Namco’s flight simulation series Ace Combat is arguably the best flight simulation game on consoles to date. I myself have been a longtime fan of the series ever since Ace Combat 4 Shattered Skies came out for PS2 in 2001, however my favorite was Ace Combat 5 the Unsung War. The Ace Combat series is very popular because no one else and capture what it feels like to be in a dogfight high up in the clouds quite like Ace combat does. When playing these games you will constantly be at the edge of your seat dodging incoming missiles as warning signs light up your cockpit, all while trying to line up a shot on your foe. You watch in close anticipation as you finally get a missile lock on your enemy, and hear the word “Lock, Fire” shouting at you from your cockpit. You fire two missiles, watching them streak across the sky and then get a brief sense of triumph as your foe falls in ball of fire from the sky. Only to realize the fight has just begun and there is a lot more shooting and dodging to do. Along with the great gameplay and flight mechanics, Ace combat has always been known for having a great story line and beautiful graphics. However with Namco’s newest game, many longtime fans were left disappointed after playing, what went wrong?
Ace Combat Assault Horizon is the newest game in the Ace Combat series, and was supposed to revolutionize the series, which many of the other Ace Combat titles had done in the previous years before Assault Horizon. This entry into the series was supposed to take the series to new heights. Unfortunately many feel it did the opposite. Everything the Ace Combat series is known for except one, this game failed to achieve. The only good thing I could say about this game was that it has very beautiful graphics. Based on real world cities and location, it’s one of the best looking games out there. However even that is an issue to some players, because the Ace Combat series has never taken place in real world cities or places. Each title was set in a fictional world which made the story more interesting and unpredictable. A good example of this was with Ace Combat 5 the Unsung war, the storyline in this game was, in my opinion the best in the series. It took me completely by surprise with a twist in the story I never saw coming. The Character development in the game was also great. I knew a little about each character and actually cared about their fate. When one of the main characters died during one mission I actually felt like I had lost someone I actually knew, and their names I can still remember to this day. However in Assault Horizon I can’t connect or relate to anyone. I don’t know any back story behind anyone not even the person I am playing as. All I know is that he is a fighter pilot who dreams about his own death, literally that’s it. Even the big bad villain in the game isn’t shown clearly, all I know is that its some Russian guy who hates the US.( Like most Russians in video games do). However it isn’t completely clear why Russia even attacks the US in the first place or what their plans are during the game. The story line was boring and predicable, with little to no character development.
Not only was the story poor but so was the missions I was on during the game. All the mission in the game were single based objective, which is so not like the Ace Combat series. In the previous games you were given more diverse objectives, or an objective with more than one way of completing it. In “Assault Horizon” I often find myself shooting down endless waves of aircraft, slowly losing interest and will completely forget why I am doing this in the first place. Assault Horizons missions were dull and boring, with little variation between different missions. Normally ace combat missions were intense and had you at the edge of your seat. When you would take to the skies you would fly through the air with a passion, with a drive to take down your enemies. In Assault Horizon the only drive I felt was to turn off my Xbox or switch Assault Horizon out to play another game.
One of the most important factors in Ace Combats normally thrilling missions was its sound track. Ace Combats sound track was beautiful and was motivational, making you fight harder while on missions. It also brought you deeper into the story line, and often many times, the music stood as a symbol for each game. Each game had its own unique sound track that you could relate with the game. In Assault Horizon the sound track sounded like they just borrowed it from Call of Duty, much like they did the story line. Now I am not saying the Call of Duty sound track isn’t good, it just wasn’t meant for Ace Combat. There was nothing special about the sound track and that really takes away from the game for me.
Ace Combat Assault Horizon was a letdown to many longtime fans of the series. This game could have been so much better, I feel as if not enough time was spent on the story line. I like that Namco wanted to change up the game play to avoid, boring longtime fans but in the process Namco lost sight in what originally made this series great, and in turn lost the opportunity to please longtime fans, and bring in new ones. I am a fan of Aerial combat games, and I usually turn to Ace Combat to have that experience. Unfortunately this time I will be looking elsewhere for a dog fighting experience.