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3DS  header logo

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy

For: 3DS

Cloud gaming

Product: Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy | Developer: Project Aces | Publisher: Namco Bandai Games | Format: 3DS | Genre: Arcade, Simulation | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy 3DS, thumbnail 1
3DS gamers are a pretty airborne bunch. From day one they’ve been catapulted into the picturesque skies of Pilotwings Resort’s Wuhu Island and sent barrel-rolling into cluttered asteroid fields behind the stick of an Arwing in StarFox 64 3D.

A welcome departure from Nintendo’s colourful palette, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy delivers sky high thrills and explosive dog-fighting that’s free from holiday parks and gibbering anthropomorphic crew mates.

Head in the clouds

New meets old in this 3DS outing. Developer Project Aces has taken the ideas and mechanics showcased in recent instalments and applied them to a selection of missions plucked from the series’ debut and sophomore efforts

You play as Phoenix, leader of Scarface Squadron and talk of the airwaves. There’s a story here – one of rebel groups fighting allied forces caught up in political nonsense – but you can easily ignore this as you follow orders to the letter.

Through a campaign that lasts roughly five hours, the setting changes but the objective is always the same: blast rebel fighters out of the sky or destroy bases on the ground.

Ace Combat veterans will no doubt be well used to it, but despite this limited variety Legacy does manage to create stand-out moments.

In one mission you’ll soar towards the stratosphere in an explosive dogfight, and in another you'll dart around valleys just feet away from the ground in a race to sink an enemy submarine.

Combat Evolved

All this requires a great degree of control, in which department Legacy is almost an ace.

While the 3DS continues to lack a second Circle pad, a couple of mechanics are implemented to ease you into the frantic dog fights without one.

The Action Manoeuvre system builds up a gauge as you hone in on your target, and with just one button press it takes control of your jet and guides it into the perfect vantage point.

Less jarring is the dodging system, which alerts you of incoming missiles before giving you a split second to work out where they're coming from and move the Circle pad in that direction while pressing Y.

The Circle pad is responsive to the slightest movements, while the touchscreen acts as a dashboard to change weapons and receive transmissions, leaving the 3D HUD to sparkle.

Every gesture, from a tilt to a full 180 degree U-turn, feels satisfying.

Jam down the throttle and the camera gently draws back as flames burst from the exhaust, blurring as you pick up speed. Ascend to dangerous heights and feel your stomach begin to turn as your craft starts to nosedive and the ground comes back into view.

Taking in the panoramic sunsets demands that you crank up the 3D slider to soak it all up and, aside from a slight issue with a ghosting HUD there’s no reason to ever turn it down.

Presentation has always been a strength of the Ace Combat games, and Legacy’s soundtrack is no exception. A mix of orchestrated and rock-electronic hybrids builds an atmosphere wherever they’re applied to majestic flights across mountain ranges and frenetic battles.

This makes each of the replays that accompany every mission accomplished or failed a worthwhile watch, allowing you to review your performance from all angles and save the best to your SD card.

Sky’s the limit

It’s a short but sweet campaign, slightly fleshed out by a Challenge mode that gives you the option to revisit your favourite missions.

There’s an abundance of planes and weapons, too - a single playthrough simply won’t provide enough cash to afford all of them.

The absence of a multiplayer mode is Legacy’s biggest failing. The option to hire a wingman to join you on missions is a feature begging to be opened up to human partners. As the 3DS slowly begins to accumulate a library of online mainstays, it’s disappointing that a game should overlook multiplayer altogether.

Despite these mixed measures in both quantity and quality, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy successfully takes a console-sized experience and crams it onto the 3DS with few shortcomings.

It’s a bumpy flight, but for the most part Assault Horizon Legacy is a soaring success.
 
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy
Reviewer photo
Tom Worthington | 10 January 2012
An impressive if slightly lacking debut that delivers high-octane thrills by the bucketful
 
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