Developer: Project Aces / Publisher: Namco Bandai Games / ESRB: Teen [Mild Language, Violence] / Played on: 3DS / Price: $39.99
Don’t be fooled by the similar title. If you played Ace Combat: Assault Horizon on your console and thought ‘I’ll have some more of that on 3DS, thanks,’ turn around, go back and play it on the big screen. This isn’t what you’re looking for.
If you’re a long-time fan of the series however, and perhaps didn’t like the Call of Duty-isms forced into your beloved flight sim, this more traditional offering will certainly be more to your tastes.
They didn’t call it ‘Legacy’ for nothing…
Assault Horizon Legacy pulls a complete u-turn on its commercialized, westernized console counterpart, discarding the arcadey bits like recharging health, bombastic cutscenes, on-rails shootouts, and helicopter sections byand restoring the Japanese anime characters and sweet background music.
This is a purer Ace Combat, bringing things back towards the realism side without being too anal about it. You can pick it up and play it without needing a pilot’s license, and although fans of hardcore simulators might argue that it takes more skill to fly a fighter jet, I’d ask why those people are seeking their flight sim fix on a 3DS rather than a PC.
Moving the Slider Pad left or right simply turns the plane, with the shoulder buttons controlling speed and the A and B buttons handling missiles and guns.
If you’re a little more committed to realism you can switch the Slider to controlling the plane’s roll instead, forcing you to bank to one side and pull up to turn.
I also appreciated a new Assault Maneuver system which lets you flick around behind enemies or flamboyantly dodge incoming missiles at the press of a button (Y). It almost feels like cheating at times, but they do a good job of adding some much needed flair and pace to the sometimes plodding nature of a more down-to-earth dogfighting game such as this.
We’re usually open to those who prefer to play their 3DS’ with the 3D switched off. But not with this game. You do it properly. You play in 3D.
If nothing else, the one thing that really stands out here is how genuinely awesome it looks with the 3D effect slapped on full-blast. Unlike Super Mario 3D Land it doesn’t try to be overly extravagant or forceful with 3D and it doesn’t need to.
The added depth the 3D offers as you fly around high over the game’s very pretty environments makes all the difference. From snow-tipped mountains and cities to vast open green fields and the stretching blue sea, it really pops.
However, as Legacy cuts back on over-the-top Hollywood flair, it’s also gone light on character. While pretty, the game’s locales aren’t specifically based on any real-world locations, and enemies, simply called ‘Rebels’, lack identity. They want to kill you, you want to kill them. The plot is barely any more involved than this and it’s tough to get emotionally fired up about missions with so little distinction.
Missions also never stray too far from a straight dogfighting nature, and while a range of gorgeous environments help mix things up, the campaign can get a little repetitive.
Unlockable weapons and ships add replay value to those seeking higher scores in earlier missions, and a Challenge Mode with unlockable missions helps to keep the game in the 3DS slot a week or two beyond the completion of the fairly easy main campaign, but the omission of any form of multiplayer is massively disappointing.
Once again a 3DS game fails to realize its huge online multiplayer potential.
Despite my grumbles though, Assault Horizon Legacy is solid. It cuts back on the commercialized fluff and, in doing so, somewhat sacrifices flair, but older series fans will appreciate this. It sits somewhere nicely between realistic and accessible, looks great and runs so smooth on the 3DS that it can be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates a good dogfight.
6.5 / 10