As a gamer, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never really been a massive fan of flight games. I think the main issue has always been control, whether it was on a controller and required better control stick dexterity than I ever had, or on a PC with fiddly NUM-pad movement options. So I avoided them like the plague.
However, as with anyone, flight DOES interest me. So when I got the chance to review the latest game in the legendary Ace Combat series on my New Nintendo 3DS XL, I jumped at the chance to see if it would be more to my tastes.
Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy + is the latest in the Ace Combat action/flight simulation game series, revered for its arcade roots and heritage. Set in the aftermath of a major conflict, the player takes the role of the leader of an allied forces squad, dog-fighting against rebel fighters who oppose the formation of a continent-wide alliance. Arguably, it’s not the most thrilling or original storyline, but realistically you don’t go to an Arcade Flight-sim for an emotional and engaging narrative.
However, something needs addressing. Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy + is an enhanced re-release of the original Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy, originally for the Nintendo 3DS, as such including improved 3D, added button functionality and special new Aircraft, and to that extent the name works well to show it is a re-release. However, do not be fooled into thinking that Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy bears much resemblance to the 2011 title Ace Combat Assault Horizon; It’s a completely different, completely separate game.
The most interesting thing about this disparity is that Legacy + is apparently more of a remake of Ace Combat 2 than it is anything else. Firstly, why did they decide to include Assault Horizon in the title originally, and why didn’t they just call it Ace Combat 2 Enhanced (+)? I suppose I’ll never understand the naming conventions of Japanese developers.
Anyway, in terms of the actual game…I can actually control it! Legacy + allows you to control your plane with the control stick, the camera with the new C-stick, your speed with the L and R buttons and the plane’s yaw with the new ZL and ZAR buttons and guns and missiles are controlled with A and B. All in all, although the layout of the other less important features were less than intuitive, the tutorial did a good job of and the overall scheme feels relatively responsive, and made me feel like an ace pilot from the get-go.
In terms of gameplay, despite the sugar coating of each mission there are only a few objectives, essentially boiling down to “shoot down this squad of planes” or “destroy this and don’t die.” Most levels have a few different sections, which break up the action well, even if it’s just for a few seconds to introduce a new wave.
In terms of waves, a relatively common structure involves beating down two waves of enemies before facing an “Elite” squadron, which usually involves some form of extra challenge. A particularly noteworthy example was taking down “Beast Squadron,” in which I had to lure each member out of a kill zone to fight them individually.
Whilst such small changes could be seen as inconsequential, they still add a little bit of variety to a game which is perfect for the odd small arcade burst, if not long play sessions. On the expanded hardware of the New 3DS XL it runs surprisingly well with typically good 3D effects, although on occasion there were instances of visual doubling. However, when the 3D is active the Frame-rate does drop noticeably, possibly below 30fps, which is rather disappointing, especially considering that the game doesn’t seem particularly graphically intensive.
The planes are nicely modelled regardless, and the visual style is well suited to making you feel like a badass pilot. There is a large variety of planes available, which unlock throughout the game, each feeling different enough to be a unique experience. There are also some different weapon unlocks, although they are distinctly less exciting. A key feature of the + upgrade is the addition of Nintendo-themed planes accessible from the New 3DS’ amiibo functionality, and having used my Toon Link with it, I can confirm that the new planes are colourful, but aren’t much than standard planes with a Nintendo paintjob. I was hoping for more distinct designs on the wacky side of the spectrum, but that’s only a minor complaint. The sound is well executed, and shows the quality and depth of the New 3DS speakers, with a pretty good soundtrack accompanying the explosions and gunshots.
So, all in all I’m a convert. Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy + is a fun, relatively short arcade flight-sim, with a good control scheme, which pumps adrenaline right into your eyeballs. However, my biggest problem with it (aside from the name) is that the amount of new content doesn’t really seem enough to justify a full upgrade if you already own the original.
It’s not going to be everybody’s cup of tea, but if you like a bit of a swoopy romp over vast environments and you don’t already own the original, it’s definitely worth a look.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.