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Video Game / Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

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"Gotta stay fly, gotta stay strong..."

The twelfth game in the Ace Combat series, intended as a Continuity Reboot for the series. Like Ace Combat: Joint Assault, it is set in the real world. Released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2011. A PC version (the first one in the series) was released in January 2013.

It's the year 2015, and an unusually large rebellion named "SRN" surges in East Africa. The governments of the region are quickly overwhelmed, and decide to request the United Nations for help, who in turn call upon NATO. Given the situation, NATO decides to commission the 108th Task Force, a special unit comprised of fighter pilots & military commanders from several nations, including America and Russia. However, things get worse as the rebels are revealed to be in command of a weapon of mass destruction named "Trinity." Enter main character and 108th Task Force leader William Bishop, who sees himself and his friends involved in an escalating conflict over control of Trinity, which quickly spreads from the deserts of East Africa to the entire planet.

The game now has a character sheet. Please add all character-specific tropes there.

Tropes found in the game

  • Ace Pilot: True to the series, your player character always aces out missions with spectacular outcomes. While you mainly play as all-around badass Bishop, you also sometimes shift to Doug and Janice, who are respectively impressive in their attack chopper and bomber. Markov, the main antagonist, is a match for Bishop, being able to best him in their first confrontation.
  • Action Commands:
    • Invoked with the new "Close Range Assault" mechanic: when chased by an enemy, pressing both shoulder buttons at the right moment will have the player perform a maneuver with which to turn the tables.
    • You also push a button at certain points to start a cutscene in-mission.
  • Airstrike Impossible: In grand old series tradition, the strategic bomber mission is one of these. You’re required to pilot a massive plane (either a B-1 Lancer or a B-2 Spirit) through a distressingly narrow canyon at a distressingly low altitude while dodging dozens of anti-air radar emplacements before reaching and destroying a number of Trinity missile launch-sites.
    • Notably inverted during the final mission, where you're trying to stop Markov from carrying out an Airstrike Impossible on Washington DC.
    • The penultimate level involves a close quarters air battle (aka a dogfight) on the edge of a hurricane.
  • Always Over the Shoulder: The new dynamic third-person camera system. Especially during the helicopter missions or gunning during fighter Close Range Assault sequences. During fighter sequences in DFM and ground attack, the camera will switch to the location of the plane's currently active (or firing) weapon.
  • America Saves the Day: While the playable characters are Americans, 108th Task Force is quite clearly a multinational NATO unit; a French general is in charge of the task force, allied pilots from many other nations often participate in the same missions, and you can still fly planes from other countries. The Russian loyalists also shoulder quite a bit of the burden on the ground when the time comes to take back Moscow.
  • Artificial Brilliance: Enemy flights occasionally show good tactical sense for screwing you out of objectives. For instance, on the mission "Siege", if one of the fighters attacking the transports realizes you're too focused on it, they'll break away and lead you into the middle of nowhere to give his buddies free shots. In "Akula", some planes will wait for you to enter DFM before going kamikaze on your allies' ships, so that you would ram into the water alongside them.
  • Artistic License – Military: A standard for the series: no pilot is rated to fly as many planes as can be flown in the game, much less to be incredibly proficient with all of them.note  The game does take a step in the right direction by having other pilots fly other types of aircraft (specifically helicopters and dedicated bombers), however.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The Nosferatu's ADMM weapon is back, but it's taken a little bit of a Nerf. It takes a little longer for all 12 of its missiles to target enemies, and there's a good chance enemy planes will deflect them by releasing flares anyway. On the plus side though, it does reload fairly fast.
    • The Sukhoi PAK FA's EW1 Trinity is this trope in spades. Yay, it's a fictionalized variant of the Russian's Father Of All Bombs, and it kills ground targets instantly. Too bad the weapon in question is only good for two missions, and you only have three shots (just one in multiplayer). At least the ADMM can be used in all missions and online even if it was weakened, and you also don't have to worry about your allies or yourself getting killed by it.
      • On top of all of the above, the Trinity is only available after shooting down 8 enemy planes (whether AI or player-controlled) without in turn being shot down. Whilst this isn't too challenging in smaller matches with only a small number of pilots on each side (AI pilots are easier to shoot down than players, generally), it's a lot more challenging when the enemy roster is full of actual pilots. Top this off with the fact it only does ~10-15% damage to the enemy HQ makes it impractical to obtain, difficult to deploy, and only really useful for desperation attacks; an A-10 can easily do almost as much damage with a solid ground-attack pass and quad-AGMs without the risk of friendly fire or self damage.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Several cutscenes and in-game dialogues are voiced fully in Russian, though English subtitles are provided.
    • Some of the non-American and Russian aircraft speak in other languages, too. The F-2 and ASF-X Shinden II, for example, speak Japanese.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Well, Oilier and... Partsier. Also applied to ground combat, which marks Assault Horizon as the first game of the series to include blood.
  • Boring, but Practical: The special weapons in this game have very little variety beyond your standard assortment of multi-target missiles and bombs. The good majority of fighter planes will have Quick-Aim-Air-Missiles and either a 4 or 6 multi-target missile. Most ground attack types have a 4-target ground missile or precision bomb. Unlike previous games, more exotic weapons like Napalm, Fuel Air Explosive Bombs, Self Forging Fragment Submunitions, and Stand-Off Dispenser, among others, are not present to help destroy your enemies. Just the basic weapons needed to get the job done. One plane does have the Bomblet Dispenser though, and the Nosferatu still has its ADMM and EML. SFFS and SOD are still available, but only for certain multirole strike aircraft.
  • Bottomless Magazines: In one of two aspects carried over from The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces , main cannon ammo is unlimited on all difficulties, and its use is instead governed by an Over Heating mechanic.
  • The Cameo: See Mythology Gag below.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: "Hey, did any of you guys catch that game yesterday? Was Fitzgibbons really in-bounds when he made that catch?"note 
  • Character Blog: The unnamed door gunner with the skull balaclava maintained a Twitter feed for awhile under the name "Hawkgunner". Additionally the devblog, Project Nagase, is written under Kei's name and features a picture of her with a facial expression relevant to the post's topic.
  • Comeback Mechanic: In the Capital Conquest multiplayer mode, if either team has less than 25% of their base's health left, they get option to use heavy bombers in a last-ditch attempt to turn the match around, but only if that side can destroy the radar and open up a chance to use them.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The final boss has the ability to fire off 3 QAAMs at you, even when you're chasing behind him in DFM. If you dodge them, they will immediately turn around to try again, and again after that. If you don't have any flares, all you can hope to do is avoid them until they run out of fuel. Think of how impossibly accurate they were in Ace Combat 04, then crank that up to eleven.
    • You can cheat the cheating computer in that mission, though, just through either exiting and entering Dog-Fight Mode again and again or using an aircraft with ECM, or if you really want to cheat the computer, both.
  • Cool Plane:
    • "He's even got a shark's mouth on the nose of his plane!!"
    • You can also customize your plane's colors for use in Free Mission and Multiplayer.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Mission One has radio chatter and events foreshadowing a lot of things, including a very elaborate scenario that actually happens. Bishop realizes this, but quickly dismisses it to focus on the mission.
  • Dream Intro: The first mission is a nightmare the protagonist is having about his own impending death. Towards the end of the game, the Remixed Level version of it is played in the waking world, although the outcome is slightly different.
  • Eagleland: In-universe, Markov views Americans through a strong Flavor #2 lens, and never misses a chance to call Americans arrogant. Later it's revealed that he doesn't just hate Americans just because, but because a botched U.S. air raid in Bosnia killed his wife.
  • Easy Logistics: Surprisingly averted. In the final series of missions in which Russian planes attack the continental US, while there are a lot of them, they're also shown using unconventional tactics and supply, like refueling from the under-wing fuel tank of another fighter. It's increasingly obvious that none of them have any real intention of surviving their stated mission, and their tactics are intended to get them to their target and no further.
  • Escort Mission: A couple, though they're generally pretty tolerable, involving short escort distances, resilient escortees, or both. Also inverted in one mission, where Warwolf flight is assigned anti-naval roles and fly dedicated bomber aircraft that (literally) cannot dogfight it their lives depend on it, forcing the player to rely on their (fortunately quite dependable) allies for air superiority.
  • Fantastic Nuke: Trinity is explicitly stated to be non-nuclear, but it is capable of doing damage greater than the Hiroshima bomb. There are specifically five in the game, and only two actually explode: at the end of the first mission (devastating a North African town), and during the assault on Moscow, almost ripping the city suburb district apart. The other three are prematurely detonated, and still go off with so much force that they're more powerful than a 2,000 pound bombnote 
  • Fist Pump: In the final scene, Bishop does a fist pump in front of a cheering crowd upon climbing out of his plane after the Final Battle. The fact that this action is implemented as a Quick Time Event led to a minor Memetic Mutation among the fans.
  • Follow the Leader:
    • Some fans believe that the change in the game's setting is a result of the creators trying to cash in on the Modern Warfare craze, despite the fact that Assault Horizon is not the first Ace Combat game to take place in a modern setting, it's just the first one on the consoles to do it.
    • Subverted by the devs' true motivations - Word of God has said that during the development there was an unspoken agreement that they wanted to have as many high-tech fighter jets on the front lines as possible. Most of these are American and Russian.
    • Of course, the mission where you're the gunner in an AC-130 is very similar to one in the original Modern Warfare.
  • Forced Tutorial:
    • Enemies in the tutorial level are practically invulnerable until they reach an area where effects or cut-scenes can be shown off.
    • During the first dogfight, even if you shoot down the enemy before the cinematic action is over, another target will immediately jump into your reticule courtesy of We Are "Team Cannon Fodder".
    • There's no way to disable the game from pausing and telling you how to perform certain functions when they're first introduced into the game. Even in Free Mission mode, you'll still be interrupted and told how to activate Air Strike Mode or how to drop bombs on targets with the bomber.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • Happens to Colonel Bishop after he bails out after his aircraft gets too horribly damaged... and while safely (relatively) drifting back towards the ground he gets it... courtesy of Markov's aircraft's speared nose, cutting to black right when he gets it, ouch. Fortunately, it turns out to be a nightmare he was enduring and wakes up sweating and panting heavily.
  • Guest Fighter:
    • Although you have to buy it as DLC, the CFA-44 Nosferatu from Ace Combat 6 is available to use in free mission and multiplayer online. It has all its weapons available from its own game, but they've had their damage and accuracy toned down so the plane doesn't become a Game-Breaker.
    • There's also the ASF-X Shinden II, designed by the co-creator of the Macross series, Shoji Kawamori, the first fictional plane in the series designed by an outside source other than Project ACES themselves.
  • Hammerspace: True to Ace Combat form, jets come stocked with an enormous plethora of missiles, special weapons, chaff, and fuel.
  • The Hero Dies: The ending of the tutorial. Thankfully, it's All Just a Dream.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Quick-maneuver Air-to-Air Missile (QAAM) is capable of fast lock-ons from any aspect,note  has a range about on par with your standard missiles, and gets even more devastating in CRM. The only downside is that it generally can't shoot down a plane in one shot, requiring two missiles for most targets.
    • Infinity -1 Sword: The Semi-active Air-to-Air Missile (SAAM) is cheap, plentiful and can be carried on a surprising number of planes. While it's not as useful in a dogfight as the QAAM, requiring as it does that you keep an enemy in the center of your HUD as long as the missile is flying, the SAAM is extremely powerful to compensate, taking down almost every fighter with just one missile. It can also switch targets if you need it to, and as long as you keep the target in the center of your HUD, the target cannot evade.
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: "Gotta stay fly! Gotta stay strong! Ace ready! All day long!" "Fly" is actually an outdated slang for "sharp", which is entirely appropriate. "Ace ready", however, is just bizarre.
  • Interesting Situation Duel: The final level pits you against Markov in Washington, D.C., with Markov wielding a Trinity Bomb. All SAM sites are down. All other aircraft are doing their best to keep enemy aircraft from attacking you. It's Personal, and It's Up to You.
  • Invaded States of America: The final levels take place amidst a Renegade Russian attack on Florida and Washington D.C..
  • It's Up to You: Varying degrees of this throughout the game. For possibly the first time in an Ace Combat game, your allies and wingmen are competent and will shoot down non-essential enemies and normal mission critical targets. They will also actively attack any plane that's currently got you in the crosshairs. However, Lead Targets, which are much more capable and skilled than other pilots, can only be shot down by you, and ultimately, when the chips are down and time is a factor, you're better off not relying on your allies for those objectives.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • One one of the later missions, an ally wonders where such a huge air force came from to attack Miami and D.C., if they know it wasn't from Cuba.
    • For the player's sake, it's common that all forms of communication between allies, enemies, and neutral characters are visible. This gets called out when it happens the story.
    Hammer 1: Yo, Ivan. You got an open mike. You're broadcasting to the world! Kill it.
    Illich: You really should change channels more frequently, Colonel. Your encryption protocols stink. (Said while speaking on the supposedly encrypted squadron frequency)
  • Lethal Joke Character: The MiG-21bis. It's an outdated craft from The Vietnam War that lacks radar and is used by the rebels in the game and is also a playable aircraft, but thanks to the CRA mechanics of the game, it is possible to take on modern day advanced stealth fighters like the F-22 or the PAK FA and come out on top. This video has the player playing on Ace in the mission Hurricane and beating out Su-33s and the PAK FA in the Fishbed. Oh, and it also comes with the SAAM missiles, which while not as powerful as the QAAM, are still an effective missile nonetheless.
  • Leitmotif: The series's leitmotif (listen here) sneaks its way into almost every major piece of ambient.
  • Macross Missile Massacre:
    • Even more blatant in this one than in previous games, because multi-target air-to-air missiles always release their full volley even if you only have one target in front of you.
    • The Nosferatu's ADMM still fires 12 missiles off at once.
    • Used as a strategy in "Hostile Fleet," where the NATO group needs to overwhelm a couple of ships' point defense systems.
  • Made of Iron:
    • The Bombers are this. They can take upwards of three multishot secondary weapons to kill. Note, each individual secondary missile is twice as powerful as a regular one.
    • The propellers on the bombers in Dubai, however... Take out any two of them with your machine guns and the plane goes down.
  • Meaningful Echo: "I saw my death in my dreams, many times." The first line of the opening and closing monologues by Bishop. The first time describing his nightmare, the second time him overcoming his nightmare.
  • Meaningful Name: William Bishop shares a name with a certain World War One fighter ace.
  • Mildly Military: For all the accuracies present in the game, Guttierez insists on address Bishop as "Bishop" or "Colonel" in their in-flight communications. While not technically wrong, it is a huge breach of protocol: a pilot in flight is addressed by his or her callsign, and while Bishop calls Guttierez "Guts" all the time, Guts almost never returns the favor by calling Bishop "Warwolf".
  • Monumental Damage: You sometimes end up flying past the Washington Monument while chasing after Akula in Washington D.C. While no damage is shown, a stray missile hits it during your fly-by.
  • Multinational Team: The 108th is made up of various NATO countries and contains Russian forces as well.
  • Multi-Platform: A first for the series, as well as the first game in the series with a PC release.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In multiplayer mode, it's possible to unlock the callsigns and paint schemes for many of the famous AC squadrons, including Scarface, Mobius, Galm, Wardog, Garuda, Strigon, Gryphus, and more.
    • The trailers occasionally come with Easter eggs alluding to the Ace Combat series of old, the most notable of which is the E3 trailer, which features the series' recurring character, Kei Nagase.
    • In-game, Kei also appears in several briefing scenes as a mute background character. More specifically, she is sitting to the right in the row ahead of Bishop during a mission briefing scene.
    • In the mission "Home Front", there is a point where you must fire a missile at Akula head-on. After this, a cutscene plays where both planes turn on their sides and do a Slow-Motion Pass-By within a few feet of colliding with each other. Both aspects (the missile head-on attack and the cutscene's camera work) are identical to the final mission of Ace Combat Zero. Not to mention that immediately before that, your wingman takes the bullet for you and goes down (though Guts survives, unlike PJ). Two missions before, "Launch" bears a resemblance to the penultimate mission of Zero, "Valley of the Kings," with the player flying through a narrow passage to bomb targets and ending in an ICBM launch. Unlike the V2 rocket fired by A World With No Boundaries, however, Bishop gets to chase down the ICBM directly.
    • "Task Force 108" and the four-man Warwolf Squadron are call-backs to the Osean 108th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Wardog".
      • Then there's the mission "Blue on Blue", which is reminiscent of "8492".
    • The cockpit of the ASF-X Shinden II is the exact same as the recurring X-02 Wyvern.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Early on the player can see the effects of the Trinity warhead and its airburst capabilities. Except these same airburst effects don't seem to apply when you're tasked with destroying them in flight over cities
  • No, I Am Behind You: Carried out via Action Command to initiate a Counter-Maneuver when someone is tailing you. And awesomely subverted by the Counter-Counter-Maneuver if you are that much faster, giving you the opportunity to obliterate the target with guns mid-maneuver.
  • No Name Given: Warwolf Squadron's Warwolf 3 and Warwolf 4 aren't important enough to be given names, even though they have some speaking lines in the dialogue. Elsewhere, there's the Skullfaced gunner with the hornet insignia on the back of his helmet in the 2nd mission. Even the gunner you play as in the Canal mission (who has a spider on the back of his helmet) at least has his name revealed simply as "Guns" according to the radio chatter.
    Shooter 1: I guess I owe Guns a six pack.
  • Nose Art: Markov's plane always has a shark mouth on it, which is why he's called Akula.
    • As an added bonus, there's the aircraft painter to paint up your plane in all sorts of tasteful/garish ways, and a few bonus paint jobs with special designs that you can unlock along the way.
  • Regional Bonus: The Japanese versions of the game have the option of Japanese voicework. They also get some DLC that is not available in other regions, particularly a pair of F-14 paint schemes mirroring different versions of the VF-1 Valkyrie.
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Trinity is, for all intents and purposes, a tactical nuke, yet the game carefully avoids calling it such and the topic of nuclear fallout is never brought up, which would indicate that it's not nuclear, just a conventional explosive with a similar blast radius. The fact that a Trinity missile causes a mushroom cloudnote , and a single one is capable of leveling half of a city, instantly causes people to jump to the nuclear conclusion. Trinity is more accurately described as a nuke without the radiation or EMP wave; the story writer for the game claims on his website that such a weapon is the subject of intense research in real-life militaries. Interestingly, it's also named after the first nuclear bomb ever detonated.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: "Release", the theme that plays during the last mission in Washington D.C., uses both this and Ominous English Chanting. The lyrics in the later part are from "Dies Irae".
  • One-Woman Wail: "Mrs. Krista Yoslav". Bonus points are it is sung in Russian, and it plays during the battle against Akula in a PAK FA.
  • Point Defenseless: Averted in one mission where you must destroy a number of naval vessels. The larger ships, such as cruisers and carriers, will shoot down your missiles with lots and lots of Gatling guns. The only way to get past this defense is to coordinate with your flightmates and shoot tons of missiles at the ships. Also averted in the missions where you play as "D-Ray", the Apache helicopter pilot: you can shoot down infantry-launched SAMs and Hind rockets.
  • Press X to Not Die:
    • This happens at the end of the first mission despite it all being just a dream.
    • It continues to happen irregularly at various points if you fail to press the button to trigger the in-flight cinematic, which it interprets in such ways as failing to notice certain important things like Trinity missiles, thus resulting in mission failure. The game will reload if you fail, but not let you fail a second time. Most of the time (25 out of 29), nothing significant will happen.
  • Private Military Contractors: Averted. You're part of both the United States Air Force and a NATO task force. This is the first game in the series that doesn't assign point values to targets or require you to earn money to buy new planes. The planes are given to you before each mission. Mobius 1, Wardog Squadon, and Garuda Squadron all worked for their governments, and even they still had to buy their own weapons.
  • Promotional Powerless Piece of Garbage: The European Limited Edition and Gamestop pre-orders came with a free DLC plane — the F-4E Phantom II, which has a long tradition of being a weak starting plane in many of the earlier games. Yeah, compared to other DLC planes, like the iconic Su-37 and the Nosferatu super-fighter, the collectors' reward was rather lame.
  • Qurac: Mogadiyu, complete with a mission focused on special forces rescuing a downed pilot.
  • Real-Place Background: Due to the game moves away from Strangereal setting that has been the staple of the series. Many of locations in the Campaign were using real life major cities and other locales that has been faithfully recreated by using their state at the time of development, most notably Miami, Dubai, Moscow, Washington DC as well as Russian Caucasus city of Derbent. In addition, Paris is also present as Multiplayer-exclusive map, while Honolulu and Tokyo were later implemented as DLCs.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Hurricane Alex is reaching the shores of Charleston in the penultimate mission occurs on January 18th, 2016, and Bishop is forced to fight NRF's remnants flying north to Washington D.C., in the same area as the storm, (there is massive buffeting of your aircraft while flying below or in the clouds, but flying above cloud level, you'll see a clear sunny sky above with no turbulence). While January hurricanes are rarenote , they have been documented throughout the years.note 
  • Regenerating Health: First for the series. In a plane that's designed to house hundreds of missiles and unlimited 20mm's, only the fanatics are complaining. As it turns out, it's very slow regenerating health to boot, and you're generally worn down to dead about as quickly as in the previous games. Then you start playing on the Ace which the regenerative health has been removed entirely.
  • Remixed Level: Mission 14, "Home Front" is 50% identical to mission 01 "Nightmare", except that, of course, Bishop doesn't die in it.
  • Reverse Escort Mission: In one mission, your squadron is assigned as the dedicated anti-ship wing for an air-to-sea mission; as a result, your plane selection is limited to dedicated attacker aircraft. While they carry bombs, they handle poorly, are limited in air-to-air abilities, and cannot enter Dogfight Mode or counterattack if an enemy initiates DFM on you. Fortunately, they have decent armor, and your AI escort wings place appropriate priority on taking out anything focused on you. You can amusingly play the part of a Leeroy Jenkins Escortee during the mission, as your airstrike paths tend to plow right through the enemy's defenses headlong and clearing objectives is the best way to make enemies leave you alone.
  • Ridiculously Potent Explosive: Trinity is way more potent than any non-nuclear bomb small enough to be carried by an SU-35 has any right to be. A small nod to realism is given in how Trinity seems to be extremely unstable compared to other military-grade explosives, but it is still way beyond what conventional explosives can do. For comparison, the largest bomb the Su-35 is known to be able to carry weighs 1,500kg. The largest known conventional bomb, the Father Of All Bombs, weighs 7,000kg, needs a bomber to deliver, and has a yield of 44 tonnes of TNT. It will still ruin the day of the many people caught in the blast, but is no city killer the way Trinity is supposed to be.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Many of the higher level enemies and bosses begin using flares to shake off your missiles, but even the best countermeasures can't outsmart bullets. One special case is the MiG-21, which is by far the weakest plane in the game but the only fighter that can take an extra gun pod as its special weapon, giving it More Dakka.
  • Ruder and Cruder: Notably, the first Ace Combat game to use any language coarser than "damn", "hell" or "bastard", with "shit" in particular used quite frequently.
  • Rule of Cool:
    • Word of God pretty much confirms that this was the reasoning behind the new "Close Range Assault" and "Steel Carnage" mechanics in Assault Horizon.
    • The story writer for Assault Horizon, Jim DeFelice's blog says that the only reason for having a mission set in Dubai was because the city has a lot of cool buildings to fly through.
    • Interestingly, the game's overall storyline is somewhat plausible and the almost every mission is one you could see occurring in real life... well, except for the dogfight in the eyewall of a goddamn category-5 HURRICANE!
  • Russian Guy Suffers Most: Well, it starts with Moscow eating a Trinity blast. And then we find out what caused Markov's Start of Darkness. Also, beautifully subverted in mission 03: it seems that the rebels have treated captured Major Illich really badly but it is later revealed that he was a traitor all along and got himself captured on purpose, not expecting the Americans to free him. When they do, he has to pretend that he was mistreated. Of course, you don't learn that until much later.
  • Suddenly Speaking: The player is no longer a dedicated Silent Protagonist. The two playable Blackhawk gunners are the only playable characters who don't speak.
  • Scripted Battle: Various DFM fights will serve as this, as it's the part of the storyline that a plane crashes through the football stadium's bigscreen, or that a crane gets knocked over. The entire 2nd half of the final mission is this entirely. You'll be sending more than a dozen missiles up Akula's plane, but he'll never actually die until the scripted dialogue is entirely played out. Any attempts at Script Breaking will result in you failing the mission because it gives him time to carry out his goal. For added frustration, the game never tells you when it's doing this, leaving the player guessing as to when he's supposed to actually shoot the enemy and cursing at enemies that just won't die no matter how many times they're hit.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One piece of music on the game's soundtrack is titled "White Devil".
      • On a related note, in the same mission, the base you defend is called Belyi Base.note 
    • The first two helicopter missions unabashedly give off Black Hawk Down vibes. As a matter of fact, an NPC Blackhawk gets downed in almost the exact same way as Super 61.note 
    • The helicopter gunner of Nomad 61 Blackhawk wears a skull mask that strongly resembles Simon 'Ghost' Riley's iconic mask from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Namco Bandai has done some serious work to make the game realistic: for example, early media featured Bishop sporting a beard, which was later removed (as the USAF does not allow facial hair). Also of note is how each US aircraft sports tail codes from real life air force bases (e.g. the F-22A Raptor has Langley AFB markings.)
    • There's still a few goofs, such as with the uniforms, though really you'd actually have to be in the Air Force to notice:
      1. The ranks that the enlisted airmen (not the pilots) have on their sleeves are the colors used for "blues" uniforms. Normal ABU ranks have black stripes with an urban grey background.
      2. The ABUs are using the wrong color undershirt; Air Force regulations state that it must be sand-colored.
      3. ABU boots are sage green, not black.
      4. The pilots' jumpsuits are missing their ranks on their shoulders.
      ... The list could go on.
    • They spared no details on the plane cockpits either. The Frogfoot, for example, is a considerably outdated plane, containing a basic readout gauge that measures speed, altitude, and also functions as a clock. The clock keeps on ticking over the course of the mission.
    • Even though it's been done in previous games, cutscenes that involve whatever plane that Bishop is flying, including when he crashes on the runway and in the ending, all show the plane he was flying during that mission. Extra attention to detail especially paid in the example behind the spoiler tag there.
    • One nice little bit of detail is that whenever you're flying a foreign plane (French, Japanese, Russian, etc), the computer will warn you of dangers in it's appropriate language - even the fictional ones. The Shinden speaks to you in Japanese and the Nosferatu is Russian.
    • Another one that's been around for a while: When launching special weapons, Bishop will call out "Fox One", "Fox Two" or "Fox Three" as appropriate to the weapon's guidance system, again including fictional weapons.
  • Success Through Insanity: Bishop gets several moments:
    • Stopping an ICBM launch by slipping under the missile's wake and accelerating upward after it, getting close enough to take damage from the thing's exhaust.
    • Rescuing Guts when his ejection system is damaged by using his cannon to shoot off the canopy on Guts' Raptor.
  • Taking You with Me: In the final mission, the remaining NRF renegades, desperate in their attack on Washington D.C., start ramming the USS Anzio and even American fighters, severely crippling U.S. air defense. The final Tu-160 bomber even crashes on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, taking Jericho unit out of commission and paving the way for Markov, with only Bishop able to intercept him.
  • A Taste of Power: In the first level, you fly an F-22 Raptor against hordes of Su-35s. And then it turns out to be All Just a Dream and you go right back to the starter planes like the F-16 and equivalents.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • Forgetting to switch your special weapons to regular missiles will result in shooting four Advanced Long-ranged Air-to-Air Missiles at a single target, when any standard single missile would have done nicely.
    • In the tutorial level, Markov tries to ram the already defeated Bishop with his Flanker.
  • Violation of Common Sense: In Dubai, it is possible to engage a DFM on an enemy that will lead you through the arch of the Atlantis The Palm hotel, giving you an achievement along the way. Guts calls you out on it. The response invokes a bit of Fridge Brilliance when one realizes that the game takes place on Earth, and therefore the earlier Ace Combat video games exist in-universe.
  • We Are "Team Cannon Fodder": During the first level's dogfights, several enemy planes will come into formation with your target, just begging for a 4AAM shot.