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Reviews: Armored Core Last Raven Portable (4/10)

Posted on : 11-05-2010 | By : | In : Reviews



For many, Last Raven was the last “real” Armored Core game before the paradigm shift of the next generation entries. It was also a brutally difficult and thoroughly exacting game, expecting nothing short of absolute concentration and a steely set of gaming skills in order for the player to survive. In short, Last Raven was a bit of a bastard (to find out how much of a bastard feel free to read our review of the PlayStation 2 original).

However, like bastards are prone to behaving; it was relatively fair. Almost every time the game spat out your charred robotic carcass onto the heap it was invariably your fault. You’d been too cocky and wasted too much ammo, only to have a Pulverizer introduce you to the business end of several rather terrifying weapons. With enough practice and forethought though, you could endure and eventually triumph.

In this PSP port though, there are problems. Quite serious ones in fact. Despite resolving the input framerate issue via a data install, the entire game is still balanced as it was in the original PlayStation 2 version. Except, this time, you don’t have a DualShock 2 to help you out.

The premise of Last Raven is that a final war has kicked off between the corporations and the mercenaries they used to hire to do their dirty work, the Ravens. Set over the course of 24 hours, the player treads the very treacherous path where the ultimate aim is for them to be the final Raven standing. All this is set against the background of ancient technology that can obliterate entire civilizations if it feels it’s having a bad day. The narrative, for the Japanese version at least, was also quite well-wrought and featured multiple branching paths that shed interesting viewpoints on each of the characters and overall plot.

Last Raven also benefited from being, in many ways, the developmental zenith of the PS2 Armored Core games. As such, it was balanced for people who’d been playing the games since 1997. Saying it was a hard game should be obvious. This PSP port is, in many ways, a totally faithful reproduction of the PS2 original and this is where the main problem lies.

Unlike the PS2 original though, this PSP port lacks a Dual Shock 2 to play it with. This is a very real issue as being able to track airborne enemies quickly and efficiently was entirely necessary to stay alive. Last Raven, like Nexus and Ninebreaker before it, also sported a full-blown dual analogue control setup to cater for this.

Put simply, the PSP physically lacks the necessary control inputs to allow the player to stay alive in many of the missions. Relative to the PS2 original (to which the PSP version is still maddeningly balanced against), this version is unimaginably difficult. Not an account of some carefully crafted mission scripting but instead due to the total lack of foresight that the PSP is not suited to the functional demands the original game expected.

Thankfully, the input framerate issue that hampered Armored Core 3 Portable so severely can be sidestepped through a data install. However, even with this most welcome concession, the core game needed another balance pass to suit its new control setup.

This is not to say that the game is impossible, as you can just about make it through the campaign and even take down the trickier enemies, such as Zinaida and the Final Pulveriser. The difference with this port though is that there are many times where the controls fail you and you end up being fried in your own mechanical juices. At least in the original when the game spat your AC back into its garage after a failed mission you knew that either through your own improving skill or a subtle configuration change you could succeed. This port is palpably unfair in comparisonand most players, even veterans, would be hard pressed to see much point in persevering.

Difficulty is necessary in gaming but it has to be tempered with objectives that are realistically and consistently manageable for most players. A learning curve is one thing, even a harsh one, but a random player death generator is very much another.

Even if you know nothing about Armored Core and/or never played the original Last Raven, this port would be infuriating for many. Simply because it makes wholly unrealistic demands of the player for most of the game. As such, Last Raven Portable is to be avoided unless of course you have actual robotic fingers.

Tamashii: 4/10

This review was undertaken via the Japanese UMD release.


Comments (20)

I remember playing (never beating) the original Last Raven, and I mentioned to a friend that none of the PS2 to PSP port AC games made any sense to me because, having grown up with the original non-analog PS1 games, I found a significant lack of buttons on a PSP to even emulate those games. Last Raven was brutal, but fun, but your review is spot on to the issues this port possesses.

I am really hopeful for AC5 when it finally arrives, since AC4 kind of turned me off with the controls, but while I’m glad these ports got translated to the US (and especially glad they are downloads here), I just can’t afford to support them with my dollars with all the flaws involved.

I downloaded both of the previous AC portable games when they were released to the US PSN, but there’s no freakin’ way I’m paying money for Last Raven. AC3 was decent if a bit bland. ACSL was OK when I was just going through the missions and arena, but an absolute CHORE to get all the parts. I’ve played pretty much every AC game on PS1 and PS2, but there’s no way I’m going to pay to play the hardest game in the series on what amounts to half a controller.

[…] Go their site read the full review. ShareVN:R_U [1.8.3_1051]Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)var topsy_widget_data = { "url": "", "style": "small", "title": "Armored Core Last Raven Portable Review" } Powered By WordPress Tabs SlidesRelated Articles:Last Raven Portable released on PSNArmored Core Retribution ACs Featured In Last Raven PortableArmored Core Last Raven Portable Launches in Japan Posted by EJRaven | Armored Core Last Raven Portable, Featured, PSP […]

I must have robotic fingers then cause i beat all the missions and the entire arena with no problems. I truly enjoyed this remake and the fact that I can play with and against my friends in a local setting without having to carry heavy TVs and consoles and everyone being able to bring their own setups just sent me to the moon. Theres a reason they let you changed the controls and I found a setup that works perfectly for the PSP. Love this game more than the current gen console counterparts. Disappointed to see that people wont abuse the fact you can change the controls. Maybe the reviewer would have a different opinion if they bothered to change the setup.

I think I said in the review that I finished all the missions in the game but it was considerably harder compared to the PS2 original on account of the controls (even after I had reconfigured them). The portable Armored Core games, bar Formula Front International, just aren’t suited for the PSP’s control layout.

The game can be reallly easy. It just takes many hours tweaking and changing your settings. Hardcore gamers look for impossible challenges and complete them.

Except the PS2 version of Last Raven had that in an intentional and crafted way, the PSP port is just a lazy mess by comparison – so the final result is something that is unwieldy and frustrating to play.

I completed the game thoroughly on the PSP, S Ranks and all, but I wouldn’t recommend it to any gamer – it’s just a rushed broken waste of time.

Oh really then I am a fairy princess.

I’d already done it on the far better PS2 version anyway (just check our YouTube videos, as we go up against the final Pulverizer). Replicating that on the PSP was subsequently straightforward, bar the controls obviously.

I found all the PSP AC titles to be SUPER difficult, but that’s because I’m a Jack of All Games. I play alot of games but master none. As far as controls go, I just mapped the camera to the face buttons and once I practiced a bit, found no problems at all. The port wasn’t “lazy” nor should you have rated it low because it’s difficult. Gamers are big baby’s now, if it’s not easy, it’s a bad game. Shesh, darn kids.

The original Last Raven was hard but intentionally so, difficulty isn’t really an issue as long as it is intended. This PSP version is just a badly ported mess.

You got too used to the Nexus controls, didn’t ya?

Y’do know ya could have simply changed the config in the system menu.

I take it you stated that you played though the game with the default controls.

Heck, most of the eastern side players usually change their configs… though, S-Ranking all the missions with the default controls really is quite a display of skill.

You should really re-think about this game. try playing though it with a config you’re confortable with… and not just saying dual analogs.

As far as I remember, you can select from two control config, a control for analog and for the d-pad. I picked up the latter because it is the default control since the first armored core games and playing on analog doesn’t do the game justice.

I used the default d-pad controls, always have done on the PSone and PS2 era games.

[…] In this PSP port though, there are problems. Quite serious ones in fact. Despite resolving the input framerate issue via a data install, the entire game is still balanced as it was in the original PlayStation 2 version. Except, this time, you don’t have a DualShock 2 to help you out. Go their site read the full review. […]

Well now that the PS vita is out, maybe somebody could download the portable armored core and see how it plays with a right stick?

(If you download a PSP game on the PS vita you have the option to use the right stick. Just long touch the screen for the menu to come up)

I actually thought it wasn’t any harder on the PSP than it was on the PS2.

I mapped the controls to be exactly as it is on PS2, as in; face buttons for boost right arm left arm change weapon, dpad for movement and look right left, shoulder buttons for strafing, I had OB/EO mapped to thumb stick left, extension to thumb stick down, look up to thumb up and look down to thumb right, allowing me to also reset the camera easily.

I mean really, it took much less than a second to just flick the thumb stick in one direction to make adjustments to vertical view or activate/deactivate ext/OB/EO. Dropping units wasn’t much of a problem either as the only thing I couldn’t drop were extensions.

I can’t quite say I understand what’s wrong with the controls because of that. I’d be quicker to dismiss AC3P for its framerate problems than I would this one or AC3SLP, but then I never even think of dropping extensions.

Out of mild curiosity, has anyone tried playing the three portable games on the Vita? I’d imagine mapping the view controls in-game to the D-pad and then using the right analog stick to aim would make it a lot more bearable.

well……that will work cause with MHFU u can remap the keys so u chang the camera angle with the right analog stick….so?its gonna work…..too bad they did not make a demo….if they had then we would know XD im amazed how new the hread is ?

Right now it’s a different story with the PS Vita’s analog sticks. I just remapped turning and looking up and down to the dpad. Sure I lost the ability to drop a weapon but hot damn, it made the game totally playable.

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