Review: Armored Core for Answer

ARM4A_X360_BXSHT_2D.jpg Armored Core is Armored Core. You know what to expect going into each new installment in From Software’s long-running and generally well received mech action franchise, and that trend continues with the latest iteration, oddly dubbed for Answer.

Armored Core’s 13th installment, for Answer doesn’t advance too far forward from its predecessor, Armored Core 4. The story is different but the campaign structure is pretty much identical as you hop into the cockpit of your virtual NEXT and power through a series of far-too-short missions as a mercenary for hire performing jobs for a resistance group called ORCA and various corporations it is at war with. I’m not kidding; many missions are over and done with in a matter of five minutes or less. The campaign consists of 42 missions in all, but it’ll take multiple plays to experience them all as your path through the game alters depending on how you play both sides of the conflict. It took me around four hours and 22 missions to complete the story once, but there are two more alternate endings to go back for.

Other Armored Core staples are in full effect as well. The gameplay is balanced well between simulation and zippy arcade pacing. Controlling a NEXT has somewhat of a clunky feel to it given that you are manning a giant robotic battle tank, but NEXT’s are also quite agile and plenty capable of boosting at mach speeds and darting to and fro on a dime. Targeting and camera controls, as usual, are perfectly manageable but still too sporadic to ever provide you with a consistent feeling of comfort and precision, especially in tight quarters or when you’ve got numerous enemies swarming about in close proximity. AC customization returns and is deeper than ever. The back of the box hypes that the customization options are double that of AC4, and once in the game you can clearly see that. There are over 100 new parts to choose from and the interface has been tweaked around a bit. And graphically speaking, the usual blend of extensively detailed mechs, bland environments, and explosions and environmental destruction effects that are somewhere in the middle is on full display.

That’s not to say for Answer has nothing original to show for itself. Two new additions in particular are sure to please any AC fan. Co-op is the major new feature that’s been introduced this time around, and what a tremendous addition it is, when you can actually find someone to play with that is. I’ve had the game for a month now and have yet to see more than a few players online at any given time. Just last night I checked again to try to squeeze in one final test run before posting this review and I couldn’t find even one other player. Same problem with the returning 8-player competitive modes – there isn’t anyone online to play against. At least offline head-to-head split-screen battles are supported, but sadly co-op is online only.

Arms Forts are new as well. These colossal mobile battle stations serve as this installment’s key boss battles, gargantuan in size and seemingly impenetrable at a glance, but left vulnerable in weak spots you have to find. Confronting these Arms Forts is a definite thrill, even more so if you can find a buddy to lay the tag-team smackdown on them with.

As I said in my opening, Armored Core for Answer is Armored Core. New features like co-op play and the Arms Forts are great, but they aren’t significant enough to attract new eyeballs. As a long-time AC fan myself, for Answer is a quality installment in the series and a game that I had a whale of a time playing through, and surely if you’re a fan of mech games you will to. But overall there’s nothing that new to see here and thus very little to get overly enthusiastic about.

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Pros:
+ Online co-op introduced for the first time in series history
+ Arms Forts serve as exhilarating new boss encounters
+ Mech customization is deeper and more rewarding than ever
+ Fun, fast-paced mech combat
+ Detailed mech models and parts

Cons:
– Missions are too short
– Inconsistent camera and targeting controls
– Bland environments
– It’s not the game’s fault, but the online lobbies are like a ghost town

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on Xbox 360, also available for PS3
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: From Software
Release Date: 9/16/08
Genre: Mech Combat
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1-8 (8-player online, 2-player split-screen, online-only co-op)

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!