Platforms - X360, PS3
Genre - 3rd Person Mech Action
Aust. Classification – MA15+
Publisher - Namco Bandai
Mechs, how I love them, how I love them. Nothing beats a good Mech game, preferably in First Person Perspective like Mech Assault but 3rd Person is cool as well.
Taking control of a Mech in 3rd person and off-center to the left a massive reticle takes up a majority of the screen with blips and radars filling most of the vision as if playing from inside the mech or using it via remote control or something. Because I haven't played an Armoured Core game for a long time, it did take a few missions before I grasped the crucial elements of combat and the game in general. I had no manual to fall back on and there are very limited and not so obvious tutorials just made me feel like I was left in the dark a fair bit and left up to a whole lot of trial and error and taking notes for crucial combat techniques and controls.
There was no real explanation of the menus and the layout and design of the mission selection maps is not intuitive at all and I found them quite confusing as to what to choose or where to go or just what mission was next in succession. Things like where I could repair parts and how to swap between my two weapons in my arms and shoulder weapons on the fly are just a few examples of where I had to turn to my trusty Yahoo search engine. With such a steep learning curve involved, why there was no simple control layout or other crucial information in a simple pause menu was beyond me and I found this lack of introduction to these elements annoying, frustrating and a waste of time.
OK now I have that gripe out of the way I can get down to the nitty gritty of the game. I think the most impressive thing about this game is the same thing that takes so long to get my head around and that is the massive amount of customisation and upgrades players can apply to their Mech. Each arm and Shoulder carries a weapon and it is very easy to max out the load of your basic introductory Mech which slows it down significantly. But after accumulating enough money, parts can be purchased to then increase the load capacity and this is where is starts to get fun.You can boost and use both triggers for firing different weapons from the corresponding Mech arm or the Right Shoulder for firing a lock on heat seeker. Each arm has space for two weapons each and they can be swapped easily (purged) with the press of a button. With two distinctly different Mech modes you constantly switch between Scan and Combat Modes with an Rstick Press so basically one mode Scans for all level of things including the correct Route (can't shoot in this mode) while Combat is where the fun, blowing things up stuff happens. Recon units can be deployed to detect enemies and getting a visual even through objects can be really helpful and at times essential.
The other major oversight in explanation is how all the parts and weapons you use start off as "Junk" and when you buy them from the store they say "Repaired", so of course I thought the obvious; "cool so where do I repair my Junk ones?" As it turns out, you can't and they start off as "Junk" so you can "trial" the weapons and parts until you can afford to buy Repaired ones. What the? Really? Again where was I when they told me this? A nice little note and brief explanation at the bottom of each "Junk" item when looking through them to choose wouldn't have been so hard, surely, I mean it's up to the fifth in the series surely they should have these kinds of things ironed out by now? Warehouses can be used to make repairs and change loadouts but these cost credits each time they are used and I learnt by experience that the smart thing to do is trying not to use these too often and use the credits for practical things like buying weapons and parts to improve and customise your Mech.When first starting I could not play multiplayer due to my own internet issues (I will not go into) but once I did, the whole map just lit up. Suddenly there were all these extra missions and territories I could attempt to overthrow and like at thee very start of the game it was all just a bit overwhelming again. The pure amount of content available once going online is staggering as you invade territories held by other teams, each having different objectives to carry out depending on the category you choose to play (Blitz, Conquest Battle, Obstructive Tactics or Data Recovery). You will notice that if you enter into the main Multiplayer mode Conquest without having played a few invasion Missions on the main map first then it initially seems like there is nothing available to enter as invasion missions within this section require a minimum amount of a team points to even get involved. These team points can only be earned by playing Invasion Missions available in the main Start Mission section, but again no real explanation about this. Overall though there are some great Team based battles and there was some great camaraderie between myself and whoever I was playing with most of the time.
Ultimately all critisism aside, once I found my groove and got down to the core (pun intended) of the game it is challenging, nice looking, has a good plot, just enough depth, plenty of action, good enemy variety with excellent AI, rewarding and a lot of fun to play especially watching as I slowly built my Mech up to become a killing machine not to be reckoned with. I just relished in this futuristic world and became completely comfortable with my metallic exoskeleton. I do think though that there are a lot of players who will appreciate the whole work your arse off to achieve anything philosophy of this game, but even then all gamers like to at least know the basics and crucial navigational elements of a game without having to spend hours playing a game of trial and error. As it turned out my old PS3 died in the middle of this game and once purchasing a new one, sans my whole saved game, I was surprised how quickly I flew through the missions and how much more enjoyable it was the second time round knowing what I do now.For the final score and more, go to Maceman Reviews
Today's forecast: Possible shower
10° - 16°