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Armored Core: For Answer
Score: 95%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: From Software
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 2, 2 (Online)
Genre: Third Person Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:
Armored Core is back, with Armored Core: For Answer, and is just as beautiful as ever. Actually, the environments seem to be making better use of the PS3's power in For Answer, better utilizing the space and detail that the system can allow. The buildings have been destructible in previous games, for example, but they look better now, both before being destroyed and while they are crumbling to the ground.

Tweakers who liked Armored Core 4's customization options can rejoice; Armored Core: For Answer doubles the amount of customization, making the game awesome for tweakers like us... and even less approachable by the general teeming masses, I would imagine. (I can hear it now, "Are you still painting your mech or have you played some missions since I saw you last?")

The sound effects in Armored Core: For Answer are well done, and sound especially good in surround sound. This is definitely a game to play in your home theater.


Gameplay:
Armored Core: For Answer is a "mech" game, where you pilot a huge, powerful and somewhat humanoid tank-like machine of war in a dark future setting where the world is run by corporations which constantly fight for resources and control. The Armored Core series uses a third-person view, where you see your Armored Core (or "AC," for short - basically your "mech") in front of you. This gives you a better view of what's going on, but reduces the "simulation" feel. This is somewhat sad, as the rest of the gameplay is all simulation, from the control scheme to the switching between weapons and the very, very detailed tuning that you can do to your AC. The viewpoint is basically the only thing "arcade" feeling about Armored Core: For Answer... and I wish I could play it in a first-person out-the window view, with a specialized simulation controller, much like Steel Battalion. Alas, they've stuck with their formula for quite some time... and it works.. but all the detail in the world can't make up for the realism lost in playing in third-person with a gamepad. Sigh.

There are a few different ways to play For Answer. The main mode is Story Mode. There are a series of missions to be done. You choose which ones you want to do and in which order. Additionally, you can fight against other pilots in the arena for rewards, as well as bragging rights and increased rank. You don't have to go it alone, however; most of the missions allow you to play them cooperatively with a friend over the PlayStation Network. This is a first for mech games, I believe.

Alternatively, you could play against your friends online, in Online Versus mode or LAN Battle or just play against them on the same couch, with the Split Screen mode.


Difficulty:
I like Armored Core. I've played, well, at least most of them, if not quite all of them. Even so, I found some of the missions to be frustratingly difficult. It seems like I needed to get access to upgrade parts faster in some cases and on one mission, in particular, I failed to realize that I need a specific tool, rather than larger weapons, to finish the mission. At any rate, For Answer is going to be much easier for a seasoned Armored Core fan to play than for a new player. While there is probably enough information in the game, the tutorials and the manual to get along, it could be highly frustrating to try to figure out some of the things if you're completely new to the series.

If you're not a "tweaker" - that is, a gamer who likes to fiddle with the minutia of a game, setting up your character or buying new items, swapping out old items and trying out new setups to see what works best - if you're not one of those, you probably should avoid Armored Core: For Answer. For that matter, you probably won't get much out of the entire Armored Core series without at least a little tendency to fiddle and tweak. That's okay. My wife, for example, is an excellent gamer... but she couldn't be bothered to configure an AC. To each their own.

As for tips, I would say spend your credits wisely, and don't accept a low score on a mission; if you think you can do it better, try it again and you could finish with more credits. Once you know what needs to be done in a mission, you can often find a way through using less munitions or getting a better score (and hence, better pay) by concentrating on the best targets or minimizing collateral damage.

Other than that, I can only suggest, "practice, practice, practice." You'll need to give yourself some time with newly added weapons to get a good idea for how best to use them. You can work your way through your missions, and you can always revisit your favorites after they've been completed or play against others online to get more practice in. It's important to "get to know" your AC. You'll see that practice really helps when you return to your missions to continue your progress.


Game Mechanics:
Armored Core: For Answer looks great. But, then, so did the last Armored Core game for the PS3. What's new in For Answer are the EMP weapons and Assault Armor. Assault Armor is actually an attack that you can use on enemies in your immediate vicinity by "overing" your boost (Triangle) and hitting your (L1) and (R1) buttons together when you're around a group of enemies. When you pull this off right, it creates a ball of explosion that does a nice amount of damage to all enemies in the area, which is pretty sweet... but be careful with it; it immediately and completely drains your Primal Armor (PA) and then it recharges slower than normal.

Basically, if you're an Armored Core fan, as I am, you should probably pick up Armored Core: For Answer, for the missions and the new Nexts and EMP weapons. If you're not familiar with Armored Core, you should probably consider renting it first... not everyone is interested in tweaking in their games.


-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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