Do not buy this game, even if it's deeply discounted. Pretty much everything about is an absolute cluster♥♥♥♥. The 'innovative' gameplay features seem like they were specifically designed to disempower the player; you'll be groaning every time an enemy flight lead shows up because you'll know you have to engage in the godawful dogfight mode, flying around in a nauseating chase sequence while your target implausibly and frustratingly soaks up missile after missile. And that's far from the only problem with the game. Especially horrible is the way the game frequently decides to ♥♥♥♥ with you by messing with the camera.
Oddly the tacked on Call of Duty-ish elements, namely the helicopter doorgunner and AC-130 fire support missions were the most fun I got out of the game (the attack helicopter ones however are pretty awful). Although I have to say the doorgunner mission at the start of the game is extremely disturbing; it's essentially a war crimes simulation. No, the throwaway line about it being a UN santioned operation and the area being a 'free-fire zone' doesn't excuse it. Anyone who has ever read in-depth about about the Vietnam War knows what utter ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ a free-fire designation is.
On the plus side there's some very nice music (a franchise staple) and the graphics engine is genuinely impressive and versatile, delivering good up-close visuals of humans and other on-the-ground elements in addition to the usual aircraft fare. Which only makes it more of a shame that they decided to waste the effort and budget on this crappy real world Tom Clancy ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ narrative, instead of giving us what everyone actually wants, which is a true Strangereal Ace Combat 7.
The narrative deserves special attention because of how downright ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ and Russophobic it is. I understand why Russia keeps showing up over and over again as villains in these types of stories; it's the only vaguely credible threat to the American Empire left on the planet, aside from China which is too important a trade partner to risk villifying. But generally there's at least an attempt at nuance. Here's the entire message of Assault Horizon: Russians are backstabbing ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s, all of them. Except the token 'good' Russian, who is a nice subservient pet to our glorious American protaganists. No, just kidding, he's also a backstabbing traitorous ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥, he was only pretending to be good. That's literally it. The villains entire motivation is that American bombing accidentally killed his waifu in Bosnia. I'm not even kidding or oversimplifying, that is literally it.
Compare this to something like Call of Duty 4 (let's try and forget the sequels...) which still had shades of Russophobia but at least bothered to divide them into 'good' and 'bad' Russians via a civil war plotline. In that game the chief antagonist Imran Zakhaev actually had a fairly credible motivation, though it wasn't given much attention. The line he gives in the games intro about Russian leaders prostituting their populations to the West and destroying their cultures and economies is 100% factual. The historical reality is that in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union Russia was set to make the transition to a Scandanavian-style Social Democracy, because, whatever Americans may think, most Russians genuinely liked many aspects of the USSR, like socialized medicine and education. At which point the West, spearheaded by financial institutions like Goldman Sachs, stepped in and said 'no, what you really want is rampant privitization'. Yeltsin said 'okay', and the country was utterly exploited. A new aristrocracy of oligarchs rose to power, controlling most of the wealth and resources, and around 10 million people prematurely died, many simply drinking themselves to death in despair. Given that reality, the idea of a guy wanting to nuke the ♥♥♥♥ out of America isn't hard to believe.
Similarly Khaled Al-Asad and his generic Middle-Eastern 'separatists' have genuine grievences, though they're inevitably portrayed as genocidal monsters. Especially in light of the real-world Arab Spring where it became painfully obvious just how despised by their populations the US-backed dictatorships of the region were. Oh but don't worry, that annoying 'democracy' thing didn't last long in Egypt at any rate, and the US is backing a new military dictatorship.
Compare both those motivations to 'bombs killed my girlfriend'. Yeah...
tl;dr go play Vector Thrust, and/or resume grinding through sorties in Ace Combat Infinity. This game is ♥♥♥♥.