Yes, it might have that "Russia is evil, US is supreme' cliche but its already common in many other games other than COD, so doesn't it make those games like World In Conflict bad as well?
Coming from a game series that KIND OF avoided that cliche through a parallel universe with made-up countries, made-up cultures, both inspired by real-life nations (from the PS2 titles onwards, the allies were some sort of love child of the USA and Japan plus another country, while the enemy was a ripoff of Russia + another country) and real-life historical conflicts combined with some famous tale or story, for example: ACZ (where your Cipher comes from) is a combination of World War II + Excalibur and the Round Table, Ustio is some sort of mix of US + Japan + Europe (not Spain since there's the country Sapin, very creative name by the way *sarcasm) while Belka was Russia + Germany, Osea was again the US + Japan, Yuktobania is Yugoslavia on steroids... You can see this in the name of the Aces you shot down in the Assault Records.
All these factors allowed the game to tell a magnificent story around the whole dogfighting theme of the game, allowed for actually non-repetitive missions (some of them quite iconic), and allowed us players to actually connect to the characters involved, to the story, the music, the sounds, the visuals, the universe in which it happens (lovingly known as Strangereal), hence why we miss it so much.
This represents a stark contrast when compared with Assault Horizon's story which is bleak, hollow and completely devoid of that connection, and that is because it's not easy to connect to the same old story with a predictable plot twist and obvious glorification of one REAL country, thus alienating players from elsewhere who actually care about that or feel their country is misrepresented, for instance, French pilots are depicted as incompetent idiots who have to be saved by the almighty American ace in the only 2 missions where they appear, and Russians are represented as back-stabbing maniacs willing to convince a poor continent to test a new weapon that these Russians will use to blow an entire nation just for one casualty that mattered to a single Russian pilot... oh and there are SOME good Russian guys willing to shoot at their own comrades in the name of the US and all that's good according to them; the US are the cool, two-shoes, good guys.
Other games at least make an effort to fully represent every faction in an even manner, on the other hand, Assault Horizon does not.
As for graphics, music, aircraft models and aesthetics, THESE are the ONLY factors that do not fail (kinda) in Assault Horizon, but the important stuff like gameplay mechanics, plot, player connection, and other inner workings, they all are done terribly compared to previous titles. Assault Horizon even managed to mislabel some of the aircraft like the Su-24MP Fencer, an aircraft obviously designed for ground attack, yet Kono and company thought it wasn't and made it a fighter or multirole; this is not the first time it happens though, but that was a very ridiculous mistake which goes to show that this game was either rushed and/or not too well thought. Another thing, Positron hit the nail with previous games being also very detailed with the aircraft models, I can attest to that.
And another thing, it is never the same to watch a game through YouTube than to experience it first hand, I highly recommend you to get a PS2 or a free emulator and get the games or download the ISOs, then you'll see what we all mean with Assault Horizon vs the rest of the franchise.
Notice how I didn't even have to mention the problems with gameplay such as DFM overuse... that's how flawed Assault Horizon is.
And I think one single opinion from a critic who has not played previous titles and has played this game ONCE is not a very trustworthy source, I think you should lend your other ear to the people who have played this game series for far longer.
Edited by cegc135, 26 February 2015 - 06:10 PM.