In the sacred inner circles of Japanese-inspired geekdom lurks the undefeated,
undisputed king of giant robots. Many have tried to take control of its thousands
of slobbering, Dorito-inhaling, Mountain Dew-guzzling converts, but none have
been able to compete with the complexity and depth that is the Armored Core
Yep, Armored Core 3
from Agetec has arrived, and GR's resident championship
pilot is front and center with the skinny. This is the second 'official' sequel
to a six game series (figure that one out) of solid yet incredibly similar titles.
street runs two ways. Complexity and depth have pushed away as
many potential pilots as it has ensnared. In this sequel, several new gameplay
options, cleaner graphics, and an improved framerate hope to tempt the leery.
Plus, Armored Core 3
serves up a full course of new streamlined features
to crack that "armor" of complexity...yet even a crack doesn't draw much new
It's been twenty years since the events of the last Armored Core
). Corporations hold the world in an iron grip but must still enlist
your aid as an ace pilot and eventually, a high-priced merc. But yours isn't
the only mech-for-hire, and the competition is fierce. Moreover, a whole new
nemesis is on the rise. Your only way to keep your belly full and your mech
lubed is to complete the game's 50+ missions, work your way through the ranks
of the 1-on-1 Arena, take your earnings and apply it to some kick-ass upgrades.
I can't list all the new goodies but there are plenty, from new hover leg
units to left-hand ballistic weapons and even "Exceed Orbit" cores, which release
offensive drones to add support fire to your arsenal. Plus, the number of cool
Extension intercept missiles, handy system-augmenting Optional Parts, Inside
countermeasures and bomb dispensers have all been increased.
You can easily spend as much time building as you do battling because Armored
offers hundreds of parts for endless combinations. Additional parts
are awarded by corporations pleased with your work as outright gifts and/or
can be found during missions. Use these new ordinances or sell them for profit.
Armored Core 3
has tried to address the lengthy build times by streamlining
the menu screens. The Shop can now be accessed in the garage and you can sell
parts from the Assembly screen. This saves time by cutting out a lot screen
and menu shuffling...
...so you can get back to the fast and frantic dogfights that are in the Arena
and the mission sections. Another Age
expanded on the half-implemented
branching mission structure of the PSX
, and Armored Core 3
continues with this. As you complete
missions for cash you will open new areas in which you can bounce around. Don't
like hanging out in one area? Then check out the mission in another. It really
helps break up the linearity.
The missions themselves again run the gamut of incredibly easy to just plain hard. One cool new addition is the option to purchase a computer-controlled wingman. You can't give him any orders, but if you check his stats before you buy and choose a skilled wingman (preferably a full mech), you won't be disappointed. They can be fierce fighters and provide much-needed backup.
overall aesthetics, while notably polished with cleaner textures, is not quite
up to today's standards of excellence. Background textures could be much more
detailed, lighting effects are old hat, edges lack needed contours and you still
don't get a good sense of scale. "Is this water-retention or am I really just
40 feet tall?" Plus, the world is devoid of life and atmosphere, with few ambient
sounds and little in the way of traffic or pedestrians to flesh out the environments.
However, the mech design has been improved. A combination of older style parts and more futuristic style parts really baffle the player with building options. All the moving pieces for boosters, extension parts, fans and the like are still impressive. The sound has gone through an overhaul as well, with many more realistic explosions, machine gun fire and other mech noises.
But before you can relish the symphony of raining bullets and hot plasma, you must first become adept with the finicky control. This game is a true test of hand eye coordination. Every single button is used - all the way down to the L3 and R3 buttons. General movement is handled with the Left analog stick or D-pad, while strafing is done with L1 & R1. Now throw in L2 & R2 for looking up and down. Oh, you haven't fire a single shot yet, so more buttons! This is easily the game's biggest hurdle - a Mt. Everest of learning curves.
Fight through it and the rewards are countless hours of building and battling
the computer controlled mechs in the Arena or on the missions...and/or with
friends via the split screen or with the Sony Firewire cable. This allows up
to 4 PS2s to be linked together. Great if you're filthy rich like this
, but this feature is almost unusable by the average gamer. Each player
needs 2 TVs, 2 copies of the game, a firewire cable and one hub between them
How they missed this one for Sony's new online play is beyond me. It seems
like a no-brainer. You can play Deathmatch, 2-on-2 and NPC bot support is included,
but the lack of online play is a letdown.
Armored Core 3
is a good, solid title with loads of replayability,
fun and intensity. It plays smoother with the improved framerate and it's much
easier to hop right in and quickly build an effective mech. The tough control
won't convert the blasphemers and the look needs a facelift, but the action,
longevity, depth and style still make this the Liege Lord of mech games on the
Playstation and Playstation 2.