Of Danger And Zones: Ace Combat Now On PC

By Nathan Grayson on January 26th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

It's named after madcap, one-liner-spitting main character Ace Q. Combat, obviously.

When I grow up, I want to be an airplane. I want to soar and spin and shoot all the bad guys with my jet lasers. At the moment, unfortunately, my relative youth is the one thing (that’s it; there’s nothing else) standing between me and that dream. It’s not all bad news, though, because now I can make do with Ace Combat: Assault Horizon – Enhanced Edition on my personal computing device. Sure, that means there’ll be tiny people yammering on inside of my planes, but I’ll just ignore them. I am the sky.

Excitingly, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon – Too Many Subtitles is out right now. But what’s the arcade planeshoot got specifically for you, discerning PC consumer? How about vastly improved graphics to keep your planes and scene-setting plains from being plain, a framerate that goes up to 60FPS and beyond, and a bonus content pack that includes eight aircraft, two maps, 27 skins, and nine skills upgrades? Does that sound like a magical fairy dream that only Games For Windows could ruin?

Well then, have I got some news for you! Upgraded 16-player multiplayer comes saddled with the following requirement: “Broadband Internet connection and software installation of and log-in to Games For Windows – LIVE.” So that’s a rather unfortunate addition to an otherwise sterling-sounding PC port. I wouldn’t necessarily declare it a deal-breaker, but it certainly doesn’t sweeten the pot.

Still though, airplanes! Apparently Assault Horizon has other vehicles too, but let’s not lose sight of what’s important here. I get to be a plane. And now, on a mostly unrelated note, I’m going to leave this here – because, I mean, obviously.

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101 Comments »

  1. westyfield says:

    Would love to see Wot RPS Thinks of this. The Ace Combat games on PS2 were some of my favourites when I was a young ‘un, it’d be nice to know if this one is worth getting or if it’ll sour the good memories.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      I didn’t play more than a few levels before I’d sold my PS3, but as someone who still owns/beat 4, 5 and Zero and for whom 6 is one of the few reasons I miss owning a 360, Assault Horizon seemed fairly good. Maybe. Sorta. The big debate on forums seemed to be around whether or not the new auto-dogfight mode essentially removed all skill from the equation (since you were being dragged around behind your target on a string until you pressed X or whatever button to Make Them Explode). At the time I maintained you could still take enemies, even aces out without it, but as I said I didn’t play too much of the game and it’s been a while, so I may have been kidding myself.

      But I liked what I played, for what little that’s worth. I missed the bizarre Japanese pop culture take on war stories – I still think AC4′s story is a beautiful, if clumsy thing, and even parts of 6, godawful voice acting and dialogue notwithstanding. But it seemed suitably bombastic, looked good and the new magical helicopters were a nice change of pace from magical fighter jets – instead of infinite missiles we now get barrel rolls from a dead stop and the ability to bash into almost anything and not fall out of the sky. Yay!

      No idea how well it’ll do, if the PC MASTER RACE will get all huffy at the sheer ludicrous arcade-ness of it all, but for me the Ace Combat franchise is the unchallenged king of this… airhead blockbuster dream of white-knuckle combat in the sky, with as little of those pesky physics getting in the way as possible. It’s great to see any game in the series making it to PC now I no longer have a console, and if I hadn’t just bought DmC I’d be all over this.

      • RandomEsa says:

        The important question is:

        Does it have an awesome soundtrack? This is kind of a deal breaker here

      • Timberfox says:

        I’ll summarize; super casual game, playing it made me feel like the developer wanted to emulate call of duty.

        • DK says:

          You are in luck. They did want to emulate Call of Duty. They have literally said, in interviews “we wanted to make a game like Call of Duty”.

          That’s why this game has nothing to do with Ace Combat. It’s Rail-shoot: The CoDening. Less than half of the game is actual aircraft flying – the rest of Doorgunner sections, AC130 Gunship sections (because we totally aren’t sick to death of those yet, right?) and flying utterly boring gunships. All with graphics that are about 5 years behind what they should be in the year 2013 and gameplay that died somewhere around 1995.

      • westyfield says:

        ” whether or not the new auto-dogfight mode essentially removed all skill from the equation (since you were being dragged around behind your target on a string until you pressed X or whatever button to Make Them Explode)”

        Hmm, not sure I like the sound of that much. Between this and GfWL, I think I’ll wait for the next big sale and pick it up on the cheap. Thanks for taking the time to provide the extra info!

        • Eight Rooks says:

          To clarify a little further, unless my memory fails me you can activate the auto-dogfighting mode at any point, with any opponent IIRC, but you are not forced to do so – you can still try and take them on with the old Fox-Two at long range. However, the game clearly prompts you, not particularly subtly, to do this on each ace pilot that turns up (though subtlety and Ace Combat do not really mix anyway). Auto-dogfighting basically turns the game into a weird little mini-railshooter where you’re trying to bring your cannon to bear or get a point blank missile lock, and lots of people argued that it was unforgiveable this was now the only way to kill an ace. I maintained you could still kill the aces the usual way, it was just really bloody difficult. I may have been wrong.

          • Baines says:

            My only certain memory from the Xbox 360 demo was that auto dogfight kills the game. It was one of the big new features, so the developers wanted you to use it. But the game stops being Ace Combat when you enter that mode, and like you said, it becomes a cinematic rail shooter.

            I agree with Timberfox. I had the same feeling after the demo, that it felt like the developer was trying to emulate Call of Duty. What it didn’t feel like was Ace Combat.

            Maybe that all changed in the full game, but the demo killed my interest.

          • Ephant says:

            @Baines

            The demo was the tutorial mission, which was completely scripted.

          • b2201847 says:

            Considering it was the Americans who invented the damn things (well, powered ones, at least) I think Nathan can be forgiven for calling them airplanes.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7wR0gl2NoE

  2. Rinox says:

    Someone was gonna link it anyway

  3. Alexrd says:

    I’d rather have GfWL than Steamworks. Does this need online activation to install?

    • Spakkenkhrist says:

      Out of genuine curiosity, why is that?

    • elilupe says:

      I second Spakkenkhrist’s genuine question. I have never heard of anyone preferring GfWL over Steamworks before.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Wow, I’m one of the biggest Steam detractors around here, yet I too am curious as to why anybody would prefer GfWL over Steamworks. Please elaborate.

      • Alexrd says:

        1. GfWL never obliged me to be online to install and/or play a game, thus not making me dependable of any 3rd party server (that will cease to exist sooner or later).

        2. It never game me any problems.

        • Wisq says:

          You’ve probably only played the GFWL games that allow you to use an offline profile, then. Many of them do have the online requirement, and I think they’re moving more towards that.

          Plus, having to go into your game to get game / GFWL updates, which make you exit your game … ugh.

          And then there’s the fact that GFWL doesn’t actually add any value to the products it encumbers. Steam may be a bit more of an encumbrance overall (especially due to its buggy offline mode), but at least it adds value — in the form of a central library to manage my collection; the ability to download any game, anywhere, any time; the community aspects, where I’ve met a lot of friends and can see what they’re playing and join in; etc. (Frankly, a game not being on Steam is actually more likely to make me skip it.)

          It’s hard to fathom why someone would prefer the badly-designed, zero-value-added mess that is GFWL, over the all-in-one DRM-become-value-added-service that is Steam.

          • F3ck says:

            Bird _gflw: I’m glad I live in this cage and not that one.

            Bird _stmwks: No way, this cage is much nicer than your cage.

            Bird _tpb (peers through window): I wonder what they’re arguing about in there?

          • Alexrd says:

            Steam adds no value to me. While every DRM is bad, the ones that oblige someone to have an online connection (even just to activate the game) are the worse. I don’t mind cd-keys or other DRM that allows me to install and play the game I bought however and whenever I want. The fact that Steam is so proeminent in the PC gaming industry makes it the worst. There is nothing good in giving the monopoly of the industry to a single company, special not one that ties all your games to it and decides when you can play them.

          • killias2 says:

            Man, the irrational hatred of Steam is off the friggin’ charts. I’m thinking these people would state a preference for AIDS over Steam (Lord knows GFWL is close). I wouldn’t worry about convincing them of anything.

          • KDR_11k says:

            Using Steam as DRM is the choice of the developer/publisher. E.g. AI War can be run with Steam to get the Steam achievements and stuff but you can also just start the game executable directly without Steam running.

  4. JackDandy says:

    This game is a pile of shit. It was just another one of modern game company’s “WE WANT THE CoD AUDIENCE!” attempt. It’s really nothing like the previous games in the series.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      On the one hand, yeah, it is/was a blatant attempt to grab the brofisting Madden/CoD crowd. On the other hand, as a longtime fan of the series since 4 (on consoles, at least, never played the handheld games), what a silly man you are. Unless you’re going for a “I like my favourite series exactly the way it is and it should never ever change” thing, in which case good luck with that, I suppose.

    • Ansob says:

      No, it’s actually quite good, from the couple of hours I’ve played with it – assuming you want arcade dogfighting.

      It is a damn shame that they went with a boring Americans-in-the-desert rather than something more interesting like Japan vs. China in a decade’s time, though. Would’ve been nice to not have the USAF.

      • Wisq says:

        I always did like how the world and combatants were all completely fictional in the AC games I played. Maybe they had already changed that later in the series before now; I stopped after the last PS2 game.

  5. Tuco says:

    Well, I heard just bad things about this chapter of the Ace Combat series.
    Plus, everything that isn’t a “must buy” (see: Arkham City, Dark Souls) and comes with GFWL becomes instantly a pass in my book.

    • subedii says:

      Basically this. For singleplayer I don’t have too much of an issue with it since I can simply ignore it for the most part. But GfWL has never been anything short of an abject PAIN to deal with when I’ve had to use it for anything multiplayer or online related.

      And that includes even the simple stuff like updates and DLC.

      If this was one of the earlier games in the series then maybe, but everything I’ve heard is that Assault Horizon’s one of the weakest games in the series.

  6. HicRic says:

    Played this on the 360 a while back, stonking good fun. Never played the other Ace Combat games so don’t know how it matches up. Good soundtrack. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DkKuUGy5qM

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      There’s a glaring lack of Kenny Loggins or Queen in that link.

    • Cinek says:

      After trying the PC version I must tell you that I kinda agree. Yea, it pretends to be the CoD of air combat, yes you feel it’s a console port on every step (eg. can’t make proper controls for mouse&keyboard), but…. it is FUN. Fun, damn stupid shooter in the air, but… somehow I really enjoyed all my time playing it! (which was till the Moscow mission, so quite a bit)

      Some sequences are really impressive, like the battle with heavy cruiser, or night time bombing run on ICBMs, or even manning the Spooky. Same with weapons – like this flying pod that drops small bombs on a target – feels epic, looks epic, is epic! ;)
      Yea, it got it’s weak moments, even quite a lot of them (US&A superheroism everywhere, makes me vomit already) but overall I think it’s an average game. Like a: not crap as most of the folks here judge it.

  7. Mario Figueiredo says:

    GFWL means I can’t even purchase it, much less play it.

    Wonderful sales pitch.

  8. Drake Sigar says:

    I’d enjoy an airplane combat game which takes the time between each mission to establish the pilots and explore their relationships, kinda like Wing Commander,

    • Supahewok says:

      Try Ace Combat 5. I don’t think it’s exactly what you’re looking for, but the campaign is set in the order of: Intro Cutscene, Mission Briefing, Mission, Mission Debriefing, Closing Cutscene. And in those cutscenes, characters interact and talk and grow. I enjoyed it anyway.

    • Allafif says:

      AC0: The Belkan War is also pretty good at this. It also has some minor cutscene variation, adding a bit of replayability.

      I mean, the plot and relationships are very very Japanese, but they’re there.

  9. slive cinclair says:

    Grrrr..aeroplane.

  10. RakeShark says:

    I just might go against my GFWL abstinence and get this. Been asking and hoping for this to be on PC for a long time.

  11. Ravenholme says:

    It’s no AC4 sadly, not by a long shot.

  12. Dominic White says:

    There’s been a lot of complaints levelled against Assault Horizon – most of them at the gameplay – but what really sank the game for me is the complete change of setting and tone.

    Up until now, the Ace Combat series has been set in an alternate earth/sci-fi setting where the world was pummeled by asteroids, and technology has risen to protect the earth against future disasters. Problem is that no more trouble seems to be coming, so all the crazy super-science stuff is getting repurposed as weaponry.

    This means that your real-world jets are going to be fighting above fictional nations, and occasionally duelling with aerial battle-carriers (yes, a flying aircraft carrier, complete with a couple of flying frigates as escort), continent-smashing railguns and other giant superweapons. There’s also a very strong anti-war vibe running through the whole thing, with the focus being on the tools used to protect humanity itself getting turned against it, and the grand tragedy of it all.

    Not so in Assault Horizon. They went full Tom Clancy. Those dastardly Russians are up to no good, and only the cigar-chomping U S of A can bring them to justice, oorah. No crazy bosses, no imagination.

    Sadface.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      I did kinda sniffle at the idea the superweapons were gone – ah, me oh my, the ending of 6 in particular – but I think you’re giving the series a little too much credit. Much as I love the story in 4 it’s still told with a pair of great thundering ham-like fists, the writing and voice acting in 6 is justifiably mocked up and down the internet, and the anti-war rhetoric in Zero verged on the outright laughable. I adore Ace Combat, and its heart was always in the right place, but after nine, ten games it was hardly displaying a wealth of imagination – they were definitely getting into something of a rut with AND NOW YOU MUST DESTROY THE ENEMY’S GIANT FLYING GUN – and while the console titles had their moments of real pathos, they still wanted to have their cake and eat it (“War is bad, mmmkay? Now jump into your awesome magical jetfighter and shoot some manz”.)

      • Dominic White says:

        It might not have been perfect, but it was still so much better than ‘Them no-good ruskies are up to summat again!’ that it’s not even funny.

        • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

          Just wait for Clancy’s new book “Those Goddamn Russkies I’m So Very Tired Help I’m Locked In A Cage By My Publisher And I Have To Trade Pages For Food And Water”. Buy it on Amazon!

          • TCM says:

            Funny, that reminds me of the title of Stephen King’s latest book.

          • ffordesoon says:

            I laughed out loud.

            You are a gentleman and a scholar, Lord Smingleigh.

      • KDR_11k says:

        I kinda want a game where you fly the big-ass superweapons instead of the little fighters.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      As someone who only played AC6, the bosses were one of the highlights of the game. That final mission was insane.

    • TheGroovyMule says:

      It’s not Ace Combat unless a mission requires me to fly through some tight space, at high speeds for arbitrary reason’s!

  13. Nic Clapper says:

    “How about vastly improved graphics”

    Whats been vastly improved? Higher res textures, added shaders, something else? The steam bullet point mentioned “Improved graphics (resolution up to 1900×1200)”.

    Is that the vast improvement…resolution with an upper limit of 1900×1200?

    • TCM says:

      Way higher than it was on consoles.

      • Wisq says:

        Really? Don’t consoles do 1920×1080 (a.k.a. 1080p) typically at 60 FPS?

        The fact that they mentioned the resolution in the trailer was both heartening (in that they realise it’s an issue) and disheartening (in that they seemed to think that 1920×1200 at 60 FPS is even enough for PC, much less the pinnacle of it).

        If this were a PC port of one of their earlier PS2 ports, yeah, I’d be excited. But for a port of a current-generation console game, and speaking as someone who can run 2560×1440 at higher FPSes … yeah, no.

        • Eight Rooks says:

          You what? It’s been something of a running joke for a while now that the current generation of consoles were touted as being “1080p ready” or what have you but there are very, very few games which actually achieved anything like 1080 at 60FPS. And I say that as someone who generally couldn’t care less about screen-tearing, 16xMSAA or anything else. Whack the detail up to full, turn off AA and Vsync and I’m usually happy.

          Even flagship titles like Wipeout HD, for all it’s a work of genius, were only able to get 1080 at a consistent framerate by dint of some very creative work with custom framebuffers and whatnot. I appreciate that for a true card-carrying member of the PC Master Race these “improvements” are small comfort, but I’m pretty sure they represent a sizeable jump over the original game all the same. It’s still the bare minimum, mind, I’d like HD textures/better shaders et al too. Just saying, is all.

        • killias2 says:

          “Really? Don’t consoles do 1920×1080 (a.k.a. 1080p) typically at 60 FPS?”

          LOL, are you from the future? Are you playing the Xbox 720 and the PS4?

          • Wedge says:

            Is funny because I recall a dev going on record that the new Microsoft and Sony consoles won’t be able to hit 1080 either, at least if they’re going to provide graphics noticeably better than what they currently do.

          • Gargenville says:

            Namco had a rock-solid 60FPS 1920*1080 game out on PS3 launch day by the way.

            Still salty they farmed out console Ridge and Ace Combat but apparently had the resources to do fucking Soul Calibur 5 in-house over here!

    • ffordesoon says:

      While I – being a frequent buyer from GOG – totally appreciate how awful it is to play games at sub-native resolution, I am always puzzled when people act like getting a flawless 60fps at 1900×1200 is somehow unimpressive. Maybe I am somehow both old as the ages and twenty-five, but plain old HD is still tremendously impressive to me. As such, I thought that trailer looked astonishing.

      • Nic Clapper says:

        I wasn’t trying to say that this game necessarily looks bad, I was just curious if there was any actual graphical improvements happening…

        If an increased display resolution (capped no less) is all thats happening for a PC port, I don’t really think thats worthy of being considered a ‘vast’ improvement in ‘graphics’. I just think that should be reserved for games that are actually improving textures, increasing LODs, adding fx, etc.

        • killias2 says:

          I don’t know, a big jump in resolution might be more important for graphics quality than anything else, especially for people with native 1920×1080 monitors (or 1920×1200). If you have higher or lower native resolutions, those other things might matter more.

        • El_Emmental says:

          “I just think that should be reserved for games that are actually improving textures, increasing LODs, adding fx, etc.”

          If it was initially a PC game, yes.

          Otherwise, for a console game, such improvements would be called a whole new “HD” version (even if that make even less sense, “HD” designating 1080p resolution most of the time) and not just “improvements”.

  14. KDR_11k says:

    If you don’t like the Assault Horizon changes to the AC formula you should look at Vector Thrust (it’s on Desura’s Alpha Funding list), that’s pretty much exactly AC on the PC.

  15. SuicideKing says:

    This reminds me of HAWX 2, which is equal to “DON’T TOUCH IT EVER”, in my head.

  16. QualityJeverage says:

    Loved this game to death, it just probably shouldn’t have been called Ace Combat.

    The story is silly and a clear attempt to mimic Call of Duty, but whatever. I had a stupid good time with the game, it’s a really terrifically fun arcade shooter. It’s just a shame that giving it the Ace Combat title lead to shattered expectations and disappointed fans when it turned out to be something different.

    If you aren’t a fan of the series and can just go in fresh, I’d highly recommend giving this game a look.

    Also it ends with a ridiculous rap/rock/whatthefuck number entitled “Gotta Stay Fly.” I mean, what more do you want.

    • RogB says:

      pretty much this. it certainly is a marmite game but i kinda liked it. I wasnt an existing AC fan so the change of direction didnt bother me.

  17. Hatsworth says:

    Why did it have to be this game Namco?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFsu9jv59EY

    Ugh….

    Also GFWL better be gone by the time DS2 is out…

  18. mehteh says:

    I was interested until i saw “GFWL”. sigh

  19. Sunjammer says:

    The worst Ace Combat in years. It’s a stone cold shame. Love the series otherwise. I’d love a PC port of AC6 or 5 or Zero
    http://www.doomsday.no/esn/2011/10/ace-combat-assault-horizon/

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  21. MeestaNob says:

    First reaction: “Holy shit, they said 1920×1200 instead of 1080p or some other res, these guys are serious about this!”

    And then: “GFWL? Oh.”

  22. PoulWrist says:

    This is a game that screams for a demo, but is one available? Noooo. And what’s more, what does 1920×1200 mean? That I can’t play at 2560×1440?! Why would I ever buy a fancy looking 3D game from today that doesn’t go to my native res?

    • Tritagonist says:

      My thought as well; a screen with a resolution of 1920×1200 isn’t, if it ever was, the sign of some kind of ultimate gaming machine. This silliness about resolution seems to be a big thing in the console community, where the machines often struggle to give decent framerates above 1280×720, but it seems odd to put such a statement in a trailer for a PC release.

  23. shaydeeadi says:

    Mr Grayson.Thank you for reminding me I have new episodes of Archer to watch. You are a gentleman and a scholar.

  24. OmNomNom says:

    Hmm they did say ‘aircrafts’ in the video didn’t they.

  25. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    I have it on the PS3 and despite playing the past Ace Combat games, and tending to aim more for sims, I thought it was quite a fun silly game.

    It’s over the top, gratuitous and that often dreaded word ‘cinematic’. Honestly I thought it worked to the games strengths, even if it’s a departure from the series norm.

  26. SuperNashwanPower says:

    I think now is the right time to announce that I have a Bro Crush on Nathan Grayson. Witty. Unconventional. Musky.

    Alpha, and then some.

  27. UncleLou says:

    I had no idea they were porting it, and bough it immediately, full well knowing that it’s the worst of the bunch. Loved the PS2 games, was disappointed that AC5 was a 360 exclusive, and ignored the PS3 version of this one because the demo was awful – but I couldn’t resist today.

    The story is awful, the heli not so great, the gunner missions are shit – but I still love the normal missions. It’s still the closest thing to Top Gun you can get on any games device, it looks absolutely drop dead gorgeous, and while it’s of course not a sim at all, it feels more like you’re actually high up in the sky than any other game I know. It’s the only flight game where I ever got vertigo, because it looks just so real. And as opposed to HAWX, it feels like you’re actually flying a plane.

  28. ZX k1cka55 48K says:

    Well i didn’t like the game at all…
    Especially scripted dog fights (you shoot down a plane with 5 rockets, but it still making you follow it through exploding landscapes, exploding only after the scripted sequence is over) and those heli missions. They should have named the game something else, Call of Aces or something…
    The game is nothing like Shattered Skies or Unsung/Belkan war, that i had and loved on my PS2.