Armored Core 2 Hands-On
It doesn't seem like the developers have set out to reinvent the wheel, but AC is getting exactly what it needed: a facelift.
The Armored Core mech-combat series has been in need of a true sequel for some time now, having had two "add-on packs" (Armored Core: Project Phantasma and Armored Core: Master of Arena), which offered extra modes and levels while maintaining the same dated graphics engine and soundtrack. Now the PlayStation 2 follow-up is on the horizon, and from what we've seen in a demo version of the game, it seems to be on the right track.
Armored Core 2 looks exactly like what you'd expect a PlayStation 2 upgrade of Armored Core to be like. It doesn't seem like the developers have set out to reinvent the wheel, but AC is getting exactly what it needed: a facelift. The visuals are much sharper, the explosions are more impressive, and the frame rate and turning speed are faster. That isn't to say that the game is exactly the same as before, though. It's obvious in the second level of the demo that the developers were able to do more in terms of level design than before because of the improved graphics. In that level, you must attack a fortress covered with gun and missile emplacements - in fact, there are so many that if they all were blazing at once with the original game engine, the action would've slowed down to a crawl. Here, it's a nicely manageable chaos. Only after loading up Armored Core: Master of Arena could we really appreciate the huge gulf in graphics between the two games. AC: MOA looks like a first generation PlayStation game, while AC2 has better visuals than most current arcade games.
The demo allowed for only a few basic variations on your mech's head, arms, torso (or core), legs, and weapons, so we weren't really able to see what sort of neat toys will be available for you in the completed game. Since the final version is due out in Japan relatively soon, we should have more to report back on soon.