In 1992, Namco released a flight-simulator arcade game called Air Combat, a bulky action fighter title that not only took up about half of a city block but was nonetheless popular enough to draw in kids with quarters — all of whom were anxious to sit in the groovy cockpit-style seat it had if nothing else. As the video game console industry began to evolve in the mid ‘90s, our technologically-advanced brethren in Japan began creating a handful of sequels and spin-offs (naming their franchise Ace Combat), producing more than a dozen titles over the next couple of decades for aero-nuts all over the world to enjoy.
Flash-forward to the early 2010s, where we find ourselves shooting down airborne enemies once again in the latest entry, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. Like previous Air/Ace Combat games, the premise is pretty simple: you fly around a lot and blow up all of the bad guys that you come into contact with. And, while that may warrant the more intellectual gamers to turn their heads and seek something more academically fulfilling (a move that might cause others to wonder why you’re playing video games to begin with), those of you who love to shoot down one soaring terrorist after another will probably have just found a new plaything.
From the coast of Miami to the sunny wastelands of Northern Africa and even that French capital, players get every chance to test their hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity skills by defending the world from the evil bastards who are hell-bent on destroying it via dogfights and rescue missions. Should this whole sort of thing be your cup of tea, of course. Frankly, I feel that many of the game’s levels overstay their welcome; just when you think you’ve axed the last flyboy in a mission, several more zoom in to pick up where their predecessors just left off. And then, after you’ve finally completed that mission, you start a new one, wherein you do the same thing all over again.
Personally, I like a little more substance to my flight simulators, but I can’t say the graphics are disappointing. In fact, they’re pretty darn good, especially when I experienced a horrible flashback of playing Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer on an IBM 286 halfway into one of the missions. Plus, when you take into consideration that the game has several co-op modes for you to enjoy with your friends online, you really can’t ignore how grand it is to have an opportunity to fly, fly, fly and make people die, die, die.
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Alcohol Reference, Blood, Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360.