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Armored Core 3
PS2 Staff Review by Ryan McCarthy

When I first played Armored Core on the PlayStation, I was in mech heaven. The amount of customization in the game was astonishing, and the thrill of building up my own walking-tank, then working for the highest bidder was, at the time, unparalleled (for mech fans at least). Now, despite having six games to its series, Armored Core has only now reached 3. And much like its predecessors, even though 3 is really nothing more than a slight change to the ageless formula, I still love it to death. Though, there is something that has dawned on me while playing this latest version. And that�s that it�s all starting to become a little stale. Just a little.

When Armored Core 2 was released at the launch of the PS2, I was amazed at how the visuals had improved, especially in the detailing of the various AC�s (the game�s mechs). 3 however, does not have that same drastic improvement, in fact there is barely any improvement at all. Though that�s not to say the game isn�t pretty, because it still is. The engine is as solid as ever, the framerate sticks and the enemies and environments all sport decent to good detail. All the AC�s look great, and the boost effect is particularly awesome looking. One standout disappointment however was the explosions, which look tacked on at best. Overall the game still looks great; it�s just that it looked this great 2 years ago.

Armored Core is essentially two games in one. One is an awesome mech-building simulation, replete with weight distributions, hundreds of parts, and oodles and oodles of stats. The other is an average action shooter plagued by slightly unresponsive controls and at times menacingly tough A.I. Despite the customization aspect still being timeless and ridiculous addictive, the shooter portion desperately needs some overhauls. I am quite pleased however at the tweaks developer From Software has implemented in this latest version. First off, they�ve finally incorporated analog control, which helps (but doesn�t alleviate) the controlling issues that have plagued the series from day one. Also the arena has been tweaked for the better, making the one-on-one matches much more entertaining. The new ability to purchase wingmen to help you out in various missions is also helpful, as that eases the difficulty, however slightly. Still, the problems I�ve mentioned still hamper 3, and for the series to continue on with success, must be fixed. Oh yeah, note to From Software: adjust the costs of repairs and ammo after missions! Nothing is more annoying than barely making it through a mission only to see your bank balance drop 20 grand.

The musical arrangements in 3 are far and away better than any other score in any of the other Armored Core games. It isn�t that unique, but is fits the atmosphere of the game well and doesn�t often get repetitive or annoying. The effects as usual are top notch, though a little more variety in the weapons would help, as shell cannon's and plasma cannon's should sound nothing alike. Surprisingly too is the quality of the voice acting during the missions, which while not groundbreaking in the least, is still very competent and at times, (gasp!), good!

AC3 has over 100 mech parts, which allow for a ridiculous amount of different combinations of AC�s. Considering heavy and light AC�s play nothing alike, the potential to replay the game�s 50 or so missions with totally different mech�s is very possible. Even if replaying is out of the question, with all those missions, over 30 arena enemies to best, and that pesky addiction called �customization�, you�re guaranteed to be playing 3 for at least 20 hours, if not a whole lot more. Your money�s worth this game is.

I love Armored Core, and 3 is no different. While the problems with the shooter aspect of the game should have long been corrected by now, the crazy AC customization always hooks me to a disturbing degree. Still, I hope that even more improvements are made to next iteration of this great series, because if nothing else 3 has shown me that even Armored Core can�t stay golden forever. Let�s hope From Software doesn�t let this series go stale, because as it stands now, it�s awfully close.

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