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Ace Combat: Assault Horizon - Worthwile reboot or pointless manoeuvre?

Bogey on down...

Reboot. It's the irritating buzzword on the lips of every man, woman and PR jackal in the games industry, and now even that last bastion of sincerity - Japanese devs - are using it.

This isn't the sort of reboot where planes are being swapped out for flying space monkeys, but Project Aces were determined that their reborn flight sim wouldn't simply revolve around firing indiscriminately at a gaggle of tiny dots on an almost-as-tiny radar.

Enter 'Close Range Assault' mode - sidle up to enemy craft and our camera takes a turn for the cinematic to capture the thrill of the chase.


Since a hefty chunk of Assault Horizon takes place above dense cityscapes, enemy pilots will often (hopefully not too often as scripting sucks) duck 'n' dive between 'scrapers in an attempt to shake their tail.

Beware though, because a well-executed vertical stall can see the tables instantly turned, as the hunter become the hunted.

CRA is a concerted attempt to not only inject a fresh element of danger to placate the exiting fanbase, but also attract an entirely new one.

Another aspect Project Aces have sensibly focused upon is eliminating the fidgety-bum melodrama that threatened to overshadow AC6's lightning bolt action.

An unnamed US military author (almost certainly not Clancy) has been drafted in to pen a suitably gripping, realistic narrative.

This probably signals an end to gigantic flying fortress showdowns - but it's a price we'll gladly pay.

Visually, the game is several leagues ahead of Fires of Liberation; indeed it's one of the first titles emanating from Japan for yonks which is really rivalling the graphic dynamism of Western rivals.

Call of Duty comparisons have been forthcoming, and they're - bizarrely - on the mark, particularly regarding the high velocity approach to warfare.

There's also a staggering level of intricacy to the plane models which borders on the obsessive - this is sizzling aircraft porn for one-handed cockpit fanciers everywhere.

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The bravery that underpins Assault Horizon is a rare and admirable thing especially while genuine creative crisis sweeps The Land of the Rising Sun, causing more established companies than Namco to implode with indecision.

If the developers can craft a plot to complement the aggression of their dogfights, this title could genuinely signal a breakthrough in the popularity of the flight sim. That'd be a truly impressive manoeuvre.

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