Man, Armored Core. I’ve been on and off with this series since the original – back when the Ravens and the first post-apocalyptic corporate warfare mecha-play came onto the scene. I’ve loved it, I’ve gotten bored with it, and I’ve loved it again. And now, here we are with Armored Core 5 offering up multiplayer, tons of customizability, and more. Is this latest experience going to keep me – and you – hooked? Or is it going to end up gathering dust on the shelf while I wait around for another mecha alternative? Read on to find out!
Multiplayer is a little more exciting, at least if you can find a game. But even there, those familiar with the Armored Core series may be familiar with the problem I’m about to mention. Have you ever heard that Sun Tzu Art of War quote about how a battle is decided before it’s even begun? It’s in play here: how you’ve equipped your AC is going to do a lot of the work in determining whether you have much of a chance against whatever online opponents you’re matched up with. If you have the right loadout, you’ll probably win. If your loadout is a bad match, you’ll probably lose. Now, you’ll win or lose with some very impressive graphics, and maybe you’ll carefully inspect your opponent’s AC and rethink your loadout after the battle. But in the end, Armored Core 5 is the sort of game that puts a little too much emphasis on equipment as opposed to skill or even action. And this is assuming you can even find a match – I admit, I had trouble doing so, and got the impression that the game’s online population is on the thin side right now. You’ve been warned.
The one thing Armored Core 5 has going for it is this: it remains one of the only real mecha-themed games available for the consoles. Now, that’s not the most stunning endorsement a game could ask for, but let’s be frank: it’s something. If you really love to stomp around in a big metal machine that you’ve built and painted, then hey… at this point, you have to take what you can get. And that means taking Armored Core 5. Now, it manages to do this with graphical splendor, with a huge variety of customizable options, and as part of a long-running franchise. But it’s still crossing the finish line in large part because it’s, in many ways, the only game in town. For you console mecha lovers out there, I say give this one a hesitant shot – rent it and decide if you want to commit for the long haul. For you guys who love to collect gear and customize/create avatars, particularly mechas? Again, this is worth a look. Everyone else, you may want to give this a pass for now and wait to catch it at a discount.