Monday, 2 March 2015

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy+

I haven't had much exposure to the Ace Combat series. Back in the day I played the original game in 1995 and loved it, but I didn't really have in interest in the all the sequels, prequels and spin-offs that followed. But the original was great, and I particularly remember the voice that said, “ALTITUDE TOO LOW, PULL UP!!!” when you went for a nose dive. So when I got a chance to review a new entry in the Ace Combat series, I didn't exactly have any expectations or preconceptions banging about in my head. I just went into it hoping for a bit of fun. Though it's not an amazing game, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy+ lets you fly fast fighter jets, shoot at other fighter jets and make them explode and lets you feel you're in Top Gun. They're all good things, right?

Developed by Access Games and out now on Nintendo 3DS comes Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy+, a great little hand-held adventure that proves that, at the very least, the Ace Combat series isn't being dumbed down or neutered for the small screen. This release is actually an enhanced version of the 2011 game Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy, and with this re-release comes updated graphics and Amiibo integration among other things. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy+ is also a remake of Ace Combat 2, the 1997 Playstation game. The story is pretty complicated at times, and if I'm being honest my brain often shut off when the game banged on about politics, treaties and various groups for too long. Essentially though, after a coup kicks off amidst an important peace treating agreement, the good guys send in the Scarface Squadron to help put an stop to things. As part of an 8 person mercenary crew of fighter jet pilots, you're battlefield is  the sky.

The game plays how you would expect it to, and though this isn't exactly a 100% realistic flight-sim, it isn't a very arcade-like experience either. It's a nice go between both approaches and it works well. Prior to a mission you'll be given a briefing, which fleshes out the story somewhat and gives you a rundown on what enemies and obstacles you'll be facing. From other jet fighters you'll need to intercept and shoot out of the sky, to gun placements and turrets you'll need to obliterate, you'll start each mission with a clear idea of where you are, who is the enemy and what your goal is. From there you're thrown out into the world on your own, and this is where Legacy+ impresses where it matters. Handling your fighter jet is smooth, responsive and, despite some issues with the sensitivity of the analogue stick on the 3DS, makes for some pretty realistic looking replays once you've finished a mission. This level of realism and sheer spectacle is only amplified when you're going head-to-head with another airborne enemy too. Zooming through the sky, whipping your entire craft around and locking on to a foe to unleash a barrage of fire-power is fun, frantic and incredibly satisfying if pulled off correctly.

One aspect of the game I was a little disappointed about was the Action Manoeuvre, which is basically a gauge you must fill up over time, that if utilised will automatically line-up an enemy in your sights or instantly let you avoid incoming fire. I'm not looking for an ultra-realistic game here, but its inclusion in the game kind of cheapens the times where you bust your ass to fight and survive. There's also no multiplayer here, which despite the fact that I'm not a big multiplayer fan myself in general, it would have been nice to have some dogfights with other 3DS players, as outside of the main campaign there's literally nothing else to do.

But despite its woes and shortcomings, Legacy+ is enjoyable as in terms of fighter jet handling and dogfights, it's clearly not downgrading the action for the 3DS. It'll make you want want to blast Kenny Loggins' “Danger Zone” on your boom box while manually taking out bad guys during a free fall after your engines stall. It may need multiplayer and its Amiibo features are pretty lame, but I had fun, and sometimes that's all I want.

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy+ just about hits the target with a 3/5.


Denis Murphy

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