Ace Combat: Assault Horizon (Japanese: エースコンバット アサルト・ホライゾン Ēsu Konbatto Asaruto Horaizon) was the 14th game released in the Ace Combat series. It took place in the world, albeit in a different timeline from that of Joint Assault. Players took control of various members of Task Force 108, most notably William Bishop, as they attempted to shut down the threat posed by Andrei Markov and other rebels from Russia.

Assault Horizon was radically different from any other Ace Combat game in various ways. The Close Range Assault system added a new element of gameplay specific to Assault Horizon, and it was the first Ace Combat to be released on personal computers and the PS3.


Assault Horizon boasts several radical changes to the standard Ace Combat formula. For the first time in the series, the player will alternate between piloting fighter jets, helicopters and bombers as the story progresses; for example, some missions will have the player being the door gunner of an MH-60 Blackhawk, while others put them in the role of a B-2A Spirit stealth bomber.

The game runs on a revamped game engine allowing for destruction in a scale never seen before in Ace Combat, and indeed in a flight simulator. This engine allows for real-time deformation: as an example, sustained gunfire on an enemy fighter will rip off its tail, while more severe damage will either tear off the wings or (in more extreme cases) even completely disintegrate the airframe as a whole, spilling the aircraft's oil across the sky and forcefully ejecting the pilot from the cockpit.  As mentioned before, buildings and other structures are now subject to combat damage, and will deform in real time. Scenery damage will be often combined with Close Range Assault to provide a cinematic feel to gameplay—for example, stray fire in a pursuit will hit nearby buildings, forcing the player to evade the debris while remaining in pursuit.  However, this is only at scripted points in campaign.


The game provides players with two control schemes, "Original" and "Optimum". The 'Original' control setting is similar to the controls known as "expert controls" in the previous Ace Combat games. As expected, it gives full control of the aircraft, with the left stick making it roll (not turn) when you push right or left. On the other side, the new "Optimum" control scheme -the default mode and the one used in all the trailers released so far- is NOT the equivalent of the usual 'beginner/novice' control style of the series. It prohibits one from doing full rolls but this is to gain the stability needed to get the best of the new ‘Close Range Assault System’.

High-G Turns are still available by pushing triggers together, as well as Autopilot if both shoulder buttons are depressed. A new feature called "Flight Assistance" provides comfortable options to players like Auto-leveling, Automatic Collision Prevention, Automatic Stall Prevention, sight assist and Automatic forward Target Selection. These options can be turned on or off.


In 2015, Lieutenant Colonel William Bishop, the leader of United States Air Force Warwolf Squadron, is part of the 108th Task Force, a large multinational U.N. military force composed of NATO and Russian forces sent to stop the SRN Rebellion that threatens East Africa. Tensions flare between NATO General Pierre La Pointe and Russian General Ivan Stagleishov. Others, such as Russian Major Sergei Illich, are happy to serve with their American counterparts; Illich himself strikes up a fast friendship with Bishop and his wingman, José "Guts" Gutierrez. Bishop suffers a nightmare of an intense air battle over Miami in which he is killed by a mysterious "shark mouthed" aircraft. Meanwhile, helicopter squadrons Nomad and Shooter go to a nearby town occupied by anti-government insurgent troops. The helicopters manage to put down the rebels' resistance and clear most of them out of the town, but a large explosion takes down most of the helicopters, injuring the crews.

During their attacks against the rebels, the SRN uses the unknown explosive device once more against the helicopter squadrons while they were on a rescue mission to retrieve Major Illich, who had been shot down in a sortie. The 108th Task Force determines the SRN must be hiding the weapon inside the caves of Mogadiyu, a nearby archaeological-significant region, and decides to utilize ground troops, Warwolf, Nomad, Shooter, and Spooky (a single AC-130 unit) to destroy the storage facilities. General Stagleishov refuses to provide his Russian MiGs for the operation for fear of an international conflict, but NATO performs it regardless. When Warwolf Squadron returns to the allied base, they get a transmission that a nearby city is under attack by rebels. Warwolf attempts to assist their allies in Carruth, but are intercepted by Stagleishov's squadron mid-way, who show their true colors; members of Blatnoi, a Russian criminal organization that is funding the SRN. Assisting Stagleishov is Andrei Markov, a highly skilled Russian pilot who flies the same plane from Bishop's nightmare. Markov attempts to shoot down Guts, but Bishop intervenes; however, Markov performs a maneuver that Bishop can't follow, and Markov damages his plane. He and Stagleishov are running low on fuel and must retreat, but not before Markov mocks his American rival. When Bishop lands his damaged plane, the rebel forces detonate an even more powerful version of the weapon never seen before.

The weapon has been identified as "Trinity," a conventional bomb with the power of a tactical nuclear weapon. Trinity has been outfitted onto cruise missiles and can be used anywhere. Blatnoi threatens to use Trinity on Dubai, and Warwolf defends the city, while Shooter and Nomad intercept rebel cargo ships in hopes of finding Trinity weapons. However, it turns out the threat was merely a smoke screen so Blatnoi could stage a coup in Russia, led by Stagleishov with the support of a large part of the Russian military, calling itself the New Russian Federation (NRF). The NRF quickly takes control of Moscow and surrounding areas, and the 108th performs many counter-operations to liberate the Russian cities. Illich, who was not loyal to Stagleishov, has returned to assist the 108th with his own Red Moon Squadron as the leader of the Russian loyalist forces. Markov has also attempted to use Trinity at one point, but the missile was shot down by Bishop. The NRF manages to fire an ICBM at the United States, but it was also shot down before it could leave Russia; strangely enough, though, Illich disappeared in the middle of the operation claiming he had mechanical problems.

Eventually, the 108th manages to arrive at Moscow; however, another Trinity missile successfully detonates, taking down many of the 108th helicopters in the area, though d-ray survives. Warwolf intercepts six bombers en route to Moscow escorted by Markov, who ejects after been shot down by Bishop. Stagleishov decides to contact the 108th to negotiate the NRF's surrender exchanging the final Trinity missile for political immunity, but he is assassinated by Markov. Unaware of the live video feed, Markov reveals his true intention was not to take control of Russia, but to use this opportunity take revenge on the United States for the death of his illegally-married wife, Krista Yoslav, who was accidentally killed in an off-course American air strike during the Bosnian War. Markov blamed the Americans for the death of his wife and in retribution planned his strike back at America by using the coup as a decoy to lure many American forces out of the homeland, leaving many of its defenses weakened as he steals the last remaining Trinity missile and escapes to South America with his loyalists likely refuelling clandestinely in Brazil, Venezuela or Cuba;, where he plans to attack the United States directly.

Illich is revealed to have been Markov's sleeper agent, and betrays the 108th by joining Markov's forces bound for the U.S. In order to counter Markov, Warwolf Squadron is immediately relocated to Miami to join other remaining American squadrons in the homeland to intercept Markov's forces if they attempt to attack. As expected, Markov and his pilots attack Miami in full force, but are eventually repelled by Warwolf Squadron and the U.S. Air Force. However, Markov manages to ambush Bishop in a scene eerily similar to Bishop's nightmare, but Guts blocks off the missile with his own plane. Bishop shoots Guts' canopy off to help him eject, and Bishop then fires at Markov's plane head-on, managing to damage the Trinity missile before being forced to break off and refuel. Bishop catches up to Markov and Illich as they refuel off the coast of Florida. Bishop pursues Illich into a nearby Category 5 hurricane and engages him in a duel, resulting in Illich's death. Bishop proceeds to Washington, D.C. and finds the city already under attack by Markov's forces. Largely outnumbered by massive waves of attackers, Bishop and other USAF pilots struggles to repel the assault due to large numbers, but the USAF pilots still hold off the attack. Markov's forces successfully neutralize all of the anti-air defenses, and Markov then reappears, intent on dropping Trinity on the White House, but most of his loyalist were shot down after the defenses were neutralized. Bishop keeps Markov locked in a duel, eventually ending up at the White House; Markov manages to fire the missile before being shot down and killed, but Bishop manages to intercept it and destroy it harmlessly onto the Tidal Basin. Upon landing his plane at Reagan National Airport, Bishop is given a hero's welcome. After the post credits, Guts is revealed to be still alive and being rescued.


B-2 bomb bay over Paris

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon features online multiplayer capabilities, similar to its 2007 predecessor. The game's feature mode, Capital Conquest, has players from both NRF and NATO either attacking or defending cities such as Paris or Washington. All ranges of aircraft can be used, from fighters and multiroles to attackers and choppers. When a base is at critical damage levels, the B-1B and B-2A become available for that side, and can be used to cause massive damage to the opposing base. However, they require Air Strike Mode to bomb (meaning they can only bomb the HQ, and only when available), and are very vulnerable, given their limited maneuverability.

The other three modes are Domination, where two sides gain points by capturing and defending various bases; Deathmatch, where points are gained by shooting down other planes; and Mission Co-Op, where up to four players can choose from one of eight specially-designed Campaign missions to play together with increased difficulty.

A new addition to multiplayer is the "Skill Set" system, which allows players to customize their aircraft's statistics to suit their game style, in ways such as stealth, mobility and weapons. Another addition is the "Friendly Assist System" (FAS), which allows up to four players to share a skill's benefits.


Assault Horizon also boasts a callsign setting, which allows different flights of players to customize their callsign for that match. Callsigns can only be set by the flight leader in the Capital Conquest or Domination modes, and must be unlocked by completing a task. For example, to unlock the Garuda callsign, one must complete the entire campaign; to unlock the Mobius callsign, they must receive the "Hero" multiplayer bonus; and so on. If no callsigns are unlocked or changed, a default callsign will be used (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, or Delta).

F-35B with a Tu-95 over Dubai


Assault Horizon allows players to fly a variety of aircraft, ranging from fighters and attack aircraft to helicopters and bombers. Available aircraft include long-runners like the F-16C Fighting Falcon and the F-22A Raptor, while also including new designs like the Sukhoi PAK FA and the Su-24MP Fencer. They also play as a gunner of an AC-130 Spectre. Currently, there are 7 post-release downloadable aircraft which include the ASF-X Shinden II, a fictional aircraft designed by Macross creator Shōji Kawamori in cooperation with Namco Bandai, the Su-37 (with at least one skin being of Yellow Squadron), Ka-50 Hokum, Tornado GR.4, AV-8B Harrier II Plus, YF-23A Black Widow II, F-15S/MTD, and the CFA-44 Nosferatu.

Unlike in the previous games, the player doesn't have to purchase their aircraft but can instead choose freely from whichever are available for the upcoming mission. This isn't the first time that aircraft could be picked from the start after unlock, however, as this feature originated in Ace Combat 3. The selection is limited by the nature of the mission, e.g. in an air-to-ground, the player is limited to Attacker aircraft. After selecting the aircraft, the player can also select its paint scheme and special weaponry. In missions that switch between different player characters, the player has to select aircraft for all of them, e.g. in mission 11, they must select a bomber for Janice Rehl and a fighter or multirole aircraft for William Bishop. The player has no control over the aircraft, colors, and weaponry of their wingmen, who generally choose to fly the aircraft with the best stats available for the current mission.

Paint Schemes

In previous installments of Ace Combat, special aircraft colors had to be unlocked and/or purchased. Assault Horizon is the first installment to allow player customization of the plane's colors. Different parts of the plane's paint, including the missile smoke color, may be recolored to fit the pilot's preference, and paint schemes may be saved for future selection between schemes. Paint schemes are unique to only the plane it is first made on; for example, to fly every plane in one specific scheme, a separate paint scheme would have to be made for each and every plane in that color scheme.

There are special paint schemes that may be unlocked while playing through the campaign or multiplayer, or downloaded/purchased as downloadable content (DLC) from the PlayStation Store and Xbox LIVE Marketplace. For example, to unlock the Death Rider scheme for the F-15C Eagle, it must be downloaded as DLC. But to attain the Mobius paint scheme, you have to play multiplayer and achieve the "Hero" MVP award. Each special paint scheme can also be recolored to a new color scheme of the player's choosing, and there are many hidden selections; for example the Mobius' squadron logo is normally the same color as the rest of the scheme, but can be recolored to be shown.


The Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Original Soundtrack is the game's official soundtrack. Similar in nature to the soundtracks of Ace Combat 5 and Ace Combat 6, it combines electronic music with bombing symphonic sounds, which include both Western and oriental instruments. As well, unlike previous Ace Combat soundtracks, it is notable for the inclusion of heavy electric guitar solos in many songs. A stand-alone release has not been confirmed.

It contains a total of thirty eight tracks divided in three discs. Pre-orderd Limited Edition copies in Europe contained an "small" version of the soundtrack, whereas pre-ordered copies in Japan contained the entire soundtrack.


Ace Combat: Assault Horizon has received generally positive reception from gaming sites. The first professional review of the game was made by Famitsu in October 4, 2011, which awarded 37 points out of 40 to the game, making it the week's most critically acclaimed title.

Official PlayStation Magazine awarded the game an 8 out of 10. IGN gave it a score of 7.5 out of 10, praising the graphics, real-world settings, sound, and voice-acting of the characters. It did, however, criticize the gameplay for being repetitive. Another positive review came from Angry Joe from BlisteredThumbs with a score of 8 out of 10, praising DFM, sound design, cutscenes, aircraft models and multiplayer. He also gave the game the "Angry Joe Badass seal of approval." and the title of the 9th best game of 2011. Other sites such as GameSpot (5.5/10) rated it poorly noting the poor story and bad game mechanics, with some praise directed towards the multiplayer content.

The game has a critic score of 78 metacore for Xbox 360, 75 metacore for PlayStation 3 and 77 metascore for PC   on metacritic. As of November 2012, the game has sold 1.07 million copies worldwide.

PC Port

On November 27, 2012, Namco Bandai officially announced the development of a PC port for Ace Combat: Assault Horizon through their UK Twitter account and Facebook page, making it the first Ace Combat game to ever become available for computers. Known as the "Enhanced Edition", it has most of the downloadable content featured in the console versions, and optimized controls and graphics for computers. Multiplayer was supported through the Games for Windows - LIVE (GFWL)" service. It was released on January 25, 2013 in retail and digital download forms, in addition to being available for download on Steam.

In addition to the PC port, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon was added to the PlayStation Network Store as a downloadable game around the same time as the announcement. The game can be downloaded standalone, or it can be purchased in a bundle pack with Tokyo, Honolulu, and some of the DLC aircraft. It was also added to Xbox 360 Games on Demand in January 2013 as a standalone downloadable game. No bundle is available on the Games on Demand service. Simultaneous to all of this, the game received a patch on all platforms to assist in some balancing, mostly in increasing the health of HQs in Capital Conquest.

GFWL Code Issues

Screenshot of Steam error preventing purchase of the game

Starting on the week of November 24, 2013, people who purchased Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Enhanced Edition were given invalid GFWL keys that did not redeem for Assault Horizon Enhanced Edition, or anything at all.[4] In response, on December 2, 2013, Steam shut down future purchases of the game while they worked out the problem with Namco Bandai Games and Microsoft. As of February 24, 2014, the game could still not be purchased; however, some players were given refunds (in the form of Steam credit).[4] On February 24, Tony Shoupinou confirmed that the game was going to be available for sale again once the Steamworks transition was ensured to be running smoothly.[5]

Transition to Steamworks

On January 17, 2014, Joystiq reported that Namco Bandai was set on removing the GFWL service from Ace Combat: Assault Horizon - Enhanced Edition, but no release date had been provided.[6] According to SteamDB, depots of a "2.0" version of Assault Horizon were uploaded to Steam as early as January 29 with a description indicating that GFWL (G4WL in the description) was being removed.[7] On February 20, 2014, various sources reported that Steam achievements were added to the game.[8][9]

On February 24, 2014, an announcement was posted to the game's discussion forum confirming the transition to Steamworks for achievements and multiplayer. Users who had purchased ACE COMBAT™ ASSAULT HORIZON Enhanced Edition before the announcement would have to follow a multi-step process to transfer their GFWL save files and achievements to the new Steamworks version of the game, including switching the game to the "Acah-2.0-" beta from the game settings. Users who purchased the game after the announcement but before April 1, 2014 would just have to enable the "Acah-2.0-" beta. On April 1, 2014, the game updated again to completely remove GFWL, and the game now completely runs with Steamworks. Remaining GFWL save files and achievements are not guaranteed to transfer to the Steamworks version anymore.[10] However, renaming a custom aircraft skin or a custom skill set is no longer possible since the dialog to do so was previously utilizing GFWL input. Now it is impossible to rename skins or skill sets.

Since its Steamworks transition, Assault Horizon has been on sale numerous times, typically for 75% off its USD$19.99 price tag. On the weekend of July 25-27, 2014, the game was available for free to all Steam users for the weekend only, and was 75% off again for anyone interested in purchasing it.[11]



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