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Armored Core V Preview

Another retooling of the Armored Core franchise might have enough new ideas to draw in players who have resisted all of these years.

If you dream of controlling fully customized, walking machines of death around a battlefield, you are probably Japanese.  If you actually aren’t Japanese and this concept has some appeal to you, then you are part of the niche of Western gamers that Armored Core V is courting.  Even though mech piloting sounds like a lot of fun to almost everyone, most of us in the West just don’t get around to doing it in our spare time.  All indications are that we should clear our schedules to try out Armored Core V.

If you feel intimidated by missing out on most or all of the previous thirteen entries in the Armored Core series, there’s no reason to.  Armored Core V has no ongoing story of any importance that will bog you down when you delve in.  The appeal is all in the gameplay, which has been overhauled significantly since the last installment (Armored Core: For Answer), so even series vets will be spending some time learning the blasts and boosts of the revamped war machines.

Armored Core V will feature both a campaign and online mode.  The campaign will allow you to play solo or with a fellow metal head online.  The benefits of working through the campaign will be to learn your way around the different ACs with their huge number of customizable options and to unlock the new one-hit-kill “overed” weapons that promise to drastically change the multiplayer matches. 

Customization has always been a big part of the series, and Armored Core V has more than ever before with over five hundred options from leg types to decorative decals.  Tweaking your mech will have to take into consideration different weapon types this time around.  Weapons now come in thermal, kinetic, and chemical flavors.  You will have to consider which weapons to install and weigh the weakness and resistance to each weapon type of every component you build onto your machine.

In addition to the three different main weapon types, all ACs are equipped with a “grind blade,” which is a huge robot’s version of a chainsaw bayonet right out of the Gears of War series.  It looks pretty slick and should make those melee moments a bit more interesting.  There are also the previously mentioned overed weapons, which were designed to foil the previous games’ routine of slowly whittling down an opponent’s health in online matches.  These overed weapons, including huge cement pillar swords, will require significant skill to use effectively, but once mastered can decimate opponents in a single blow.

The mechanics will now have a bigger reliance on tactics rather than speed which has dominated the last several games.  The mechs have been cut in size to compliment the shift to stealthier battles.  A new scanning mode also augments the focus on tactics, letting you stop and recharge while you scout the area for opponents and gauge their weaknesses and status before plunging forward in an assault.  

 All of these tactical changes to the core game should make the online modes feel different enough on their own, but the multiplayer has other features that make Armored Core V look like a different animal.  There are the expected one-on-one and two-on-two match-up modes available, but the new five-on-five mode looks to be the most interesting way to play. 

Even though ten players on a battlefield don’t seem like much when compared to other competitive online games, there are enough unique ideas thrown in to make it worth trying.  While four members on each team will head out to turn the other team into scrap, one player on each team will play as the commander who issues orders to the other team members.  The commander has an active overhead map of the battlefield to make plans and make sure his team is reacting to each scenario in the best possible way.


 

Comments

Michael117

03/20/2012 at 11:45 AM

This sounds and looks really cool Travis. Based on what I'm hearing I think I'd want to give this a shot. Do you know if it has a demo on XBL?

I gave Armored Core 4 a shot and played the XBL demo a few years back and I didn't like it. The mechs didn't have enough weight and punch to them. It just felt like I was some fairy prancing and gliding around the levels and everything was way too quick. It never felt mechanical, heavy, powerful, or badass. I've always wanted a mech game that's slower, has more weight and crunch to the mechs, more powerful weapons, and doesn't rely on speed. Hopefully it could have some stealth in addition to the tactics. I've always wanted a good mech game. I use to play a bunch of different MechWarrior games back in the day and I even had some cool mech game on PC when I was little, don't remember the name, but it was cool.

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

03/21/2012 at 08:38 PM

I agree that AC4 lacked that sense of weight that I really want from a game like this.  The ACV demo that was available on XBL and PSN was short-lived to test out the multiplayer and doesn't appear to be available any longer.  I think if you downloaded it during the demo you could come back to it and play the single player, but I don't see it in the game listings any more.  

We should have a review up before long, so check back and see what we thought.

Michael117

03/21/2012 at 09:00 PM

I'm looking forward to the review! I missed out on the demo sadly. I also really want to know what the game offers in the way of single player or offline modes. I know that the games are designed with an online focus, but I've heard there's some offline stuff as well. I'm more interested in offline play.

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