Posted by Brad J. (IanAugust)
I've always been a sucker for air combat games. Ever since playing Top Gun on the NES, it's been a love affair for me. When Namco Bandai announced an Ace Combat game for the 3DS, I was on board faster than Maverick on a MIG-29. After six hours of crashing into mountains and shooting down bogeys here is my thoughts to help you decide if this is a game for you.
Assault Horizon Legacy may have a similar name to the console Assault Horizon game, but the 3DS version is a much more traditional Ace Combat game. Your going to get a large choice of fighter jets, weapons, customizable parts, replays, rocking soundtrack, and a lot of dog fighting. Assault Horizon Legacy doesn't skimp on content by any means and after a 6 hours campaign you will still have to unlock and purchase a ton stuff if you want to get everything in the game. So you're going to have to go back and replay missions for higher scores or check out the extra missions for fun. But even with all that the game still felt a little light and not quite a full experience. The games story about the USEA vs the Rebels pretty much boiled down to a us vs them argument with no real gut wrenching plot point to drive the action. When I blow up hundreds of fighter pilots, I like to feel like I'm taking out the bad guys. I won't spoil the games ending for you, but the first thought that popped in my mind was "Wow they phoned in this one". Overall the missions were pretty standard fair and the game is rather easy, so any sense of tension felt lost compared to other Ace Combat games.
On that note, the game did hold my attention enough for me to finish the entire game once through and it did have it's gameplay tricks to keep the game interesting. The counter maneuvers have become a staple in the series and it allows you to get bonuses for staying within a enemies range and use it to get behind your opponent with a press of a button, perform an impossible aerial feat, and shoot down your target with panash. The game also employs a missile dodging mechanic that allows you to save your ass by doing a barrel roll with a well time button press and pointing the control pad in the right direction. Speaking of controls, how does the game feel on the 3DS?
On the standard control settings the game plays pretty straight forward with one circle pad being used guide your fighter, so it's easy to keep your enemy in your sights. Your aircraft will not roll when you move the circle pad left or right. But as you all know this isn't the way real planes behave. Real aircraft require you to control the pitch, yaw and roll all the same time. The pitch and roll is easily handled with the one analog pad. The issue with playing with the expert controls is that the yaw (moves the plane left or right) is handled by the d-pad. This unfortunately is less than ideal when your trying to line up a target with precision while your upside down screaming towards the ground. To not be allowed to control all planes movements simultaneously is an issue with a game based on flying. While the yaw in the game does not actually move your plane all that much, your going to have to adjust and learn when best to use it. Not a deal breaker, just a fact of gaming on the 3DS. Where is that second circle pad Nintendo?
The last thing you may be wondering about is the games 3D graphics and it's overall performance. The game really does have excellent visual at times, boasting some impressive lighting effects with minimal slowdown only occurring when there is a lot of enemies on screen. When you add the 3D effect it does really feel like you have a tiny airplane flying inside your 3DS and makes the replays a little more exiciting. The 3D doesn't enhance the gameplay at all and actually makes it a little challenging to see your HUD elements on the screen when the depth is turned all up all the way. The game oddly does not include an Attitude Instrument on your HUD either, making it impossible to know when your upside down if your lost inside a cloud and can't see the horizon line. One level in particular in the game is almost entirely a thick layer of clouds and I failed the mission repeatedly only because I couldn't tell which way was up or down. Granted everything on the screen feels a bit small and your field of vision is limited greatly when you switch cockpit mode; it looks cool to play in that way but finding your targets get a little more challenging.
Overall the game is decent for the 3DS's first foray into the Air Combat series. My personal opinion is that at the $39.99 asking price, it feels a little underwhelming. Like most 3DS games I've played they feel a little light on content and overall quality. If your a huge fan I would recommend picking this game up when it's price drops a bit if your really looking for a some dog fighting action. By no means I think anyone would be completely disappointed picking up this game. Ace Combat Assault Horizon gets the job done, just not as good as it could have.
Score: 3/5 - Buttered Toast
• Real aircraft and customizable parts
• Great Soundtrack
• Good amount of replay value for those who wish get the best scores
• Weak to non-existent story
• Controls are not ideal with only one circle pad in expert mode
• Mission and level designs are a little lackluster
• No Streetpass functionality