‘Mech games seem to come in two different flavors, fast and slow. The slow, like Steel Battalion, favor a more realistic approach to piloting a giant robot, whereas titles like Mechwarrior for the Xbox or Virtua On focus more on using the ‘Mech as an avatar for third-person run-and-gun gameplay. The Armored Core franchise focuses on the fast type, but it’s no run-and-gun game by any means. Instead, its focus is the run-and-dash technique. Well, that and customization.
Armored Core For Answer really is two games, the single-player/online experience, and the tuner/tinkering aspect. The customization you can do to your ‘Mech is akin to Gran Turismo’s tuning mode, with hundreds of parts to play around with and adjust. The Armored Core series has always excelled in this area, and as expected, making the right adjustments will benefit you in battle in Armored Core: For Answer, too.
The first thing that hits you with Armored Core: For Answer are its backgrounds and general landscape. They are, well, bland. However, this is how they are supposed to be. The Armored Core franchise follows a certain format, much like the earlier Resident Evil titles with the door scenes that disguised loading times. The battle is also fast and clumsy until you get used to it, and it handles more like a shooter than most ‘Mech fans would expect. Much like playing Gran Turismo, it takes time to fine-tune the handling of the vehicles and get familiar with the controls, but once you’ve got your setup straightened out, you’re off and running.
Fans of Chrome Hounds should be wary; Armored Core: For Answer is a very different game from that recent ‘Mech release. Armored Core: For Answer is basically a beefed-up version of Armored Core 4, much like the Metal Gear Solid series and its Subsistence editions. Heck, it even allows you to import your Armored Core 4 data. The learning curve is on the upper end of medium, so while fans of the series should be able to pick up and go, newcomers should expect to invest some time.
The story is on the lean side, with three factions to choose from, each with different ‘Mechs and missions to follow. But story quality isn’t really why you’re playing this type game. When you’re working through the Giant Boss missions and getting punished, you’ll seldom care about the faction’s motivation or inner guilt.
But, since it’s basically an expansion pack or spit-shined update, is it worth the price? Let’s just say it would be easier to argue “yes” if it were priced more in the $30 range vs. $60. Still, we understand the logic; niche titles are never about sales volume, but rabid fans, so they need every dollar they can get. Basically, the answer to that question lies in what you want from a ‘Mech game. Piloting a giant robot never gets old, but we would strongly advise renting this one first, as there’s not a lot of handholding, and the overall style may not be to your liking. The game is solid, looks good and plays well, but it just has a “feel” that’s not for everyone.
- Score: 7
— Phil Vollmer