If you've never played an Armored Core
game before, you've got a lot of catching up to do. You'll want to find the original Armored Core
(or at least one somewhere in the middle) and work your way up to Last Raven
. While there have been plots and plot twists, the main thing you'll be lacking is going to be insanely good skills with an AC. Armored Core: Last Raven
features several enemies from Armored Core: Nexus
, but some of them have improved their AC's a bit.
If you've played Armored Core: Nexus or Armored Core: Nine Breaker, you can convert your old saved game from either of those games to work in Last Raven. This will give you a ''leg up" on the competition and will start you off with a more powerful AC that you're (hopefully) somewhat familiar with.
A large aspect of any Armored Core game is configuring your AC to be prepared for the specific mission or arena opponent you're about to face. You'll have to choose which head to buy and equip, which arms and legs you want, what guns or missiles you want to arm yourself with and what features all of the above have. You'll have to balance firepower with cost, speed with weight, offensive features with defensive features. You will, inevitably, find yourself vascillating between a weapon that you think is perfect for the task at hand or the anti-missile system that mounts in the same location... or you won't enjoy Last Raven at all. Armored Core: Last Raven is a game for tweakers -- players who know that a lot of strategy that goes into a successful battle is determined long before stepping foot on a battlefield. True, you have to determine what your strategy will be -- what to attack, how to attack, when to approach and when to back away -- but you also have to determine what weapons to equip before going in, so you'll have them when you need them. And how you want your tunable parts tuned for weight? Perhaps for cooling ability? ...Of course, you can't get these super-wonderful parts unless you buy them, and that takes money made in previous missions and arena victories. You'll want to think about what parts you want to get and use now as well as what parts you want to save up for to buy later. Armored Core: Last Raven, like other Armored Core games before it, is a game of planning, plotting, earning, saving, spending and -- above all -- patience.
While the graphics haven't changed much as of late, the gameplay does see a few changes; all of which seem to contribute to the effect of providing more difficult challenges to the fans and, effectively, reducing the accessibility to new players. One new feature that serves as an excellent example of this is the breakable parts system. It is now possible to target parts of an opponent's AC and to inflict damage on those specific parts. Your mines, for example, can destroy an opponent's legs (of course, they're likely to have been simply hopping around with their jump jets, so the only gratification you'll get is hearing your computer tell you that their legs have been destroyed and knowing that you've got them that much closer to blowing them up). Also, it seems that a nice shot to the head can cleanly remove it, and just as cleanly take that enemy out of your way.