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Armored Core: Project Phantasma
Score: 95%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Agetec
Developer: From Software
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:
Now here's a futuristic war simulation you can sink your teeth into. The graphics are beautiful. It's obvious that someone put some work into creating the levels. Not only are they captivating, they each present different play dynamics. As for the war machine you pilot, or "Armored Core," as they call it, they are very nice looking. And, if you don't like the look of the AC you are commanding, you can take it to the garage and change its color scheme. There are extensive options in the way of appearances. You can customize the colors yourself (choosing custom colors for several sections of each part of your AC), or choose from one of the many preset paint schemes. You can even draw your own logo emblem for your AC... either from scratch, or by modifying one of the selectable preset emblems (or you could just adopt one of the presets... some are quite nice as is). The music is a quick-paced fury of a soundtrack, designed to keep the blood (or would that be oil?) pumping. However, if you have a sound system with good bass response, you may opt to turn the music off, max the sound effects, and crank it up. In testing Armored Core: Project Phantasma, I tried it with BSG Labs' Intensor set as I just described, and the thud of each heavy metal step combined with the pulse of every energy weapon volley created a feeling that was music to my ears... and the rest of me as well.

Gameplay:
Armored Core: Project Phantasma is an excellent futuristic shooter game. You pilot an Armored Core, which is essentially a big, armed robot with a cockpit in the head. As a member of the Ravens mercenary group, your main goal is to destroy anything that might fetch you a profit... while saving your own neck. Project Phantasma allows you to make it very personal, allowing you to customize your AC from choosing each part of its body (arms, legs, head, etc.), to choosing your weapons, optional equipment, paint job, even your own personal emblem. For those of you who are familiar with this genre of games, jump in, build your AC, personalize it, and get out there! If you're new to the genre, however, this game will bring you up to speed with its Arena feature. In this mode, you can spar with other members of your mercenary group. When you win a battle, you could be rewarded with credits, parts or both. Use these to upgrade your AC and you might stand a chance in your next bout. At any rate, this game is a fun time; definitely a good choice for your library if you enjoy a good fight.

Difficulty:
For those of you who have played games of this type, you can pretty much jump in, build your AC and start shooting. If you're new to the genre, however, you can catch up with the Arena feature, as mentioned earlier. It's essentially a Training mode where you can spar with other members of your mercenary group, and prepare for the real fight. Armored Core: Project Phantasma's learning curve is pretty close to a perfect balance; this game is relatively easy to learn to play, but not easy to master.

Game Mechanics:
One cool feature of Armored Core: Project Phantasma is the level of customization allowed in the creation of your AC. This feature, combined with the two player mode or the link option, offers a chance for you to pit your best creation against your friend's (obviously inferior) AC. (Don't hate me because I'm beautiful - hate me because I just blew your AC up from behind!)

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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