A Negative Review with an Argument
I saw this morning that Assault Horizon is now available on the PC. I own the game already for the xbox, and never before have I felt so betrayed by a series. I'm writing this review in hopes of saving people the money and heartache I felt.
I have played the Ace Combat series for a long time and enjoyed all of them. When Assault Horizon was announced I was excited beyond all reason and instantly preordered it. The previews were action packed, the music amazing, and best of all, HELICOPTERS. I am a helicopter /nut/ and I just about lost my mind. Helicopters in Ace Combat! I'm such a fan of whirlybirds that I have an actual SPH-4 helicopter flight helmet refurbished with a TrackIR and turtle beach headset, 3 monitors for wrap around cockpit view and a Logitech G940 Flight System for playing DCS Blackshark, Arma II, Apache Air Assault, ecetera.
I finally get my hands on the game, get home, throw it in and squeal like the excited little girl that I was and ... felt like throwing my gamepad by the end of the first level.
The problem comes from the developers telling long time fans and aviation enthusiests to go fark themselves while catering to casual gamers who want to feel like an awesome pilot. Rather than just code really tight flight controls the put some gameplay gimic called "dog fight mode" or something in where to shoot down enemy fighters you dont use your own skill and ability to position yourself behind the enemy and out pilot them before tearing them appart, oh no. Instead you double tap some buttons and you enter a cinematic cutscene... mode.. thing.. where you dont actually have to fly the aircraft but only make slight adjustments to try to get on target. The computer flys you through a crazy flight path with exploding buildings, towers falling over, etc to make it more "action packed" and then when you are lined up you fire.
All personal skill and achivement is removed and you're given a a canned experience that any player can do, cept maybe veterans to flight games who are too busy fighting with their natural instincts with the controls. That was my experience. I've played flight games for a long time, from Superfortress for DOS and the Commanche games, to modern day games like Arma and Battlefeild. I even have a few RC helicopters (not the cheap things you see in the mall, proper ones) and planes. I've even flown a Cesna in my time in the Air Force auxillary, I know how planes are suppose to fly! When locked in controls simplified or designed for someone with no experience I just.. crash because Im fighting the whole time to get it to do what I want it to do.
Somehow, after many howls of fustration, I got past the first few jet levels and finally got to fly an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. I should have known better by that point but I /needed/ to validate my purchase and give the game a fair trial. It was worse than I expected.
Jet controls at least had some traditional moments to them, between dog fight modes. Helicopters were ... I find it very hard to find a polite way to put it. They were a veritable cornacopia of gayosity. It was like I was punched right in the overies. At this point I'm not even sure the developers understand how helicopters work. With proper controls you tilt the cyclic disk in the direction you want to go while simultaniously increasing collective to compensate for the loss of downward thrust. When you want to stop you tilt the cyclic disk in the opposite direction you are going BUT NOT IN ACE COMBAT. No matter how much you tilt your disk you hover exactly at the height you set with the "up and down" controls. You can have the helicopter on its nose and it will still fly. Dodging is taken out of your hands as well, rather than dodge ground fire with skill you simply do a quicktime button press and from a complete stop your helicopter will magicly perform a inverse loop or roll defying all reasonable physics. The worst part was when I checked the options screen and found there was no way to set the controls to traditional or advanced. At least Apache Air Assault did that.
I couldn't get through that level try as I might, between the aircraft not responding as they should to the rage enducing "magical" dodging I had had enough. The disk went back into the box and has only come out when lent to a friend. Each time it comes back to me, usually winged at my head and accompanied by curse words. Not a single friend of mine that was a fan of the original series or had any long standing love for aviation could stand the game. It's so bad, that I'm actually writing this review! You can check my post history, I dont come on the forums and complain about games /at all/. I just wanted to warn people not to waste their money. It is casual gamer pandering "feel like a bad ♥♥♥ without actually having to do anything" game that is insulting to flight game players everywhere. I HIGHLY urge anyone reading the forums trying to decide if they should get it to steer clear of it. It is the worst flight game I've ever played.