Sadly, Armored Core: Project Phantasma is more of a chapter in a book than a book in its entirety like its predecessor.

User Rating: 7 | Armored Core: Project Phantasma (PSOne Books) PS
"Because these days, baby, you gotta have a sequel!"

Time to hop back into the '90s time machine, fellas. We're stopping in the United States in '98. This is Armored Core: Project Phantasma.

About a year later after the previous installment, Armored Core, developed by From Software in 1997, a new chapter in the AC timeline unfolds as Project Phantasma. Sadly, Armored Core: Project Phantasma is more of a chapter in a book than a book in its entirety like its predecessor.

The game starts off where the last one ended. You're a Raven, a mercenary that pilots Armored Core machines, or ACs for short. As usual, you're in it for the money. One day you receive an anonymous message is sent directly towards you. You have no idea who sent it, but you are ordered to infiltrate an underground urban complex called "Amber Crown". There are no references to what faction that is in favor of this message, but because you're a mercenary, you'll do anything to keep the cash flow moving. Later on you discover that a secret weapons project, dubbed as Project Phantasma, is being developed somewhere nearby...

I won't spoil much, but I do have to say that probably the only different thing about Project Phantasma and the original Armored Core would probably be the storyline, but that's about it. I mean, it's a good game, but it's just so much more of the same experience from the previous year that there's not much to say other than it's just plain recycled.

There's the same shop (with a few added parts such as cores, among other things) from the last game, the music is still the same, and the visuals are identical to the previous installment. That's not to say that these are bad things, but From Software could have improved things at least a little. However, the good thing about how unchanged this game is, is that the addictive gameplay has been retained, along with some new additions as well. The game actually has cutscenes now, which sometimes play before the mission initiates, displaying the nature of the mission you're about to undertake. There's also an Arena Mode, which pits you against fifty other ACs in a sort of tournament.

These neat additions boost the replay value, but sadly the game is relatively short. The first Armored Core had about fifty missions whereas this game has less than thirty. Missions are still varied as usual, but the feeling always lingers that you're playing the same game you played last year. It kind of... disappoints. However I kept my save file from the last game, so I was able to use my awesome lightning-fast AC again without having to go through that hell with collecting all those credits. Again.

If you read my last review then you probably shouldn't have to read this one other than knowing that it's pretty much unchanged, really. I don't hate Project Phantasma, and it's a pretty good game, but to call it a sequel would be insane. I pretty much beat the story mode in one day. If you're new to the Armored Core series, I'd say start off with the original. Then move on to this game and Master of Arena, and from that point on I guess play through any of the PlayStation 2 titles (there's like eight sequels on that platform).

But if you're new, stay away from Project Phantasma. You don't want to start here.