Armored Core V Review

Armored Core V can field some fierce firefights, but the combat is encumbered by repetitious missions, simplistic objectives, and dull visual design.

When two meticulously tweaked mechs meet in combat, the results can be explosively fun. The battle for position might see one bouncing between buildings five stories in the air, while the other jets along the ground to acquire line of sight. They deploy reconnaissance aids and radar jammers to win the information war and then use long-barreled cannons and energy blasts to win the physical fight. Leaving your enemy a smoking ruin can be very satisfying, but in Armored Core V, this kind of satisfaction is all too rare.

To learn the tactics needed to succeed on the battlefield, you need to spend a lot of time running missions through the drab, somber environments. AC aficionados may have the tactics down, but to unlock the parts needed to build a worthy mech, you need to slog through a lot of mind-numbingly easy missions. When the challenge comes later on, or when you jump into competitive multiplayer, you can find the kind of combat that delivers on the promise of purpose-built battle bots dueling to the death. But even if you are well prepared for a fight, Armored Core V still spends too much time making you work toward the good stuff.

At least many of the missions are short. The prevalent Order missions often don't last longer than a minute. You load up the battlefield, wait for your systems to come online, and travel straight until you encounter the enemy. When the orange box appears indicating target lock, you pull your triggers and destroy your foes. Then you get paid (minus ammunition and repair costs) and are bumped back to the world map to select your next sortie.

While Order missions are little more than brief excursions to pad your wallet or test your loadout, Story missions are longer endeavors. Part of this is due to the cinematic scenes that tell a nigh incomprehensible tale of a conflict involving a domineering corporation, a desperate rebellion, and a despotic figure named "Father." Parsing out the particulars is a challenge with no discernable rewards; fortunately, Story missions also present a challenge when it comes to combat.

In addition to tiny tanks and puny helicopters, you face a variety of larger mechanized forces, including mobile sniping platforms, nimble aerial craft, heavy shield-bearing constructs, and missile-launching installations. When arrayed in force against you, these require a bit more maneuvering, but defeating them is still just a matter of waiting for the orange box to appear and pulling the triggers. It's not until you face the toughest foes that you have to start playing skillfully.

The biggest AI challenge is fielded by bosses and enemy mechs (ACs, in the parlance of the series). Bosses generally subscribe to the "bigger is better" philosophy, and their presence has a positive effect on the environmental design. Most of your missions send you through drab gray cities or dull brown industrial sites. Visual boredom sets in quickly, and only when you have to chase an armored train around an elevated track or peck at a towering, four-legged war machine do you get a glimpse of something more intriguing.

Enemy ACs can also look cool, but the only clear view of them you get is at the start of a duel. During actual combat, they dart around much more quickly than other AI foes, and you have to be smart about movement and weapon choice to take them down. This is when you get a taste of the quality combat that Armored Core V can deliver, combat in which tactics, adaptability, and execution matter. It's also when the game inspires you to start thinking critically about your mech loadout.

With so many available missiles, how's a fella to choose?

When you first enter the assembly to work on your mech, it can be daunting. There are a lot of numbers, abbreviations, and attributes to track, but once you spend some time tinkering, things start falling into place. You begin to diversify your weapons in order to effectively deal different types of damage. Changing your legs from bipedal to tetrapod gives you a lot more weight to work with, while choosing a booster with high acceleration makes your AC more nimble. Fire control systems, cores, and generators can all affect your battlefield presence, and you unlock numerous parts in each category as you complete missions. Slotting in new pieces and seeing the benefits in combat is a pleasing endeavor, and you can also enter the paint shop to further customize your bristling beauty.

It's best to have a few different loadouts ready to go, especially when playing with your team. All Armored Core V players are encouraged to enlist in an online team and join the persistent struggle for world map dominance. You can play Story or Order missions with one other player (a teammate or a hired mercenary), but Invasion missions let you team up with up to four other teammates, one of whom can play the recon role of the Operator (scanning the map, setting waypoints, marking targets, and the like). There are a scant four Invasion variants, most of which simply involve destroying enemy facilities while dealing with AI resistance. These are basically Order missions on a larger scale, and with some good mechs and a competent operator, even tougher sorties can be quickly completed.

If you want to win territory and put your team's name on the map, you need to step up to a Conquest mission. To embark on one of these, you need a certain number of team points, which you earn every time any member of the team completes a mission. Rolling with team members on Invasion missions nets you more team points, so it's possible to assemble a squad and get into a good rhythm of building up points, attacking territories, and defending territories you've already claimed.

When its legs are made of weapons, shoot it in the legs.

Conquering territory for your team can be satisfying, but the repetitious missions, bland environments, and team point requirements combine to create the sense that you are grinding out progress, rather than joyfully claiming victory on the field of battle. Further combat variety is offered by big boss fights (unlocked when your team reaches a high level) and competitive multiplayer, but these areas are problematic as well. The boss fights are hampered by unclear objectives, while the standard eight-player deathmatch and five-on-five team deathmatch modes reward only the winners, making them fruitless endeavors for most players.

These competitive contests can offer some tough combat, however, and putting your finely tuned AC to the test and winning is undeniably gratifying. Unfortunately, the bulk of Armored Core V is not as entertaining. For every challenging sortie you enjoy, you must undertake many more dull, simplistic missions. The focus on connected combat could have made Armored Core V an engaging entry in this long-running series. Instead, the franchise fails to put its best foot forward.

The Good
Well-matched fights are hectic fun
Designing a garage full of battle-ready mechs is absorbing
The Bad
Disappointing lack of mission variety
Too many simplistic sorties
Bland artistic design
Limited multiplayer options
6
Fair
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Armored Core V

About the Author

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.

Discussion

21 comments
NuarBlack
NuarBlack

I don't get how FROM understands that difficulty makes games fun when it comes to it's games like Dark Souls but miss the boat on this one. Also maybe I'm weird but I enjoyed AC 4 and for answers. Once you accepted that boosting was integral to the game and re-mapped your controls to accommodate that fact I thought it played well. I employed near constant boost tricks back in the PSone days so the only thing new was that it placed greater emphasis on aerial combat which I was fine with. But I am still waiting for a revival of the Heavy Gear series which was hands down the best mech game franchise. 

kwest419
kwest419

i've been a fan of the AC series since it's introduction back in winter 97'. AC 4 gave me a bit of a headache with all the constant hyper-boosting. i'm glad to see FROM moved away from that. i was a diehard fan of Chrome Hounds so to see this approach to the conquest style of gameplay is rather pleasing as well. Sadly, Chrome Hounds it is not. As i've watched this series evolve, i'm glad that FROM isn't straying too far from its original roots. for what it's worth i do love me some mech combat and AC 5 does deliver in some aspects, but PLEASE give us a sequel to Chrome Hounds...

mahdisorooshfar
mahdisorooshfar

I prefer to play Gears Of War and Use mechs in that game!!!

y3ivan
y3ivan

@Mariner32 i prefer chromohound gameplay than AC gameplay. AC is all about speed and dodging enemy shells. While Chromohounds/mechwarrior is a much tactical and sim like gameplay

Panzer_Zwei
Panzer_Zwei

The game's missions (including story) are just too easy even on your own. I would've liked the opposite, for missions to be very challenging unless you play co-op. That would've made things more interesting even in single player.

Panzer_Zwei
Panzer_Zwei

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

VastGameMaster
VastGameMaster

In my opinion, amored core 5 is a great game. Yes it can get boring at times, but wants you have have a full team put together, it can be really fun. Chrome Hounds has this similar review and people still liked that game. I say it is a fun game no manner how think about it. The best part is personally is that every person that gets this will have to have a mic and have to stick and think with your team on missions or online. This is not Call of Duty or any other same games.

Mariner32
Mariner32

@Gelugon_baat HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS?!?!? Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention! OT: I've always enjoyed the AC series and this game looks to be no exception to that. Although personally, what I really think we need is a Chromehounds 2...

TempSGK
TempSGK

Another underrated review of the armoured core series. Don't trust the review score guys, armoured core 3 up to last raven and armoured core V requires skill which game-spot does not like. An example: they gave 7.7 score to armoured core 4 which is all only flying and no skill at all.

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

Reviews for an Armored Core game are all but pointless. The folks who this is for will already have bought it and won't care about the score, and the unconverted or uninterested won't read it anyway.

gescom
gescom

as the reviews start to trickle in its just as i thought lol, in a nut shell why dont we just find some simon cowell of the gaming industry n just keep pumping out endless iterations of the same old tierd crap, ohh hang on thats exactly whats goin on anyway so lets just start from there lol. lets face it a mech sim is only ever gonna be truly embraced by the fringes of the gaming populace so if tweaking around with giant mechs and navigating esoteric menu's aint your bag then play some other form of shooty repetitiveness that doesn't really have a story to it either, at least then you can feel secure knowing you playing and supporting exactly what every one else is and in doing so further limit the variety of games that are being produced, besides the popularity of something is in no way an accurate reflection of how good it is, just take justin bieber selling 137,000 albums in the first week of release, my point exactly lol FROM SOFTWARE please keep making weird and largely inaccessible games, its the innovation and creative integrity that come from these kind of titles that make a money orientated and soulless industry even remotely interesting these days

DAMSOG
DAMSOG

Sometimes it's amazing what makes it through the studio's without someone saying...."gee the graphics are a bit dull" or "Hey this is just exactly like that other mission"....c'mon developers....we need "MECH GOODNESS" not meh...

y3ivan
y3ivan

AC4 was very simple. i stop playing it for 2-3 hrs.

TheJuggla17
TheJuggla17

It baffles me that this series is still around and popular. I though the "mech like" games died years ago.

TrueGB
TrueGB

I was hoping for something like Front Mission: Evolved's multiplayer, but more intelligent and much less sucky. This doesn't sound anything like that at all.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

Disappointing lack of mission variety... check. Too many simplistic sorties... check. Bland artistic design... check. Yep, it's an Armored Core game alright. This is nothing new for the series. Glad to see they've returned to the old style of gameplay... I couldn't get into Armored Core 4 at all. WAY too many buttons to hold down and push all at the same time while you have both thumbsticks going. AC4 was a complete mess.

shantd
shantd

A 6.0 for an Armored Core game is like an 8.0 for a normal game. I'll never understand why this series is so underrated. At least the Japanese fans get it.

kkxtrouble
kkxtrouble

It doesn't look as good as i expected but i might rent it.

ps727
ps727

 @y3ivan  @Mariner32  I am also a big fan of Chromehounds. Which is why I was very pleasantly surprised by this game. I've generally disliked all former armored core games; they seemed to be more about having a fast, douchy mech with the biggest sword than about tactics and gun battles. This game is much more similar to Chromehounds than any mech game I've played since Chrome

y3ivan
y3ivan

 @ps727 I havent play this game to extended period of time. It still fast pace. Yes, is slower than this predecessor, it still fast. Its alot better than AC4 jumping sliding.

Armored Core V More Info

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  • First Released
    • PS3
    • Xbox 360
    Armored Core V is the newest entry in the Armored Core series featuring team-based online modes.
    7.2
    Average User RatingOut of 152 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Armored Core V
    Developed by:
    From Software
    Published by:
    From Software, Namco Bandai Games, Bandai Namco Games, Namco Bandai Games America
    Genres:
    Simulation
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Mild Language, Violence