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Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy Plus Review
The latest 3DS title (optimized for New 3DS) from Bandai Namco Games is a re-release of the 2011 3DS game of the same name (itself being a remake of the PS1 Ace Combat 2), bar the "plus". The latest dog fighting adventure features several improvements over the previous installment including enhanced controls and amiibo support.
Platforms: New 3DS (Optimized) | 3DS [Reviewed]
Developer: Bandai Namco Games
Release: February 10, 2015 [NA] | February 13, 2015 [EU]
Press Copy provided by Bandai Namco Games
If you haven't played the 2011 version or other Ace Combat games before (like myself), then Assault Horizon Legacy Plus is pretty fun. The Story Mode is set up similar to Ace Combat games before it: as a rookie Ace Pilot (known as Phoenix) your job is to move up through the ranks by taking on increasingly difficult missions to take out the ever impeding rebel forces. Your mentor and captain is a commander in the fictional nation known as the U.S.E.A., Olsen. The plot plays out decently, though incredibly typical and often cheesy. At one point your sent on a rescue mission only to find out a fallen pilot is the wife of an ally. Before each mission Olsen will give you a briefing of your mission and you'll be able to select your aircraft and special weapons. As true with most Ace Combat games, the aircraft and weapons are realistic and quite detailed, each offering a range of stats suited for various play styles.
The gameplay can be best described as solid. Throughout the missions you'll find yourself in a slew of battles with ground and naval units as well as close-quarter dogfights in the sky. As fun as I was having at first, this sort of gameplay can get old pretty fast. However, a good variety of mission goals did help to freshen up gameplay. A few of my favorite missions include an air mission where the goal is to destroy cargo before it reaches the ground and a mission that had me twisting and turning through a narrow ravine. Although there were a few highlights like this, a large portion of the game did feel like I was blowing up the same guys in dogfights, the Y maneuvers making this combat too easy (there is an option to turn them off).
The graphics and engine in the game are both mediocre. Neither utilize the 4 years of new technology or the New 3DS as an improvement over the 2011 release. The game runs rather smooth but you'll experience a brief slowdown during large explosions and when flying through enemy debris. In the air everything looks pretty nice and polished (although not breathtaking) and the water and night time effects are definitely solid. The ground textures are abysmal however, with muddy colors and close rendering distances. The cities are often completely flat featuring only a few 3d models for taller buildings. One aesthetic Assault Horizon Legacy Plus excels in is sound. The voice acting is crisp and well done and the music is great. The soundtrack was soothing during the normal flight time and more intense when it needed to be.
A main feature and one of the few differences between Assault Horizon Legacy Plus and the 2011 release is the support for Amiibo. Plus also features updated control schemes for the ZR and ZL buttons and the c-stick, but there really wasn't a problem with the normal 3DS controls. When playing on a New 3DS you can use a select number of your NFC figures to unlock new aircraft embellished with Nintendo skins and with improved stats. If you are playing on a normal 3DS or don't have Amiibo you can still unlock a number of these aircraft through ought story mode by finding ? Blocks. It's quite fun flying through the air as Link or Peach and these aircrafts improved stats do give them a significant advantage. As soon as I unlocked it I found myself playing with the Donkey Kong themed fighter for the rest of the game.
While it's cool that we're getting 3rd party Amiibo support for the 3DS, it's really not a significant enough feature to justify a re-release of a game that isn't even 4 years old. Although the game offers quite a fun experience, it's really hard to justify spending $39.99 on a game when virtually the same is available for $10 in a bargain bin. If your a die hard Ace Combat fan or you really crave some dog fighting action on a Nintendo console than this game won't disappoint. If you already purchased the 2011 version than you are probably better off skipping this title.
- Solid combat with fun missions
- Great soundtrack, good voice acting
- Amiibo support is well done
- Aircraft are realistic and detailed
- Little new content
- Visually unimpressive
- Plot is boring and often chessy
- Gameplay is repetitive
Good games are simply that: good. They are generally fun to play but might be lacking in longevity, replay value, or presentation. These games might be good buying decisions for some people but not for others. Some otherwise great games may fall into this category if they are priced unreasonably high. The devil is in the details.
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