Thursday, 31 May 2012

Review: Armored Core V (360)


The meshing of man and machine into a bad-ass two-story tall metal super soldier: it’s not hard to understand why games featuring mech warriors are so popular.

One of the longest-running mech-starring franchises is Armored Core, just released in its fifth installment. And while it may be getting older, Armored Core certainly hasn’t gotten better, and is definitely is showing its age.

Outdated, last-generation graphics, uninspired gameplay both single-player and multiplayer, and a disjointed, nobody-cares storyline dampers a lot of the enjoyment of climbing into the cockpit of a huge mechanized war machine.

Gamers impressed by the great cutscene visuals as the game begins (and throughout) will immediately be disappointed on how last-generation the actual in-game graphics are. Armored Core V doesn’t look that much better than a game that would have appeared on either the PS2 or original Xbox in the late stages of those two consoles. Fortunately, there is some intense fighting gameplay as a mech solider that deflects the full impact the bland visuals.

Totally disjointed and uninteresting, the plot that’s meant to lure gamers into Armored Core V’s single-player gameplay isn’t enticing at all. A world of depleted resources has led to a landscape of rival factions fighting for the little that’s left. Instead of Big Brother watching and directing the battles between resource-starved blocs, it’s the malevolent dictator Father pulling the strings. But the story never gets fleshed out significantly enough to be attention-grabbing. Voice-acting is laughable also, as everything combines for a lackluster and uninteresting single-player adventure.

At least the mech-building functionality has its interesting complexities. Gamers can build their own mechs, with more parts and weapons unlocked for use as missions and levels are completed. Gamers can test drive their mechs on the battlefield, and can do repairs, top-up ammo, and fine tune at the “garages” throughout each level. Many times, it is crucial to break off fighting and find the garage to alter mechs being battered by the enemy with different weapons and armor to better suit the adversaries on that particular stretch.

Even if gamers construct the perfect mech, though, the weaponry, or more specifically the weapons fire, is underwhelming even with the bigger and more powerful ones. Although there’s no impact on the weaponry killing power, it doesn’t pack the gameplay wallop gamers might expect; weapons seem to fire more like BB guns than brawny firearms of extreme destruction.

Online, gameplay is rather tepidly insipid. But at least it is easy to get online, as the single-player story and order missions are integrated with the multiplayer mode in one persistent interface that makes it easy to go from single to multi gameplay.

The process of building mechs then testing their mettle on the battlefield is Armored Core V’s strongest element, but with another showing like this if there ever is a sixth Armored Core, the longtime mech franchise may be dishonorably discharged.

– Lee Cieniawa

The Good:
- Plenty of customization options to build a powerful, battle-ready mech
- Single-player story and order missions integrated with the multiplayer mode in one persistent interface makes it easy to go from single to multi gameplay

The Bad:
- Story mode is disjointed and not well structured enough to be engagingly entertaining
- Compared to high-quality cutscene visuals, in-game graphics are bland and last-generation in appearance
- Although there’s no impact on weaponry killing power, it doesn’t pack the gameplay “wow!” wallop gamers might expect; weapons seem to fire more like bb guns than big, brawny firearms of extreme destruction

Score: 6.5 / 10

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