It's not the prettiest game around, and it's basically similar to what the series has always offered, but this latest Armored Core is still a good, solid game.
If anything is better than piloting a giant robot, it's actually building one. From Software's Armored Core series, now spanning six games and dating back to a 1997 release for the PlayStation, has always centered on this idea. Armored Core 3 dares to brand itself as the second true sequel to the original, yet in fact, it's quite similar to all its predecessors. It's a mission-based third-person action sim in which you'll spend almost as much time tinkering with your own giant robots as you'll spend engaged in battles against enemy forces. As a mercenary working for the highest bidder, you'll get to take on a variety of quick, combat-intensive sorties that earn you more money, which in turn earns you better equipment. Armored Core 3 will appeal to series fans on the same levels that its predecessors have, and it offers fairly accessible controls and a good premise for everyone else. The game's unspectacular presentation and its dated design do interfere with its success, though.
Armored Core 3 takes place in a grim future that may sound pretty familiar: The world is being picked apart by a small number of megacorporations but is yet more at the mercy of an omniscient AI construct known only as the Controller. Your role in all this, mostly, is just to make a buck. You're a Raven, a mercenary whose weapon is a giant robot--known as an armored core, or just AC for short. Apparently, AC manufacturing is quite the lucrative business, because plenty of competitive aftermarket parts are available for souping up your AC in any number of different ways. You can buy new heads, arms, legs, and torsos--as well as weapons, defensive countermeasures, boosters, sensors, radiators, and a variety of supplemental parts. There are more than a dozen different categories of parts, and many are available within each category. You can even paint your AC with a custom scheme and brand it with your very own emblem--artistic types will be pleased to know that Armored Core 3 is one of the few PlayStation 2 games to support a mouse, but only for the purposes of painting your emblem.
Armored Core 3 has a couple of other such odd technical features. The game supports Dolby Pro Logic II setups for enhanced audio, though the game's actual musical score (all subdued, tinny techno) and its audio effects (hushed and mostly bland, though reasonably varied) won't make much of a showcase for a high-end sound system. The voice acting found in the game's mission briefings and during the missions themselves is surprisingly good, though. Though Armored Core 3's main single-player mode revolves around a mission-based structure, there's also an arena mode where you can pit your AC against a number of increasingly difficult computer-controlled foes in one-on-one battles for prize money. Optionally, you can play this mode against another human player in split-screen, or you can even use the PS2's i.Link feature to daisy-chain up to four PS2s with multiple copies of Armored Core 3 for some four-player action. Good luck getting that setup together, though it's comforting to know that it's there.
Features like these would be commendable in most any game, though in Armored Core 3, they call attention to some of the things the game seems to be missing. The most disappointing omission--and perhaps it's not entirely fair to criticize the game for this--is the absence of online play. Armored Core 3 actually would have made an excellent candidate for use with Sony's recently released PS2 network adapter, which could have let you take your own custom AC online to see how it fared against everyone else. The game automatically ranks your AC in terms of the quality of its design, so online Armored Core 3 could have easily pit players of the same relative weight division against each other. At any rate, the lack of online play represents a real missed opportunity for this game. If nothing else, online features might have helped Armored Core 3 garner something larger than a niche audience.
Armored Core 3's production values aren't that great. Though its PlayStation 2 predecessors looked good for their time, it's been over a year since the last game. Standards for graphics have improved a lot since then, but Armored Core 3's visuals aren't much better than those in Armored Core 2: Another Age. The designs of the different ACs look as good as ever--the four-legged spiderlike ones, the tank-treaded ones, and the hovering ones are especially distinctive. You don't get a good sense of the large scale of your ACs, though at least they're animated smoothly, so the game still ends up looking good despite some dark, murky environments and generally bland textures.
- Player Reviews: 21
- Game Universe:
- Armored Core 4 (X360, PS3),
- Armored Core: Formula Front - Extreme Battle (PSP, PS2),
- Armored Core: For Answer (X360, PS3),
- Armored Core V (PS3, X360),
- Armored Core (PS),
- Armored Core: Last Raven (PS2),
- Armored Core: Nine Breaker (PS2),
- Armored Core: Nexus (PS2),
- Silent Line: Armored Core (PS2),
- Armored Core 3 (PS2)
- Offline Modes:
- Number of Players: