Armored Core V
Developer: From Software
Price: $60
Platform: PS3 and 360

Now the last Armored Core game I played was the first or second, so it’s been a while for me which puts me in two situations for reviewing this. On one hand I get the opportunity to view the game from the perspective of a newcomer to judge how someone not familiar to the series could approach it; on the other hand I end up not having a clue about many things and having to spend time on message boards asking questions. If players new to the series have the patience to play through the game and understand its mechanics they’ll find a treat to play.

Before you start playing you’ll be prompted to create a pilot and a team. The pilot itself is nothing important and just gives your AC a name, but the team part is incredibly important. This is the team (if you choose to stick with the one you make) that you will lead into online battles for territory against other players. The more matches your team wins the more prominence it’ll have. Teams can contain up to 20 players and if you decide to ditch your team in favor of another it’s as simple as either disbanding the team or transferring leadership. You’ll be able to also show off your team emblem for the world to see using one of the default emblems, or create your own. If working as a team isn’t really your style you can register yourself as a mercenary and get hired by other players to help out during missions in exchange for cold hard cash.

Now the main tab in the menu has all your modes. It’s here where you’ll drop instantly into the campaign, go online for some robot death matches, or compete in conquest games. There’s a story in here, but honestly it felt so bland I stopped bothering to pay any attention to it. The campaign itself is composed of 10 missions that all last from 30 minutes to an hour depending on your skill, so expect to get a small amount of time out of it. These missions involve going from point A to point B until you either clear all the enemies or reach a boss which are usually pretty hectic fights; there are however dozens of side missions that all basically involve ‘Kill Everyone’. This unfortunantly bleeds into the 10 story missions with each mission being a straight path full of the same tanks, flying mobile AC’s, riot shield AC’s, & helicopters you’ll fight in each mission. I did enjoy that I could bring along another player to help me out (which was a smart move considering some of the later missions get downright brutal) and if no friend is online then you can also hire a mercenary. My main complaint for this mode is that the tutorial fails to explain anything to you. It was a while before I realized my health bar was part of the reticle and I still have no clue what the top right corner piece is for. The only thing it covers are the basic controls; it fails to go into detail what the parts your AC has equipped mean. There’s no explanation on how the different categories of armor/weapons differ from each other and most players who aren’t series veterans are going to come into this more confused than Lost.

The other two tabs in the main menu is the assembly and team tabs. The team tab lets you keep track of your team’s progress, check who’s online, and set messages. The assembly tab is where you’re going to spend your time fine tuning your AC into the perfect death dealing machine. You’ll be able to choose each piece from the legs, torso, head, arms, weapons and more. With dozens of options I’m sure many people are going to put their AC through the revising process multiple times. You can also paint your AC here with a vast assortment of color options, patterns, and decals to throw on your AC. There’s even a custom emblem creator similar to Call of Duty Black Ops, but with much more depth to it.

The conquest mode is definitely the multiplayer highlight for this game. In it you’ll take 5 members of your team to battle against other player teams to take control of their territory. The map you see in the main menu/campaign screen will have the emblem of the team that’s currently in control of that area; you can stick your team’s name on that spot by jumping into conquest and showing everyone up. Invasion throws your team against the AI with various objectives, but it’s the Conquest mode that actually allows you to take over the areas. One of the biggest features is the Operator mode where one *qualified* player on the team takes the battles from the backseat by issuing orders from a map screen, locating incoming enemies, and guiding their team to victory. A competent operator is just as important as the best guy on your team sometimes. Unfortunately these missions are just as bland as the single player, the only real enjoyment I got out of it was knowing that I was doing it with other players.

The graphics in Armored Core V won’t exactly get any praise from anywhere. The buildings are all the same model, the environments themselves aren’t super impressive, I’m not a fan of the color palette used, and the effects look really dirty. I will compliment the game on the attention to detail on the mechs though because changing through all the different pieces in the assembly mode is worth it just to see all the little details put into it.

The Final Word
Armored Core V is definitely a solid game, but it wasn’t something that I’m going to sit around and play again next week with its repetitive missions both online and offline. I’m certain AC fans will be all over it (evident from my friend, a big series fan, spending most of the week at my place playing it with me), but I’m not too certain if newcomers will be able to jump the high curve required for fully enjoying the game.

- MonsterVine Rating: 3.5 out of 5 – Fair