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Armored Core: Silent Line
Score: 81%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Agetec
Developer: From Software
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:
For those of you familiar with the Armored Core series, you're familiar with the graphics; Silent Line: Armored Core doesn't offer any vast improvements in this category. For the benefit of newbies, the graphics are pretty decent, with a lot of HUD features that utilize transparency to allow limited view through them. The game's primary viewing mode is third-person, although you can also play in a very playable first-person view mode. The mechs, or 'Armored Cores' (ACs) as they call them, look good in Silent Line, and offer a lot of visual customization, with solid or camoflauge in a wide variety of customizable colors. Some of the weapons effects are quite brilliant - especially the electrical effects.

The music in Silent Line: Armored Core is not bad, but the music during the menus can get old fast, as it's a simple loop. Mind you, this is a 'tweaker' game, so you'll be spending a lot of time modifying your AC... via the menus, of course. The sounds are very good. I love the crunching sound when your AC lands after a jump. The expected resonating bass thud didn't let me down.

There's a storyline... ...okay, that should be enough about that - the gameplay is all about using your three-story 'Armored Core' (or, 'robot' that you ride in -gec) to destroy other ACs and other assorted goodies (such as Tanks, MTs, and other craft) and sometimes protecting something from attacks by enemies. That's it in a nutshell, but there's enough variety to keep it interesting. You'll need to make money (credits) by completing missions and improving your rank in the arena to advance. These credits allow you to buy improvements to your AC. Some enemies will be impossible to defeat without upgrading.

If you haven't played an Armored Core title before, don't start with this one. I love the series, but seriously, Silent Line is not your entry-level game. You'll need to put in some time on one of the earlier Armored Core games before trying this.

If you're familiar with the AC series and you're looking for a more advanced challenge, then look no further. The missions are harder here, and although some missions offer you assistance, you'll pay handsomely out of your possible profits for the assist. It's hard for a mercenary to get ahead these days! Even the arena challenges are difficult. The AI has improved a little bit, and the rest of the difference is made up of pure, unadulterated fire-power. (If I get enough response, I may put up a strategy guide to outwitting the AI.)

Game Mechanics:
I always try to review a video game based on its own merit, without making extensive comparisons to other video games. However, when one game does something unique and beneficial, it causes other similar games to be seen in a different light. Silent Line: Armored Core is an excellent game, but it could learn a lesson from Steel Batallion. Specifically, the control scheme in Silent Line is really a bit awkward. I think the control could be improved quite a bit by a custom controller; even if it was compatible with the Steel Batallion controller. The hardest part to get used to is the use of the shoulder buttons, where R1 is used to look up and L1 is used to look down. Meanwhile, L2 and R2 are used to strafe left and right, respectively. So, if you hit the wrong shoulder button, you could run sideways - not good if you were on top of a high building and trying to look down. It's generally not good to find yourself hurtling uncontrollably towards what you're aiming at.

The menu music is also a point of aggravation; not so much for the player, but for anyone who has to be in the same room for long periods of time. When you're playing, you might not notice the music so much, but when that's all someone else hears for a while, it's a bit unnerving.

On the whole, there's a lot of Armored Core goodness here to play with, including a trainable AI system for creating your own 'Arena Ladder'. Silent Line is a very challenging game, however, and would probably be better off as a rental for the less experienced, in case it proves too formidable a challenge.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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