Ace in the hole

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

In the late 90s I was exposed to the Ace Combat series after playing a demo on a friend’s PlayStation. I loved it. There was something about flying a plane without the multitude of button presses usual flight sims entail that really appealed to me. Not to mention the almost endless self-targeting rockets strapped to my wings. As the years passed, so did the Ace Combat games spanning a number of platforms but in recent years, arcade flying fans could only get their kicks on portable systems. As excited as I am every time a new Ace Combat is announced, I quickly grew tired of the series and since Namco Bandai shied away from home consoles, I figured so did a lot of its followers. Apparently not as the publisher has announced that total sales of the series has surpassed 10 million units worldwide, an impressive feat for any long running franchise.

Ace Combat started life as Air Combat in the arcades over 15 years ago and it was the comically dramatic story lines and increasingly striking graphics that prevented it ever becoming a cliche sim. The next in the series, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, is the first multi-platform release and throughout its development has promised a new approach to an evidently popular but tiring franchise. Dog fights are said to be more exciting, the pace is supposedly faster and helicopters have been included to the flying arsenal. A few weeks ago, a demo appeared on Xbox Live and PSN which proved to be very successful in terms of downloads. Over 1.2 million gamers have had a taste of the game and puts Assault Horizon in a good pre-release position.

But there is a snag. From what I’ve read from commenters online, although so many have downloaded the demo, I’m yet to read a more than a handful of positive comments for it. That’s not to say the neigh sayers won’t pick up the game (we all know how quickly the Internet can dismiss things) but I too found Assault Horizon to be a little lacking. As promised, the adrenaline was heightened and the pace has gone up a couple of notches however it still felt like the same kind of game we’ve had for the past 15 odd years. Maybe the demo wasn’t great at showing how the series has moved on but what I got out of it was a stronger desire to play this kind of game on my 3DS. It’s meant to be coming towards the end of the year and right now I’m holding out for that version as Ace Combat has become the kind of game I want to pick up and play rather then dedicate lengthy amounts of time in front on my TV. Is that a bad thing? Not really although is quite interesting how I’ve wanted the franchise to make a triumphant return to home consoles and Assault Horizon is the closet thing to that yet I’d rather play it on a handheld. I wonder how the rest of the 1.2 million downloaders thought.

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3DAce

At a recent press event, Namco Bandai announced their popular arcade flight-sim series, Ace Combat, will be finding a new home on the 3DS (via TheSixthAxis) and I must say I’m rather excited. Being an uber-nerd for the Ace Combat franchise, I tend to pick up whatever comes out bearing its name regardless of platform or indeed if I’d play it for any great length of time – slightly odd from a self confessed fanboy but bear with me. As much as I enjoy aeriel dogfighting and ridiculously impassioned cut scenes, my tastes have changed somewhat meaning what would have kept me entertained for hours ten years ago won’t do the same for me now. But the Ace Combat franchise is changing. It’s being rebooted as Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, coming October 14th for HD consoles and looks to give more emphasis on the action while revamping the control scheme. You have to imagine that with a big shift in ideas, the 3DS version will be more in tune with the reboot and less likely to be a port of the PSP or iPhone games which are good but stick with the older model. Less likely but not confirmed much like a lot of the details including a release date. September last year was when the company first spoke of a 3DS game in the series and little was said about it back then too. All we know now is that it’s definitely coming to Europe. But like I said at the start of this post, I’ll probably buy it. When I first tried Pilotwings Resort, I said how good the planes controlled using the analog nub of the 3DS. Take that idea, strap on some missiles and a machine gun and I’m sold!

Assaulting the horizons

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I do love a good flight sim game. Sorry, I better correct that. I do love a good arcade flight sim, with endless rockets, streams of bullets and crazy story lines about waring nations. That’s why the Ace Combat franchise is part of my all time favourite games though I have to admit, my interest has dulled since those on the PS2. Wanting not to stagnate out of gamers memories, Namco Bandai’s next Ace Combat game Assault Horizon has been known to be the rebirth of the series and the latest trailer shows even more of the changes from earlier iterations. Fast cinematic dog fights and all round carnage, that’s what Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is all about looks pretty damn good to me!

Behind the scenes with Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

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Namco Bandai have released the first in what will likely be numerous developer diaries for Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, the upcoming rebirth of a classic arcade flight sim. Producer and director, Kazutoki Kono, talks of why it was decided against simply naming it Ace Combat 7 and how he thinks of the planes as people with oil being their blood and so on. No he’s not insane but actually very interesting with details of the revamped control system making a much more exciting experience.

Coming to Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2011, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon could be just what the franchise needs to win back departing fans who found the series to be less compelling with each iteration. Not me though. I bought them all. Yes I’m a sucker.

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon announced for consoles

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Forget all those super realistic flight simulators, if you want a bit of arcade fun with a generous helping of cheesy acting, Namco Bandai’s Ace Combat series offers just that and today the publishers announced the next home console release. Coming 2011 to Xbox 360 and PS3, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is a welcome return for franchise fans who have only had portable versions since 2007’s Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation (not that they’re bad however, with the PSP releases proving very successful). And the fact that this new game is without a number looks to be of significance too if the teaser trailer is anything to go by. There’s a greater pace to the action and dogfights with the planes weaving through skyscrapers. The addition of helicopters and use of gun turrets excites me the most about Assault Horizon as their mechanics will be considerably different to airplane combat. I hope that developers Project Aces do away with the timed segments that littered previous titles and stick to intense, large-scale skirmishes. Though right now, I’m not being picky and am happy to see one of my favourite franchises making a HD comeback.