Let's play a game of Americans and Russians, only this time, in the air! Unoriginal storylines are unfortunately a heavily entrenched staple of the military genre, and very few are fortunate enough to feature one that is in the least bit entertaining. In this regard, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon
more or less goes with the flow, though it tries to compensate with three primary lead characters: Lieutenant Colonel William Bishop, Captain Doug "D-Ray" Robinson, and Major Janice Rehl. Unfortunately, the three leads are stock bland heroic, and you really don't get to know them all that well. Instead, you'll find yourself most entertained by Josť "Guts" Gutierrez, Bishop's wingman.
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon tries its best to position itself as the same great flight combat game fans have grown to love over the many years it's been around, only with a few new bells and whistles. And to be fair, it must be hellishly difficult to innovate in a genre as stiff and conservative as flight combat. But the genre is that way for a reason. Few gameplay types have you so completely putting three dimensions to use, so innovation in level design is almost right out. However, mission types vary nicely over the course of the lengthy campaign.
Of course, you'll get your chance to send legions of enemy aces to meet their makers in high-speed dogfights, but Project Aces hasn't spent their entire development period working on just the jets. Assault Horizon features a series of helicopter, on-rail minigun, bomber, and AC-130 gunship missions. These are in relative short supply when compared to the standard fighter pilot missions, but they serve as welcome diversions -- despite many of them lasting longer than they should.
At this point, there's no disputing the fact that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is the most influential game of this current generation. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon's multiplayer suite is testament to that. This is evidenced by a well-designed persistence system, complete with customizable skill sets. Skills may be purchased from the menu, but you must first earn the points to pay for them. The multiplayer action is fun, if only because you're on an even playing field with human opponents. Dogfight Mode tends to make the action look ridiculous from a distance, but then again, this game is clearly not meant to be viewed from a distance.
The four multiplayer modes are standard, for the most part. You can partake in some cooperative missions, or you can leap into a straight deathmatch. Domination feels a bit bizarre, considering it's essentially King of the Hill, only in the air. Capital Conquest might just be the best of the four modes, primarily because it offers the most comprehensive experience. It may boil down to wiping out the enemy headquarters, but there's more to it than that. It's good to have a well-balanced team in Capital Conquest; it's not recommended to have a team oversaturated with air-to-air fighters or any other fighter type. Overall, the multiplayer doesn't reach the heights of its most recent predecessor, but that's only because Fires of Liberation was a better game.