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Games to Keep an Eye On - Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

I don’t know about you, but I have been a long time fan of the Ace Combat franchise, and this has been one of those series I’ve been able to pick up and play over and over again. Although no release date has been formally announced (as it is only scheduled for a 2011 release), the next game in the series, Assault Horizon, is looking, well, awesome.

Although the above trailer isn’t new, if you’re a long-time fan of the series, you’ll immediately note how different it is: a realistic setting, fully animated cutscenes, and lots of close-quarters combat and destruction.

If you watch the above video, Kazutoki Kono, the producer and director of the game, stressed that this isn’t Ace Combat 7, but, rather, a rebirth of the franchise. Although I loved the stories of past Ace Combat titles, I am glad to see it breathing a bit of fresh air, even though modern wars are today’s WWII games.

This game looks to be action packed, and, being a fan of the series, I can’t wait to get my hands on it. It seems the core mechanics are the same, but the developers, obviously, want to focus on more close-range fighting (or Close Range Assault, as they call it), as evident in the trailer. Given that fact, it drops the realism a bit, but increases the fun factor.

I also love the fact that buildings also take damage (save for bridges, etc that were to be taken out in past titles in certain missions). Even the planes themselves, when blowing up, looks great, with wings ripping off and oil splattering everywhere; they like to call it, appropriately, Steel Carnage, because that’s exactly what it is.

So, now we know a few details, but, beyond the game taking place in the near future (2015 to be exact), I haven’t really mentioned anything else about the story. From the quick rundown of what’s going on (from the official site), pirates in East Africa are causing problems, so the UN calls upon NATO to send in the 108th Task Force to deal with the insurgents. Here are the basic details of who is running the operation, and what they have on hand:

U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel William Bishop and his long time friend and wingman Captain Jose “Guts” Gutierrez lead the 108th Task Force, comprised of an attack helicopter force, bomber squadron and Colonel Bishop’s Warwolf fighter squadron.

One of the helicopter forces was sweeping for guerrilla fighters, only to be blinded by a bright flash, and knocked out of the sky by the shockwave. From the sound of it, most of the people died, and the survivors of the wreckage were covered in third degree burns. After learning that the insurgency has developed a new kind of super weapon, well, you should be able to guess that your overall goal is to secure that weapon.

Now, I am not sure if they’re going to stray too far off from the super weapon in terms of realism. As you know, in past titles, even though they were loaded with real planes, you still had what are, essentially, boss battles with ridiculously sized, unrealistic aircraft, and usually ended the games on some giant superfortress with small openings, barely big enough to fit a plane, akin to that of the Deathstar, that just happen to house a highly explosive source of power that you have to blow up.

Of course, there is also the main opposing squadron you have to take care of as well; after all, what Ace Combat title would be complete without one? Not much has been said on the multiplayer component of the game, but I do expect to pick this one up and hope that it does have a pretty in-depth component to it, so we can possibly have ourselves some awesome game nights with the title.

Look for it some time this summer, though, it could be delayed until October apparently.