In a future where the arid lands have been ravaged by war, The Resistance must rise up against ‘Father’ and free the city from his oppressive rule. It sounds pretty fun on the outset, but sadly like many mech games before it, Armored Core V misses the point by a considerable margin. It leaves gamers still yearning for that enjoyable, immersive Mech game seen in the past.
Armored Core V starts well, you're given a big cinematic opening with Armored Cores (AC’s) smashing each other to bits, beautiful CGI being flashed in front of you and you’ll be thinking “Damn I can’t wait to get behind the stick of an AC.” You’re then thrown into a mission and all the hype dissipates with a simple fade in. The cut scenes look awesome, sadly the actual game looks pretty dull, and that seems to be a running theme throughout the game in all honesty.
You’ll also soon find yourself being told to join a team. Wonderful if you have mates that play ACV, sadly many don’t and more often than not you’ll join some random team who you’ll never play out a single mission with.
It is obvious from the offset that From Software has put all of it’s eggs in one basket, that being online multiplayer. The game does have a campaign consisting of 10 story missions and an additional 83 Order missions, but the campaign is very forgettable and has little to interest even casual gamers. The campaign missions will have you working your way through a maze of buildings, taking out countless enemy AC’s, and generally finishing with a more challenging boss.
As you progress it must be said that having the correct AC set-up is vital to defeat some of the bosses, although it is generally a case of, point your generously oversized reticule at the enemy, press your trigger and the auto-target does the job for you. The Order missions on the other-hand are quite the opposite, they are an array of tiny missions, some lasting mere seconds before you find yourself back at the World Map wondering if you did in fact just achieve anything at all.
The story mode can be fun at times (very rarely), Order missions on the other-hand simply get too repetitive within three load outs. Although it must be said, completing Order missions means you can upgrade your AC, which is vital if you want to stand a chance online.
You can even go in with one of your team mates and take on the story mode, more often than not you’ll find yourself hiring a Mercenary, which is generally quite costly, leaving you with barely anything to show for completing each level. If a mercenary quits midway through a mission you also get booted out, which means you have to start a 45 minute level from the beginning as it doesn’t even save your progress.
Luckily the game does have it’s good points, and although From Software may have alienated it’s offline suitors, it must be said that the online multiplayer at times can be awesome.
After joining some random team you can then attempt to raid enemy territories with your four AC army. Again, generally these are quite simple, and you’ll do them only to help build your team's points. Once you have earned enough points you can then attack Human controlled territories.
When you have a full compliment of team members (including an operator as your 5th AC) then these battles can become intense. You will quickly see that a team with good tactics will pick you and your comrades apart with imperative ease. Also if you load out with a set-up that doesn’t compliment your team members AC’s then you may as well change your nickname to ‘Sitting Duck’.
After losing one of these battles you may find the results a little disheartening. If attacking and you win your battle then the opposing forces lose their region and you of course claim it as your own. Lose the battle on the other-hand and when you return to the world map your massive stash of team points will read as one big fat zero.
As expected, when you have completed a mission or battle you’ll be given a full list of stats that will give you a chance to go over your performance with fine comb and correct any mistakes made. You can even go back and review the battle itself and either watch as you demolished an opposing AC, or even use it to plan for your next battle, watching how the enemy moves, when they attack and what set-up their AC’s have.
You’ve now completed a fair few missions, you're counting your cash, what do you do next? You go shopping. The amount of customisation in the game means very rarely are two AC’s alike. Like with many mech games your choice is very limited at first with only a handful of weapons to attach to your AC. As you progress through the game you’ll find yourself being able to change everything from the AC’s left leg right through to the booster. Want to have a steady platform to work from, well you’re going to change those gangly legs for tracks, need a mini-gun instead of your medium range missiles, then happy days a quick click and your set to go. Out of them all the Plasma Sword is by far the coolest weapon available, very Optimus Prime.
Picking the right set-up will change an impossible mission into an absolute breeze. You can even go as far as to change the AC’s colour scheme and throw on numerous custom decals. It feel’s like you're pimping out your ride as if playing Forza 4, just your Ferrari F430 can shoot missiles and jump up the side of buildings. The ultimate goal is to make a balanced AC, so you want something fast, agile, aggressive, stable and robust all at once. Obviously you’re going to have to make some sacrifices as you customise.
Graphically, as said before, this game is somewhat of a let down. The mechs don’t look all that good, and the debris fields that surround them make little sense. You could be walking along the road and bricks will appear 2 feet above your leg and drop to the floor as if appearing out of thin air. The HUD is also very hard work, the reticule is far to big and it makes auto-aim a complete doodle. There is too much going on and that’s when you're in combat mode, set it to scan mode and it becomes twice as hard to understand and detracts from the game.
From Software have tried to hit an all new mech market not seen for many years. Sadly Armored Core V is not what mech fans are looking for. Chromehounds was by no means perfect, but even today it makes Armored Core V look like complete dog toffee. The story mode is non-existent and that’s for the simple reason that its developers probably didn’t give a hoot about it when making the game. Although online 5 on 5 battles can be a blast, these are few and far between, and after playing your fifteenth Order mission, to gain valuable upgrades, you’ll have long forgotten about that one ultimate battle you played four days earlier. Online comrades are also hard to come by, making the multiplayer a very lonely experience, and this is coming from a game which is basically tuned for online gamers, it’s disappointing to say the least.
Armored Core V has all the ingredients to be a truly awesome mech title, sadly From Software has cracked the eggs too early and cooked them at a high heat, and the result is merely an average game that will barely keep you occupied for an hour or two.