On the surface Armored Core appears to be little more than a 3rd person action/adventure with robots. Look a little closer and you’ll discover a level of depth beyond your wildest imagination. What starts off with the simple premise of being a mercenary-for-hire will eventually escalate into an involving story where treachery and and politics run rampant. You’ll begin the game as a lowly ranked Raven and be given your own mech (called Armored Cores) equipped with the most basic of parts. Money is earned by accepting missions from various companies. Completing the mission nets you the specified reward minus a few expenditures such as ammo cost, and armor repair. This money can then be used to upgrade your AC. Everything in this game can be upgraded, and if you want to advance beyond the first few missions you’ll be spending lots of time in the shops and garage finding the perfect match. You have different bodies, arms, legs, and heads to choose from, each with their own different perks. After that you’ll begin looking for a generator to run your AC, a targeting system (FCS), and boosters so that your mech can maintain more time in the air. Next comes the weapons, you have the option to equip your arms with swords and guns, and missile launchers and bigger guns on your back, as well as radars. And just to keep it fair, all of this has to meet certain weight limits. Control in this game is simple and will come quickly to those familiar with the playstation’s controller. You have the conventional strafe buttons; a primary attack button, secondary melee attack, and the weapon select, as well as a button to control your targeting and the boosters. The controls are perfectly suited to the button layout and will soon have novices flying through missions like pros. The missions in the game vary from arena duels to labyrinthine dungeons requiring you to destroy various locations in the deeper parts of the area. Payment comes in either money or new AC parts. Generally, the harder the mission, the greater the payment. Several missions will offer special bonus and sometimes deductions, this is detailed in the mission briefing. Siding with different companies leads to different missions, with around fifty missions, some only accessible if certain other missions were completed, the game comes packed with replay. The challenge gradually increases from the early missions to the finale, but hopefully, so will your skill. It’s not impossible to beat the game by any means. Finishing missions successfully also places you on a ranking ladder. As you complete more and more, you’ll slowly make your way to the top of the list of Ravens. When it comes time to customize your AC, the sheer amount of options can boggle the unsuspecting player’s mind. Choosing a head piece for example requires the player to decide what’s most important. Some parts offer greater armor defense while others come equipped with built-in radar functions. There are two different types of arms, normal arms and weapon arms. Normal arms allow you to equip a weapon in the right hand and a beam sword in the left. While weapon arms are weapons themselves and can not be equipped with more weapons. Boosters also play an important role as some missions will require a certain level of competence with flight. Stronger boosters means extended flight time and also increases the likelihood of evading enemy attacks. There are four types of leg parts to choose from, standard humanoid, reverse joint, four legged, and caterpillar. The standard humanoid legs can run and strafe at average speeds and generally hold adequate weight. Reverse joint legs have the ability to jump higher but this is countered with lower armor and low carrying capacity. The four legged parts allow your AC to cruise through missions but feature both low armor, stability, and can only bear light loads. The caterpillar legs are basically tank treads. These hold obscene amounts of weight and provide heavy armor. Of course this comes at a price, caterpillars are slow and their flight capability is terrible. The weapon selection is vast and will give players plenty of options to experiment. The right arm can hold various types of weapons such as rifles, pistols, flamethrowers, and machine guns. Each weapon has a set limit of ammo and a damage rating forcing the player to decide what will be the most beneficial in the coming mission. Weapons are further divided into energy and shell, each AC has a set armor rating against each class and knowing what the opponent is will determine which is most effective. Shell weapons are typically weaker but contain more ammo, however, energy weapons have free ammo and drains your energy bar. Your left arm is strictly reserved for beam swords. These are used for close combat and do much more damage when compared to a standard weapon. Players can also equip weapons on their AC’s shoulders. These range from missile launchers to excessively powerful guns and radars. Missile launchers can fire multiple times with one lock and are a good bet for long range. Rocket launchers do ungodly amounts of damage but have no lock-on mechanism. Wise gamers will also take care to equip a radar so that they won’t blindly wander into enemy traps. Finally, there are large missile launchers that require both shoulders, are extremely heavy, and deal exceptional damage. Entering the garage also provides another area of customization- the color. While one can easily choose one of many set patters, the real fun comes in making your own. Each of the main AC parts can be edited with a custom color of your choice. There are also four different areas to customize making for interesting combinations. Also you can create an emblem for your AC. On the AC’s left shoulder is a little emblem, his flag if you will. You can make this look like whatever you want, good emblems take time, but your generally rewarded with an appealing symbol to feel proud of. The graphics are rather dark and somewhat dull, however, they convey the perfect mood for this game. The music is a very light techno that is often blocked out due to the large sound your AC will make when walking around. The voice acting in the game consists of the emotionless voice that speaks to you at the beginning and end of the mission. It suits the game rather well. Armored Core is a heavily customizable mission-based action/adventure game that can be enjoyed by nearly any fan of gaming in general. Armored Core stands apart from other games in the genre with its seemingly magical ability to immerse you in its world.