When I owned a PlayStation 2 many years ago I really enjoyed playing Armoured Core 4 and was ecstatic when I found out that Armoured Core V was hitting the shelves. I was even happier when I was asked to review it and grabbed the opportunity with both hands. I spent a lot of time on Armoured Core 4 and, although a lot of time was spent on customising my mech, there is plenty of action and strategy involved.
The Armoured Core games are similar to other MechSims (mechanised simulators – I just came up with that so don’t look for it online) that, I feel, are not as common as they should be. These include BattleTech, MechWarrior, MechAssault and MechCommander.
The basic idea behind the game is to build up your mech – you are known as the mech operator (the driver) – and complete the various missions and overcome the various obstacles that are thrown in your path. Obviously, as the story develops it is important to upgrade your mech as much as possible so that you can fight the ever increasing power of your opponents.
Your mech customisation skills are actually imperative to your success in the game. I wouldn’t recommend this game to those of you who want all out action all the time, but I definitely feel that Armoured Core V is the ‘middle ground’ between total action and total strategy. It’s a thinking gamers’ game that requires time and patience with some shooter skills required to put your hard work into action.
When preparing for this review I read that there are more than 500 components that can be selected to customize your mech. Your whole mech is your ‘canvas’ on which you can ‘paint your masterpiece.’ This includes weaponry (of course), the core, arms, legs, the head piece and more.
I did notice quite a big change between the fourth and fifth Armoured Core games, that was corroborated by claims from the developers. Armoured Core V is quite different from previous releases of the game in that it requires more thought – in terms of tactics and strategy – and more stealth than the ‘tank’ approach of the previous games.
Of course, there is nothing stopping you from building a tank and using brute strength and awesome fire power to defeat your enemies, but the mechs in Armoured Core V are smaller than the mechs in Armoured Core 4 and, as such, there is more spatial awareness required from the operator. Indeed, the enhanced ‘three dimensional’ aspects of the game were quite difficult to get used to and I learned the hard way when a missile array on the top of a building turned my well constructed mech into a random collection of second hand components. This is cool, however because it is far more realistic – your enemies aren’t going to make it easy for you.
I must admit that, when I started playing Armoured Core V, I was quite disappointed because controlling the mech was a bit clumsy and wouldn’t do some of the stuff that I needed it to. Of course, as the game progressed, I realized that this is how it is supposed to be because, quite frankly, your initial mech is a donkey. You have to upgrade the legs and boosters if you want to be able to leap buildings in a single jump.
The singleplayer component of Armoured Core V is a lot of fun. It requires a lot of thought, a good strategic mind (or a mega powerful mech) and some pretty good skills in the shooter arena. It’s all well and good having an awesome machine at your command but, unless you know how to manoeuvre and shoot, you might as well be driving a school bus.
Likewise, you may have legendary shooting skills but, without a mech designed for the rigours of modern warfare, you might as well just go fight with body armour and a pellet gun. So, a good mix is essential. It’s sort of like Gran Tourismo but you get to blow stuff up.
Anyway, the singleplayer component allows you to follow the story and control your missions, mech, workshops and so forth from a large ‘world overview’ facility. You choose your mechs and your missions (hopefully using the right build for the right mission) to complete missions that increase in difficulty. It’s a lot of fun and don’t be surprised if you spend loads of time developing the perfect mech instead of actually blowing stuff up. What I do like about Armoured Core V is that you can play missions over and over and revisit the same mission trying out different technologies and different strategies.
The multiplayer option allows you to play in teams of five competing against other teams to complete certain objectives. The commander of a team will have the facility to oversee the entire battle and issue orders to complete the objectives. Quite a bit of work has been done on the online, multiplayer aspect and it shows. You can even trade parts between team mates and develop strategy that requires timing and co-operation.
OK, so let’s talk weaponry. I mean, as much as strategy and tactics are an awesome part of Armoured Core V, there is nothing quite as satisfactory as blowing the bolts out of something and, in this game, there are many, many things to blow away in many, many different ways. There are three categories of weaponry that you can fit to your mech. These are Kinetic, Chemical and Thermal weapons. These different categories have different damage areas, strengths and effects. There are also three different types; Close Range, Long Range and Area.
I had great fun trying out the different effects that a chain gun and a chemical missile had on some hapless tank, for example. Trying out the weapons and figuring out your favourite and which works best in which situations is a whole bunch of fun but, as you progress, you’ll have to make intelligent choices.
As much fun as a chain gun is, sometimes a long range thermal missile will be the difference between losing a battle and winning it. Of course, you then get the ‘Over’ weapons. I’ll let you find out about these yourself but, let’s just say that these are… um… very effective and worthy of an evil chuckle.
Armoured Core V provides the perfect synergy between thought and action and allows you to develop your ‘character’ individually or as part of a team. For those gamers looking for just action, though, you must realise that the game can be played as all out action game for the first few rounds but then it is important to upgrade your mech and start thinking about how you are going to win. In saying that, however, there is plenty of action so don’t let that dissuade you from getting Armoured Core V – I highly recommend it.