Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy Review
Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy comes to the 3DS just after Ace Combat Assault Horizon's on consoles, but it's not a scaled down version of the console game. In fact, the addition of "Legacy" to the game's title is rather significant. While the console game took the series in a new direction by bringing the storyline into the real world, Legacy takes you to a fantasy world in which fictional countries battle it out in the skies with a mix of modern aircraft from our world. This leads to some rather silly battles such as the fight for Twinkle Island, but this isn't really the kind of game that you play for the story, especially in a portable game. As far as the story does go, suffice it to say that there's a rebel faction battling for control of the continent and it's your job to put down the aerial portion of their insurrection. You can pretty much ignore all of this, though, and skip past the text screens relating this story and get right to the important task of picking your plane and heading into battle.
The game will give you a variety of anti-air and ground support missions as you make your way through the campaign, and before you take off you can select from the stable of modern day military aircraft that you've unlocked, select the missile loadout that best suits the mission, and then head off into the skies. As you complete missions you'll earn credits that act as the in-game currency, and you'll be able to spend these credits to unlock additional aircraft.
The game is far more an arcade shooter in the sky than it is an aerial sim, so all of the planes are easy to fly and come with an infinite supply of your basic missiles and gun ammo. The planes travel at a constant airspeed, with the trigger buttons giving you speed-up and slow-down options that turn your plane into a three-speed model. The dogfighting also has an arcade feel to it because it's less about turning circles in a long dance to get a shot opportunity on your foe than it is trying to get on an enemy's tail so that you can kick in the locked dogfight mode. Once you transition to this mode, you just need to work to keep your enemy on the screen long enough to get a couple of missile locks and then it's on to your next target. If an enemy gets the drop on you, then you have the opportunity to perform a counter maneuver that will turn the tables and put you in the dogfight mode with you taking the shots instead. Taking out ground targets is a lot more straightforward since they're not moving, or at least not moving much relative to you. Ground targets aren't picky about how they're destroyed, so you can line up the targeting circle and nail them with a bomb or more simply lock onto them the same way that you would an aerial target and then fire and forget.
The simplified aerial combat in the game manages to be fun in the bite sized chunks typical of portable gaming. The dogfight mode, unlimited ammo, and the ability to target anything in the game with an air-to-air missile mean that the game's not particularly challenging, but it's still enjoyable enough - although I admit that I may be slightly biased by a personal fascination with military aircraft. It's also fun to work towards unlocking all of the various aircraft in the game, although I can't really say that you'll notice a significant difference when flying one or the other.
The game's graphics are fairly good for the 3DS, although the landscapes start to get a bit ugly the closer that you get to the ground. The 3D effect is more pronounced when you're viewing the aircraft in the hanger before the missions than in the air - the distances that you're dealing with in aerial combat are large enough that they negate any real 3D effects, although you will notice some depth of field on your own aircraft from its tail to its nose.
Overall I'd rate the game an enjoyable as a portable arcade aerial shooter. It's not necessarily for everyone, but it's worth adding to your collection if you're interested in the genre.
Final Rating: 78%. Ace Combat Legacy does a good job of delivering exactly what you would expect it to, some fun portable aerial arcade action.