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E3 2011's Most Anticipated: Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

CVG E3 2011 Awards: Vote for the games that most excite you!

The games on show at E3 2011 are some of the best in living memory. So you really owe it to yourself to vote in CVG's inaugural E3 2011 Awards... in the Most Anticipated Title category.


Shortly before the show, we'll work out which of these 60 special E3 game previews have enjoyed the most page views, Facebook 'Likes', ReTweets and poll votes (see below) and crown our first victor at the Los Angeles event. Show your favourites the love!

Game: Ace Combat: Assault Horizon
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Likelihood of E3 2011 showing: Certain

There's no doubt that Ace Combat: Assault Horizon looks spectacular, but when we saw actual code being played at Namco Bandai's Dubai showcase last week, the initial concern was that flashy presentation had jumped the queue ahead of intuitive gameplay.

The action-focused instalment features a default camera that's tight behind your jetfighter, similar to one in Resident Evil 4 that's so close to Leon's back you can almost smell his farts.


From afar Assault Horizon's visceral camera often makes things difficult to follow then, but thankfully it all makes sense when you pick up the controller.

The game's new dogfight mechanics put the player view right in front of the action, accommodating detailed and satisfying displays of destruction only possible when you're close enough to see the downed pilot wee himself.

With your target successfully zeroed with the new 'Assault Circle' cursor, the action zooms in to focus on your target - and if they manage to fly outside the radius, it's back to normal zoomed-out vision.

The destruction and debris effect on enemy planes looks very impressive, and as you can imagine it's thus far more satisfying to pick your opponents apart with your fighter's beefy machine guns, an overlooked method of attack next to previous game's missiles.

Piloting an F22 above Miami in zoomed-out mode, Assault Horizon feels as it should, but it's the new combat systems that takes front seat. Control-wise, the right stick manoeuvres the camera, Y/triangle switches target, A/X fires your machine guns, B/Circle fires missiles and pressing both left and right triggers/shoulder buttons activates dogfight mode.

At first we found it a bit tricky to nail our spindling targets once the visceral dogfight mode had been initiated, but once we devised a strategy of mixing both missiles and machine gun fire - the former of which forces your opponent into Topgun-esque evasive manoeuvres - a satisfying and cinematic rhythm developed and Florida quickly became covered with flaming bits of plane.


The new instalment's FPS influences are no secret (the Assault Circle mechanic is described as "the iron sight of flight-sims") and it's clear from just one mission that this Ace Combat is a far more cinematic affair. In fact, it's only one shouting marine away from a Modern Warfare subtitle.

One lead pilot we're tasked with gunning down initiates an intense cat-and-mouse chase through downtown Miami, darting in and out of skyscrapers and causing us to hold our breath slightly when a construction crane collapses in front of our path in a scripted disaster.

Chucked into the mix are new Counter Manoeuvre moves, which when used during a "there's a bogey on my tail!" moment (by pressing both triggers/shoulder buttons together) has your fighter stylishly roll and flip behind your opponent to put them in your sights.

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