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Armored Core: Last Raven: There Can Be Only One...
Company: Agetec

Ever heard someone say, "Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it?" I fear that is exactly how I would describe the previewable disc I received for Armored Core: Last Raven. I am always excited about being able to preview games before their release - it's a perk of being a game reviewer. I also am a big fan of the Armored Core series. What I received, however, just happens to be a Japanese Debug copy of the game. The programmer side of me is excited at the ability to flip various debug settings on and off and play around with the graphics settings and the enemy A.I. settings, but the problem is that I can't simply play the game with this demo. I can play a level, but only if I specify what Map and Scenario to use. The problem here is that I have no way of knowing what Scenario or Map is used on any given level. I also can't seem to make heads or tails of the Japanese voice-overs (despite the Japanese sub-titles). This has led to me finishing a level and then wondering if I succeeded or failed the mission. It's kind of hard to tell, since either way I'm headed back to the debug menu and not to the next mission.

One thing that is touted as a new feature in Armored Core: The Last Raven is ""Human Interaction" - that is, the introduction of people onto the battlefield. From what I was actually able to play, I really only saw a couple handful of people scurry into buildings at the beginning of a mission. I then stepped on the building, ending the "human menace". There may be more troublesome humans in the game, but none that I've yet to encounter.

Another of Last Raven's features is said to be an in-depth storyline with multiple battle modes... 6 Possible Endings, depending upon the choices you make. I was unable to work through the storyline with this debug, unfortunately.

So, what was I able to look at? Well, first of all, the "Versus" mode was Labeled in English, so I was able to get into that. Armored Core: Last Raven features three different types of Versus modes: Stand Alone, Network and i.Link. While Network is either a LAN or internet connection (assumption - I was unable to get far enough in this to make a determination) and i.Link is for linking via "i.Link" (Sony's name for Firewire), the "Stand Alone" mode is basically a multiplayer mode on the same PS2. The only options I can verify are a 1 Player Full Screen mode and a 2 Player Split-Screen mode (left/right side). I have seen screen shots of a 4 Player mode, with each player using a corner of the screen, but I was unable to try that out.

One interesting versus mode would be the Stand Alone 1 Player games. In these, both your enemies and your team members are computer (A.I.) controlled. This offers an interesting way to practice for playing multiplayer with people or to simply hone your skills.

One new addition to the gameplay is part-specific damage; if you take a lot of damage to a part (leg, arm, etc.), weapons associated with that part may become inoperable. I didn't see how to target a specific part, but when you take damage, there is a chart that indicates where the damage is effecting your AC.

Fans of the Armored Core series will be happy to hear that they are able to load saved emblems from Armored Core: Nine Breaker and Armored Core: Nexus in addition to Armored Core: Last Raven saved emblems -- especially if they spent a lot of time to create a custom emblem.

I wish that I could say more; I wish that I could see more. What I have seen has raised my interest, but hasn't answered a lot of questions... What else will Armored Core: Last Raven hold? Only time will tell...

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins
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