Armored Core V impressions: a depressing affair
At this point, those of you who were waiting on this game own it. For those of you who do not own the title yet, what you are about to read is more of an impression than a review. My impression you ask? This game is HARD. So hard, I just threw my hands up. I admit it, I gave up. Once upon a time I LOVED mech games, but this one just is not enjoyable to me as a gamer.
This game is insanely difficult. I don’t say that lightly either. Starting out on the campaign, if you can call it that, you have to enroll in the online community. The single player aspect of the game is still essentially a team effort. Speaking of teams, when you start the game you have to either form a team, or join one after creating your profile. Your “team” is comprised of whomever you are associated with. So, while you are on a team per se, you don’t have to play together to act as one. You can individually attack points of interest on the map in an effort to advance your team’s foothold. You all act for the common good, claiming map areas and achieving goals. However, at the time I played the game, the online community was (and still is) too small for any chance of multiplayer online. Sorry to say, but if you intend on getting the game for its online component, just keep looking.
Hopping into the main game, there is little more than a minor “push this button to do this” sort of tutorial. Ok, I wouldn’t even call it a tutorial as much as it is just something to get you used to looking at key items in the game. With this game, keeping your eyes on every gauge, meter, etc. is very important. I can’t stress this enough. This is not a mech game that you just spray the landscape hoping to hit the nimble opponents. Reason being is, you don’t just happen upon ammo. Nope. You start out with what you have, unless you are lucky enough to scavenge enough scrap to get credits for some upgrades. However, the in-game upgrade areas, called garages, are expensive. It will be a while until you get to that point.
Graphics wise, the game is a wreck, which is depressing given the amount of detail that can be thrown onto your mech. Custom paint schemes on a dozen or more individual panels and all of your weapons are all possible. The full range of colors, patterns, etc. are all available for you to customize your mech to your heart’s content. Where this customization level depresses me is when your mech powers up in the game world. All of a sudden, the game takes on an almost last gen look. All of that time you spent customizing your mech, and that could easily be hours, is lost the instant you look at it in game. All of the detail is lost amid poor textures and dark lighting. Shame. The possibilities with the artwork are amazing, staggering even, and we haven’t even gotten into the mech weapon layout. For me, the weapon layouts were too confusing. To compound the issue, there are certain layouts that simply won’t work on a level. It is a matter of trial and error. You get into a level and see how ineffective your layout can be, and then it is out to reconfigure and start it all over. It's maddening to say the least, considering some levels can take upwards of half an hour or more to complete.
For fans of the series, this is the 14th title I believe; you likely will not be disappointed. Of course, again, at this point you are probably already playing it. For those who are not lifelong fans, you might find this title a little intimidating, and flat out frustrating.