Facebook Files: Armored Core – Dusty Relic Or Gaming Nirvana?

By Ishaan . November 15, 2009 . 8:12am

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Armored Core isn’t a series I’m personally familiar with, but it seems to have a rather large following among Siliconerites. While that’s perfectly normal for us, it doesn’t have a very large audience outside of the small niche that really enjoys it. Mattias decided to start up a topic to discuss the series’ design achievements and failings.

 

Mattias wrote:

The Armored Core-series might be the series of games that I like the most right now. From Software’s always had great visual design, soundtracks (Kota Hoshino!!!) and gameplay and Armored Core is definitely their flagship series.

 

However, it seems like the rest of the world (i.e. everyone not Japanese or me) doesn’t care about Armored Core. What is it that puts people off? I personally think the control scheme is one of the better ways to control a mech, it IS a bit hard to turn and handle it in general but isn’t that the way it should be when you’re piloting an enormous killing machine? The mission based gameplay is framed by a deliciously messy storyline (with GOOD voiceovers), the multiplayer is frantic but fantastic and mech customization can eat your free time for months. Am I the only one who really likes these games? It seems like it when you see the scores for Armored Core: for Answer (imo the best game in the series yet):

 

Metacritic – 64
Game Rankings – 65.74%

 

I was amazed when I saw this and no review I read seemed to have anything other to say than "we’ve seen this before". Since when does a game have to be groundbreaking to be good? There ARE new features and new content but the important thing is that the actual gameplay is still fantastic.

 

One common argument was that the newer Armored Core games just aren’t as interesting as the old ones on the original Playstation.

 

Adam wrote:

As a huge fan of the series I will ask for your opinion. I loved the hell out of this series on the original Playstation and played those AC’s. I never touched the game again after, yet I’ve always wanted to go back. I tried the AC4 Demo on the 360 for about 5 minutes but didn’t feel the same about the game. Would you recommend this as a agood game to jump into the series again or should I just go pick up the classics–what ARE the classics?

 

Jacek wrote:

Hm, I really liked the idea behind the first Armored Core when I was in elementary school. Me and my friends were huge mecha fans back then, so the demo we played over and over seemed like a perfect game for us.

 

Few years later, when I got my hands on the PS2 I’ve found AC2 in the discount bin so I bought it… And I was pretty disappointed. Not a game for me anymore I guess. I may try a PSP version in some time, but hell, I don’t expect much.

 

Bill wrote:

I bought AC 2 when the PS2 launched in the states back in the day. My friends and I were actually pretty obsessed with it. We all made mechs, brought memory cards over to each other’s houses, and went crazy. I have tons of fond memories about the game, I’ve just never been able to convince myself to pick a new version for some reason.

 

I think people don’t like it because you kind of have to learn how to play it. But the game is really what you make it.

 

A fair number of posters shared Adam, Bill and Jacek’s views. Either the series had lost them during the PS2 days or they’d moved over to Another Century’s Episode, another mech series developed by From Software, which became part of the design debate.

 

Antonio wrote:

Well, from my perspective, From Software could have done better with it’s last two Armored Core games. What’s odd is that for all of it’s customization and noteworthy challenges, it fails to impress me, especially when I compare the Another Centuries Episode series (only in Japan as far as I know) to AC4 when I know the same company made both! AC4 came out sometime before ACE 3, but I have more fun with ACE 3. Odd, right?

 

Of course, there were also devoted fans that felt Armored Core was fine the way it is, and that an attempt to make it mainstream would come at the cost of its present audience.

 

Spencer wrote:

I believe Armored Core is a niche game in Japan too, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

 

From Software designed the series for mecha fans, which limits its general appeal. I”m confident From Software could simplify Armored Core and increase its mass appeal, but then it wouldn’t be held in such high regard from the group that loves it now.

 

Andrew wrote:

I played Armored Core on PS1. It looked horrible, but it hooked me, just like every AC game I played. I always get hooked really badly until I reach a really hard mission, and god knows Armored Core has tons of hard missions. This time it’s Armored Core 3 Portable for PSP. I played the heck out of it.

 

The best thing about Armored Core is that upgrades you have to grind through several missions to afford actually make a noticeable difference and encourage you to keep upgrading.

 

I think Armored Core only started to get stylistically pleasing with 4. And I never played 4, I just watched my friend play it, and I must say, the absence of the aiming reticule made me dance with joy. And it looks beautiful. Simply beautiful. And that’s why I got a PS3 :D

 

What’s the verdict on the site? Armored Core is another of those games I always meant to try out "eventually" but never got down to doing it. Part of it is that I grew up with Virtual On and probably devoted more hours of my life to that than I can remember, but I understand they’re completely different games beyond the initial "mech" appeal. Armored Core fans can check out the full AC vs A.C.E debate here.


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  • MisterNiwa

    Im a great fan of the Amored Core series and i really dont know why most people dont like it.

    The whole mech-customisation is a great feature! And the fights are awesome.

    Im always a sucker for Amored Core games, so they should keep feeding me with em.

  • http://thestoppableforce.net/ stoppableforce

    I’m a pretty big fan of Armored Core. However, for whatever reason, I haven’t bought one since AC2 for the PS2, which I didn’t feel had a very compelling single-player experience – which was all I had available to me at the time.

    Maybe it’s time to poke my nose back into the series.

  • ndjn3979

    Armored Core is a very well-designed game, perhaps too much so. The learning curve is steep, and the competition always seem to pilot mechs that are astronomically better than yours.

    I remember AC2…my first AC game. Very good. I recently sold For Answer, which felt like AC2 with better graphics, no overheating (a good thing), and better boosters. The changes ended there.

  • UnleashTheCasey

    I don’t like Facebook Files. >.> What happened to the old column?

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      It’s called Siliconera Sounds Off and should be going up in a few hours. Did you miss last week’s?

      • UnleashTheCasey

        I was talking about Siliconera Speaks Up.

        • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

          SSO is essentially the same thing, except with 1 industry person and 2 SE members, rather than 4 people. We figured having both perspectives would make things more interesting. :)

          • UnleashTheCasey

            Seems more like a gimmick. What’s with all these recent changes I’ve been missing out on? I don’t visit the site for about 2 months, and now all this.Just don’t turn into a bad Kotaku carboncopy. Simple and humble is what was best with Siliconera. All these new “features” that are just sort of jumping out of nowhere seem like quick-hit gimmicks. What the heck happened to Spencer Yip for him to introduce all this new stuff?

          • http://twitter.com/nameoftheyear Elliot T.

            Stop whining. You don’t have to read every article on the site; roundtable columns have no affect on the simplicity and quality of the news and other items published here.

            Besides, you’re calling it a gimmick without ever having read it, and your dissatisfaction is heavily based around that word “seems“. That kind of dampens the validity of your complaints, doesn’t it?

          • UnleashTheCasey

            No. I read it, and I can still say it SEEMS only like an empty gimmick. Does not mess up my complaint one bit.

  • kupomogli

    Armored Core has always been one of my favorite video games series since the first one I’ve owned, Armored Core Master of Arena which to this day I think is the best. Master of Arena is considered part of the first game in the series, as an expansion basically, while they release newer versions and expansions for those(like AC2/Another Age, AC3/Silent Line, Nexus/Last Raven.)I picked up Armored Core 4 and was pretty disappointed. While the missions were good there weren’t many of them, and then the customization in it isn’t nearly as deep as the Master of Arena on PSX(third game based on first series.) AC4 has hardly any weapons compared to any of the other games in the series so you were really limited in choice. Armored Core for Answer was said to be an answer to AC4 according to the From Software(the reason why it was named “for Answer” I assume,) and it really shows. There are a ton of missions, more weapons and parts for a far larger variety, the arena now returns, and new to the series is the Arms Fort battles which really adds to the game and makes it more unique than the others.Anyways, so the AC series, while they play similar, AC4 and ACfA play fairly different from the others giving two different experiences so I’m glad of the change, though even now I still like the other games better, but all the new changes and advancements in the AC4 series is very enjoyable as well(except for the very limited customization in AC4.)I own AC4 and ACfA for the PS3 so unfortunately can’t play any 360 opponents, but if anyone wants to play ACfA matches and such, I wouldn’t mind getting to know some people that can help me out with different customization ideas and are also good at the game to push me into getting alot better.Too bad there’s no online anything before the PS360 versions(I’d love to play some people in Master of Arena,) but when AC3, Silent Line, and Last Raven, are localized for the US, there’s always ad-hoc party if anyone is interested ^_^.For those who have only played the PSX titles or have only played a few games altogether, I’d recommend playing AC Master of Arena, AC2, AC2 Another Age, AC3, and Silent Line AC3. Nexus and Last Raven are good, but they’re also the hardest in the series(Last Raven by far,) so unless you’re a die hard fan, I’d avoid Nexus and really avoid Last Raven.On Nexus though, if you don’t own it and are a die hard fan of the series, it’s probably one of those I’d recommend really owning(unless you don’t own all the above listed yet.) It’s got a second disc included with missions from earlier games in the series remade with all the graphical and weapon/armored changes from Nexus. So definitely worth it as it’s nearly as much content as the main game.Some AC games I don’t own though. My first was Master of Arena so never went back and picked up Armored Core or Project Phantasm, never picked up Ninebreaker since it was training based only, or Formula Front as you customize how it controls rather than control the AC yourself. I own the rest of the series.

  • cowcow

    Eh, when it comes to mech games, if it isn’t Zone of Enders series, if I have to choose, I’d rather play mechs of my favorite anime series for nostalgia effect instead of some generic looking mech. Provided the gameplay is good that is.

    • kupomogli

      That’s the A.C.E. series. Another Century Episode, also talked about in this article. Made by From Software it actually plays alot like Mobile Suit Gundam Encounters in Space.

      They’re great games too but are less customization based and just mission based. I like them, especially the Gundam scenarios, but I like them less with AC because to me, all the huge robot anime series that are in A.C.E. half of them I know nothing about so it’s worse than a generic robot that I can actually customize over a generic robot I can’t customize and know nothing about the story it’s based off from.

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