The Let's Play Archive

Ace Combat 2 & Assault Horizon Legacy

by nine-gear crow, Trizophenie

Part 29: Mission 21 – Operation Fighter's Honor, September 18th, 1998

Attack on the Enemy’s Headquarters Fortress

Mission 21: Operation Fighter’s Honor – September 18th, 1998
Mission 23: Operation Fighter’s Honor (Legacy Version)
Ace Combat 2 Ending Credits
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy Ending Credits

Overview: The last remnants of the Rebellion forces have retreated to the old Fortress Intolerance complex in North Point. In a last desperate act of revenge against the nations of Usea, they are preparing to launch an ICBM from Fortress Intolerance at the Union of Yuktobanian Republics in an attempt to draw the UYR into a retaliatory war with the Federation of Central Usea.

As FCU diplomats scramble to alert Cinigrad of the danger, Scarface Squadron is scrambled for one final sortie to cripple Fortress Intolerance, destroy the Rebel ICMB, and end the Continental War once for all.

However, one final ZOE fighter blocks the way, the most powerful one yet…

Guest Commentator: Given all his hard work to make Assault Horizon Legacy happen, it is only appropriate then that I am joined for both versions of Fighter’s Honor by the incredible Trizophenie. It may not seem like it, but this is as much his LP as it is mine, and I cannot thank him enough for all his hard work on it and for being a good sport with my at times frantic update pace and strange requests when it comes to footage.

Zone of Endless
North Osea Gründer Industries Artificial Intelligence Fighter Test Project
Squadron Composition: F-14D Super Tomcat (x1 [?]), F/A-18F Super Hornet (x1[?]), F/A-22 Raptor (x1[?])* YF-23A Black Widow II (x1[?]) – Legacy only, F-15S/MTD (x1[?]), ADF-01 FALKEN (x1[?])

Information recovered from the flight computer of the crashed ADF-01 FALKEN fighter paints a startlingly revealing picture of the full scope of the Zone of Endless AI fighter program. Allied Intelligence has managed to trace the fighter back to its original manufacturer, the North Osea Gründer Industries defense contractor firm.

Previously cryptic intercepted communications between Gründer and the URF brass have been re-examined in light of these revelations. While Allied Intelligence initially believed that Gründer had already been illegally supplying arms to the Rebels, it is now apparent that this was but a small part of an even larger exchange. Gründer would outfit the Rebels with arms and information technology if the URF allowed it to use the battlefields of Usea as a live-fire testbed for its new unmanned AI fighter program codenamed “Zone of Endless.”

Gründer personnel arrived in Usea covertly, and all Project ZOE materials were smuggled onto the continent from Osea via URF-controlled ports such as Port Edwards and Anchorhead, and existing URF planes were then repurposed and retrofitted with the requisite technology needed to make them into ZOEs. The ZOE program would then learn from its battle experience, conducting numerous sorties across the Continental War, but it’s most formative engagements proved to be against Scarface Squadron and its flight lead Phoenix.

As Phoenix faced each subsequent ZOE-equipped craft in battle, the program studied his example and tactics, becoming more deadly with each passing engagement. Befitting its evolution, the Gründer programmers and engineers embedded with the URF forces would give each new version of the program a factious promotion in rank, from Captain, to Major, to Colonel, to General, ultimately to Commander, which they believed to be the most advanced version of the program possible.

The ADF-01 FALKEN, a plane wholly of Gründer’s design, was not manufactured on Usea, but was instead constructed at a Gründer Industries worksite in Sudentor, North Osea, and loaded with the ZOE Commander program shortly after its completion. To the surprise of the Gründer personnel at Sudentor, the FALKEN booted up on its own in the early hours of September 18th, 1998, and took off for Fortress Intolerance in North Point. All attempts to force the ZOE-controlled FALKEN to return to base, and, failing that, to scuttle the plane remotely, failed, as the ZOE program locked its creators out of the FALKEN’s flight control system as it flew straight for North Point. Its sole directive: kill Scarface One.

Following the FALKEN’s destruction during Operation Fighter’s Honor, it appears that Gründer Industries has shuttered the Zone of Endless AI project. It also appears that all Gründer materials related to the project have been scoured from Usea by the URF, and to date no Gründer personnel involved in aiding the Rebellion or developing the ZOE AI have been apprehended by FCU, North Point, or Erusian authorities.

FCU Defense Minister Robert Tyler has called on the Osean Federation to investigate Gründer Industries for alleged war crimes and violation of several international treaties forbidding the development of artificial intelligence programs for combat purposes. The chair of the Osean Senate Arms Services Committee, Senator Appelrouth, has promised a full investigation into the matter, though it is unlikely it will even commence, let alone be completed by the time the Ulysses 1994XF04 asteroid makes planetfall on Earth next year.


Constructed during the height of the Cold War, Fortress Intolerance was designed to function as an eastern bulwark against the threat of possible nuclear strike by the Union of Yuktobanian Republics across the Eusian Ocean on Verusa. Originally intended to be a first- and second-strike capable fortress hardened against direct nuclear attacks and fallout, Fortress Intolerance was to be a war-time refuge for any surviving FCU government and military officials in the event of a catastrophic global nuclear war.

However, as the Cold War waned, and tensions between Usea, Osea, and Yuktobania cooled and the possibility of nuclear war became less likely, the nation of North Point began to slowly demilitarize itself, Fortress Intolerance was one of the first facilities on the chopping block for decommissioning. It remained abandoned for decades, but a recent decision by the Usean continental congress saw the fortress’s resurrection of sorts as a part of the Usean spaceguard program along with Stonehenge, Megalith, and the various impact shelters currently being constructed around Usea. The Continental War and the URF’s seizure of the facility, however, placed these plans on hold. The URF was able to bring the facility back up to operational status thanks to the half-finished restoration efforts already in place at the time of its capture.

In addition to its ICMB launch facilities, Fortress Intolerance also sported both a suite of short-range anti-air and anti-ground armaments, and an array of long-range gun emplacements capable of striking targets as far away as the North Point coast, and even out to sea in the Gulf of Saint Ark. The facility was powered by two independent nuclear reactor facilities on its outskirts in addition to an internal power plant facility located inside the fortress in the event of either external plant’s destruction.

Following the damage incurred to the fortress complex during Operation Fighter’s Honor, the facility has been deemed structurally unsound by North Point government officials, and all plans for its restoration and inclusion in the Usean spaceguard program have officially been abandoned.

The fortress is scheduled to be demolished following the Ulysses 1994XF04 planetfall next year.


Founded in 1996 in Sudentor, North Osea following the sublimation of South Belka into the Osean Federation and the closure of the South Belka Munitions Factory at the end of the Belkan War, North Osea Gründer Industries has gone on to become one of the world's preeminent defense contractor firms in just two short years.

A series of no-bid contracts with the Osean Department of Defense has catapulted Gründer to the top of its field and already much of the OADF and OMDF's existing technology has been supplemented by Gründer tech, with plans for complete integration by early 2010 already in the works. Following the end of the Belkan War, Gründer was given access to the wreckage of the ADFX-02 Morgan super fighter recovered from Avalon Dam by the OADF, as well as the operation ADFX-01 prototype recovered by the Ustian Air Force. Using both planes as data farms, Gründer was able to develop its own proprietary version of the fighter, the ADF-01 FALKEN, though prior to the ZOE-equipped prototype's destruction over Fortress Intollerance, Gründer had claimed it was at least a decade away from producing a functioning air frame.

The company has been supplying additional weapons and technology to the URF forces to fuel their war effort against the FCU and the Allied Forces, up to and including fighter jets equipped with the illegal Zone of Endless AI fighter program systems. An investigation into the firm's possible violating of AN sanctions and regulations on war profiteering has been promised by Osean authorities.


Though the Continental War is over, and “peace” has returned to the land, the unity of the Usean continent has been irreparably shattered, and as Keynote grimly predicts in his closing debriefing, it is only a matter of time before another war breaks out from this fractured state of affairs.

To make matters worse, Usea has just under a year to finish preparing for the planetfall of Ulysses 1994XF04, and after a bloody and costly war that tore the entire continent asunder, the world’s most asteroid-ready superpower, the one that discovered Ulysses and sounded the alarm about it in the first place, has to accelerate its preparation progress to compensate for nearly 6 months of time lost to this pointless violence. Rebuilding after the war and rebuilding after Ulysses are starting to look like they’ll be the same task.

In response to the coup and how easily the unified forces of the FCU and other nations were able to be co-opted by the Rebels, plans for a new apolitical international military force have been drawn up by the nations of Usea to rise out of the ashes of the old Allied Forces.

The new Independent States Allied Forces, or ISAF, will serve as a check against the divided politics that tore the FCU Allied Forces asunder from within and will ensure that civil war never engulfs the Usean continent again so long as it remains on guard. ISAF will be staffed by soldiers, sailors, and pilots from every nation on Usea.

However, there remains a lone holdout that did not sign the ISAF Treaty following the armistice at the end of the Continental War: Erusea.

After seeing a brief cameo in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, the ADF-01 FALKEN makes its proper timeline debut here at the end of Ace Combat 2. The FALKEN is the surprise bonus boss at the end of AC2, appearing only if you’ve managed to shoot down every other ZOE plane in the game. The FALKEN is also one of the two superplanes in the game, the other being the XFA-27, as seen in the Legacy version of Fighter’s Honor and the upcoming Extras video. While the XFA-27 is the player-exclusive superplane, the ADF-01 is the enemy exclusive superplane. I’d mistakenly said it was pilotable in Ace Combat 2 back in Zero and I apologize for that. The first time you are permitted to actually fly the FALKEN for yourself is in Ace Combat 5.

The ADF-01 FALKEN was developed in secret by North Osea Gründer Industries as an super-advanced next generation fighter intended to be handed over to the Osean Air Defense Force by 2010. In addition to being the final testbed for the Zone of Endless AI fighter program, it also served as the prototype unit for the Connection for Flight Interface or COFFIN System, designed to enhance human awareness and tactical performance during combat situations.

While the FALKEN’s involvement in the final days of the Usean Continental War, and Gründer Industries’ alleged connections to the Usean Rebel Forces were covered up by the Osean government following the war’s conclusion, the craft’s connection to another state-of-the-art fighter from the Belkan War is undeniable.

Design documents reveal the FALKEN was designed to function as a refined version of the old South Belka Munitions Factory’s ADFX-01 and 02 Morgan prototype fighters. Both planes sport similar design profiles, though the angular configuration of the FALKEN improved its stealth potential over the Morgan by reducing its radar cross-section by nearly 3/4s.

The FALKEN also, according to design documents, was purported to house a further refined version of the Zoisite Tactical Laser System (itself a scaled down version of the Belkan Excalibur TLS system) previously featured on the Morgan. The FALKEN’s laser system was scaled down from the Morgan’s by almost half, and was able to be mounted inside the nose cone of the FALKEN and deployed to its firing configuration by an actuator system. However, this system was not present in the wreckage of the ADF-01 prototype recovered by the Allied Forces from Fortress Intolerance.

The fighter craft designated XFA-27 was deployed by the Usean Allied Forces in the late days of the Continental War as a “last hope” fighter platform. Designed to be a multi-role air superiority fighter, much of the information and design specifics surrounding the XFA-27 are either non-existent or highly classified, including its manufacturer (speculated by some industry insiders to even be the Erusian Air and Space Administration).

The XFA-27 is one of the fastest and most maneuverable craft in existence, even outmaneuvering the ADF-01 FALKEN in direct combat. The plane features a variable geometry wing configuration and a highly unusual four-rudder set up. Its advanced fire control system was capable of firing up to four missiles at once, as opposed to most regular planes which could only fire two.

Only one plane of its type is confirmed to have existed, however its fate following the conclusion of the Continental War remains a mystery. Some sources claim the plane was dismantled by the FCU following the retirement of its pilot, the mercenary and leader of Scarface Special Tactical Fighter Squadron, Phoenix. Others claim it was repossessed by the EASA and its materials repurposed towards the development of its alleged X-02 superplane. Other sources still claim the XFA-27 was sold to the Federal Republic of Aurelia in South Osea for an undisclosed amount of money.

Aircraft featured in Mission 21/23 – Operation Fighter’s Honor:

Manufacturer: North Osea Gründer Industries
Role: Multirole (Prototype)
Manufactured: 1998(?)-????
Status: Testing
Primary Operators: Usean Rebel Forces, Osea, Ustio
Quick Facts:

Manufacturer: [REDACTED]
Role: Multirole (Prototype)
Manufactured: 1998(?)-????
Status: Testing
Primary Operators: Federation of Central Usea, Aurelia
Quick Facts:


Medal: ZOE Commander
Awarded for: Shooting down the ZOE Commander in Mission 21.
Description: N/A


Once again, the end of the game unlocks a whole slew of medals for Assault Horizon Legacy. This isn’t the entirety of the medals in Legacy, however. We will be seeing the miscellaneous medals not pertaining to the endgame in the Extras update.

Medal: Zone of Endless
Awarded for: Defeating the ZOE Commander in Mission 23.
Description: Awarded to pilots who earn exceptional results in combat against Z.O.E.

Medal: Bronze Star of Victory
Awarded for: Completing the Story Mode.
Description: Awarded to pilots who fulfill their duty and restore peace to the land.

Medal: Silver Star of Victory
Awarded for: Completing Story Mode on Ace difficulty.
Description: Awarded to pilots who overcome the Rebels’ toughest forces and restore peace to the land.

Medal: Gold Star of Victory
Awarded for: Earning an S-rank on every mission (Normal difficulty or higher).
Description: Awarded to pilots who achieve the highest honor in every mission and restore peace to the land.

Medal: Hack & Slash
Awarded for: Completing all story missions with Slash as your wingman.
Description: Awarded to pilots who refuse to give up on their partner, and survive the battlefield.

Medal: Blade’s Edge
Awarded for: Completing all story missions with Edge as your wingman.
Description: Awarded to pilots who survive the battlefield with their trustworthy partner.

Medal: Hall of Fame
Awarded for: Destroying all non-boss named enemies in the game.
Description: Awarded to pilots who shoot down all special aircraft.

Medal: Fighter’s Honor
Awarded for: Completing the Story Mode without using any Action Maneuvers on any difficulty.
Description: Awarded to pilots who rely solely on their own abilities to achieve victory on the battlefield.


Tracks featured in Mission 21:




Tracks featured in Mission 23:


“Like a Phoenix Rising” Lyrics


Composed and arranged by Go Shiina.
Lyrics and vocals by Noel.
Violin by Yu Manabe, horn by Ayumi Sasaki, and piano by tadasuke.

I lift off
My wings set to the sky
Arise from ashes
And now I fly
Through flames of war
I have been reborn
And it's my time
I have made it mine

When soaring high above my enemies
I understand the things you see in me
To vanquish those who choose to fight
I'll bring peace before the night

Why do you still challenge me?
You can't win
It's not your destiny
Like the moth who flies into the flame
You won't return
You'll lose your name

Gave you hope to unite with me
Oppose darkness, let all men see
You have chosen to go your way
You chose to seize the day

Rising like the phoenix
From the ashes of the fire
My greatest strength is not your desire
Can I be a champion fair and free
To the end
Defying gravity
(end chorus)

The clear white jet stream
The deep blue sky
I pull ahead
Spread my wings and fly
Because of you we'll fight
And some will die
Because of you
We will always try

Why do you still challenge me?
You can't win
It's not your destiny
Like the moth who flies into the flame
You won't return
You'll lose your name

Gave you hope to unite with me
Oppose darkness, let all men see
You have chosen to go your way
You chose to seize the day


Going ever higher than the clouds
Climbing fast
Breaking sound
We'll suffer more
And overcome
Some day
You and I
Will touch the sun

Gave you hope to unite with me
Oppose darkness, let all men see
You have chosen to go your way
You chose to seize the day


Great Joe also has an enlightening write up on how the Ace Combat games were able to simulate the functionality of analog stick controls before the advent of the DualShock controller. Turns out, Namco made all sorts of proprietary controllers for various PlayStation games including Ace Combat.

Great Joe posted:

For a long time, Namco was at the forefront of making peripherals for Playstation consoles. I'm not sure if they had some sort of exclusivity agreement with Sony, but they made A LOT of different controllers, all licensed by Sony - they even had SCPH numbers! You probably already know about the GunCon AKA the G-Con in Europe, which is the line of gun controllers for the first three Playstations. What you might not know about are the JogCon (which came out in 1994) and the neGcon (which came out in 1995). The JogCon was one of the first-ever force feedback console controllers, and the neGcon one of the first-ever controllers to feature analog buttons. The Playstation Dual Analog Controller wouldn't come out until 2 years after the neGcon, in 1997.

The reason this is topical is because all Ace Combat games on the Playstation support the neGcon, and thus have full analog controls. In fact, I'd say the neGcon offers better analog control than you could get with the DualShock controller. So how does it work?

The neGcon has three analog buttons (L1, I and II) as well as a central wheel that holds the two halves of it together. You twist the two halves and get almost 360° of travel. This controller got a lot of software support, though mostly because third parties would make racing wheels that pretended to be the neGcon (steering wheel = twist, accelerator = I, brake = II). The Ace Combat series only really used the twist motion to control your plane's roll, the rest was all digital as far as the game was concerned. The twist wheel has an amazing range of travel, something you'd never really get again in a form factor this small, at least unless you count the Wii Remote.

And that's how all three Ace Combat games on the original Playstation supported analog control, even though one of them came out before it.

Namco would continue this tradition with Ace Combat 6's proprietary joystick controller for the Xbox 360, but we'll cover that when we get to 6.

Also, according to Lunethex, there’s one more medal in the game for shooting down a special Ace that nobody’s ever seen before. What could it possibly be?

Shall we find out together then?

Let’s see.


And that, as they say, is that. As we close the book on Ace Combat 2, we end with a fractured Usea staring down the barrel the gun that is Ulysses 1994XF04, now just 288 days away from impact with the Earth. When we return to Strangereal after our brief hiatus, we find ourselves in the late summer of 2004 in a very changed world from what we’ve known so far, having escaped certain death from the heavens by the skin of its teeth.

Ulysses Day approaches fast. The skies are about to shatter.