Following a plethora of Armored Core releases on the PlayStation 2 and towards the start of this console generation, Namco Bandai decided it was time for some reflection. They gave From Software a break and let them focus on other things, effectively putting the franchise on pause. It meant that aside from Armored Core: For Answer, it's been six years since the last major installment in the franchise and with Armored Core V now releasing, the team behind the game are hoping they can bring it back with a bang.
The story doesn't deviate from the typical formula, with there being a mission based structure. It also means that if you don't want to, you don't even have to do the story, as there are plenty of other missions for you to undertake.
It's not going to be a narrative campaign that keeps you on the edge of your seat, but the personalities are pretty good. As you play through the game you'll learn more about the resistance activities and the true motivations behind what's going on - standard fare really. But it's the characters you interact with that help it to continue on without being too monotonous and far-fetched.
Outside of the story-based missions, or the "Order" missions, you'll spend quite a lot of your time customising your Armored Core. This is where a lot of the differences will also be seen as there are now three different types of damage: KE, CE and TE. These translate to Kinect, Chemical and Thermal.
As you cycle through the different armaments available, you'll notice that each has a different form of damage. You'll also notice that your defensive options allow you to protect against the same three damage types. It adds a new level of strategy to the gameplay, as you'll need to make sure you're properly defended, and that you have a nice array of weaponry to deal with any situation you find yourself in.
In terms of the individual AC parts, these have also gained importance. The head unit is now responsible for controlling attributes such as weapon accuracy and movement speed, while the legs also help with movement speed, damage resistance and load capacity. One of the main problems here is actually being able to find what you want. The menu system could be a lot easier to navigate and use, and it's a real failing.Once you've sorted out your AC's spec, you then dive into combat. You can whack a load of weapons on there and switching between them is pretty seamless. One of the main elements though, is the boosting. Unless you want to traverse around with minimal speed, you'll want to apply your boost, but there are many different types outside of the default.
Hi-boost uses the most energy, but it also allows you to enter into a powerful melee attack. It's not so useful against other AC, but when fighting against static units, using a Hi-boost melee attack will see them taken down in seconds. Gliding can also be useful for evasion and Boost drive allows you to climb up walls, albeit rather slowly.
The combat itself isn't too bad, but it could be a lot better. Due to there being three main weapons, their usage can be quite situational due to ammo capacity. However if you want to just rain down hell on something, you end up just mashing all the shoulder buttons. It means that you can get quite desensitised to opponents, especially the menial grunts. It's only when you fight against other AC that things get interesting, but it doesn't happen all that often. Perhaps it's just the pacing of the levels that causes this, as they're all very linear. You'll often be required to follow a set path, taking out tanks and airborne units along the way. When you get to the end of the path, there's a more difficult skirmish.
One of the big things about Armored Core V is the online implementation. There's a strong emphasis on building up a squad to take on the world. This ties into the game's campaign, allowing you to call for help from team mates.
There's also the standard modes, such as deathmatch, but one of the best modes is Conquest. The objective here is to capture territories, which you can see on the world map. It's a nice concept, but again it suffers from a lack of real variety, as seen with the rest of the game.
Armored Core V is a strong resurgence for the franchise, from the perspective of mech combat. However, it's going to do very little to open it up to a wider audience. The menu system is rather confusing and the story is pretty standard. But when it comes down to it, there's still something very satisfying about blowing pieces of metal into smithereens and that's what this game is all about.
|Tons of customisation.|
|Many of the weapons feel suitably meaty.|
|The new energy types help to mix things up a bit.|
|Menu system isn't the best.|
|Can suffer from being a bit too linear.|
|The story is very standard.|