Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

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[360] [PS3] Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

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[360] [PS3] Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

Unread postby icycalm » 18 Oct 2011 20:10

The Wikipedia page for this game had, until recently, the funniest line I've ever read on that site:

The story is written by New York Times bestselling nobody Jim DeFelice


but someone edited it sometime after the game's recent launch, just to make sure there's no humor at all on the entire site. I guess it is, after all, supposed to be an encyclopedia...

Anyway, game's look fine (although perhaps not as exciting, in trailers at least, than the last one...) and if I had time to play something more than Goku Makaimura right now, it'd definitely be among the things I would be playing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MNYruNnBzc
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This is not what made Ace Combat great.

Unread postby Beakman » 10 Sep 2012 00:55

So I'm making all these assessments based on the demo alone, but I'm pretty sure to say that this is a travesty.

First of all, I got to say that I'm a huge fan of Ace Combat. I've played every one of the home console games and I even imported the japanese version Ace Combat 3: electrosphere (which is far superior than the american release). I love the blend of freedom of movement from a flight simulator and the action of a shooter. I still found variety and challenge lacking in the series, though. The helicopter sequences and the ejection cutscenes in the trailers looked promising, since the first obviously implies variety and the second suggests that the developers were aiming at giving yourself a good challenge.

Sadly, the real message is "since COD is selling so well, we should put rails on Ace Combat while surrounding them with cutscenes of explosions and military sounding chatter, also, it should be easy".

Seriously: the "health" on your plane regenerates. The airplane is not immediately destroyed because of a head-on crash on the scenery or against other aircraft (it stupidly bounces off) [UPDATE: The planes are able to crash in most of the game. They bounce only in the demo/first mission of the game. See below].

The dogfights engage an "on rails shooter" mode, not to enable features that make such games good, but to be able to focus the camera on exploding stuff, as in the latest COD games. It is a fucking theme park roller coaster. This is a far cry from the great game that Ace Combat 6: Fires of liberation was with its multiple, separated battles in the same mission, decent squad command system and some more good (but underdeveloped) ideas that I would love to see flourish in a new installment.

And that's what Assault Horizon is in a nutshell: The disgusting, forced blend of Ace Combat and Call Of Duty mechanics. So there goes another series fucked up by this COD aping trend (Crysis 2 is another one that comes to mind, almost for the same reasons, now that I think of).

I haven't played the multiplayer, mind you. Maybe the game fares better in that regard since I doubt that the "on rails mode" is enabled there.
Last edited by Beakman on 23 Sep 2012 20:05, edited 3 times in total.
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Unread postby icycalm » 10 Sep 2012 11:58

For a game of this kind, I wouldn't even bother checking the multiplayer. Maybe if I was reviewing it I'd give it a try for all of ten minutes, just in case it was also bungled somehow, but even if it's not, I am not buying these games to do deathmatch in the air, which, given the lack of any real level design, would be even MORE boring than deathmatch in a couple of boxy little rooms.

Which brings me to my main point. If you feel like expanding your post into a full review, I'd be interested in publishing it. See the review forum for guidelines, and post the review there, if and when you feel like writing it. Just please, if you do end up writing a review, don't make the rookie mistake of utterly changing your tone and sounding like an overly verbose and pompous moron. Just expand your post into a few more paragraphs using the same conversational forum tone you are already using.
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Unread postby icycalm » 10 Sep 2012 12:00

Beakman wrote:Seriously: the "health" on your plane regenerates.


And this would make a great one-line mini review.
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Unread postby icycalm » 10 Sep 2012 12:10

Also consider: the health on your "plane" (or at least the shields) also regenerates in Wing Commander, and has been doing so since the early '90s, long before Call of Duty, and indeed Halo, came around. But in contrast to this game, there is nothing wrong with that. Check the Kick Off review to find out why.
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Unread postby Beakman » 10 Sep 2012 14:02

icycalm wrote:If you feel like expanding your post into a full review, I'd be interested in publishing it.


I'll do it! I'll check out the guidelines and rent the game then. And I'll keep the tone.

I'll also read the Wing Commander review. Now that you reminded me, the Colony Wars games (and other Wing Commander sucessors) were damned good and also featured regenerating shields (but if I recall, a head-on crash meant certain death). I'll go deeper on why it sucks much ass having regenerating "health" in Ace Combat.
Last edited by Beakman on 10 Sep 2012 14:08, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby icycalm » 10 Sep 2012 14:07

There's no Wing Commander review (yet). There's a Kick Off review in which I explain, among other things, in what ways a realistic theme can limit a game's (plausible) mechanical choices, and why therefore fantasy and sci-fi themed games can be ultimately superior, even mechanically, to realistically-themed ones.
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Unread postby icycalm » 10 Sep 2012 14:12

As for Colony Wars. Man, I played the first one on the PS when it first came out, but I can't remember sticking with it for more than half an hour or so. Perhaps I should have played more, but the feeling I got out of it was more X-Wing than Wing Commander, and X-Wing was a bad aping of Wing Commander. Solid mechanically, but crap in terms of theme and atmosphere -- and it was precisely these aspects that made Wing Commander the astonishing thing that it was. Without those aspects, space sims become unplayable for me. (And after Strike Commander came out, even flight sims.)
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Unread postby icycalm » 10 Sep 2012 14:15

Beakman wrote:the Colony Wars games (and other Wing Commander sucessors) were damned good and also featured regenerating shields (but if I recall, a head-on crash meant certain death).


lol no way. I remember bouncing off battleships in at least the first three Wing Commanders countless times. But that still doesn't excuse a fucking F-16 or even F-22 or whatever doing the same.
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Unread postby Beakman » 14 Sep 2012 08:18

icycalm wrote:As for Colony Wars...
...Solid mechanically, but crap in terms of theme and atmosphere...

Agreed, Colony Wars atmosphere was lacking. The ships were pretty ugly too. Psygnosis got good in that regard with Wipeout (because of The Designers Republic involvement).

I had a poster of the front cover of Strike Commander when I was a little kid, didn't knew it was a game! Looks nice!

Have you checked out Gaijin's recent flight games? I loved IL-2 Sturmovik: Wings of Prey (subtitled "Birds Of Prey" on consoles). Their last game (Birds of Steel) looks even better. I don't know about Apache: Air Assault though, but at least it doesn't seem as half-assed as Assault Horizon's helicopter missions.

Gaijin Entertainment are not the guys that initiated the IL-2 Sturmovik flight simulators series (Maddox Games did), and they're not trying to cater the pure simulation market. Gaijin's games feature those usually badly implemented settings to play the game with various degrees of realism. I can assume that since they wanted to market their games primarily to consoles, they went great lengths into fine tuning their "arcade" and "realistic" settings, and not so much with their "simulation" ones. These ones enable flight dynamics targeted more towards fans of the first games of the series, while restricting the camera to the cockpit. I haven't played much on this mode.

Namco should take note: the planes actually fucking crash in either mode.

Even on "realistic" the game is deeper than Ace Combat. The planes feature localized damage, and it's great to cut off the wings of another fighter with a burst of machine gun fire. If you get behind someone's smoke trail, the canopy gets dirty and it limits your vision for a while. You can give orders to your squadron and they seem to do a better job of following them than in either Ace Combat that has the command feature.

Wings of Prey takes fun concepts from its pure simulator heritage and it doesn't skimp one bit on action. Birds of Steel features dynamic campaigns, I wonder how well implemented they are.

Gaijin Entertainment did some pretty horrible action games (X-blades) but they're advancing rapidly with their flight games. After Assault Horizon's fiasco and the mediocre competition from Tom Clancy's HAWX, they became my favorite flight game developers.

There are some bad things about Wings of prey:

    • If you want cooperative missions, they sell them as an add-on with only a handful of new missions, co-op is never enabled for the rest.

    • While the scenery is way more interesting than in Ace Combat 6 (in terms on high ground structures and clouds), the AI never takes advantage of this, either when you're tailing them or to surprise you. That's an enormous missed opportunity.

    • Flying the occasional bomber missions is not that fun.
On a side note: If you try it for PC, it forces an install of some bullshit content delivery platform called "YUplay" which is needed for multiplayer and game updates (even if you bought it on Steam), and it's as obtrusive as rape. I shit you not, it makes Origin and Games for Windows live look good.
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Unread postby Beakman » 18 Sep 2012 14:57

As for Assault Horizon's review, I ended up buying the game. Not that I'm crazy about owning it but I rather take my time to review it than risking a half-assed assessment because of being pressed for time while renting it. Game rentals are expensive as fuck around here, anyway.

So expect the review soon. Thank you for the opportunity.
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Unread postby icycalm » 19 Sep 2012 22:18

Take your time, there's no rush.

I'll start a thread about flight sims later and address the general points you raised in there.
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Unread postby Beakman » 23 Sep 2012 07:39

I've started playing Assault Horizon. There's something I have to clear up as to not mislead the people who read my first assessment (which again, was based off the demo).

The planes do crash. Is just that they don't while in most of the first mission, which serves as a tutorial. And it just happens that it's the same, sole, fighter jet mission that's available in the demo (plus an helicopter mission).

It's still retarded that the plane bounces off in the tutorial. Isn't a tutorial supposed to convey the game's set of rules to the player? Why making the consequence of crashing inconsistent to the rest of the game?

And who was the genius that thought that it was a good idea to show this mission in the demo? I can imagine I'm not the only one that was deterred from buying the game mainly because of seeing the fucking F-22 bouncing off the ground as if it was made of rubber.

Oh well, at least it's a good thing that you still have to mantain your spatial awareness in Ace Combat. The on-rails dogfight mode isn't as mindless as I thought, at least when is not enabled for the sake of showing stuff blowing up in the scenery.

So the game's demo (or the first mission) isn't really that representative of the whole game.

More on the upcoming review.
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