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Reviews: Armored Core Verdict Day (10/10)

Posted on : 10-10-2013 | By : | In : Reviews

Hardware: ,

13

acvd_cover1In the case of Armored Core’s history as a series, each major shift in functionality has met with a follow on title that polishes and improves the original setup. Sometimes these are just general changes but occasionally they coalesce into something truly great. These games have also normally been the best of that era. Titles like Master of Arena and Silent Line for instance marked the pinnacle of the previous two console generations.

Verdict day is a direct continuation of the previous game and utilises much of the same inherent structure, both for the expansive multiplayer but also the campaign. What’s different are all the substantial low level changes as well as all new systems that sit atop them. It’s quite frankly the best mecha game we’ve played this console generation.

The game is set a considerable period after the events in the last game. The world has changed quite a bit, resulting in three main factions; Venide, Sirius and Evergreen Family partaking in the Verdict War. The planet is also still pretty much an environmental wasteland. Narratively there’s also a lot going on here. Previously in other Armored Core games the lineage and backstory has been gently inferred, at least in the Japanese releases (much of this was always lost in the foreign translations sadly). In Verdict Day there are very direct references to events in For Answer as well as dovetailing with the original Armored Core games back on the PSone. In short, Verdict Day has unified the story across sixteen years of Armored Core and done it very deftly too.

With that in mind, what’s interesting is how streamlined the campaign is now. Whilst you still have story and order missions of a sort, the story missions are far shorter and simpler but the order missions can be a bit more involved. Overall, you end up with a more coherent flow for the missions. The campaign is also much more challenging, much of this is down to the all new AI as it’s really quite ferocious.

This is probably the biggest and most important addition to Verdict Day, the new UNAC AI setup. This allows players to create an AC and then plumb in all manner of AI commands into it. This isn’t a basic barebones system either, it’s practically a game in its own right and eclipses even games like Carnage Heart in its scope. Once completed, a UNAC is a powerful ally or enemy. You can use them in the campaign as well as online and they are formidable entries to any battlefield.

The online setup has also been greatly improved too. From the much welcomed merging of the US/EU servers to the fixes to stop boosting (amongst many other things). The latter was when people created two teams and faced each other and had the other quite, “boosting” the remaining team’s stats. This was a real issue with the last game and has been curbed by not awarding any points to either team. Following on from that, the conquest system has been overhauled. Completing normal sorties will unlock a special, these special sorties can either be big team based face-off or a boss fight (depending on what’s available at the time). Rolling the boss fights into this setup, makes them feel more worthwhile rather than the incongruous approach in the Western version of the last game.

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Special sorties are heavily weighted, if you win you raise your team’s rank and if you lose you are suitably penalised too. The interesting thing now is that due to the increased server size you’re likely to face human opponents pretty regularly (both on normal and special sorties). Couple that with the faction system, where each team can pick one of the factions in the Verdict War, really adds a nice layer of progression and makes us feel that this is what the previous game was meant to be in the first place.

Much of the game’s complexity is also explained with an in-game manual. Admittedly this is a pretty weak concession from a design standpoint but it’s better than not having it at all, especially for newer players who will inevitably feel quite overwhelmed in places.

Visually it’s also looking a tad dated now, as the engine is getting a bit long in the tooth really. Whilst the framerate is much more consistent on all versions of the game, the textures and environments in general are really quite bland. Naturally, the mecha all look pretty damn great but it would have been nice to have a bit more visual variety as per the last game. Oddly though, this game has far more environments to play in but very few of them are overly memorable.

So with all this it’s strange how the game’s release been handled outside of Japan. In short Bandai Namco have almost gone out of their way to bury Verdict Day. This is very odd, as the game has released in the West before in Japan (a first in the series’ sixteen year history). They even got some decent English voice actors this time around as well, with the likes of both Cam Clarke and Nolan North making appearances. Admittedly the translation is still pretty bizarre but that’s nothing new really and even with this the important narrative beats have thankfully remained intact. So it’s bizarre that the game hasn’t had any real support and released alongside a swathe of other very large games.

Overall then, this tangibly improves many aspects of the previous game and does try to be a bit more accessible as well. It’s only a shame that it wasn’t sufficiently supported outside of Japan in terms of its release. As this is probably one of the best Armored Core games ever made.

Tamashii: 10/10

Final Mission »

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All versions of the game have been played, with negligible framerate differences between the PS3 and 360 releases. As for server regioning, the US and EU share one server whereas Japan has its own. Separately, the 360 US/EU version of the game is region free.

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Comments (13)

Shame they released it at such a poor time with basically no advertising.

It’d be amazing if they ported AC games to PC, i’m sure they could have a healthy fanbase on places like Steam. Plus it would allow them to ship with better textures and better framerates.

You are right, my man. It’s a shame they probably won’t port any of them eventhough there’s healthy demand from the fanbase due to costs & all that money crap that the publishers(BAMCO) are only interested in. Still there’s Titanfall to look forward to in PC. I will definitely be playing that, provided the developers stop giving that asinine “it’s not a mech game” nonsense when asked by fans…

Thanks for the great review as always. One thing I noticed is not a lot about the mechanics is gone over, such as, is there still that three armor system? And I noticed in V there was a bit of a grind for parts, were you’d do the same mission over and over again just to get the money to buy the parts. Is there anyway you can post a version of this on the Amazon.com (the USA portal) or somewhere? Please take a look here, there’s a review on the game that seems to be from a new player of the franchise: http://www.amazon.com/Armored-Core-Verdict-Day-Playstation-3/product-reviews/B00DNGQQS8/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1.

I’m worried that it might put off people interested in the series, I wanted to post a response but I’m not as familiar with the series as some folks and haven’t picked up VD yet.

OH NO, A BAD AMAZON REVIEW! ARMORED CORE IS DOOOOOOOOOOOMED.

I’m sorry you feel that way. I don’t want to see the series get killed off outside of Japan as Cacophanus was hinting to in his post a few days back due to Namco Bandai’s behavior.

You do realize Armored Core has generated a metric **** ton of bad or at the most average reviews in it’s decade long existence and has somehow consistently broken even enough to warrant another sequel and localization,right? One poorly structured Amazon review is meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

AC is pretty much unassailable much like Dynasty Warriors since it’s particular mix of Gran Turismo cum mech action is oddly enough extremely rare even in the Japanese market, no matter how terrible the game or low key the release people have few alternatives to it and as such AC thrives and always will.

That’s a good point, I didn’t look at the situation like that. It worries me a little because it already has a $10.00 USD price drop so close to release, and it released at a lower price point to begin with rather than other new games.

I’ve never played an AC game, is it worth getting this one as my first¿ Given that it’s old the online is probably empty but I’m more interested in the single player modes.

Singleplayer was involved in the previous game, as there were fewer longer missions. That said, the singleplayer is more varied here. This is also not a heavily scripted singleplayer campaign though.

[…] just glad that pouring my time and effort into something like Armored Core Verdict Day (shown above), arguably one of the most intricate and demanding action video games of recent years, […]

Why do i always meet in web crazy fans of AC4/fA who say that V and VD are “pointless turd” and call me “shit eater” when i say that VD is best game in series for last 10-12 years? Those guys also wears anime avatars and hate Dark Souls 2. Is there a pattern ?

As someone who played the third generation games before moving to the fifth, I agree with them.

@Qmish: Well, you DO sound like a smug shit eater.

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