Latest Posts

Videos: Starwing Paradox Finally Gets Some Proper Gameplay FootageVideos: Starwing Paradox Finally Gets Some Proper Gameplay... Over at 4Gamer, they have a new interview with one of the developers behind the upcoming arcade mecha game Starwing Paradox. Released later this year in the Japanese arcades,...

Read More

News: Gundam Extreme Versus 2 Initial Roster And Location Tests AnnouncedNews: Gundam Extreme Versus 2 Initial Roster And Location... As the rest of the world has Gundam Versus on the PS4, Japanese arcades are gearing up for the upcoming Gundam Versus Extreme 2. On May 12 and 13, stores in Tokyo and Osaka...

Read More

Reviews: Super Robot Wars X (9/10)Reviews: Super Robot Wars X (9/10) Since the end of the Z series, the Super Robot Wars games have tried to change up the setup somewhat, such as including series without mecha in Super Robot Wars V. Well, the...

Read More

Videos: Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS 2 Announced For 2018Videos: Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS 2 Announced For... Bandai Namco have recently announced that Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS 2 will be hitting arcades in 2018. Unlike Gundam Versus, this is being positioned as a true sequel...

Read More

Videos: Build Strike Gundam, Farsia, Gundam Pixie, and Efreet Schneid Coming To Gundam VersusVideos: Build Strike Gundam, Farsia, Gundam Pixie,... Several new DLC units have been announced during the Gundam Games Announcement stream on January 16. Aside from revealing God and Master Gundam gameplay, we saw Missing...

Read More

Reviews: Armored Core For Answer (8/10)

Posted on : 07-09-2009 | By : | In : Reviews

Hardware: ,

7

acfa_360_cover1-thumbNormally, in the history of Armored Core, the subsequent releases within the numerical classification are broader in scope and obviously more polished. Master of Arena had a customisable AI setup called Ranker Mk, Silent Line had an organic learning AI and an enormous amount of parts. Yet all these improvements were off the base release that preceded it. Admittedly, I am selling the earlier games a tad short but compared to For Answer, the improvements were linearly obvious.

This cycle has been broken with the latest version as it’s evolved past its roots to a terrifying degree.

In previous games, there have been normally one instance where the player faces off against a larger MT that’s in its prototype stage. You normally only have one per game and in all honesty they weren’t all that big or that complicated to take down either. For Answer by contrast has seven unique Arms Forts with an additional three variations, totalling ten in all. All of which require bespoke strategies to enact their demise. They are also absolutely huge.

To clarify, one Arms Fort is a vast land based train that goes by the name of the Great Wall. It’s 7 kilometres long. You have to fly over its entire length in order to reach the entrance at its rear, only to speed back up its innards to take out the generator room. That’s quite a simple Arms Fort but still an epic endeavour and something that is wholly unique in the world of gaming. The sheer visceral thrill upon taking out something so malignantly monstrous is refreshingly palpable.

Unsurprisingly the work that went into creating these mobile fortresses was rather extensive, so much so in fact that For Answer also broke the mould yet again inregards to its creative background.

Previously, one man has been involved in the mecha design for Armored Core. That man was Shoji Kawamori, a monolithic figure in the world of anime having created the Macross saga and a sizeable portion of the Transformers lineage. Put simply, without Kawamori Armored Core wouldn’t be where it is today.

(Either JavaScript is not active or you are using an old version of Adobe Flash Player. Please install the newest Flash Player.)

Which was why his absence on Armored Core 4 was something that hurt the series somewhat, as many associated Kawamori’s involvement as a necessary part of the process. Admittedly, the work of Yuzo Kojima was greatly appreciated and it was only fair that he be given a chance to flex his creative worth (as he had been a shadow mecha designer on the series for a good few iterations) but Kawamori needed to be involved.

Instead of having him create the entire parts list, as per the original games, From Software gave him one task; create the new version of White Glint. As this NEXT plays an iconic role in the game’s narrative. So having Kawamori return to the fold was a natural and obvious thing to do. Yet, he wasn’t the only mecha designer that got on-board.

Along with Kawamori, two other prominent mecha designers were hired. Specifically, to design certain Arms Forts. From Software also picked their designers quite carefully as the respective styles of Kazutaka Miyatake and Makoto Kobayashi fit the sheer scale of these immense structures.

To clarify, Miyatake created the design of the original Macross. This being the transformable spaceship that housed a city inside it. He also penned the massive amount of detail to make the structure seem believably huge. Having someone with this kind of talent design the “Stigro” Arms Fort was a stroke of genius.

Kobayashi on the other hand is also a man of fine detail, coupled with a practical sculptor’s gift. Of all the mecha designers in Japan, Kobayashi is one of the few that creates scratch built kits of his creations. He has garnered quite the name for himself in the Japanese modeling community for his attention to detail and sheer expertise. Having someone with this level of tactile understanding design the floating Arms Fort “Answerer” of impossible proportions seems fitting for a game where you would obviously functionally interact with it.

Even without these designers on board, the artistic proficiency within From Software has generated a huge amount of interest. With several non-gaming magazines going into great detail on the whole process (most notably of these being the animation mook, Animation Note, with this particular issue being available here).

(Either JavaScript is not active or you are using an old version of Adobe Flash Player. Please install the newest Flash Player.)

Creatively, For Answer has set a new benchmark for the mecha genre of gaming. The only other series of games that has this amount of designer variation would be Super Robot Wars but that’s more a re-appropriation of what has gone before. Having unique designs created to flesh out a bleak yet epic dystopian future is definitely something that lifts the game above its peers.

All of the above, whilst impressive, are really only surface dressing for something quite functionally profound. For Answer isn’t just a simple continuation in terms of content, it positively antiquates what has gone before it.

To clarify, taking out huge mobile fortresses requires a design solution as to how you’d reach them without being shot to pieces. The mad but brilliant solution is the Vanguard Over Boost, a literal extension of the over boost functionality that debuted way back in Armored Core 2. The difference here is that you’ve got solid fuel rockets strapped to your back and it hurtles you forward at a terrifying speed. Not even Ace Combat 6, with its array of super sonic jet fighters comes close to the sheer insane velocity witnessed in For Answer.

Yet this is something that folds into the remainder of the game and could only make sense if the rest of the game tried to match this ratcheting up of functionality. In short, the whole game is blindingly quick and the player is placed in a position of unique potency that almost no games dare to offer (as the balancing is no mean feat).

Everything has been souped up, armor, boosting, weapons. It all feels as though this is what an AC should handle like. Even the new Assault Armor setup, where the player can purge their Primal Armor in a spherical detonation that obliterates almost anything within it’s radius, is something that when absent in earlier games is now almost inexcusable.

Armored Core is not meant for your average gamer. It’s built upon half a century of mecha mythos that is only beginning to show its true depth outside of its native Asia. For Answer absolutely will not convert those unfamiliar with its heritage, however for people who appreciate what is trying to be achieved here they’ll find a richly rewarding experience unlike any other in gaming.

Tamashii: 8/10

Final Level Video »

(Either JavaScript is not active or you are using an old version of Adobe Flash Player. Please install the newest Flash Player.)

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

Comments (7)

I loved AC: 4A the mecha design I thought was fantastic and the Arms Fort battles (especially Spirit of Motherwill) were amazing. I couldnt get the hang of the multi player though

I feel like this review could be expanded to cover more elements of the game.

The reason I say this is that having not played it, I was looking for information on it, and through a few boards, acgarage.com and armoredcoreonline.com, the latter being what linked me to this blog, there seemed to be fundamental things wrong with how this game was made. The biggest issue from players was the laggy online play, especially on the PS3. Also I read a user complaining on how difficult it was to customize your AC while you were playing online.

Having said that, I read the about me page and read that a game will also be judged on how well the mecha mythos was implemented. My inquiry is that after having read the AC 4 and 3 and Last Raven reviews this one seemed of a different vein. And also, the AC: LR and 3 portable reviews were criticized purely based on practical concerns in terms of control setup.

Where is that line drawn that separates practical game concerns, and the implementation of the mecha mythos? Or is it that in this specific game that the mecha spirit was so great that it eclipsed the critical issues dealing with how well the game played?

This review was originally written as a broader column on the game’s original Japanese release. I thought it worth reusing that, with some tweaking, for a review. That’s why the tone is different.

To be honest I probably should re-write the review to be more technical – like the others on this site. It’s just finding the time though.

As for the online issues, it’s been discovered that these are US specific and to do with Ubisoft’s patching discrepancy with the Japanese original. Considering I only covered the Japanese versions, I’m not sure how I could really mention this.

Picked this up recently due to your GSW column article (which I guess is the same as this review) as my first Armored Core game.

At first I was a little disappointed at the ghetto-ness of it all, compared to your rather exciting descriptions here. The environments were sparse, the VOB segments were pretty lame, and the damage effects and logic were laughably game-like, especially against the Arms Forts.

The customization however was intriguing and full of neat possibilities. Changing up equipment and strats to beat missions or arena matches felt good. I decided the game was conceptually brilliant but lacking in execution.

I’m on my 3rd playthrough now, and I’ve concluded Armored Core is a pretty sweetass series. Unlocking new mech designs, using new parts and being able to actually feel the difference is deeply satisfying. I believe your suggestion of thinking of it as a mech simulator is key to enjoying the game.

Seeing White Glint’s boosters unfold for an overed boost for the first time by my hand gave me new appreciation for the animation and mech design.

However, it does seem that a lot of hardcore AC fans hate AC4/4A. I’m a little confused as to why. I assume it has to do with game balance in competitive play.

In any case, I’m pretty excited for ACV now. I hope you write lots about it when it comes out!

Yeah, this was a reprint of my GSW column. Sorry about that.

A lot of traditional AC fans dislike the increase in speed and the reduction of movement restrictions in AC4/ACFA. In that you can stay airborne indefinitely in the newer games. Personally, it doesn’t bother me that much.

As for ACFA being a bit ghetto, the tech would be close to four years old now. So it will look rough around the edges. Collision was a big issue in AC4/ACFA too, due to the speeds, so it ended up being very simple.

I am just getting into mecha and stuff after playing my Dynasty warriors gundam 3. I am also watching the gundam anime and wanted more games with mecha, armored core 4 answer seemed like a good choice for me. I know it’s a little old right now but I’ve found your review enough to buy a copy of it. I bought a new copy so From software gets a part from it and hopefully continue to make AC games for a long time.

Oni

[…] excited, Miyazaki has already directed two mainline Armored Core games, namely Armored Core 4 and Armored Core For Answer (shown above). Both did poorly in terms of sales as well as critically compared to the Souls […]

Write a comment