Video Game Review: ‘Armored Core V’ Comes Streamlined But Still Tough

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CHICAGO – For those unfamiliar with the “Armored Core” series, the story of the franchise comprises the usual Mech game elements — evil corporation, slightly misguided rebels, and apocalyptic landscapes. There’s even a genre-defining female voice guiding you through your mission. In other words, the story is there if you want to pay attention but it isn’t what has kept fans interested in the series for so long. The draw of the series is simply giant robots, fighting one another with lots explosions in a corridor-style shooter with a lot of customizable features. Lovers of “Chromehounds,” you will love this game. I’m guessing the core group of “AC” lovers will continue on the mission too. Video Game Rating: 3.5/5.0
Video Game Rating: 3.5/5.0

The game is a little less epic in feel than its predecessors. For instance, gone are the sweeping demolitions over mapped terrain. Robots are smaller as well. But whatever points I would have taken off for that are more than made up for by the far more accessible control scheme offering several different customizable styles of play; heavy armor with large cannons, light armor snipers, or a variety of in-between modes. Menu and pause screens are easy to navigate and understand and move you quickly into actual play. Those unfamiliar with the series will definitely want to do a thorough manual reading. A lot of abbreviations crop up during play (especially in regard to types of damage, types of armor etc.) that won’t be decipherable through sheer intuition.

Armored Core V
Armored Core V
Photo credit: Namco Bandai

Graphics are good, consistent throughout and exceptional during cut scenes. Actual gameplay offers hectic, fast-paced battle sequences that get more fun the more tactical the player’s approach. Run in guns blazing and you are liable to get blown away pretty quick, but the more tactical and team-oriented you are, the more willing to engage in a little stealth, the more the game rises to keep you on your toes. All in all, you’re looking at a game that’s less in-depth than the “MechWarrior” series but more complex than the “Mech Assault” series. “Armored Core V” manages to streamline things that have always made the series enjoyable, while amping up the need to customize, and push yourself further as a player rather than just as a shooter.

Armored Core V
Armored Core V
Photo credit: Namco Bandai

The music is pretty standard cinematic battle stuff reminiscent of any war movie you’ve ever seen. The first couple of times I tried to equip my AC with different weapons I wound up headed into battle with no weapons at all. This was because the same button is used to equip and un-equip. Make sure to slow down and read those menus thoroughly during play and resist the urge to assume everything is in place.

Of note is the fact that the game utilizes a paper-rock-scissors system of weapons and armor that balance against one another with a startling complexity. Thinking through what is needed in each mission requires a pretty deep commitment on the part of the player making this game moderate to high in difficulty. In other words gamer “noobz” are likely to get very confused and very frustrated very quickly.

On the negative side (for me at least) remains the annoying way the game accounts for resources. For instance if I shoot too many missiles in an individual mission that “cost” is deducted from my overall reward. It seems petty and punitive. I understand that the mindset the game wants to push has to do with planning strategy but for such an aggressive shooter they should have more mercy on my trigger finger.

“Armored Core V” won’t change your mind about Mech. But if you are already into “AC” or Mech in general I would highly recommend checking this out.

“Armored Core V” was developed by From Software and released by Namco Bandai on March 20, 2012. It was reviewed for the Xbox 360 but is also available for the PS3.

By Dave Canfield
Staff Writer

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