☺ Varied Missions.
☺ Good Controls.
☹ Lacklustre Story.
☹ Dull plane vs plane combat.
(NOTE: This game was played with an XBox controller and only takes into consideration the Single Player portion of the game).
Ace Combat Assault Horizon is an interesting attempt at making a more accessible Aerial Combat game, which, not helped by a lacklustre story, fails to get the blood pumping or really manages to keep you engaged. It's a very arcadey approach to the genre that often feels like its a compilation of the variety missions that appear in modern military shooter games, rather than its own game.
The mission variety is very good, from dogfighting over cities in a selection of modern fighter jets and weaving an Apache Helicopter between buildings to providing air support from an AC-130 Spectre Gunship or a series of late night bombing runs; what's on offer is varied and has a nice pace to it, changing things up so you don't tire of the same thing again and again.
The biggest let-down for me and my main reason for purchasing the game originally is the Dogfighting. Ace Combat Assault Horizon introduces a feature known as DFM, which is clearly an attempt to keep engagements fast and thrilling. The problem is, in most cases it feels like you've been strapped into a rollercoaster and been given some bread rolls to throw at the head of the person in the seat in front of you when ever you line up. Enemy planes can absorb a large amount of bullets and apart from a few non-essential targets, will quite happily shrug off direct missile hits - it just seems to lack impact or enough fidelity to get the blood pumping and tends to feel like you're chipping away at a health bar until the target explodes. This is made slightly worse if you decide to replay a mission and notice some essential targets are heavily scripted and fly the same paths along specific set pieces.
The visuals do a good job although are nothing special, vehicles are decent, explosions look good, smoke trails don't look out of place and the quantity of modelled buildings rather than just a ground texture is nice to see.
I played with an XBox Controller and the controls never caused frustration, the game certainly lends itself more to the arcadey approach than a Simulation.
All in all, the mission variety on offer doesn't make up for the run of the mill story and disappointing combat. The games singleplayer clocks in at around seven hours with the ability to replay missions and I personally didn't experience the multiplayer, although I imagine with the removal of Games for Windows Live (Ace Combat Assault Horizon - Enhanced Edition now requires Steam only!) more people will be willing to give it a try.
It's not a bad game and is indeed, well made - they just should have waited for a clear lock before firing this one off.