new spin on a slightly old series.
19, 2005 - Armored
Core: Formula Front is not your regular run-of-the-mill
shooter. It may feature giant mechs engaged in viscous
battles but that's only one part of the gameplay.
The other part is constructing and tweaking these
behemoths choosing from among hundreds of parts. You'll
spend a large part of your time in the garage perfecting
your creations before you send them into battle so
you had better enjoy playing mechanic as much as you
enjoying shooting. It's the redneck equivalent of
fixing up the 77 Pontiac so you can do some rabbit
hunting from the passenger seat. Anyone familiar with
the previous Armored Cored games will know exactly
what to expect.
be more than honest, this game is even less about
shooting than customizing. This is due to the sloppy
manual control system that makes manual combat more
difficult than need be. To solve this all you have
to do is put your bot on automatic and let it flail
away. You can issue commands much like a turn-based
combat system but the animations are intense enough
to compensate for the lack of hands-on control.
the future, where games such as this always seem to
take place, mechs battle it out head-to-head in various
arenas. This sport is called Formula Front and can
be very lucrative for the winner - and very destructive
and costly for the loser. With no real storyline you
fight your way through the ranks earning more money
to upgrade your bots so as to tackle more powerful
mechs are called Armored Cores (hence the title).
You have five of them in your stable. Not only are
they heavily armored, but they can be outfitted with
a variety of weapons and mobility systems to make
them walk, jump, roll and fly. You add and subtract
different parts from your Armored Core in an effort
to destroy your opponent's Armored Core.
of the customizing will be trial and error. The interface
is easy enough to work with but there is nothing that
will really tell you what you really need to make
your machine more efficient. That's why you have five
of them. Make each one different so that you can choose
the right one when going into battle. You can research
each enemy AC (Armored Core) before you fight it and
try to make the appropriate adjustments. There is
no one-fits-all AC. What is interesting to note is
that each change can dramatically affect your performance.
Sometimes all you need to do is change your weapon
from ranged to melee. It's rare you'll get that lucky
but it's nice to see the gameplay mechanics are so
sensitive to seemingly minor adjustments but that's
what makes this game so interesting.
are literally hundreds of parts of choose from including
arms, legs, tracks, jump jets, plasma canons, machine
guns, rocket launchers, radiators, generators and
of course armor. The key principal is balance. You
can't have an AC that's too heavy in any one area.
If you want to outfit your AC with tons of weapons
you have to make sure it's capable of carrying the
load. It also has to be cooled down with a radiator
system as it will tend to heat up if it's too heavy
or constantly firing. This radiator system takes up
real estate on the AC automatically limiting weapon
space. On the other hand if you want a light, fast
and flexible bot you will want to outfit it with melee
weapons since it can get into tight places. If you
want to play it safe, build a tank with a rocket launcher
on it and travel the perimeter of the arena.
in battle, the manual control system is slow and unresponsive.
It's a total bummer since it can actually cost you
the match. Each bout is three minutes long unless
one of the ACs is totally destroyed before that time.
It's best to let the battles run automatically. The
CPU will take into account the various weapon systems
and capabilities of your AC. You can also use operating
chips which are awarded at the end of a successful
battle. These chips give you 30-seconds of commands.
If you do the math that means you can have up to six
of them in a match, each giving different commands
such as telling your AC to strafe or jump out of the
line of fire, or try to jump behind the enemy and
take it by surprise. There are more op chips with
different commands that will give you a reasonable
amount of flexibility. It's not the same as doing
it manually but considering that you stand a better
chance with the automatic battle system, it's a necessity.
battles are more balanced in the ad hock, wireless,
two-player mode. Since you're both at the CPU's mercy
it's possible to play manually with both sides being
equally affected by the sloppy control system. In
this case it doesn't seem too sloppy as you can attribute
it to the ponderous nature of these huge ACs. The
two-player mode is fun for a while but unlike the
single-player mode it lacks depth. You'll end up getting
most of your replay value from the single-player mode
as you experiment with different AC configurations.
Front is very nicely detailed. The various legs, wheels,
gears, arms and weapons all animate individually to
reveal a complete and complex creation. The AC move
about very fluidly and rival what some games offer
as their human animation. The environments are a mix
of indoor and outdoor arenas with some fighting taking
place in urban locations. The load times are pain
in the ass. Not only do they occur frequently, but
it seems to take forever to get into the next fight.
weapons are crisp and the explosions are deep enough
to rattle the little speakers - or your headbones
if you're wearing headphones. The techno music is
more fitting than the generic wrestling rock tunes
of Mech Assault.
Front requires a blend of staunch nerdism and overactive
testosterone. It's not for everyone but it just might
be right for you.
Strategy and Action Like Never Before
Arenas and Ranking System
Robots with Hundreds of Parts to Choose From