Review by Prometheon
Reviewed: 06/18/02 | Updated: 06/18/02
A love/hate relationship
Armored Core. The name may ring a bell, and it may not. The Armored Core lineage began on PSX, and has now continued on PS2. It has been a cult classic and a huge sleeper hit. Armored Core is a mech game. Basically, you pilot a giant implement of destruction and blow the crap out of things. I've been with it through the whole trip, and I love the series. Unfortunatley, however, not everyone is as fond of it as I am. Armored Core is the type of game you'll either love or hate. Allow me to elaborate...
The graphics in Armored Core 2: Another Age (henceforth known simply as ''AC2:AA) are nice, but not spectacular. If you're the type of gamer who buys a new computer just so (s)he can see limitless environments rendered in HDTV-quality high-resolution will be disappointed in AC2:AA. The graphics are nice enough, and are not nearly bad enough to distract at all from the gameplay. Don't get the wrong impression, though, as the graphics in AC are far from bad. The ACs (Armored Cores-your robot and other robots) themselves look spectacular, and there are a few really nice lighting effects, such as the beaming radiance of a laserblade crescent colliding with a wall. The main problem is the lack of texture diversity. Levels are typically rather bland, and the weapons don't look as impressive as they could. A grenade, for example, explodes in an un-layered, almost laughable way. It's as if a single wave of fire has come out, and it is rendered very weakly and ''unsolidly.'' The blast looks like a piece of red-orange paper being unfolded in a sphere-like shape. All in all, the graphics in AC2:AA could be better, but they certainly aren't bad.
The Armored Core Series` sound has progressed very little over the years. Although some of the tracks are memorable and AWESOME (UNB's theme comes to mind), most of the music is just overdone techno. Personally, I just turn the sound all the way down, and then pop in a CD. Although the music is uninspiring, the voice acting is quite good. The characters speek normally and in a tone of voice that you would expect from giant corporations, and war-battered mercenaries. The voice acting is impressive, and I suggest you listen to at least a bit of it. Good Stuff.
Oh boy. Now we're in the dregs...
Although the Armored Core series has usually had at least a SEMI-decent story to hold the action together, this instalment does not. The mail feature has been taken out, and therefore the only story in the game is that given to you at the start of missions. And thats RARELY nothing more than ''So-and-so is pissing us off. We've hired you to take of businees. Good luck.'' Here's a rundown of the story. You're a mercenary in a post-apocalyptic world, and companies are hiring your services for a variety of tasks. You are a member of ''The Ravens''-a special mercenary group of pilots who pilot Armored Core units (ACs-your robot.) And theres the story of AC2:AA. It's not a big deal though, as the story is secondary tothe action packed gameplay.
Here's where the Armored Core series has always shined. The gameplay is challenging, non linear, and a TON of fun (no pun intended). You can select a variety of missions from MANY different locations, all the while earning money to customize your AC with hundreds of parts. Hundreds. From Heads to Radiators, your entire AC (robot) is fully customizable. You can design your own Emblem (logo) and even alter the colors of your AC. This is the best part of Armored Core: The EXTREME CUSTOMIZABILITY. Anyone who has played any game in the Armored Core series knows what I'm talking about. The intricate between power and weight. The razor-thin generator redline that you dance with as you fire your laser rifle at oncoming enemy fighters. THIS is the stuff dreams are made of. Missions are varied, and are always a blast. From spectacular mid-air battles to sponsered one-on-one arena bouts to rescue missions, AC2:AA has it all. Over 100 Missions!. Granted, some of these missions are short, and will take under 5 minutes, but you still cannot deny the size of this game. It seems endless, but trust me-you won't mind. You'll constantly be wondering what new part you'll acquire, or what cool new mission you'll have to do. And when you finally get that part you've been looking for, and watch your ACs energy defense or stability climb just that last little bit you've needed to take down that one mission you've been stuck on that offers an even cooler part you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. It's Armored Core.
This is a major gripe with the Armored Core series. I'll make this short and sweet. Yes, the controls are complicated. Yes, you can be required to be pressing 4 or 5 different buttons in conjunction with accuracy. Yes, they DO take a long time to get used to. But yes, it is the only way the complicated piloting can be pulled off, and yes, it is worth getting used too. Just stick with it. When you're pulling of an amazing boost strafe like a whirlwind, or when you've done an Overboost laserblade slash from accross the screen, you'll feel amazing. That sense of pure control may take awhile to reach, but when you reach it, you'll feel a real sense of accomplishment. Another one of those ''Armored Core Moments.''
Replayability and Multiplayer
These catagories kind of tie in together.
The game has high replayability because of the multiplayer aspect. Sure, the one player experiance may be fun, and yes, it will take quite a while to finish, but once you've finished it, there won't be much incentive to want to slave through the entire thing again. Maybe to do it with Plus, or to try out an Overweight AC, but even then, I doubt you'll want to start again. What I DO know you'll want to do though, is kick the ass of a human being. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING is more fun than some heated 2 player Armored Core. The customizability shines. Sadly, the frame-rate isn't always so compliant. It's really not too bad though, only rarely getting a bit jerky. Multiplayer is simply the best. I can't say it much better than that. The levels are cool, and theaction is intense. And once you've had your fill of just using your 2 best ACs against each other, you'll never stop thinking of cool variants. Maybe a ''never touch the ground'' match. Or perhaps a laserblade dual. Hell, you might even try not using weapons at all, and play some AC tag, where you have to land on the opponents head to tag them. You'll never run out of ideas or fun.
Armored Core 2: Another age is an amazing game. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and there really isn't anything like it. However, it IS a love/hate game. You MUST rent it first. Just because I love it, doesn't mean you will. Personally, I think this game is a 10/10, but I'm forced to give it a 9, just because of the possibility you'll think it's a 1.
Have fun playing AC2:AA, and may you charge in peace, in a remote location with at least one shell weapon on you.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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