Jeremy Jastrzab
27 Sep, 2011

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Preview

360 Preview | With Kazutoki Kono taking us through.
At Namco Bandai’s pre-TGS event, we not only got to have some hands on time with the competitive multiplayer in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, but we also had a quick chat with the game’s Director/Executive Producer, Kazutoki Kono. He’s previously worked on Ridge Racer 4, as well as a variety of Ace Combat titles, including Ace Combat 5 and 6. The chat gave us a bit more of an idea of the aspects of the final game that we should be looking out for, once it gets released by year’s end.

Kono-san explained to us that his main role this time around revolved around taking care of the story. He explained that the story tellers and the game designers have been working together very closely in order to make sure that the gameplay accurately reflects what the story is trying to convey, while also looking into the scope for creating more variety within the gameplay. For the record, you play a NATO officer looking to secure a ‘super weapon’ before it falls into the wrong hands.

Ace meeting is Ace.

Ace meeting is Ace.
Interestingly, while the producer of Armoured Core 5 was quite keen to keep the numbering in the games, Kono-san was keen to get rid of the numbering. His reasoning for this was that he wanted to make sure that players don’t feel obliged to have played all of the previous Ace Combat titles before tackling Assault Horizon. As it stands, dropping the numbers was done in the hope of reaching out to a newer audience. Furthermore, Kono-san added that he hoped this would help describe Assault Horizon as an evolution of the series, rather than just another sequel.

Kono-san proceeded to detail some of the changes and additions to Assault Combat. Firstly, as well as having jet fighters, there have been some other types of aircraft added, which we’ll talk about soon. Secondly, there will be a bigger focus on story telling, as it was a goal of the team to create a game that is driven by a compelling story. Thirdly, the freedom in the multiplayer will be much deeper, what with more options, more game types and larger maps. However, the biggest change/addition has been the Close Range Assault mechanic.

Helicopters join the foray.

Helicopters join the foray.
Kono-san described previous Ace Combat games as “shooting at dots in the distance”. The aim of the Close Range Assault mechanic is to give the combat a much more “in your face” dynamic. Basically, when you are close enough to the enemy, you can enter a lock-on mode that will set the camera just under your jet near the guns. From this perspective, the action is definitely more visceral, as it increases the speed and intensity. It’s not an easy mode to use either, which adds to the intensity, as it’s a battle to get the shots just right. From our play time in the multiplayer, it’s definitely something that will give a new dimension to console dog fighting. Just how good it is, won’t be known till the final release though.

In terms of the new craft, Kono-san detailed that there will be three new types of craft in the game. In addition to the jet fighters, you’ll now be able to call on bombers as well, which will probably be used in specific missions. For the first time in an Ace Combat title, you will also have access to helicopters. During some missions, you’ll take control of attack helicopters, which will play differently to jets, where it’s more of a matter of stopping, then shooting, which could lead to different methods and tactics. Finally, some missions will have you manning the guns from turrets and gunship, though these sequences will only take place as rail shooters.

Time to get up close and personal.

Time to get up close and personal.
Following the interview, we got to spend some hands on time with the game’s multiplayer mode. While there are plenty of options, inspired by the FPS genre, we got to take the reliable deathmatch mode for a spin. Choice of fighter and the choice of weapons looks like it will be important, because being equipped with the right weaponry went a long way to ensuring our eventual victory (which the developers wouldn’t let me take a picture of…). Indeed, the CRA mechanic did increase the level of intensity when activated, and actually got a few frags too. Overall, the multiplayer does give the impression that it will have the potential to provide a lasting play ground.

From our chat with Kono-san, it was clear that he’s committed to continually evolving and building the franchise. The developers obviously don’t want to rest on their laurels, and even though there aren’t really any other similar games out there, it’s good to see that the developers aren’t being complacent. And from our play time with the multiplayer, the game certainly plays well and the gameplay additions so far seem like they add something substantial to the game.

PALGN would like to thank Namco Bandai for helping to organise the interview and Kazutoki Kono for talking to us.
Compelling storyline, robust multiplayer and a new dimension of mechanics are set to be the corner stones of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.

Related Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Content

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Review
15 Oct, 2011 Top gun.
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Preview
12 Jul, 2011 Ace Horizon.
2 years ago
With any luck it is longer than the last one, goddamn that game was fun, but oh so short
2 years ago
2 years ago
2 years ago
2 years ago
I noticed that after I commented, I knew someone would have a cry about that.
2 years ago
i wept like it was the ending of old yeller, would read again, 4 stars...margaret?....
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Australian Release Date:
  13/10/2011 (Confirmed)
  Namco Bandai
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