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LTTP: Ace Combat: Assault Horizon - DFM can go F its M with its D

Not Spaceghost

Spaceghost
Jan 16, 2009
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Unmarked spoilers about Ace Combat in general ahead!
Also pardon my grammar, I am typing this from a phone.

Let's give a little preface: I have been a long time Ace Combat fan, ever since playing AC2 on my brand new Playstation back in the day, it was the first game I got when I bought the console because of some in store deal. Here I thought oh this won't be anything special it will just be a lame flight sim. Boy, my body was not ready. Ace Combat introduced me to a world where my F-15 had over 40 missiles, blazing fast speeds, a crazy awesome universe, an amazing sound track and best of all a distinct feeling of an arcade game wrapped up inside a Playstation one black disc. I jumped right into electrosphere where the new UI and the electronic beats took a little to get used to, same with the branching story but it was still the exact same experience I wanted out of the series.

Fast forward to Ace Combat 04, this game blew my mind visually it felt so photo realistic at the time it was incredible, not to mention that the story telling in this entry is still definitely one of the coolest methods of narrative delivery I have seen in a long time, another gaffer whose name escapes me at the moment describes it perfectly as, "The whole story is basically one giant letter to Mobius 1, from a civilian onlooker who has seen war from all sides". It is a story where you play a character who isn't even the main protagonist in the narrative until close to the end, you're not so much a character, you're a goddamn force of nature here to destroy everything that stands in your way.

Ace Combat 5 to me is the pinnacle of the series. It might have had a long and relatively "anime" and cheesy narrative, but the sheer amount of emotion and wave of feels that it forced on me was immense. To this day I have not found a game that has moved me as much as Ace Combat 5. From the mission where you're taking off sand island while you're under siege all the way till the very end where you're flying towards the SOLG at the break of dawn and you all know it's the final mission.

Ace Combat 5 has so many amazing moments, in fact almost every mission contains something memorable but one of them is still hands down my favorite moment in video games. When you're taking off from the Kestrel trying to convince the enemy warships that this is a pointless war and that there is no reason for the fighting, so the background music for the whole mission changes to the "Journey Home" anthem and you watch as the enemy fleet slowly defects to your side. Of course not everyone defects, so when the people who stay on the other side start firing at your new comrades you find yourself almost protective of them, so swooping down and raining death on their decks feels incredible. This feeling is later felt again in the penultimate mission when as you're flying in, fighters from all over and of all nationalities join in formation with you - an unaffiliated squadron simply trying to do the right thing and end this war.

I could talk about Ace Combat Zero because the live action cutscenes and the sound track are fantastic in this entry but honestly I think I've had enough retrospective, it's time to get into this steaming piece of horseshit that dares call itself Ace Combat. This isn't a case of me being a long time fan and then changing the game on me so now I suddenly feel like I have been betrayed. No, this is just the simple fact that Assault Horizon is a shitty game experience, besides you're talking to someone who enjoyed resident evil 6 so I am totally cool with change if I can enjoy it.

I decided to pick this up after enjoying Assault Horizon Legacy, the remake of AC2 on my 3DS. Legacy was fantastic, and it handled the maneuvers system really well because you didn't feel pigeonholed into using it, it just sort of felt like your special attack and the feel of the game was absolutely spot on it was super enjoyable, highly recommendable as an entry point into the series for anyone and I am currently replaying through it a 4th time. Now let's actually stop beating around the bush and talk about Ass Hor.

Dog Fighter Mode: This is what kills the game fundamentally. Shortly after the tutorial mission you begin to realize THEY REALLY WANT YOU TO USE THIS! It becomes almost impossible to hit anything without using DFM, missiles either just don't track or enemies are too agile to be hit. Fundamentally I understand why they did this, because at the end of the day in older Ace Combats you rarely got to see an enemy fighter up close, they were just a blip on your radar and a red missile lock square that turned into a cloud of smoke. This was not the way to fix it, it literally makes every dog fight go from a test of positioning, speed and patience to a glorified quick time event...that is also on rails. At first you think you're in control of your fighter during DFM making you think it's just a camera angle shift like the maneuvers in AC Legacy, but no you are actually on rails and it is incredibly frustrating. There are some cool ideas here but they get lost in a shit hole mess of gameplay problems that arise out of it. I'd rather just see them reuse Legacy's take on the whole thing than try to get overly complex.

When people say this is CoD with fighter jets they are not joking, regenerating health on a fighter is not only absurd but breaks the pacing of an Ace Combat game. Before you would get hit if you truly screwed up and you were just as weak as an enemy fighter in that one or two missiles would drop you. in Ass Hor you get hit ALL THE TIME, mostly because of the horrendous controls (I even switched to optimum instead of classic to see if it made the game better and it really doesn't, even if it did I don't like playing an Ace Combat that way) dodging missiles becomes less of a thing you react to and more something that you have to actively do other wise you will get hit, but if you spend all your time dodging missile instead of trying to get into DFM you will never shoot anything down. Once again, this game is fucking frustrating.

The Story: I hate the real world setting, simple as that. It allows for less liberty in story telling, no more creative super weapons instead we just get a fucking non radioactive nuke. Not to mention the lore of Ace Combat is surprisingly rich, with events that you can feel across all the games, hell the major catalyst of the series is the impact of asteroid Ulysses 1994XF04. It is the reason why super weapons like the V2, Megalith, Intolerance, SOLG and Stonehenge exist! To throw it all away just for wider appeal was a horrible, horrible mistake. The story is boring, cliche, and contrived. You can tell it has no soul put into it. There isn't much to be said here other than towards the end I found myself skipping cutscenes because I just didn't care, it wasn't an apathy that I had from the beginning, it was something that grew from watching this train wreck.

Pacing: Something that should never be over looked, and SHOCKER this is a disaster as well. Aside from DFM the biggest pacing problem comes from the fact that the missions just drag on and on and on and on and on. They never end, I had a feeling something was up when I sortied on my first actual flight and I had ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY FOUR MISSILES. That is triple the amount normally given in early Ace Combat missions and double what you see by the end of an older game. The mission seriously felt like it lasted 45 minutes, and I don't even know how long it actually lasted because there is no break up between missions, gone are the amazing mission briefing sequences and mission select screen, now it's just one seamless "cinematic" piece of shit story. Also after the tutorial mission the opening credits start with you as a door gunner for a chopper, this made me go "wtf?" because it was a very long sequence that was also very boring. Not to mention the chopper mission just didn't fucking end and it was also awkward but to be honest I thought it was more fun than having to endure the only DFM fighter missions. At least with the Chopper I felt like I was in control of my motions.

Soundtrack and Audio: I can barely hear my missiles when I fire them, they don't make that distinctive FWOOOOSH when you push O anymore. Radio chatter sucks, it was more entertaining when it was over acted and not realistic, it also kept you in the moment unlike this. The OST also only has like 3 good tracks everything else is rather forgettable which is kind of a huge let down as AC OSTs are always great.

I could probably keep going but I have to stop typing soon my hands are hurting, I might edit with pictures later and possibly for coherence.

Bottom line though: This game sucks, it is not fanboy rage it is just a fundamentally broken experience and should be avoided. I understand the series had to grow, but the growth in AC Legacy was positive, here it feels like a goddamn contortion of what the series is, it's like the sequel to Zelda being about missions instead of dungeons with regenerating hearts. There are directions to take a series in while preserving its core and then there are situations like this where you lose the core completely.
 
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I opted out of the series when this one was announced. I could see the desire to do something new with the combat, but this wasn't exactly what I was looking for.

High point was probably Ace Combat 4. I really do think that the narrative style and music in that game were quite special. The extra tracks with Augustin Barrios-Mangore were a beautiful, surprising touch. The anime stylings put me off of 5, but Zero brought it back very nicely with the "boss" dogfights, great soundtrack, and tight gameplay.

The approach to Stonehenge and Megalith are two of the most epic moments in all of gaming, in my humble opinion. The music, the radio chatter, the lead-up....chill-inducing stuff.
 

LQX

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Dec 18, 2008
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This game literally stopped me in my tracks. Their came a point where I could not kill any enemy jets as I could not effectively come to grips with using DFM which was a requirement to clear stages. It was game breaking for me personally.
 

Not Spaceghost

Spaceghost
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This game literally stopped me in my tracks. Their came a point where I could not kill any enemy jets as I could not effectively come to grips with using DFM which was a requirement to clear stages. It was game breaking for me personally.

YES EXACTLY! DFM is fundamentally broken and ruins the gameplay pacing. If you dont DFM you are not allowed to have fun.
 

Rei no Otaku

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Jul 4, 2008
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I loved Ace Combat 4, 5 and Zero so much that Assault Horizon brings me to tears. My brain literally can't cope with the fact that Namco turned AC into this pile of shit.
 

Razgreez

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Nov 15, 2009
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I loved every ace combat from 1 to Zero (special mentions go out to 3 and 5 - you can tell by my nick) and enjoyed the PSP versions but i played AH for 5 minutes and vowed never to touch it again
 

Naked Lunch

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I replay the entire series every year or so. ACAH is a travesty. Probably my most disappointing videogame ever. I really hope they return to its hardcore roots.

As bad as AC6 was, it's still better than AH.
Except AC 6 is not bad and it might be the best game in the series behind Zero. The graphical draw distance alone and the massive battles are a big deal. The old games look like youre flying in pea soup with fog everywhere. Its actually hard to go back to the older games once you've played alot of 6. The game just needed more missions.
 

Kinyou

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Sep 12, 2009
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I still gotta give them a little credit for actually giving you the feel of flying a super fast jet. Obvious problem was that the DFM was basically just on rails.

Soundtrack was a little weird because it felt so inconsistent. It had normal orchestral tracks but was at the same trying to copy of Black Hawk down mixed with industrial.

Some tracks even end up sounding like some Nine Inch Nails song (which is admittedly a good thing)
 

CAVE343

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Its probably me then but as the first game I played in the series, I really loved DFM. Made for that arcadey feel I was looking for. I think AH rocks.
 

Sayter

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High point was probably Ace Combat 4. I really do think that the narrative style and music in that game were quite special. The extra tracks with Augustin Barrios-Mangore were a beautiful, surprising touch. The anime stylings put me off of 5, but Zero brought it back very nicely with the "boss" dogfights, great soundtrack, and tight gameplay.

AC4 was probably the mostly beautifully told story for a videogame IMO.
 

Hitoribhoshi

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Feb 22, 2011
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I guess being able to play with the hori flight stick made the game way more enjoyable. but still, like you said, DFM is horrible and chopper mission well...with the stick felt weird. (and story and music are just plain bad)
Got the japanese limited edition of the game that came with a nice Ace Combat artbook (not covering Assault Horison btw) so I still got something cool in return.

Thanks for mentionning the 3DS version, I definitely need to get that once I get a 3DS. Also I never got around to play the first PSP game which I hear is pretty good.

I definitely need to get a ps2 flight stick and build rudder pedals to replay 4-5-0 :) (too bad those games aren't well emulated on PC or even PS3, I'd kill for an HD collection)

Does anybody know if I can play 2-3 on PC with a ps2 hori flight stick ?
 

shalshaska

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May 6, 2013
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DFM totally ruined the game. "Pixel shooting" was much more fun than DFM. I swear I couldn't kill Akula without DFM in the final battle. Just gimme back a fly through tunnel in some mega-structures please.

First person shooting inside a helicopter was horrible. Barrel roll with a helicopter all the time to evade missiles become an annoying chore.

Story-wise and character-wise it was so plain and boring. There was not even a single character able to intrigue me, much less charm me. I thought Akula could be a character-twist, but from the beginning until the end just a simple bad guy. Yellow 13 in Ace Combat 4 managed to put himself between a good guy and a bad guy, not merely an opponent to be shot down. I still remember fondly of a moment when Yellow 13 and the boy played music together with their guitar and harmonica.

Yo, buddy... still alive?

Alive? Ace Combat is dead at the moment.
 

Not Spaceghost

Spaceghost
Jan 16, 2009
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hows that ace combat on the 3ds?

From a post I made in the 3DS recommendation thread:

Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy (+)
Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy. Just when I thought Ace Combat was dead I picked up the 3DS version of the title after rumors hit that it was a remake of ace combat 2, and man was I surprised! The game still has a sort of dog fighter mode but it implements it 100 times better than the big budget version.

You tap Y when your maneuver meter is full and you're within a certain range of an enemy and instead of it putting you in an on rails mode it just brings you directly behind the guy you had on lock and gives you a very brief window to launch 2 missiles. It really addresses the "problem" (I didn't think it was a big deal) of the gameplay revolving around you shooting small dots against a blue sky. Not to mention the dodge missiles maneuver you can do makes those huge dog fights a fucking blast, when an enemy has missile lock on you and fires you get 3 arrows with one that is underlined that pop up on your screen, if you push maneuver button + that direction on the circle pad you can pull off a dodge, if you are quick enough to land the under lined one you get bonus points and a chance to let the enemy fly past you so they're now directly in front of you.

The other maneuver you can do is the high-g turns, where by holding break and thruster at the same time you make an extremely hard turn that has a chance at stalling you out if you over extend with it, this can let you pull off insane "stunts" like going from a full nose dive about to hit the ground to pulling up and flying level with the horizon so you can imagine how useful this is during combat.

It all sounds kinda iffy on paper I guess but in execution it is so much fun, it almost make Ace Combat feel like a crazy arcade action shooter it's a real blast. The biggest down side is that unless you really wanna go all out and collect everything and buy every weapon you can blast through the single player campaign in about 3.5 hours. Double that if you wanna go through it a second time and play the missions you didn't select before. The bonus missions and full unlocks definite add a chunk of game time.

I would definitely recommend the 3DS version, it is a faithful adaptation of AC2 with some new twists to the gameplay, but unlike DFM these don't feel forced or intrusive and instead exciting and fun to use.

Does anybody know if I can play 2-3 on PC with a ps2 hori flight stick ?

I am not sure, but I think that there might be drivers for it? After all most hori products, including my mini FS3 and other arcade sticks work on my PC so I am sure that should work as well.
 
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hows that ace combat on the 3ds?

Pretty good. It has a similar DFM, but much less reestrictive and fun. Plot is nothing special, since is based in AC2 who had very minimal plot.

Graphically is solid but has framerate issues. And the music is pretty bad ass. If you like AC you'll like it.
 

SkylineRKR

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Jun 22, 2011
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What did you guys think of Joint Assault? I secretly liked its co-op quite a bit. Soundtrack is pretty fucking great.

AH goes down the drain once you realize that DFM is indeed required to move on. Its so, so scripted that they were better off just making a Wii rail shooter out of it.

For a weird but lovely AC experience, I bust out the PsOne and load up the Japanese Electrosphere.
 

Not Spaceghost

Spaceghost
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Best thread title.

Thanks! It literally came to me as I wrote out DFM. The letters just look so vulgar.

The approach to Stonehenge and Megalith are two of the most epic moments in all of gaming, in my humble opinion. The music, the radio chatter, the lead-up....chill-inducing stuff.

The radio chatter was what sells you on the experience and atmosphere of the PS2 era titles, which is something that Ass Hor is seriously missing. Your allies and the enemy pilots all sound like they're trying to immitate PilotExtra#5 from next "hollywood block buster 3".

This whole game in a word is soulless
 

Koren

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Mar 11, 2005
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Fully and heartly agree with the OP.

The best Team Aces game this generation is Sky Crawlers, that means much.

On PS3, IL-2 is far more satisfying.
 

antennaehead

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Completely agree on Assault Horizon, story transition to real world setting was particularly awful.
How was the story in 3DS AC? Was it good, fictional or real?
 

Not Spaceghost

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Completely agree on Assault Horizon, story transition to real world setting was particularly awful.
How was the story in 3DS AC? Was it good, fictional or real?

Scroll up a bit to one of my other posts I linked an overlook about it I made in the 3DS thread. It's a fantastic title and it's literally Ace Combat 2 HD remake.
 

Akira_83

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Jan 2, 2013
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ok thanks for the feedback!

i know its arcadey but can you take off and land in this game? i used to love that part in the old F22 games i played on the PC
 
Dec 6, 2008
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Thanks! It literally came to me as I wrote out DFM. The letters just look so vulgar.



The radio chatter was what sells you on the experience and atmosphere of the PS2 era titles, which is something that Ass Hor is seriously missing. Your allies and the enemy pilots all sound like they're trying to immitate PilotExtra#5 from next "hollywood block buster 3".

This whole game in a word is soulless
Agree completely. Man the chatter in "Liberation" mission in AC4 or "Operation Bunker Shot" in AC5 was amazing.

I tried AC:AH demo and it put me off completely.


If you need a good fix for console flight check out Birds of Prey and Wings of Steel. More "sim" than AC but the gameplay is fantastic.
 

Not Spaceghost

Spaceghost
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ok thanks for the feedback!

i know its arcadey but can you take off and land in this game? i used to love that part in the old F22 games i played on the PC

Unfortunately there is no take off and land sequence in AC Legacy ;__; but what there is is an awesome extra mission where it's you vs 100 fighters with a 20 minute time limit! That is super arcadey and probably my most replayed mission.

Also you can unlock the FALKEN :D

Seriously Ace Combat legacy is one of my top played 3DS titles, it is so fun to just boot up and do a mission and close the lid and come back later to fly around some more. If there were some good videos of it online I would totally link them but there really aren't, most of the gameplay videos are people who use the "standard" control scheme of turning not rolling instead of "expert" like a real ace haha.

Edit: ACTUALLY I just remembered I recorded this absolutely terrible video off my 3DS for a friend, it's a replay but it is from a decent cam selection.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oI7aEaBa_g8
You can sort of see Legacy's take on DFM (where they just call it maneuvers) where it doesn't put you on rails it just places you behind the target with a zoomed in camera but the plane is still 100% under your control. Also the reactive dodges where chaining them gets super frantic and is super fun! It's a really bad video because you can't see any of the good kills since they were fly and forget moments and it only shows the ones where I used maneuvers, it was a huge dog fight like 10v1 I think.
Maybe that will give you a better idea?
 

Not Spaceghost

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Looking at home console releases:
AC0=AC04>AC5>AC3>AC2>AC6>AC>>>>>>>>>>>>ACAH

Honestly they're all very close to each other in quality except for the original and AC6.

Assault Horizon doesn't even deserve to share a spot on the list. It is just a bad game, there is very little that is redeeming about it outside of how nicely modeled the fighters are.
 

Tizoc

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Jun 23, 2010
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IIRC, there are some fighter jets that have some form of repair system if the plane gets damaged, forgot where I read that though but it was at the time the game was released.

I did enjoy flying through UAE though =P.
 

guitarhero

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Sep 1, 2009
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Do people really hate AC6 that much? I think it's great. I've played it a ton.

It has something no other AC has: your allies can actually HELP you. I'm not talking about your wingmen (even though in AC5/0 they don't do much), I mean the other planes who are at your side. That feeling of unleashing an Allied Attack on the last surviving enemy and seeing 25 missiles coming towards the poor sod, making the word "overkill" come to mind...

Also, nailing the Chandelier's back-up cooling unit, only to see the barrel start opening in half, and hearing mission control say "Its vital area is back behind the barrel. Talisman...we can trust you with this, right?" in a tone like he's about to give up, still gives me chills. It was my first AC game, and my mental process during the actual flying-through-barrel time probably was the word "FUCK" repeated over and over.
 

Not Spaceghost

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Jan 16, 2009
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IIRC, there are some fighter jets that have some form of repair system if the plane gets damaged, forgot where I read that though but it was at the time the game was released.

I did enjoy flying through UAE though =P.

Yeah the environments were super well done, but I'm just thinking how much better Anchorhead or B7R would have looked if done with these visuals.

I also forgot to mention that ABSOLUTELY DREADFUL AC-130 mission that was ripped straight out of CoD4 and pasted right into this game. Goddamn that was truly unbearable. I almost stopped playing instantly after that.

Do people really hate AC6 that much? I think it's great. I've played it a ton.

I don't think it's bad, it's just a notch below the PS2 era games. It comes off as too melodrama at times and it doesn't have the most memorable missions. But ace of aces was fucking awesome!
 
Jul 30, 2010
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It has something no other AC has: your allies can actually HELP you. I'm not talking about your wingmen (even though in AC5/0 they don't do much), I mean the other planes who are at your side. That feeling of unleashing an Allied Attack on the last surviving enemy and seeing 25 missiles coming towards the poor sod, making the word "overkill" come to mind...

I don't think it's bad, it's just a notch below the PS2 era games. It comes off as too melodrama at times and it doesn't have the most memorable missions. But ace of aces was fucking awesome!

AC6 isn't a bad game. It just doesn't hold a candle to the PS2 entries.

dance with the angels
 

Espada

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Goddamn, I love the Ace Combat fanbase.

What they did to Ace Combat with Assault Horizon is disgusting and I hope that they dump that style completely and go with the old format with some more thought out updates. Ditching Strangereal? Regenerating aircraft? Imitation COD feel? Good God.

Hitoribhoshi said:
I guess being able to play with the hori flight stick made the game way more enjoyable. but still, like you said, DFM is horrible and chopper mission well...with the stick felt weird. (and story and music are just plain bad)
Got the japanese limited edition of the game that came with a nice Ace Combat artbook (not covering Assault Horison btw) so I still got something cool in return.

Thanks for mentionning the 3DS version, I definitely need to get that once I get a 3DS. Also I never got around to play the first PSP game which I hear is pretty good.

I definitely need to get a ps2 flight stick and build rudder pedals to replay 4-5-0 :) (too bad those games aren't well emulated on PC or even PS3, I'd kill for an HD collection)

Does anybody know if I can play 2-3 on PC with a ps2 hori flight stick ?

Get both, Skies of Deception and Assault Horizon Legacy are both great entries in the series. Each is a solid dose of good ole Ace Combat while bringing their own character to the table.
 

guitarhero

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Sep 1, 2009
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I definitely need to get a ps2 flight stick and build rudder pedals to replay 4-5-0 :) (too bad those games aren't well emulated on PC or even PS3, I'd kill for an HD collection)

That reminds me: I bought myself a second-hand PS2 JUST to play the AC trilogy (and AirForce Strike Delta, which has interesting ideas but the physics are a bit too realistic for it to be recommendable).

Also, what happened to Chopper almost made me cry. He was such a memorable character...
 

Not Spaceghost

Spaceghost
Jan 16, 2009
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That reminds me: I bought myself a second-hand PS2 JUST to play the AC trilogy (and AirForce Strike Delta, which has interesting ideas but the physics are a bit too realistic for it to be recommendable).

Also, what happened to Chopper almost made me cry. He was such a memorable character...

He always stole the show every mission he was in. The following missions after the incident were absolutely depressing, but that final moment with chopper was hands down one of my favorite moments of last gen. So well executed!
 

jett

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Jun 6, 2004
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Yeah it's fucking awful.

You forgot to mention how everything looks brown and desaturated. It's aesthetically ugly and unappealing. I don't understand why this game exists. :| I do understand the need to do something different too, Zero was feeling a bit too much of the same ol' same ol' to be honest, but this is just wrong.

The cut-scenes are also mind-numbingly boring. AC4's story is so fantastic. Why Scamco, why. Redeem your sad ass selves by giving me Ace Combat HD Trilogy, you losers.