Armored Core: For Answer Hands-On

These mechs never quit. We get the latest on the 13th Armored Core game from robot-lovin' From Software.

Let's face it: Armored Core developer From Software has had a tough time naming games. Armored Core: Project Phantasma? The Adventures of Cookie and Cream? And coming later this month is Armored Core: For Answer. For Answer? We don't even know the question, but we do know after our hands-on time with the game that From Software continues to lead the way in fully customizable postapocalyptic booster-powered robot action. What else would you expect from the developer of Murakumo: Renegade Mech Pursuit?

This time around, From has ditched publisher Sega and gone with Ubisoft. For Answer is not a true sequel to Armored Core 4, Ubisoft told us, but rather a continuation, taking place 10 years in the future. And some future: The Earth has been so polluted that its inhabitants have either hidden deep underground or fled to the skies--7,000 meters straight up, in flying cities called cradles. While more than half of humanity has ascended, the battle for resources rages on the surface, fought by--you guessed it--giant friggin' mechs.

Some enemies are, um, bigger than others.

As a budding mercenary mech pilot, it's your job to pick and choose missions from the various corporations and factions, use credits to upgrade your mech, and then take on more dangerous (and higher-paying) jobs. It's the same Armored Core formula that has made the game a hit with gearheads since the original game hit the original PlayStation many moons ago. This time around, the League of Ruling Companies has constructed floating cradles to protect humanity from the pollution of the surface. What the League's crack PR team failed to mention is that the League itself is responsible for the devastating pollution, and the resource plants that supply the cradles are wreaking even more havoc on the biosphere. On the surface, rebels have bound together to form Orca, a resistance group hell-bent on retaking the Earth and dismantling the league. And in the middle is you, a lynx pilot with your very own mech, or NEXT.

Should you decide to take missions against the League, you'll do battle against Armed Forts, the League's answer to dangerous mechs. AFs are huge mobile bases, constructed with the sole purpose of keeping control over the Earth's resources on land, sea, and air. Thousands of times larger in size than a typical Armored Core NEXT unit, they represent the ultimate force on Earth. Lucky for you, you're not exactly going into the fight with a water pistol.

Head, core, legs, arms, radar, boosters, and, of course, weapons are all available for purchase at the handy neighborhood mech store. We plugged in a few cheat codes to unlock every part and began by constructing a walking WMD. With reverse-jointed legs for maximum speed, shoulder-mounted rocket launchers, a sniper rifle, and a laser sword, our machine was ready to take on Giga, a sea-based armed fort with devastating firepower, in one of the single-player campaign missions. Because armed forts have serious long-range targeting capabilities, our mech outfitted with a "vanguard overed boost" unit. Wearing the VOB is basically like strapping a rocket to your back, and it's used to help you maneuver past the incoming missile attacks of the AF so you can get in close and chop it to pieces. Using auxiliary side boosters, you'll zip past enemy battleships and bombers, avoiding AF missiles, then ditch the VOB as you get in close and proceed to dismantle it, part by part. Of course, we were blown to scrap metal in the first 30 seconds. For Answer is hard.

High-speed robot action is decidedly easier playing with a friend, and almost every mission in For Answer can be played cooperatively, save for a few key story-based missions designed with only one player in mind. The only caveat is that one player must have already beaten the mission beforehand, so co-op play is not a true campaign, but rather a way to go back and play with a friend. Then again, if your buddy has finished a mission that you've had trouble beating yourself, you can beat the mission and move forward in your campaign.

The mech store and garage is very similar to past Armored Core titles. Play through missions to find or unlock new parts, sell your old ones, buy some new ones, and hit the battlefield. Thanks to a seemingly infinite number of possibilities, you can build slow, lumbering tanks perfect for dealing heavy damage, or light and speedy machines better suited for smaller enemies and precise targeting. The user interface makes it difficult to figure out exactly what kind of machine is best for the job. After a slick cinematic opening to each level, you jump into the action, though we didn't see any kind of true mission briefings in our time with the game. As such, we did find ourselves getting destroyed, returning to the garage, and swapping in the right tools for the respective job more than once. That said, the customization options are deep and impressive, and designs can be shared online with friends and are available to download and try out yourself. Should you rather spend your time in the warzone rather than under the hood, From has included several predesigned templates of different mechs. Either way, you'll feel the difference between light and fast mechs and slow and powerful mechs, and find a happy medium somewhere in the middle.

The battlefields are varied in size. Some are absolutely huge and have varied environments, some of which seem to have more-brilliant scenery than others One of our mechs was a nimble flying machine, able to boost through levels with ease--not a great trait in one river valley mission that ended in failure every time we elevated past 100 meters or so (something about us leaving the mission area).

Fight side-by-side in the franchise's first ever co-op mode.

After the co-op and single-player missions, we jumped into the competitive multiplayer mode, which will support eight players online. One map featured several floating cradles spaced thousands of meters apart from one another. Such a large map is great for snipers and high-flyers, while energy-sword-wielding melee players may prefer a city on the surface in which you use skyscrapers for cover. One quick note: Almost all cover is destructible, including skyscrapers.

Despite a few qualms with the menus and controls, For Answer looks like a worthy successor to Armored Core 4 and, in many ways, the original Armored Core. The basic game design hasn't changed much over the years, probably because designing your own mech and slicing an enemy in half with an energy sword remains a joyful experience. Look for Armored Core: For Answer when it hits stores September 16 on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

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75 comments
DAKYON
DAKYON

where the hell is the review for this game ?

Vasot
Vasot

Probably Gamespot with give a score 7.0 or 7.5 for this

twit8876
twit8876

i think I'll be calling it "armored core:4A" thats what the logo was for it in the trailer.

cpmethod2
cpmethod2

When is the review coming!? I want to see what gamespot gives it....

grigjd3
grigjd3

Ninjutsu, while your comment is appreciated, it has certainly further scared me off from the game. More and deeper customization is awfully scary when I had no idea what the customization did in the past.

Neji561
Neji561

Man, when are they gonna have something like a gigantic half-planet destroying weapon or something to spice it up a lil bit

popping4it
popping4it

why does the publisher matter? anyways its kinda unfair to compare this to dw at least there are alot of new features, dw does absolutely nothing new in their sequels that they release every half a year.

Photoshark
Photoshark

Come on, when will the Armored Core frachise have a PC launch? Seriously, mech~gaming on the PC has been dead since Mechwarriors 4. Is From Software not going to capitalize on this gaping hole on the genre. They are going cry if EA decides to develop Mechwarrior 5. Haha!

bamfer3
bamfer3

i agree with novasky, here's a game that often, if not always doesn't improve on the faults of previous games ie Dynasty Warriors. It's just gonna be another armored core-nothing special.

NovaSky
NovaSky

lets face it, AC isn't going to be any better than the one's before it, like Dynasty Warriors, AC will always put out games that barely pass as average while they continue to cipher fans money

twit8876
twit8876

when is 'from software' gonna pull there heads out of there asses and port this series to the pc?

cpmethod2
cpmethod2

User score of 8.2, already. Doesn't this game come up next week. 9/16/08

KrazyElf
KrazyElf

Wish they would have included more about the mech designing... I was disappointed at the depth in the last. I don't believe anyone should move away from their roots in such a way when it made your game unique and good in the beginning.

Vasot
Vasot

The Xbox360 version will also have Achievements

eplayanime
eplayanime

Watch Vexx88's video. That explains the title. 'Pray- for answer'. Broken english. The title should probably be Armored Core: For an Answer. And I'm sure the Japanese chose 'for' as a play on the word 'four'. Either way, its the raw translation, even if it doesn't make sense. That's what everyone wants these days, right? Anyway, I am going to buy this game!! I can't believe I didn't know about it sooner

Ek-Andy
Ek-Andy

"That dosn't make any sence" Lol. Got to love ironic mistakes.

king_bobo
king_bobo

I'm not sure whether Ubisoft is the right publisher for the game. Sega seemed so well suited to such an arcadey game.

ninjutsu2006
ninjutsu2006

I own the Japanese version of this game for the PS3, and I would like to clear some unanswered questions. Yes all the controls are fully customizable, yes the controls are the exact same as AC4, yes the missions are longer, yes Arena is back, yes Co-Op is Online ONLY, and yes the graphics are questionable. I've played and own many of the AC games, and I will be the first to agree with Gamespot that AC:fa is actually pretty good. The menus aren't really "that" bad, compared to AC4 it's a bit more streamline and you can change menus by pressing the R1 and L1 at any time. Tuning your NEXT is just like AC4, but they added more options to the "system point" feature. There is actually a story in this one..(yea surprised too). There is a lot of voice acting in this game, and there is actually 2 different endings. Game has over 42 total missions, 12 Special Orca Elite Arena Matches, 30 Regular Arena Matches. There are much more environments like GS said. Complaints w/ the game though : 1)The game still lags during large battles w/ a lot of objects and motion going on. (Just play the Will of the Motherland Armored Fort and you'll see...This of course does effect Co-Op Online as well) 2)Targeting System is much more of a hand full then in AC4, there is no Auto-Lock-on, and if you do speed NEXT's like I do, then you will have to constantly adjust your NEXT to keep the target locked on. (And Friendly Fire is on in Co-Op Online as well...) 3)Very steep learning curve if you are new the series, battles are much more difficult and the speed of the game has been increased. The difficulty ranges from easy to insane depending on mission. Heck, you even get to verse White Glint's new NEXT about an hour or so into the game, which is only around mission 5-10, and he's one of the fastest moving target's you'll be versing until later in the game. 4)Storyline is a bit more complex then before, and unless you've played AC4 you might actually get lost. Just thought I would clear some things up considering most of the previews I've read about this game never really go in depth enough to answer specific questions. (And yes Hard Mode is back, and it is actually "Hard" this time...)

grigjd3
grigjd3

Mush_Mouth, have you played the other aromored core games? The graphics always look nice but they're about as comprehensible as quantum field theory in curved space time. The instruction manuals never help, the control interface is never more than somewhat satisfactory, designing your mechs is closer to turning something in for an art class than anything else and the story (whatever little there is of it) is more like reading deconstructionist poetry than having a narrative told to you. Of course the reviews are going to be bad.

tyrrin
tyrrin

What the hell is "for answer"? That doesnt make any sence!!! The game looks wicked though.

Mush_Mouth
Mush_Mouth

GS will just give it another crap rating like they do all the other AC games. It's nice to see that after years of this site being open that they still like to speak positively in previews and then trash the games when they're actually out.

otanikun
otanikun

Looks spiffy, I mean who doesn't like mechs?

Deoxy_Knight
Deoxy_Knight

Looking forward to this one, that's for certain.

agustbestur
agustbestur

I cant belive that this is the 13th game in the franchise some companys go a little bit to far with there games

agustbestur
agustbestur

I cant belive that this is the 13th game in the franchise some companys go a little bit to far with there games

AGENT_WESKER
AGENT_WESKER

Is the co-op mode offlineor online? and what about the other multiplayer, is it online?

badman11226
badman11226

well armor core 4 sucks. its was short the mission was too short. i mean come on. well hopefully this one will good.

Ra-Devil
Ra-Devil

Controls aren't an issue. You can change the buttons to whatever you want. As in, if you want d-pad up to be analog left, you can do that, or L1/LB to be Start, you can do that too. The controls are completely customizable, just like the giant robots. I opt for shooting to be both the RB and R Trigger, while boosting and quick boosting are mapped to LB and L Trigger, then I rearange the face buttons to how I see fit, usually placing the reload and switch weapons buttons diagonally side-by-side for quick and simultaneous pressing. Yeah, I love this game.

CursiveSaturn
CursiveSaturn

Ive always loved Armored Core. Played all of the AC games,havent beat them all but they were always fun no matter what they lacked.

siLVURcross
siLVURcross

Just hope the controls are good. The other ones really bothered me for some reason.

erostad01eb
erostad01eb

is the mulit player available in split screen or online only??

Paladin_King
Paladin_King

i am prepared to be underwhelmed yet again

cpmethod2
cpmethod2

Looks good. Last game I played was back on PS1.. Wow. Long time ago. I just picked up my playstation 3. I'm now connected ladies and gentleman...

Outer_Raven
Outer_Raven

Can't wait for me and my friend team up against a giant walking fortress and blow it into pieces!

shooter589
shooter589

the co-op looks like it gonna be fun

robgam3r
robgam3r

i just hope the movement is good because it could be all fun n games but if u cant get a good control on the mech theres no point i want to buy but i think the force unleashed will come first

Squall_gunbl
Squall_gunbl

i'm gonna like it, thats for sure. I just hope its better then AC4 which was just 2 steps forwards AND back. "It could only get better" is what i'm hoping for and I hope many others agree so I get more ppl to annihilate online.

deathscythe999
deathscythe999

Have you ever noticed that every reviewer for an AC game dies horribly and quickly in every mission. I'm willing to bet any seasoned vet would be able to handle this game like the others. So I don't think it's fair to call this game "hard".

gonzalezj1
gonzalezj1

"For Answer is not a true sequel to Armored Core 4, Ubisoft told us, but rather a continuation..." Ummm... How else do you define "sequel"?

Loudli
Loudli

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Loudli
Loudli

This looks promising..but im not gonna get too hopefull like with AC4

fraggerman
fraggerman

Anyone know if this will be offline co-op and offline competitive multiplayer

jazzyrider
jazzyrider

Looks great but I'm with others on waiting for the review.

Mist00
Mist00

not sure yet ill just wait for the review

Dexz
Dexz

looks to be cool :) can't really tell if its any good yet though

lanmanna
lanmanna

My favorite mech games are Virtual On and Custom Robo, if those count. xD