Since its maiden voyage in 1995, the Ace Combat series has gone on to establish itself as one of the most popular and long-running aerial combat franchises.
Now console fans can take off with Assault Horizon, the latest outing and the first multiplatform title in the brand’s history. The events of the game take place in 2015 and follow a plot written by military author Jim DeFelice (see ‘Professional Wingman’). Gamers step into the role of William Bishop, lead pilot of the 108th Task Force, who has been posted to East Africa.
The region is in the grip of anti-government insurgency, and when it becomes clear that the rebels have a new type of super weapon, it is up to players to secure this new threat before it starts to sweep across the world.
This is the first console game for the series since 2007’s Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation so expect plenty of new content. Chief among them is the new Close Range Assault fighting style and, in a first for the franchise, players can now step behind the controls of helicopters to get close to rooftop and city battles.
Activated once players are within a certain distance of their target, the Close Range Assault mechanic zooms in on the action for more intense wing-to-wing dogfights. When the enemy falls into the on-screen assault circle, players can unleash a hail of bullets resulting in explosive, oil-splattering, metal-shredding aerial action.
Unlike the fictional settings of the early games, Assault Horizon uses real world locations such as Russia and Dubai as the stage for adrenaline-fuelled battles in the sky. The introduction of helicopters breaks up the pace of aerial dogfights, as gamers hover in close to engage in ground skirmishes.
For each mission, players will get their hands on some of the coolest military hardware available, such as the F-117A Nighthawk stealth jet.
Tighter manoeuvring and precise targeting will reach out to series fans, while the focus on action-packed dogfights will welcome newcomers, making Ace Combat: Assault Horizon the accessible entry in the series to date.
Alongside the console releases, the Ace Combat franchise has prospered on numerous handheld devices since 2005’s Ace Combat Advance. While the PSP housed Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception and Joint Assault, the franchise has also appeared on the iPhone. And its handheld missions will shift into the third dimension when Ace Combat 3D lands on the Nintendo 3DS later this year.
Fans who purchase the limited edition version of the game will receive a folded box containing the game, the soundtrack, a notebook signed by the Project Aces team and the exclusive digital playable aircraft F-4E Phantom II. Those who pre-order the game will also gain three enhanced multiplayer skills including Enhanced DFM+, a skill that makes it easier to initiate Dogfight Mode.
Since Ace Combat arrived originally as Air Combat on the Playstation in 1995, the series has appeared on several different consoles. Assault Horizon is the first entry to be released on more than one format. 1997’s Ace Combat 2 through to 2006’s Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War found a home on the PlayStation and PlayStation 2, while the following sixth entry in the series, Fires of Liberation, was exclusive to the Xbox 360.
The game’s storyline is written by New York Times bestselling author Jim DeFelice, whose novels include Coyote Bird, Leopards Kill, War Breaker and Havana Strike.