Although we got to see little more than an announcement trailer, with fighter jets tearing through the city of Miami blowing up buildings and shooting enemy planes out of the sky, we did get to sit down with Kazutoki Kono, Producer of Assault Horizon to talk about the rebirth of the franchise.
Q: Do you think many gamers are frightened by the Ace Combat series? Is this a scary franchise to jump into uninitiated?
Kazutoki Kono: For previous titles in the Ace Combat series, a lot of players actually gave us feedback saying it looks too complicated. It's not frightening, but it's a little bit too high a hurdle to jump over to get into, and that is why with Assault Horizon we've changed all the gameplay. We made the gameplay with a new system called 'close range assault' in order to make the game more accessible and open to new players.
Q: Some people have said that Assault Horizon blends Ace Combat gameplay with that of Modern Warfare - is this a fair comment?
KK:It's not that we were trying to make a Call of Duty game [laughs]. We tried to take the good parts of the Ace Combat franchise and take it out, and make it reborn so more people can enjoy it. Hearing "it's Call of Duty in the skies" or "oh it looks like Modern Warfare" actually fills me with confidence, because Call of Duty is doing so well, and a lot of people on the development team, including myself, love Call of Duty.
Q: OK, so can you give me a brief overview of the story driving the game?
KK: The main character is called Bishop, and he's the ace pilot of the fighter jets. And he starts out on a mission in East Africa, and finds out they have a huge nuclear bomb made. He goes off in search of this mysterious bomb and the world is slowly becoming involved in a war situation with this bomb. As the story goes on, it's told not only from Bishop's perspective, but from that of helicopter pilots on the same team and other fighter pilots too, so we can look at the whole storyline with a different vision.
Q: You spoke earlier about how the game would be more accessible to new players. How have you gone about achieving that from a control perspective?
KK: For those newcomers the control system is made so that it's more intuitive. It's not necessarily really really easy to control; players don't have to worry about being the best to really control the fighter jet - obviously fighter jets are incredibly complicated to control in real life - but they don't have to worry about that part. Especially for players used to FPS games, they'll be capable of doing this.
Q: What are players doing minute to minute? Can you give me an example of a particular mission?
KK: In this one part of the game, you start out controlling Bishop - the fighter jet - and you go about attacking the enemy base. After you do that, in the middle helicopter allies come to help Bishop. The game then changes perspective, and the next section sees you as a helicopter pilot helping Bishop out from elsewhere. So you get to see the storyline from a different point of view.