILL no Idols!

Nov 23
// Josh Tolentino
It's Ace Combat DLC time! The first time you got pumpkin skins. The second time you got Tekken skins. This third time, you get not only skins, but new planes. This time, the canard-equipped F-15...

Ace Combat Assault Horizon gets Tekken skins, no idols

Nov 08
// Josh Tolentino
Fans of unrealistic jet fighter combat and fun cross-franchise promotion are in luck, because Namco Bandai have announced their latest pack of download content for Call of Duty: Modern Air War Ace Combat Assault Horizon....

The quick-time event to end all others

Oct 20
// Jordan Devore
This feel-good moment of the day is brought to you by Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, which features one of the best QTEs I've had the pleasure of seeing. Spider-Man arguably still holds the top spot, but this is some damn fine interactive entertainment. If only all of life's problems could be fixed with a raise of the fist. This Is It. This Is The Greatest QTE. [GameSetWatch]

Review: Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

Oct 13 // Maurice Tan
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon (Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PlayStation 3)Developer: Project AcesPublisher: Namco Bandai GamesReleased: October 11, 2011MSRP: $59.99 The changes to the Ace Combat franchise are hard to miss when playing through the first half hour. Even though he game still has its trademark ridiculous story involving superweapons, it's told through the eyes of a range of characters you actually play as, as opposed to Fires of Liberations' overly dramatic narrative that was often told from the on-the-ground "warfare isn't very fun for civilians" perspective while you were just one anonymous person in an elite squad that saved the day. This first half hour shoves you into the seat of the glorious F-22 as you play through one of the protagonists' nightmares, fighting in the wartorn skies above a beautiful Miami landscape and pulling off scripted but amazing-looking maneuvers. After some cutscenes that are aimed to make you identify with most of the characters, you'll suddenly find yourself in the gunner seat of a helicopter for a turret sequence. Yikes. Progressing through the pretty lenghty missions in the campaign, you'll find yourself playing through proper jet combat missions followed by a helicopter missions, and even sitting in an AC-130. It might not sound like the Ace Combat you know and love, and at times it isn't. Part of what makes Assault Horizon so different is the new "DFM" (Dog Fight Mode) system. If you approach an enemy and get close enough, a pulsing circle will indicate you can enter DFM. Doing so puts you in a close combat chase sequence, where all you can really do is try to keep the enemy plane under the reticule of your machine gun while firing missiles as they lock on. These sequences can occasionally take you through breathtaking chases between skyscrapers, through refineries, or simply through G-force ignoring aerial dances of death. DFM is there to make the game look great, which is does well thanks to the cinematic style and heart-pounding action you'll find yourself irresistable to enjoy, but it also serves to remove the boring gameplay of eternally turning your plane to keep your target reticule slightly in front of an enemy at close range. As a result, the game's design does tend to overly focus on close range combat. If you're a fan of turning on stealth, circling wide behind an enemy strike group, and letting loose a volley of AMRAAMs from miles away -- as you perhaps once did in F-22: Total Air War -- you can forget about that in Assault Horizon. It's hard enough to let a missile hit any of the more skilled AI fighters in any mission, let alone the aces that will use flares and fly all over the place. If you insist on not using DFM at all for simulation's sake, you might as well not play the game altogether. Having said that, the system does do a great job at giving you the sense that you are balancing on the edge of control with your bird of prey. Everything moves so fast that anyone who is prone to motion sickness in games should be warned, and once you destroy a plane you'll get a nice Burnout-esque view of your opponent as pieces of his plane rip apart from it in mid-air. Sometimes you'll even see the pilot being flung out of the plane; it never gets old. DFM does have its share of problems, however. An enemy can get ready to do a counter-maneuver that is indicated by a tiny indicator in the UI, which you're likely to miss every single time since so much is continuously going on on-screen. You can counter this counter-maneuver and ravage the enemy jet as it tries to loop over you in slow motion, but it's more a matter of luck than skill. Likewise, you can do such a counter-maneuver yourself if an enemy is locking on to you from behind by decelerating and leveling out the plane to get two triangle indicators to overlap, which instantly puts you behind your foe if you're successful. But sometimes -- especially in multiplayer -- you won't have the time to do so before you get hit in the butt by a missile. It can be a bit frustrating to die just because one time the action works fine and looks fantastic, while at other times it just refuses to work because you didn't overlap the triangles well enough or didn't level out correctly. Furthermore, if you happen to drop out of DFM at the wrong moment because an enemy flies too far out of sight -- even though it's hard to tell what exactly governs the rules of staying in DFM -- you could find yourself flying into the terrain at Mach speed. A side-effect of basically being required to use DFM is that you have no sense of place on any of the maps where you control a jet. One minute you can be here, the next you can exit DFM at an entirely different location. One of the things that makes arcade air combat games so fun is that you feel in control of a ridiculously expensive aircraft and that you can claim the skies for your own without requiring a brain wired for simulation games. It's hard to do that when you never really know where you are nor have a sense of the aerial theater overview, so you end up just going after the closest enemy until the mission is over. It fits the live-in-the-moment style of the game, but essentially you'll be hopping from one chase event to the next. Similar to DFM, ASM (Air Strike Mode) lets you enter a ground assault path where your machine gun will overheat less quickly, and where the camera will make it more cinematic and easier to annihilate everything on the ground. It's a bit like a more assault-oriented version of that radar-evation mode you had in Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., clenching your controller as you try to make quick decisions to get through it successfully without crashing your plane. You can even do a bit of ASM as a stealth bomber to carpet bomb the hell out of bases, which is of course is what mankind was born to do in the first place. To further spruce up the variety, Assault Horizon throws a bunch of missions at you that don't necessarily belong in a game like this. Being neither novel nor necessary, the turret gunner sections are seemingly only there to draw in the Call of Duty crowd and despite being fun enough to play (how can you mess up a turret sequence anyway?) they feels a bit forced. The helicopter missions are simply a throwaway way to add variety. Only one camera mode actually lets you see what you are shooting at, and even though the jet controls let you switch between a super arcade "Optimum" mode -- in which you can't even rotate your plane -- and an Original mode that is more like Ace Combat, the choppers are stuck to one arcade control scheme. Players who put effort into learning the more sim controls of Apache: Air Assault can basically forget what they learned as they work their way through some drab helicopter action. Thankfully, there is always the AC-130 to save the day and make you forget about most of the game's failed attempts at forced variety as you rain down death from above. While the campaign is a nice distraction on its own, with a good old Elite difficulty and different aircraft selections to make it worth replaying it a couple of times, multiplayer adds a whole other layer of life-enhancement. Eight co-op missions are there to enjoy, Deathmatch can be a bit hard on the rookie player as you're thrust into the skies with more skilled players, while nobody appears to be playing the "capture the base" Domination mode at all. Capital Conquest, however, is the online mode of choice. This mode puts players into two teams who have to protect their HQ buildings while simultaneously attacking the opponent teams' buildings, supporting bomber and multirole fighters as they do so. If you have a bunch of friends who like Ace Combat, it will be a while before you get tired of playing this mode and destroying random online people who don't communicate at all. Earning points in multiplayer also lets you unlock skills to put in "skill sets" (i.e., Class layouts) that provide bonuses to yourself and your team. It provides a good enough reason to keep playing the game after you finish the campaign and the Capital Conquest games only take 10 to 30 minutes -- with the option to fully customize any of the modes -- so it's easy enough to pick up and play without having to spend hours on the multiplayer. Although the introduction of the DFM in Assault Horizon does change the feel of Ace Combat dramatically, it is a beautiful and heart-pounding addition to the air combat genre. As long as it works well and you have an idea what is going on, that is. When everything falls in place and works, further stimulated by the trademark Ace Combat soundtrack, there's nothing out there that can give you an experience anything like it. Assault Horizon looks beautiful to boot, provided you can get over the fact that it is not Ace Combat 5, nor Ace Combat 6, etc. The cinematic style might put off some old fans, but once you accept Assault Horizon for what it is you can enjoy it immensely; there's really no arguing that the new style makes you feel more engaged with the action whether you care for Call of Duty or not. You do have to accept that this is a departure for the series, as evidenced by the way the Original control scheme is the more intuitive option for veterans while at the same time it makes you feel like the game wasn't designed to really support it. It might not be the perfect console arcade combat flight sim experience, but Ace Combat: Assault Horizon remains a treat for any fan of the genre or fans of stupidly awesome looking air combat action. Where it breaks with tradition, it injects a shot of epinephrine straight into your heart and keeps it pumping until a mission is over. The changes have turned it into a rollercoaster version of Ace Combat, for better or worse depending on what you wanted from the franchise's latest, resulting in one of the finest examples of how to turn graceful air ballet into a mosh pit of fighter jets.

The combat flight sim genre is in a pretty good state these days. While PC owners can enjoy the IL-2 Sturmovik games for that excellent full sim experience, console owners have still seen a slow but steady flow of arcade air ...


Here's some screens for Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

Oct 09
// Brett Zeidler
A new batch of screenshots for Ace Combat: Assault Horizon recently came out and, as you might expect, they contain some jet planes that you can expect to take for a spin yourself. They are not just any jet planes though, as ...

Namco Bandai invited us out to their offices in Japan to see the Tokyo Game Show line-up before the show opens today. There was a lot to see, so we didn't have too much time with all the titles, which sucks since I really wa...


Ace Combat: Assault Horizon demo out and helicopter video

Sep 14
// Harry Monogenis
When Namco Bandai America isn't throwing fans over 70 images of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon in a single day, they're giving them a 10 minute video "fly-through" of a campaign level, releasing a single-player demo a...

Put some Ace Combat 3D Cross Rumble screens in your mouth

Sep 13
// Maurice Tan
Some more screens for Ace Combat 3D Cross Rumble have come out of the Nintendo 3DS Conference 2011. They involve planes, a radar, a weapon loadout, some Japanese text here and there, and yep, that looks like an Ace Combat gam...

Over 70 new Ace Combat: Assault Horizon screenshots

Sep 11
// Harry Monogenis
Hey, Ace Combat fans, you know how Ace Combat: Assault Horizon will be hitting the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on October 11? Well, for some of you that's quite a long time and you're probably just dying for som...

Full aircraft list reveal for Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

Aug 26
// Liam Fisher
Opinions on the upcoming Ace Combat game are pretty mixed so far. Some are excited about its focused narrative style while a few of the series' long time fans are a bit more hesitant. Either way, there will be no shortage of ...

Impressions: Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

Aug 19 // Maurice Tan
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)Developer: Project AcesPublisher: Namco BandaiRelease date: October 11, 2011 Assault Horizon has a different cinematic and story driven approach than Ace Combat 6. In-game cutscenes during which you are not in a plane can be manipulated by looking around with your head, and instead of relying on the traditional cutscene videos there is a bit of a better flow from level to level to tell the story. Starting the game, the player sits through a Black Hawk gunner shooting gallery that could've come straight out of Call of Duty or any modern warfare FPS that has a helicopter with a gunner section. A cutscene even shows someone in a helicopter with the mask from Modern Warfare 2's Ghost. During an assault on some place in Eastern Africa, you blast hundreds of enemies into oblivion with your gatling gun. It's fun, but it's not really why people play Ace Combat. These helicopter missions don't form the bulk of the air combat, however, as indicated by the game's multiplayer mode called Capital Conquest where things are a bit more traditional. Capital Conquest is an 8 vs. 8 online multiplayer mode where both teams have to protect their HQ. This can be a carrier group, a land base, etc. Fighters have to protect their HQ from bombers, while keeping their fighter escorts at bay. It's a very team-based mode that rewards team play in various ways. Players select a loadout with skills they earn (think perks) that can affect such elements like better turning rates, increased missile damage, and the like. Special team sharing skills affect an entire squad, with up to four players in a squad. This means that you'll likely have two squads fighting alongside each other in a match, preferably with each squad member selecting different team sharing skills that complement the squad as a whole. You will only unlock skills online, again similar to Call of Duty's progression system. During the match, you can score points to progress by destroying enemies, achieving objectives, winning matches, and even by attaining bonuses for getting a "revenge" kill on the person that shot you. The blatant Call of Duty influence on Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is present on a lot of levels, including the more realistically grounded story and environment. Assault Horizon won't feature any ridiculous super bosses, and it's set in our world.  You can of course customize your aircraft for online play in all the ways you'd want to, not just for weapon loadouts but also for paint jobs. If you want to fly around in a purple F-22, you can. It's an interesting approach to the combat flight sim genre, but some of the stuff like the helicopter gunner sequences don't feel like they really fit into an Ace Combat game. Then again, the multiplayer combat is a bit more traditional and all the jets and real world weapons are there for your enjoyment. When asked if this new, more realistic and shooter-style version of Ace Combat would be the new direction for Project Aces, or if they would make a proper Ace Combat 7 down the line, producer Kazutoki Kono responded that the team is pretty small and that they'd see where things will go after Ace Combat: Assault Horizon ships in October.

The new Ace Combat is not titled Ace Combat 7 for good reason; it's a big departure from the previous games in the franchise. Perhaps because the audience for these kind of games has dwindled on the consoles, Projec...


Ace Combat 3D is lookin' pretty 3D

Aug 18
// Josh Tolentino
At least, I'll have to take Nintendo and Namco Bandai's word for it, given that the screenshots they've released for their upcoming 3DS jet fighter game are not in 3D. That said, there's a lot of stuff flying at your fac...

Ace Combat Assault Horizon gameplay shows OMG CHOPPERZ

Aug 17
// Josh Tolentino
Are you hankering to get yourself into a fighter jet and shoot down some bandits? I sure am, but if you are too, we're both going to have to wait a little bit, because Ace Combat Assault Horizon features attack chopper seque...

E3: Ace Combat: Assault Horizon takes my breath away

Jun 08
// Maurice Tan
When it comes to arcade combat flight sim console action with an over-the-top dramatic story, it doesn't get much better than the Ace Combat series. Sure, it's no IL-2 Sturmovik but it's not supposed to be. Ace Combat: Assaul...

E3: Ace Combat: Assault Horizon turns men into girls

Jun 07
// Niero Desu
In 1986 G.I. Joe released the Tomahawk, a giant two-propellor helicopter.  It allowed clumsy uncoordinated children to stand in place and bomb their friends while lazily standing in place.  Ace Combat: Assault Hori...

E3: Ace Combat, Pac-Man Party headed to 3DS

Jun 07
// Jordan Devore
Namco Bandai has revealed plans to bring two of its popular franchises over to the 3DS: Pac-Man Party 3D and Ace Combat 3D. That second one is, as you might expect, a working title. No assets for either game yet, unfortunatel...

Interview: Move towards realism for new Ace Combat game

May 23
// Hollie Bennett
After admitting the Ace Combat fanbase has indeed been shrinking, the team behind the latest game Ace Combat: Assault Horizon are working hard to bring their classic game to a wider audience as well ...

Well I have returned from Dubai and Namco Bandai's Level Up event and what an event it was; we saw some exciting news, some welcome news and some stuff that was just a bit odd. While I no longer have my privet villa, my butl...


Ace Combat Assault Horizon out on October 11

May 11
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The next Ace Combat is set to come out on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on October 11 in North America and October 14 in Europe. Assault Horizon isn't just going to be the same old Ace Combat as the series takes on a new ga...

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