The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Ace Combat

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon- Final Reflection

“I saw my death in my dreams, many times. But I didn’t die. I was better than my fears. Better than my nightmares. But to find out, I had to face them all. I had to get through the worst to prove I was the best. That was my reality.” —Lieutenant Colonel William Bishop

The second half to Ace Combat: Assault Horizon sees a support mission to help transports land, a night bombing run against ICBM facilities to prevent launches from occuring, and another chance to pilot the AH-64 Apache against the rebel forces under a snowy day in Moscow. After the next Trinity warhead is set off over suburban Moscow, it’s a race to stop Markov before he destroys a major American city, culminating in a harrowing dogfight over Washington D.C. After shooting down Markov and stopping the Trinity warhead, I sigh with relief and enjoy the fact that I’d just beaten my first Ace Combat game ever, curiously enough, on a grey, snowy day. After I set down the keyboard, I gaze out the window, and think to myself that it wouldn’t be out of place for some CF-18s to be flying overhead on some exercises.

  • Why are there thirty screenshots for a game that I’ve already reviewed in parts? The second half of the game has its share of exciting moments and breathtaking landscapes, so for this final reflections post, I’ve opted to go with thirty screenshots, the same standard for full game and movie reviews. Mission nine is set at Belyi air base, which is modeled after the Belya air base in Russia’s Irkutsk Oblast, located just north of Mongolia. The actual airbase is in a region with more grasslands compared to the Assault Horizon depiction, and although there are forests and hills in the vicinity, the forests are less dense than the ones seen in-game.

  • The F-35B is one of the usable aircraft in this mission: built to replace the F-16 and F/A-18, the F-35 is a single-engine multirole aircraft. The B variant has short-takeoff-and-landing capabilities like the Harrier. Because this mission is a ground mission, I chose to equip the LAGM, which performs reasonably well against groups of ground targets. The cannon is actually quite effective, as well, and for ground missions, using conventional missiles is enough to get the job done.

  • The overall character of the Russian forests are heavy with history and inspire a sense of intrigue, bringing to mind everything from the settlement by the first Russian explorers to the region construction of the Trans-Siberian railway. Even though Canada has a sizable boreal forest as well, the nation’s relatively short history means that here, the forests are a natural beauty, and that’s about it.

  • Mission ten is another airstrike mission; this time, the goal is to rescue the Russian Prime Minister, who was captured by the rebel faction, and I take absolute joy in taking out the ground targets using rocket pods. The A-10 Thunderbolt II is one of my favourite aircraft for its legendary durability and GAU-8/A 30mm cannon.

  • While it’s hardly realistic for rocket pods to sink a frigate, I could roll with something like this in an arcade game where fun is more critical than realism. Initially, rockets and missiles won’t work against the frigate, which has a tight close-in weapons system network: Colonel Bishop suggests saturation fire to overwhelm the systems, and in the ensuing chaos, the frigate is sunk.

  • This mission is strictly an anti-ground mission: other aircraft will be keeping the skies clear. Upon closer inspection of this image, note the shock-wave emanating from the damaged frigate. This subtle detail adds a nice touch to the explosions, bringing to mind the high-speed camera shots of explosions in Mythbusters. While in real time, explosions appear instantaneous, re-watching the same explosion in real time really highlights  the complex mechanisms that fuel every explosion.

  • The night bombing mission was quite enjoyable, as well. The first bit of the mission is to reach the designated bombing point in within the time limit, taking care to stay out of the radar’s range. This mission evokes feelings of tension, bringing to mind the US aerial reconnaissance missions over the USSR in the early 1950s, when intelligence on Soviet forces was not available and the American leaders had wished to assess the size of their new enemy’s forces.

  • These early missions were strictly reconnaissance, and the B-47 Stratojets flying these missions were not armed. The first mission was carried out in 1952 to great success, although in later years, the Soviets began intercepting these flights, prompting the US to design higher-flying reconnaissance aircraft. While thrilling, such a mission would be quite dull in Ace Combat, and as such, players will instead participate ina night bombing campaign to take out ICBM silos under enemy control.

  • The first three bombing runs are to take our surface targets with unguided bombs, and the second set of runs use special guided penetration bombs to hit the silos. Care must be taken to ensure all targets are hit, and so, it is advisable to saturate an area with bombs so that no stone is left unturned; there is only one chance per run, and failing sends the player back quite a ways. To further survival, flares can be dumped to throw off the surface-to-air missiles; dumping flares with the B-1 Lancer here produces a rather impressive visual show that looks somewhat similar to the ‘angel wings’ flare pattern that arises when an AC-130 dumps flares.

  • Where I live, there are snowy days like these that white out everything. On days like these, I prefer staying home and relaxing with a cup of hot cocoa while watching the storm progress, but more often than not, storms happen on the weekdays, and so, I brave the elements on my way to campus. Having grown up in a nation where it’s winter for half the year, I consider minus sixteen to be quite warm: sometimes, temperatures drop below minus forty with windchill for weeks at a time, and so, minus sixteen feels very mild by comparison.

  • The AH-64 Apache makes a return, and this time, the ground targets are tougher, consisting of enemy tanks, howitzers and missile batteries. Hinds are also common in this mission, so I’ve opted to equip anti-air missiles rather than the Hellfire missiles I used in the previous helicopter mission. The rockets and chain gun do a satisfactory job, so I figured that balancing my load out and adding anti-air capacities would be more beneficial.

  • It was a winter’s day during the Christmas break many years ago, and I was at the local mall’s Sony store, where they were showcasing the then-bleeding edge PlayStation 2. There was a third person shooter set on a cold, snowy, forested map, and try as I might, I still haven’t been able to find the game. It might be Syphon Filter: Omega Strain, although with no reference points (such as YouTube playthroughs), I won’t be able to confirm that for sure.

  • It’s times like these that make the anti-air missiles useful: they deal enough damage to the Hinds such that the Hinds can be subsequently brought down with the chain gun without much difficulty. While the ground targets are more numerous and dangerous in this mission, constantly moving about and making use of the rocket pods will do the trick nicely enough, and the Hellfire missiles aren’t needed.

  • Dubbed “Motherland”, the aim of this mission is to defeat the rebels and allow the Loyalist forces to retake Moscow. After defeating the enemy radar units and mopping up the rebel ground forces, it seems like victory is near, but then a Trinity warhead goes off in the suburbs.

  • Focus returns to Colonel Bishop, who leads Warwolf squadron in defeating the Blackjack bombers that are headed towards Moscow. By this point, I’ve unlocked the F-22, and have equipped it with the 4AAMs, which allow me to target multiple enemies at range quickly. The skies in Aftermath recall the occasional winter clearings during a storm, where a bit of sunlight makes it through the snow clouds.

As noted countless times previously, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon excels with the atmospherics in-game, while maintaining engaging gameplay. While dogfight mode (DFM) might be required to take down certain aircraft, everything else can be defeated traditionally; this is particularly satisfying, to see one’s missiles streak off towards a distant target, and watching the ensuing explosion from the enemy aircraft. Despite what the critics may think, DFM allows for a much more engaging experience: in most games with flight combat, air battles quickly devolve into circling an enemy repeatedly without firing a shot. Similarly, I thoroughly loved the airstrike mode (ASM), which allows for ground targets to be targeted more efficiently in a single run. In other Ace Combat games, the only way was to look for target indicators and strafe them, but here, multiple targets can be determined and destroyed efficiently. The controls for Ace Combat: Assault Horizon were originally designed to be used by a console controller, and since I’m a PC gamer through and through, I don’t happen to have a controller handy, but I can see how a controller would make the game easier. Though I’ve gotten quite used to a keyboard-only control for flight, there are moments where I wished there was more precision.

  • The ominous mushroom cloud from Trinity’s explosion can be seen in the distance: from the looks of it, it’s probably a 5 kiloton warhead. Criticism directed was directed at the weapon: some felt that the weapon was a nuclear weapon in all but name, although the fact is that sufficiently large explosions, nuclear or not, will produce a mushroom cloud because the explosion produces a blast wave and fireball that would draw air upwards, including dust and debris from the ground. The mass of dust and hot gas rises until it reaches an equilibrium, forming the distinct mushroom structure.

  • While some enemies cannot be defeated with weaponry outside of dogfight mode (they’re either invincible until a scripted event or will drop flares), ordinary opponents (labelled TGT) can be shot down from a distance in the same manner as more traditional Ace Combat games.

  • Guts is a very capable wingman and pilot, helping Colonel Bishop out of tight spots and astutely spots that of the Blackjack bombers, only five were destroyed. Given that they traditionally flew in sixes, he lets Colonel Bishop know that a sixth bomber could be arriving, and sure enough, one carrying the Trinity warhead appears. The priority is to shoot the bomber down first as quickly as possible, rather than wasting time on the escort fighters. Once the bomber is destroyed, Bishop will engage Markov a second time and seemingly defeats him in the process.

  • We finally come a full circle back to Miami, where the game first began. By now, having played through thirteen missions, initiating and disengaging from DFM has become intuition, and I’m finding myself a much more effective pilot than I was when I first started playing this game.

  • Because last time, I didn’t showcase any of the DFM sequences, I’ve opted to do so here. Over the skies of Miami, the fighters marked TGT_LEAD must be taken out by DFM, although even then, some of them will only go down from a scripted event, rather than from any of the munitions the player fires into them. The fastest way to determine whether or not a plane will be defeated in a scripted sequence, I prefer using the cannon.

  • One such example is the fighter that ends up colliding with a construction crane, forcing Bishop to fly under it as it collapses. These moments are quite cinematic and, though we are only watching it happen, it nonetheless adds a bit of rush to the game, whereas traditional Ace Combat games didn’t have this element.

  • This is my last DFM image, I promise: the Miami mission has a particularly large number of these. I’m not quite sure if I mentioned it or not in the first post, but one DFM sequence takes players unnaturally close to the cargo cranes over the seaport. Most enemies in the game can be engaged via DFM and destroyed quite easily. Near the end of the mission, Markov appears, although this time, Guts takes the missile and finds his plane disabled. A bit of sharp shooting using the cannon will save him.

  • The penultimate mission involves chasing after Markov and Illich: the mission ends with Bishop engaging and defeating Illich. Right at the start of the mission, there are several small fry accompanying the two big fish: choosing the 4AAMs will allow most of them to be downed quickly, allowing Bishop to focus entirely on Markov and Illich.

  • Despite the radio chatter, Markov will soon be out of range, leaving Bishop to engage Illich in an intense but brief duel in the eye of a hurricane. While this doesn’t really make sense, it is quite entertaining.

  • We finally reach the last mission, set over Washington D.C. Even as Bishop joins the aerial combat, fighting has already broken out amongst the American forces and the remnants of the rebels. For now, there is no sign of Markov, but there are a lot of enemy aircraft to take care of. Casually note that there is an American vessel called the USS Anzio. The Girls und Panzer OVA (“Against Anzio!”) is set for release on July 5, and I will try to get out a set of screenshots and review lickety-split.

  • While there’s no time to enjoy the sights over Washington D.C., the city is accurately represented, and so, the White House, Capitol Building, Washington Monument and National Mall are visible. I was here on vacation nearly three years ago, and I must say that it was quite enjoyable to fly over a virtual Washington D.C. again, under what appear to be evening skies.

  • As with Moscow, Blackjack bombers approach. If one is equipped with the 4AAMs, one volley, plus two more heat-seekers will be enough to down them, and those with über-micro can engage them from a distance without the need to engage DFM, saving some time.

  • The final fight in Assault Horizon isn’t one of the classic tunnel flights from earlier Ace Combat games, but rather, a protracted duel against Markov. Part of the appeal about the older Ace Combat games, especially The Unsung War was the unique combination of flying through a tunnel to destroy the SOLG’s controls, then taking to the skies on the morning of New Year’s Eve to destroy the SOLG and prevent it from taking out Osea’s capital city. Here, the ending is rather more conventional, as it is set in the real world; besides the controls with low sensitivity, the lack of a tunnel mission would be the two main disappointments in what is otherwise a welcome instalment of Ace Combat.

  • Markov is technically invincible until he makes one final run on the White House. Before that, firing at him with weapons deals no damage, and Markov reciprocates in kind with his homing missiles, which can track Bishop even if the latter is behind him. The fastest way to rectify this is to disengage from DFM when a missile warning appears, and re-engage as soon as possible. Once the White House is reached, Markov can finally be taken down, although he fires the last Trinity warhead before crashing. The game closes once the Trinity warhead is destroyed: sustained cannon fire from the F-22’s internally mounted M61A2 vulcan will eventually trigger the final cutscene where a 20mm round cuts through the warhead and causes it to explode harmlessly over the National Mall’s reflecting pool.

  • With this, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon comes to a close, and I’ve finally completed my first ever Ace Combat game. This was one heck of an experience, and now, I’ve unlocked all of the missions for replay. There are definitely some missions I liked more than others, and I will probably go back and play through them again during the winter. There is a multiplayer component to Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, and although the game has now been updated to work with Steam, I’m not sure if I’ll try that or not, given that my current attention is focused on Battlefield 3 for the present.

While the controls are more stiff than is preferred for an arcade flight game, everything else about Ace Combat: Assault Horizon handles and feels good. The visuals do an incredible job of contributing to every mission’s identity; whether it be Moscow, Washington D.C., the Caucasus mountains or Miami, each mission is unique. The planes feel powerful, and it is immensely satisfying to blow aircraft apart in DFM, before watching the remnants fly past one’s screen. The soundtrack, a mixture of orchestral and rock pieces, is quite enjoyable: the tracks “Release” and “Mrs. Krista Yoslav” stand out, evoking a sense of tension and haunting associated with Markov and intense aerial battles. All of these elements come together to yield a game that acts as a fun installment to the Ace Combat series; even if the game does step away from more traditional elements, Assault Horizon winds up being a pretty enjoyable game for those looking to try out an Ace Combat game on PC (more so after mastering the sometimes-frustrating controls).

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon- Halfway point impressions

“You can have computer sights of anything you like, but I think you have to go to the enemy on the shortest distance and knock him down from point-blank range. You’ll get him from in close. At long distance, it’s questionable.” — Colonel Erich ‘Bubi’ Hartmann, GAF.

By beating mission eight (“Pipeline”) in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, I’ve more or less come to the halfway point in the game. There are still eight more missions to go before I finish the game, and insofar, I’ve flown over the deserts of Africa, Dubai, the Suez Canal, and Derbent, Russia. After Colonel Bishop’s dream of being shot down by a plane with a Shark on its nose, he is sent to help the NATO task force suppress a rebellion in East Africa, but discovers the presence of a weapon with the power of a tactical nuclear warhead. Dubbed “Trinity”, Warwolf squadron is tasked with defending cities marked as targets by Stagleishov’s forces. I’m now at the point where I’ve shot down the Trinity warhead over Derbent following an intense close air support operation to take back the city from rogue forces. The story, set in the real world, has been criticised for being too similar to that of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare’s, but quite honestly, given that the game is set in the real world, such a story (though generic) is quite plausible; because we’re largely familiar with the setting, the plot isn’t as intricately developed as those of the previous Ace Combat games. However, there is enough of a story to link the missions together, and as such, the hunt for a weapon with the power of a tactical nuclear warhead is sufficient for me to get behind piloting cool aircraft, Ace Combat-style.

  • After flying the F-22 Raptor, one of the most advanced fighters around, Colonel Bishop returns to flying an F-16. A few days after the sale and trying out the first mission, I decided that classic controls via keyboard was my preferred setup. The mouse wasn’t sensitive enough, and optimal controls were too restrictive, but a bit of practise with the keyboard yields a control scheme that I am happy with.

  • Assault Horizon is set at fictional and real locations. The desert missions have a very hot feel to it; contrasting the cooler missions set under grey skies, these missions have a summer-like feeling to them, and I can definitely see myself playing these missions again once the thermometer rises again, under the summer’s blue skies and the setting sun after a day at the lab.

  • By the day’s last light, Colonel Bishop finds himself under fire from rogue Russian forces that were once allied. In the following dogfights, Colonel Bishop encounters Markov for the first time. The previous mission was a helicopter mission; the player assumes control of an AH-64 Apache to provide support while forces retrieve Major Illich. Helicopter combat does involve the mouse, and although controls are a little stiff, a clever use of keyboard commands with the mouse will get the job done. I especially liked using the rocket pods to fire volleys and devastate whatever was underneath the crosshairs.

  • I’ve skipped ahead to the Dubai mission, after finishing mission five (“Blue on Blue”), the next mission puts the player as the gunner to an AC-130 Spooky gunship. The mission is familiar to the one in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and I also recall the iOS game Zombie Gunship, both of which I played two summers ago. According to the game developers, Dubai was chosen simply because of the fact that there are many skyscrapers to fly over.

  • The mission over Dubai is to shoot down bombers that allegedly carry the Trinity warhead, but even though none of the bombers carry it, they do have munitions that can damage the city below. Failing to shoot them down before they begin their bombing run will lead to an automatic mission failure.

  • Because this mission is anti-air, the preferred aircraft are air superiority fighters with QAAMs or 4AAMs for quickly downing airborne targets. One of the cooler aspects about this mission was getting level with the rebel bombers, and using the vulcan to blow away the propellers on the bombers. Taking out two is enough to sink one, although the more traditional method of unloading missiles and cannon fire at the bomber also gets the job done, albeit at a much slower rate.

  • So far, I’ve flown an F-16, F/a-18, F-14 and now, at the game’s halfway point in “Pipeline”, I’m piloting the F-15 with the 4AGM as special weapons, as this mission is intensive on the ground combat. Set over Derbent, Russia, on a moody, rainy and cool day, Colonel Bishop is tasked with taking out air and ground forces to allow for the city’s recapture from rogue forces.

  • Airstrike mode (ASM) is the ground equivalent to dogfight mode; in ASM, the plane flies through a preset route, providing more precision towards hitting ground targets. Weapons reload faster and overheat more slowly, providing an additional advantage, although some players eschew ASM and attack ground targets manually. Of course, the ground targets are pretty week and cannon fire will be enough to blow them away, although missiles provide splash damage and allow multiple targets to be destroyed at once.

  • There is something magical about flying on overcast days that I can’t quite explain. There’s a possibility that such weather reminds me of the day I got my driver’s license three years ago; the weather was moody and overcast, and after I finished the road test, I went home, bought and played Chopper 2 for iOS and settled down to watch Break Blade. While it’s not visible here, if I were to gain some altitude and fly through the clouds, raindrops speck my screen. These details, though subtle, contribute to the atmospherics in the game.

  • In general, Ace Combat provides a good bit of story through dialogue between the pilots, allied forces and even enemies. The radio chatter adds quite a bit to the story and also informs the players of the mission status. Where am I going to go from here for the blog? I will do a reflection on Saki: Zenkoku-hen and BioShock Infinite next, followed by a special series on Gundam Unicorn leading up to the finale and reflections about Metro: Last Light. There are also two special talks I also would like to get around to doing before May is over: after May, my blogging frequency may decline, and there will be an explanation for why in due course. Unlike some bloggers (who disappear and are never heard from again), it is the least I can do for the audience as thanks for taking the time to read this blog, by explaining what is going on.

In previous Ace Combat games, all of the missions involved jets, whereas in Assault Horizon, a few of the missions allow the player to experience events from a Black Hawk’s door gunner, an Apache pilot and a AC-130 gunner’s perspectives. The shifts in gameplay are undeniably reminiscent of the style employed in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, but they do add some pizzazz to the game; in fact, the Apache missions are rather entertaining, and I love using the rocket pods to decimate the ground targets. Now that I’ve gotten used to the controls (classic controls using keyboard only), flying is fun, and the dogfight mode adds a nuance to the game. I’m no longer circling opponents endlessly, waiting for my missiles to lock on, and instead, can fly behind an opponent and shred him with the cannon. Sometimes, these dogfights can be harrowing, taking me between skyscrapers or mere meters above the ground. The gameplay as a whole is reasonable, and I’m enjoying it. However, the thing that stands out most is the atmospherics for the later missions, especially those set under grey, moody skies. For some reason, this weather evokes a sense of excitement that’s perfect for flying, bringing to mind the cold, snowy days when I would go to one of the malls in my neighbourhood and see Ace Combat: The Unsung War in one of the video game stores.

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon- First Impressions

“When one has shot down one’s first, second or third opponent, then one begins to find out how the trick is done.” — Baron Manfred von Richtofen.

I have long been interested in playing an Ace Combat game ever since Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War was out back in 2004 for PlayStation 2. The prospect of being able to fly a plane in diverse environments to save the world has always held an appeal to me, although I never did have the chance to try it out on a PC environment. This changed when Ace Combat: Assault Horizon was released for PC last January. Despite being set in the real world rather than Strangereal, the game caught my eye with its environments, and so, I decided that next there was a sale on Steam, I would purchase Assault Horizon. Unfortunately, that never materialised: during the Fall 2013 sale, the game was 67 percent off and was sold at a 9.99 USD (it’s normally 29.99 USD). I was waiting until the final day of the sale, so that if it didn’t go on further discount, I’d buy it then. Alas, it was found the product keys supplied with the game had been faulty, and so, the game was pulled from the Steam store before I could buy it. However, just a few days ago, Valve has since restored Assault Horizon to the Steam Store, and more pleasantly, the game went on sale for 7.50, making it a no-brainer to pick up. This purchase marks the second year in  a row that an amazing deal happened at this time of year: while there’s no spaghetti and Scrubs this time around, I will probably recall this game as being purchased right before the weather warms up again, on a Friday night with fried pork ribs.

  • Miami’s I-95 Expressway is visible as I fly north at the mission’s opening. Assault Horizon returns to the real world, and making use of the technologies that made Google Maps and iOS Maps’ 3D modes possible, the locations have been very accurately replicated.

  • I’ve looked around, and there’s no way to do free flight over the various maps in the campaign. Players can replay campaign missions, but that’s about it. Before I continue, I note that I fully understand that Assault Horizon is not a flight simulator, but it’s an arcade flight game. The arcade elements make the game a lot more fun at the expense of realism, but with due respect, if I wanted realism, I would have probably opted to go with another game.

  • In Unsung War, the missions that caught my eye most were those set over snowy, mountainous terrain or cities, such as “Journey Home”, which was set over Osea’s November City. The mission was to do a ceremonial fly-over for a war rally held at the stadium, and despite only having seen some footage of that mission, the atmospherics were very immersive.

  • The same could be said about the final two missions to infiltrate a utility tunnel and destroy the SOLG’s controls, then the mission to take out the SOLG itself on New Year’s Eve. There’s a sort of mystique about missions set during late December, and in a conversation with my friend, he noted that these missions strike a resonant chord because late December is the holiday season, when most are celebrating. In Ace Combat, on the other hand, wars force pilots to continue sorties even though it’s the holidays.

  • Dogfight mode is necessary to take out some of the enemy aircraft. The game notes that enemies tagged as a leader must be engaged and destroyed using dogfight mode: efforts to try and shoot them down are fruitless, since missiles will end up missing entirely or being disrupted by countermeasures, and the cannon will conveniently miss them. With that said (and openly defying the detractors), dogfight mode is quite fun: for a thrilling few seconds, the game takes control of my aircraft and I get to concentrate on shooting.

  • Back in one of my Five Centimeters per Second posts, I mentioned that grey skies evoked Ace Combat feelings in me. Thanks to a lucky sale, I now get to experience that for myself: winter’s finally over now, though, and while that means beautiful blue skies and warmer weather, it also means that the winter feelings associated with Ace Combat will probably go on hold. Naturally, I’ll play through the winter missions again come next December to experience said winter feelings.

  • Compared to the previous Ace Combat titles, Assault Horizon has a much more minimalist HUD, allowing players to focus on dogfights and missions. I rather like this: the older HUDs feel a little more cluttered (understandably, to display more information). Ace Combat Infinity is the latest title in the franchise, being free-to-play and is set in the real world, albeit with an alternate history. It brings back the older elements, such as HUDs and storylines involving superweapons.

  • I’ve heard countless reviews say that Assault Horizon handles and feels like Call of Duty, but strictly speaking, this feeling only arises because the first few missions are set in the desert, which is where Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare occurred. When I played through Modern Warfare, the missions I enjoyed the most were set in Russia and Pripyat, while my least favourite missions were in the Middle East.

  • The last time I played as a side-door gunner, it was Battlefield: Bad Company 2‘s “Crack the Sky“, where I spent the mission’s opening blowing away RPGs (actually CG M2 recoilless rifles) at the landing zone before climbing a snowy hill to reach the satellite control center. This time, I’m participating in a strike mission of some sort. From a personal perspective, I think that the comparisons to Call of Duty are a little excessive: I think most reviewers mean that both Assault Horizon and Call of Duty tends to focus on cinematics more than story or characters, producing a generic story.

  • However, I find that, despite having a generic story, Assault Horizon does provide the player with a fair chance to engage in some old-time arcade dogfights in aircraft, and at the end of the day over beautiful locales, and at the end of the day, that’s pretty much what I came for. I may go into the multiplayer later, but I also have to start Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The course of action now is that Deus Ex: Human Revolution will take priority once I beat most (if not all) of Assault Horizon. On the blogging side of things, my next posts will be about the Pilot’s Love Song and Gundam Build Fighters. I anticipate having both written within the next two weeks.

I’ve since beaten the first two missions: the first involves a tutorial set in Colonel Bishop’s dreams over Miami, Florida, as he takes on Russian jets and is killed by a plane with a shark mouth painted on its fuselage. The mission is exciting: I particularly love the cloud effects and the details present in Miami. When I checked out Miami in Google Maps, the city layout, buildings and landmarks were easily recognisable. The air combat is very cinematic, and the Dogfight Mode (DFM) adds a new level of interaction. Although it may get old if one needs to use DFM in every engagement, it is immensely satisfying to watch a jet disintegrate after taking enough cannon fire or a pair of well-placed missiles. Moreover, some of the dogfights are glorious, taking the plane under narrow openings and a hair over rooftops. However, Assault Horizon does seem to be a little choppy in places, with the instructions for the controls interrupting the flow of the game. Right as I line up a shot with the enemy fighter, the game halts and tells me that I should use my cannon to shoot down planes with ECM pods since they jam missiles: when I hit enter to return to the game, the enemy plane drops out of my sight. As well, the controls aren’t particularly sensitive for the mouse, forcing me to keep to the keyboard for my controls. Fortunately, the controls in the optimal mode handle similarly to the controls for Halo 2‘s Banshee and the VTOL in Crysis. The original (i.e. advanced) controls, on the other hand, are akin to the jet controls from Battlefield 3, although thankfully, I seem to have gotten the hang of them (otherwise, I wouldn’t have gotten far into the game). I’ve seen what the game looks like, and while the first quarter of the game is all desert, I know that there will be a chance to fly in Moscow, over the boreal forests of Russia, Dubai and Washington D.C. Now that I’ve got reasonable experience with the controls, it’s time to go and enjoy flying over some beautiful landscapes.