Preview: Armored Core V
Armored Core V is a mech game at its mechiest. Large robots, plenty of firepower and slick and agile movement; this is the formula all Armored Core games comprise of. I’m doing this preview because I wanted to see if anything was different from the last couple of Armored Core games. I like the idea of mech games but the execution of most leaves a somewhat sour taste in my mouth. Armored Core IV was OK, but that’s just it, it was just OK. So what can we expect from Armored Core V?
Title: Armored Core V
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Multiplayer: 2-10 competitive multilayer
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Expected Price: R435 (BT Games)
Release Date: March 23
Story wise, and despite being so close to release, there’s virtually little to no mention of what story Armored Core V intends to tell. This is no shock as Armored Core isn’t known for a particularly strong plot or narrative; I suspect From Software are trying to improve this in Armored Core V but well, who can be sure. Armored Core V is supposed to be a sort of ‘big step forward’ in the series, though how this is the case I haven’t had the faintest. Sure there are gameplay changes, changes to various modes and such but that all says minor improvements over past games, so your guess is good as mine.
The largest change to the series is undoubtedly its multiplayer mode. The developer claims limitless potential, that Armored Core V’s multiplayer component will be the thing all multiplayer fans need. While I’m not sure it’s as grand and spectacular as the developers claim, I mean no developer is going to say their game is mediocre, it is still to be seen whether Armored Core V can rise up above what Armored Core IV offered. Sure, there are the differences in mode and mechanics, but whether that translates to a qualitatively better experience will only be known once the game is tested and put through its paces by its player base.
Here’s a sample of the kind of multiplayer experience you should expect from Armored Core V:
An important aspect of Armored Core V is the concentration of strategy rather than fast reaction times. This is because the mechs are much smaller than previous iterations and so reduce the game from being purely about your skill and instead how you move, your ability to navigate, make use of geographical features so on. Many of the levels are placed in urban environments to reinforce this new approach and while it certainly aids the combat, it has a drastically negative effect on another aspect; that being the visuals which I’ll get into later.
The next video is supposed to show what multiplayer will look like given some serious players and a half decent game; you’ll have to excuse the cheesy operator commentary, he’s been paid to sound more professional than I imagine any gamer would. In multiplayer you can have up to 5v5, which includes one operator per team. The operator’s job is to watch over the battlefield, update their team on the match and assist in strategizing. I can’t say I can see many signing up to be the operator, a potentially far less interesting position but that all depends on how enjoyable the multiplayer is I guess.
Here’s where that negative aspect comes in, Armored Core V’s visuals. So far I have a mixed opinion on the games visual quality. I’m aware that what we’re seeing is easily misinterpreted through video quality and the build of the game we’re witnessing but I have a few reservations. Don’t get me wrong, the mechs have plenty of detail and easily surpass most mech games. The problem is that environments have the same problem the last Armored Core had, very bland and usually quite gray or brown environments. Maybe that’s how it was intended, maybe it alleviates some extra polygons for all the pixels those energy weapons seem to through around. The problem is a bland background can sometimes reduce from the game. More importantly, and what worries me is the fact that it makes all the objects you need to target quite difficult to distinguish, them being grey themselves, which reduces much of the game to locking on and using the now highlighted and targeted enemy just to see them. Worst of all is how much strain this game puts on your eyes. I’m not sure what it is, whether it’s an effect of the textures, anti-aliasing or some other graphical quality but watching Armored Core V was like watching a heavy 3D movie without the glasses, a bit of a colourful mess. This isn’t helped by the fact that your HUD is swimming in a sea of flashing orange, shapes a plenty and warnings everywhere. Let’s just hope From Software can clear this up in time for our release.
There are many unanswered questions and Armored Core V will certainly need to answer those in order to satisfy western gamers enough to purchase it. Armored Core has all the customisation you’ve come to expect and isn’t holding back in that aspect. The problem is the entire mech game genre is very niche and Armored Core V will have to revolutionise it if it intends for new gamers to be interested in them.