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  • Awesome Music: Keiki Kobayashi and his team show off once more.
  • Broken Base: Gamers that bought Assault Horizon before picking up any of the other games will love it. Most long time fans hate it.
    • The biggest break point is the DFM system, not only in this game but arguably in the entire franchise. Supporters love it because it makes dogfights very spectacular and intense, plus it encourages use for people who in previous games just used missiles over and over since using the machine gun was way too hard for getting the same results. Detractors hate it because they think it destroys any sense of skill or challenge, and turns dogfights into glorified on-rails shooting segments, if not straight-up Quick Time Events. It doesn't help that not only some climactic boss fights but even basic mooks with flares force you to use it. That said, some detractors are willing to admit it works better in multiplayer modes, since using it on another human player means it's possible to have it turned around on you rather than it being a glorified "I Win" button.
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  • Cliché Storm: One of the main criticisms of Assault Horizon. While an Ace Combat game set in the real world could be interesting, the writers do nothing with it. Instead opting for a generic "United States vs Russia" story line, which by 2011 people were already getting sick of.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Expect Capital Conquest to be the game mode that's frequently played online, mostly due to the discovery of exploits that allow completion of the mode within minutes.
  • Crazy Awesome: 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.
    • Engaging in a dogfight within the outer edges of a Category 5 hurricane.
    • Rescuing Guts when his ejection system is damaged by using his cannon to shoot off the canopy on Guts' Raptor.
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    • D-Ray gets one himself, when, during the Moscow assault, enemy long-range SAMs take out several helicopters and force all other choppers to duck down to avoid being targeted. Realizing that the mobile SAM teams will obliterate the fighters when they get back from refueling, D-Ray and his gunner Jack hunt down and destroy all the mobile SAM teams. And then, just as a final kicker, devastate the remaining rebel forces, essentially winning the battle single-handedly.
  • Ethnic Scrappy: Many players weren't too bothered when Guts was shot down, as his dialogue is almost as bad as Slippy Toad's.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • Those Quick Air-to-Air missiles that were dreaded online and were the most broken missiles in the series? Yeah, they've been buffed back to AC04 status, and when in Dogfight Mode, the reticule stays glued to the enemy plane you're targeting.
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    • The CFA-44 Nosferatu from Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation comes back as Downloadable Content, and its EML is essentially a win button in DFM once you get behind an opponent.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • A lot of mockery was made of the fact that, in the final cutscene of the game, players have to initiate a QTE in order to have Bishop triumphantly pump out his fist to the cheering crowd of onlookers. Years later, there'd be "Press X to Pay Respects."
    • The penultimate mission, "Hurricane," fictionally takes place on January 2016, around the East Coast of the United States, where a hurricane designated as Alex brewed up and partly hampered your gameplay. Fast forward to the real life January 2016, Hurricane Alex brewed up in the North Atlantic part of America, admittedly a rarity among hurricanes.
  • Internet Backdraft: Unfortunately the shift from Strangereal to the real world with Assault Horizon provoked this. Several flavors have cropped up so far:
    • Disaffected Americans and non-Americans alike frothing at the mouth over Assault Horizon's' announcement trailer, furious that Americans are implied to be the protagonists, especially at the implication that the enemies are Russians (regardless of whether they are rogues or not).
    • Flame Wars over the announcement trailer depicting an American F-22 shooting down multiple Su-35s (then getting shot down by Akula himself). Much Cultural Posturing and arguing about whether the United States or Russia has the better military followed in the trailer's wake, with inevitable Demonization of Americans over The War on Terror mixed in.
    • Not to mention the initial reaction to Action Commands.
  • Memetic Mutation: In the form of an inter-fandom Borrowed Catchphrase, expect the common reaction to "White Devil" to be "IT'S A GUNDAM!" explanation  Ace Ventura references are a distant second.
    • The infamous "Press Y to Fist Pump."
  • Mis-blamed: As stated in the trivia section, Jim DeFelice had plans for a story set in the Strangereal setting, but the decision to go into the real world was Project Aces'. Forum hopping on GameFAQs has people up in arms with regards to DeFelice's story for the game.
    • Considering the Strangereal nations are still based on modern or historical real-life countries, the concerns may or may not have remained legitimate had this game gone with the Strangereal setting. Besides, most of those criticisms lie anyway with the facts that the War Is Hell aspect of the series is much toned-down, the storyline spends too little time outside of Bishop's personal conflict (whereas those who already played any or all titles between 04 and 6 would likely expect much more than that), and that the player character is Bishop himself and therefore no longer stays anonymous in Assault Horizon.
  • Narm: The aforementioned Fist Pump by Bishop at the end of the story, a minor meme in its own right.
  • Narm Charm: "Gotta Stay Fly" qualifies because the lyrics makes little sense and yet manages to be awesome.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • Unlocking planes for use from the get-go without buying them from a shop isn't new to the series. That goes all the way back to Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere.
    • Similarly, even Joint Assault wasn't the first game in the real world. The arcade games (Air Combat and Air Combat 22) took place in the real world, but they're so obscure only a few people even know those games exist.
  • Polished Port: The PC port adds a bonus content pack (extra planes, maps, skins and skills upgrades) and support for screen resolutions up to 1900x1200.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: The Close Range Assault mechanics are rather contentious, especially Dogfight Mode.
    • The helicopter controls are this too, due to the camera positions. Of the three, the third person camera is very awkwardly placed over-the-shoulder with the tail rotor almost sticking out of the screen, and with no way to rotate the camera other than rotating the entire chopper, which makes it difficult to maintain situational awareness when moving in a direction other than forward. The first person camera is little better, as is requires you to rotate the crosshair to the edge of the screen before it turns the chopper, which makes rapidly changing directions nigh impossible. The third camera is a first person with only the HUD, and while it is less cumbersome than the other first person camera, it shares the issue with the third person camera in that you cannot look any other direction than where you're facing, again making situational awareness difficult.
  • Tainted by the Preview: The demo forcing you to use Close-Range Assault to splash aces has not been warmly received.
  • That One Boss: The final battle with Markov is absolutely savage. His plane can target you with missiles even when you're chasing him in DFM. And those missiles have truly insane homing ability. And he maneuvers like a spider monkey on crack, speed, and acid, meaning even getting your assault circle primed is a herculean task. And then, his plane is completely invulnerable until just before he gets into firing position for his cruise missile, something the game neglects to mention.
    • It doesn't help that you have a whopping five scripted cinematic sequences before his plane is actually vulnerable. DFM is already contentious with fans because of its nature as a disguised quick time event. Have fun needing to do five of them before you're allowed to kill Markov.
    • Of course, this fight can be cheesed if you either a) bring an aircraft that has ECM, or b) learn to exit Dogfight Mode whenever you hear the lock-on beep and enter it again to make the missiles useless. Or you can do both to be sure.
  • That One Level: The AC-130 Level is damn near impossible in Ace Difficulty, because there's no way to prevent being shot at with SAMs from the ground and the SAMs are too fast to be shot. Couple that with the fact that you have to deal with two or three at a time, that two kill you and that you have to escort your allies, it's pretty hard.
    • Adding insult to injury, it's pointless to play the mission on Ace because it's possible to get an A rank as well as over ten thousand points on Pilot difficulty!
    • The helicopter levels are often criticized for dragging on far too long and ending up dull and repetitive as a result. The fact that helicopter special weapons (of which you are only allowed to carry one of, despite the helicopter having multiple hardpoints and the ability to carry AT missiles and rocket pods is standard on all attack helicopters) have a small ammo pool and will run out means that you'll be forced to use the chin-mounted gun halfway through the mission, with no resupply option.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Where to start... Many AC fans are unhappy about the change in setting, the lack of superweapons, the introduction of Close-Range Assault, the Regenerating Health and the addition of piloting different kinds of aircraft like helicopters and bombers, for starters.
    • Another large point of contention is Bishop not being a Featureless Protagonist, a break from (nearly) every other ace you play as in Ace Combat. Even worse, not only was Lt. Col. Bishop a rather bland and generic military hero, but Warwolf 3 and Warwolf 4 are pretty much an afterthought throughout the entire game; they're never seen or named, unlike Guts, and don't get any substantial dialogue until the final two missions of the campaign. With only a few tweaks to the story either of them would have proved perfect for the spotlight had not Bishop been the viewpoint character. The immersion players felt in previous games was sorely lacking and dearly missed. It's telling that while Infinity is also set in our world, the Player Character is a return to form (and also a Mobius 1 analogue), with the Bone Arrows' flight leader Viper serving the authoritative role Bishop was arguably better suited for.
    • H.A.W.X. was deemed inferior to Ace Combat as a franchise by AC fans, yet many old-time AC fans think that HAWX is superior to Assault Horizon. It's more of a "It's a completely different game with a completely different gameplay" than complaining about the changes, though.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Pre-release and promotional materials hype the ASF-X Shinden II and features a plot involving a pair of Japanese pilots, one of them is the real-world version of Kei Nagase. However the plot thread was quickly swept away in favor of Bishop and his unit members. The Shinden only appear as a DLC purchasable aircraft with no plot relevance whatsoever in game and can only be played in Free Mission and Multiplayer.
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