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The thirteenth game in the Ace Combat series--despite the name, Assault Horizon Legacy (known in Japan as 3D Cross Rumble) is a return to the world of Strangereal and an updated remake of Ace Combat 2 for the Nintendo 3DS, putting the player back in the flight suit of the leader of the Special Tactical Fighter Squadron "Scarface," who now has his own callsign--Phoenix.
The plot for Assault Horizon Legacy expands upon that of Ace Combat 2 to more neatly fit into the Strangereal timeline. Here, the reason for the Usean Rebellion is rooted in the aftermath of the Belkan War; the nations of the Usean continent--who have a long history of political and military conflicts amongst themselves--banded together to form the USEA Allied Forces in response to the threat posed by two growing superpowers, the Osean Federation and the Union of Yuktobania Republics.
However, a group of southern Usean nations preferred an alliance with Osea. The Federal Republic of Erusea, Republic of North Point, and other nations in Northern and Western Usea protested this; they resented the idea of Osean military presence and feared that Osea would take USEA's natural resources for itself, but the southern nations negotiated a military pact with Osea anyway.
On the day that the USEA Allied Forces were to formally sign a treaty with Osea, conservative extremists organized a continent-wide coup d'etat, headquartered in North Point's capital of St. Ark. Many Allied Forces units joined the rebellion, warring on their former comrades. With fears that the rebellion would successfully take over the USEA government, the faltering Allied Forces launch Operation Fighter's Honor, assembling the 37th Air Force 18th Fighter Wing 9th Special Tactical Fighter Squadron, "Scarface." Leading the charge is Scarface One, TAC Name "Phoenix."
Compared to Ace Combat 2, Assault Horizon Legacy brings a lot of features from later installments--notably the involving radio chatter from Ace Combat 04 Shattered Skies onward, unlockable custom parts for aircraft as in Ace Combat X, and ace squadron battles in the style of Ace Combat Zero. Similar to the Close Range Assault system in Assault Horizon and Tactical Maneuver Command system in The Sky Crawlers, Assault Horizon Legacy has a Maneuvers system which allows players to get behind enemy aircraft (provided the Maneuvers Meter is charged enough) or dodge missiles at the touch of a button.
Assault Horizon Legacy was released first on November 15, 2011 in North America, and slated for a European release on December 2. Japan will get it last, on January 12, 2012.
Be sure to check out the character sheet as well.
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy provides examples of:
- Ace Pilot: Every-freaking-where. This is an Ace Combat game, after all. Most of Ace Combat 2's named aces make a return, as does the player's wingmen, Slash and Edge.
- Airstrike Impossible: Remember the canyon run "One Night Stand" from Ace Combat 2? It's back, and it's just as perilous.
- The Alliance: The USEA Allied Forces.
- Attract Mode: Used to cover the Backstory through an Opening Narration Cutscene. You can watch it here.
- Award Bait Song: The Ending Theme, "Gravity," sounds very much like one ... although the lyrics are anything but.
- And Your Reward is Nose Art: Ace Combat 2 started the series' tradition of earnable custom paint jobs, and Assault Horizon Legacy does not disappoint. Each plane has five additional unlockable paint schemes, and two of those allow the player to choose custom colors.
- Bottomless Magazines: As per the series norm, any difficulty below Hard has infinite ammunition for aircraft cannons. On Hard and Ace, however, you'll only get eight hundred rounds or so.
- Call Back:
- Direct references to the Belkan War are made occasionally, such as the battles at the Round Table.
- In Air Combat, Ace Combat 2, and Ace Combat 3 Electrosphere, messages would appear in the middle of the screen depending on the context, such as "BULLS EYE!" or "BAGGED ONE!" when shooting down a target. Assault Horizon Legacy has brought these back, except now they're on the bottom of the screen and less distracting. Similar messages appear for successful Evasive Maneuvers.
- Call Forward:
- Ulysses 1994XF04 is mentioned in a mission briefing as an "asteroid that was believed to be on a collision course with Earth." It's the reason Fortress Intolerance was never demolished.
- In the debriefing for the mission "Fighter's Honor," Ulrich Olsen also mentions that the rebelling countries who had their armed forces demolished by the war will seek military expansion, and that Usea is now in a state of "armed peace."
Ulrich Olsen: Eventually, another time of war and strife will emerge, brought on by the still-burning coals left in USEA. When that time comes, we may need to call on your help again, Phoenix. You'll arise from the ashes of war again like a phoenix, and guide us to peace.
- During "Final Countdown," one of the sailors in the Rebel 1st Fleet may comment on Phoenix. "He's tough! Reminds me of the demon of the north!"
- Composite Character: Some of the returning named aces from Ace Combat 2 now share a single plane. For example, AC2 had two Tornado F.3s piloted by Max and Goose. In AHL they fly a single YF-23A as "Max&Goose."
- Character Customization: Like Ace Combat X, custom parts can be unlocked and used on aircraft, including custom wing additions, armor, engines, and cockpit software.
- Chasing Your Tail: Enforced; most missiles have a better chance of hitting the enemy when fired from behind, and the Maneuvers system allows Phoenix to automatically position himself behind a target.
- Civil War: The Usean Rebellion, same as in Ace Combat 2. Olsen mentions that some are calling this the Usean Continental War
- Continuity Nod:
- Pixy's paint scheme is available for the F-15SE Silent Eagle. The F-15S/MTD has one that somewhat resembles Cipher's.
- Schwarze Squadron's paint scheme is available for the MiG-31 Foxhound.
- The F-22 Raptor has an unlockable paint scheme that resembles Gryphus One's.
- Meanwhile, one of the F-4E Phantom II's unlockable paint schemes is the one used by Mobius One during his first mission.
- One of the Su-37 Terminator's unlockable paint schemes is that of Aquila (AKA Yellow) Squadron.
- The F-16C has an unlockable paint job similar to the ones used by Silber Squadron.
- The original Scarface One paint scheme is also available as an unlockable for the Su-37.
- Some of the unlockable cockpit software includes Garm's Eye and Mobius Loop.
- Cool Boat: The Dragonet-class subs make a return, and have been given names--the Fensalir and Folkvangr.
- Cool Plane: The XFA-27 and ADF-01 FALKEN are back, as is the XB-10.
- Cutscene Power to the Max: Both Phoenix and enemy pilots pull these off (for Phoenix, it's part of the Maneuvers system), using moves like the Kulbit, Pugachev's Cobra, and the Aileron Roll--even if the aircraft is incapable of doing them in actual gameplay.
- Death Cry Echo: A lot of pilots and soldiers will do this after their vehicle is destroyed.
- Enemy Chatter: And Friendly Chatter, too. A staple of the series.
- Foreshadowing: No big surprise to Ace Combat 2 veterans, but Ulrich hints toward the confrontation with the Folkvangr after "One Night Stand."
Ulrich: Although I thought two Dragonet-class submarines were supposed to be built ... Well, let's leave it to the intelligence department.
- Frickin' Laser Beams: The Tactical Laser System is back, available only for the FALKEN as a special weapon. Z.O.E will only use it during Extra Mission 04.
- Leitmotif: Oh yeah--
- Like in Zero, Unsung War, and Assault Horizon, the game has a general one that appears in a number of songs. Also like in Zero and Unsung War, this leitmotif is the Player Character's theme song for the final battle, complete with a full orchestra choir.
- Each of the Ace Squadrons has their own unique theme song when you fight them; the Z.O.E. fighters have two different themes and one more for the Brutal Bonus Level battle.
- Lethal Joke Plane: Aircraft like the MiG-21-93 and especially the F6F-5 Hellcat and A6M5 Zero. The MiG-21 has rather poor stats as a beginning aircraft, and the F6F-5 and A6M5 are prop-driven planes with no homing missiles, regular or special--but thanks to both the Maneuvers and customization system, these planes can shred even the mighty FALKEN to pieces. Even without Maneuvers or the customization system, the planes are still extremely agile, and the F6F-5 and A6M5 in particular have some of the most powerful machine guns of all the planes in-game.
- High-Speed Missile Dodge: Enemy pilots can do these to defeat missiles, in addition to or instead of dropping flares. Phoenix can do it via the Maneuvers system.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: In the finest of Ace Combat traditions. All of the planes carry dozens of standard missiles, and quite a few special weapons on top of that.
- Interface Screw: Electronic warfare can do this periodically with your HUD, which also renders any of your homing missiles in flight useless. Justified as the HUD is a Diegetic Interface.
- There's an even nastier EW system that the Z.O.E F-15S/MTD and FALKEN use, creating false targets on your screen.
- Kaizo Trap: Unlike the original game, after a mission's objectives are complete, you can still fail the mission by crashing. Ace Combat 2 veterans, take note.
- New Game+: Phoenix keeps his rank, credits, unlocked planes, equipment, and paint schemes when starting a new campaign from the same save file after completing the previous one. This is also how Ace difficulty is unlocked.
- No, I Am Behind You: Some enemy pilots, notably the ace squadrons and Z.O.E, will do this to get behind Phoenix if he's on their tail and fires a missile. Phoenix's defensive Maneuvers can also result in his aircraft dropping behind the enemy firing on him, usually accompanied by the message "NOW'S YOUR CHANCE!"
- Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Averted--the "Extra Powerful Cruise Missiles" of Ace Combat 2 are referred to as advanced SLBMs and ICBMs instead.
- Present Day Past: From the real world perspective, there's a few aircraft from the Turn of the Millennium and The New Tens that've shown up in this remake of a game made in The Late Nineties. The PAK FA's first flight wasn't until January 29, 2010, and the F-15SE Silent Eagle didn't make its first flight until July that year. The F-35, on the other hand, didn't make its first flight until December 2006. The MiG 1.44 "Flatpack" first flew in February 29, 2000. All the other real world aircraft in the game were known back in 1997.
In-universe, this game marks the first time that the PAK FA and F-15SE Silent Eagle have been seen in Strangereal, chronologically as well as sequentially. This is also chronologically the earliest appearance of the MiG 1.44.
- Recycled Soundtrack: Assault Horizon Legacy does bring back a few tunes from Air Combat 22, Ace Combat 2, Ace Combat 3 Electrosphere, Ace Combat Zero and Ace Combat 6 Fires of Liberation, but these are in addition to the completely new thirty or so songs given the same loving care as other installments.
- The Remnant: The Rebel Forces, representing the hardliners of the USEA Allied Forces that didn't want to join a military pact with Osea.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The rebels are prepared to do some pretty heinous things in their opposition to the Allied Forces.
- Say My Name: If Phoenix is shot down, Olsen or Phoenix's wingmen will yell his name.
- Shout-Out: Quite a few, both in-series and out--
- Returning aces Tallman and Metal Sphere are references to Phantasm.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Several cases.
- This Cannot Be!: It's not uncommon to hear enemy pilots express shock or denial when Phoenix pulls an Attack Maneuver and is about to tear them a new one.
- Video Game Remake: Of Ace Combat 2.
- Wolfpack Boss: Ace Squadron battles. Each squadron uses different strategies, and most of them stand a good chance of shooting you down mercilessly on Ace difficulty.
- Wolverine Publicity: While the Japanese market title is Ace Combat Cross Rumble 3D, Namco Bandai branded the North American and European versions with a similar title to Ace Combat Assault Horizon, even going so far as using Assault Horizon's cover art and logo style for Assault Horizon Legacy. Strangereal fans haven't been too happy about that.