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 onward, unlockable custom parts for aircraft as in Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception, and ace squadron battles in the style of Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War. Similar to the Close Range Assault system in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon and Tactical Maneuver Command system in The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces, 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, followed by a European release on December 2. Japan got it last, on January 12, 2012. In February of 2015, an Updated Re-release called Assault Horizon Legacy+ was released to take full advantage of the extra buttons and 2nd analogue stick of the New Nintendo 3DS XL.
Be sure to check out the character sheet as well.
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy provides examples of:
- Absurdly High Level Cap: As you play through the game and complete missions, you earn XP that grants you promotions. The promotions themselves have no impact on the game, and you will have completed the story multiple times over just to grind your way up from a lowly rookie all the way up to Commander-In-Chief.
- 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 do 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.
- Extra Mission 04 takes this Up to Eleven. While all other examples of flying through tunnels in the series eventually results in you coming out the other side, this mission requires you to make a U-turn inside a small room and fly out the way you came in. Easier said than done.
- The Alliance: The USEA Allied Forces.
- Artificial Stupidity:
- Enemy planes can, and (sooner or later) will crash into the terrain because their plane is incapable of turning faster enough. This can be the result of you or them using the Maneuver System at low altitudes, but sometimes they just blank out and fly right into the ground. One of the three F/A-18E Super Hornets trying to protect the enemy headquarters at the end of "Kingpin" is very likely to crash when you're still flying after the first two.
- Certain aspects of the enemy's AI only kick in when they're trying to dodge missiles or shake a missile lock. This means that if you have an SP weapon that can't lock on to planes active, you run out of missiles, or never have them to begin with (as is the case for the Hellcat and Zero), the AI will often become a much easier target for guns.
- Attract Mode: Used to cover the Back Story 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.
- Badass Boast: The start of the refrain in the ending song "Gravity".Why do you still challenge me? You can't win, it's not your destiny. Like a moth that's drawn into the flame, you won't return, you'll lose your name.
- Bonus Boss: Defeating Fortress Intolerance in Extra Mission 04 is hard enough already since you have to do a U-turn inside the chamber and fly back out the way you came. It only gets harder when you're greeted by a full squadron of five Z.O.E. FALKENS when you emerge. ALL of them start off the fight by activating the Tactical Laser System, and constantly use it again and again. They're just as deadly as you'd think. They're also extremely tough, requiring at least 6 regular missiles to kill, and they gain a short period of invulnerability after losing a third of their life. This means that destroying the entire squad takes at least 30 missiles by itself. To add insult to injury, if you already unlocked the customized paint jobs for the plane, they use your designs!
- 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.
- Direct references to the Belkan War are occasionally made. It is rumored that Beast Squadron's leader survived 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.
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.
- 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. One of the missions also has the player destroying a laser system originally made as a proposed Ulysses defense measure before the rebel forces can use it as a weapon, like what ended up happening to Stonehenge.
- 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."
- 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!"
- Edgar Grint (Albireo One)'s bio mentions that he's from Western USEA, and that after his death, it has become a trend for pilots in his home country to name themselves after birds. Come Ace Combat 4, the Yellow Squadron hails from the western part of USEA, and their official designation is "Aquila" (Eagle.)
- Kei Nagase's profile mentions that she wants to become a commercial airline pilot. Come Ace Combat 4, you have to escort and protect a 747 where she is the first officer taking over the controls for the injured captain.
- 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. Using the system confuses your enemies, giving an even better chance of hitting them with missiles. If you were to get behind them normally, they can dodge out of the way pretty easily.
- Civil War: The Usean Rebellion, same as in Ace Combat 2. Olsen mentions that some are calling this the Usean Continental War.
- 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."
- Continuity Nod:
- Pixy's paint scheme is available for the F-15SE Silent Eagle, and the F-15 S/MTD has one that resembles Cipher's.
- Schwarze Squadron's paint scheme is available for the MiG-31 Foxhound. The F-16C likewise has an unlockable paint job similar to the ones used by Silber Squadron.
- The F-22 Raptor has an unlockable paint scheme that resembles Gryphus One's.
- 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 Yellow Squadron.
- The original Scarface One paint scheme is also available as an unlockable for the Su-37.
- Color 3 for the F-14D Super Tomcat is the Wardog Squadron from Ace Combat 5.
- Color 3 for the XFA-27 is the original color of the plane from the original Ace Combat 2.
- 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.
- Critical Existence Failure: As with previous games, your plane is still fully functional at 1% health.
- 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.
- The Maneuvers system is pretty much this trope in QTE form.
- Death Cry Echo: A lot of pilots and soldiers will do this after their vehicle is destroyed.
- Disk One Nuke: In AHL+, the Princess Peach skin Typhoon can be unlocked in the mission to liberate Anchorhead early on in the game. While the Typhoon has about the same stats as the other starting planes, it has significantly higher speed than most planes until well into the midgame. Combined with Multi-Purpose Missiles and medium range anti air weapons, chasing down enemies becomes a lot easier.
- The Dreaded: After defeating the Cocoon Squadron, Olsen comments that the rebel forces are starting to see that you are a force to be reckoned with. The rebels only respond to your presence with seething contempt instead of fearing you though.
- Enemy Chatter: And Friendly Chatter, too. A staple of the series.
- Escort Mission: Standard fair for the series. Mission 11: "Groupies," Mission 14: "Green Bird," Mission 15: "St. Elmo's Fire," and Mission 18: "Calvary" all require you to protect your allies until you clear out all enemy targets. None of them are terribly difficult or frustrating
- 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.
- Fragile Speedster: The usual trade-off on equipment is that you trade off defense for speed, mobility, and/or stability. This turns you into a One Hitpoint Wonder on harder difficulties, but that's a staple of the series anyway.
- 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.
- 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-15 S/MTD and FALKEN use, creating false targets on your screen.
- Kaizo Trap: Unlike the original game, you can still fail the mission by crashing after completing your objectives. Ace Combat 2 veterans, take note.
- 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 (the Hellcat has the second highest mobility potential in the game, second only to the XFA-27), and the F6F-5 and A6M5 in particular have some of the most powerful machine guns of all the planes and has the highest possible Air-to-Air stat in the game.
- 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!"
- Nerf: The FALKEN's Tactical Laser System had its damage reduced. In previous games, you could kill most targets in less than a second just by passing the laser over them. In this game, it takes a couple seconds of direct contact before it destroys even the most fragile enemies.
- Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Averted—the "Extra Powerful Cruise Missiles" of Ace Combat 2 are referred to as advanced SLBMs and ICBMs instead.
- One-Woman Wail: Featured prominently in Mission 11.
- Outside-Context Problem: There is literally no clues or revelations of who or what the Z.O.E. is. Cocoon Squadron initially wonders who's side they're on when it interrupts their fight. No names or identifications are mentioned. "Z.O.E, or "Zone of Endless" is only given for the player's sake.
- Present-Day Past: From the real world perspective, there's a few aircraft from the Turn of the Millennium and The New '10s that've shown up in this remake of a game made and set 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.
- Pyrrhic Villainy: Even though the rebel's attempted coup was defeated, they still were successful in their efforts in forcing USEA to abandon the treaty signing with The Osean Federation.
- Recycled Soundtrack: Assault Horizon Legacy does bring back a few tunes from Air Combat 22, Ace Combat 2, Ace Combat 3, Ace Combat Zero and Ace Combat 6, 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. For starters, after you take back Anchorhead, the rebels will later retaliate by sending bombers to the city with the intent on causing civilian casualties.
- Say My Name: If Phoenix is shot down, Olsen or Phoenix's wingmen will yell his name.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Several cases.
- The Round Table of Ace Combat Zero is called "Roundtable" here.
- Similarly, Cipher's unit in Ace Combat Zero was named Galm Team, although here the Shout-Out computer software "Garm's Eye" is correctly spelled in accordance with the original reference (The Japanese L/R thing is the reason for the error in the first place).
- 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.
- Unlockable Content: Assault Horizon Legacy+ features Nintendo-themed plane skins, all with their own stats and abilities. The F-22 Mario, F-35 Luigi, A-10A Bowser, F/A-18E Donkey Kong, the Peach Typhoon, and the Pac-Man PAK FA can all be unlocked by shooting the easily visible yellow ?-blocks found in certain missions. Using Amiibos themselves will unlock alternate skins for the already listed planes, but can also unlock new planes in the form of the YF-23A Samus, the F-15SE Zelda, the F-14D Link, the Starfox FALKEN, the F-4E Pikmin & Olimar, and the F-16C Captain Falcon. They also unlock special equipment and weapons specific to each plane.
- Updated Re-release: Assault Horizon Legacy+ takes full advantage of the 2nd analogue stick and extra buttons that come featured with the New 3DS XL system. There's also the Unlockable Content listed above.
- 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. This is the Beast Squadron's specialty in particular. They swarm you from all directions.
- Wolverine Publicity: While the Japanese market title is Ace Combat 3D: Cross Rumble, Bandai Namco Entertainment 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.
- Worthy Opponent: If you prolong your fight with Cocoon Squadron without taking out any planes long enough, Camilla will entertain the idea of asking you to join her squadron. Edgar Grint is an honorable ace who thanks you for the opportunity to battle you, and has no regrets when he loses.