PS2 REVIEW: ARMORED CORE: ANOTHER AGE

Super Size!The "Armored Core" series has been around for a long time now, and it doesn't seem like the genre will stop anytime soon. And fortunately, Agetec's latest installment, "Armored Core 2: Another Age", proves to be the best of the bunch!

Armored Core 2: Another Age"doesn't stray far from its predecessor, Armored Core 2. Earth and Mars are battling it out together, and both are trying to rebuild from a war. As a freelance Raven (a giant robot), you take jobs from either Earth or Mars (or both) to kick corporation and terrorist ass for the highest price. Of course you don't want to tell either one you just invaded their base on a previous mission, when taking a job from them. You need money to buy better parts and weapons of mass destruction. And there are A LOT of missions. In fact there are 100 new ones! That ought to keep you busy for awhile, so don't expect to breeze by this game quickly, like some other titles you may have gone through. Each mission has its own goals and story, and is usually very well done. The variety of missions is a plus, from invading the base, assassinating the other Raven, protecting something, exterminating giant insects, etc. My favorite part of the game is making your own robot. Whether it be a heavily armored and weapon equipped one, or a light, swift deadly one. Heavy rocketlaunchers, powerful beam swords, energy weapons and shields…this game has it all! There is enough customization in this title to make sure you can have your very own unique robot fit exactly to your tastes for you to love and destroy with.

"Armored Core 2: Another Age" has proven to be the best in the AC series."

Super Size!Armored Core 2: Another Age" has improved in the graphics department compared to its predecessor. Mechs are smoother and sharper looking. The reflections and lighting are top notch here too. (Just see the booster lights!) The backgrounds are splendid, whether it be inside an old factory or out in the desert sands. The frame-rate has also been fixed up a lot, and it transitions very smoothly. I've only seen it drop few times, for example when there is a lot going on,with tons of enemies on screen, but even then it isn't a problem. And for such nice graphics, the loading times are very fast.

Musically, AC2:AA is merely ok. The beginning intro music has a really awesome technobeat, but throughout the game it just blends in and doesn't shout out to you. When fighting, you'll hear the sounds of your guns firing and swords slashing. But I really don't care for the sword sound. It sounds like a school fire alarm going off. Otherwise the in-game sound effects are done well. On the brighter side, the voice acting is pretty good, even when it can be a little pretentious.

One of the small gripes that has plagued the Armored Core series for "Ages", (puni ntended), is control. While not as bad as the titles before this, it still feels a little clunky and stiff at times. You can use the analog stick, which does help a great deal, but even then you may be doing too much at once, constantly shooting, running, or aiming. When aiming, you may find yourself struggling, because sometimes the enemies move around so much you can't get a decent lock on them. Armored Core 2:Another Age should've copied a thing or two from "Zone of the Enders" and developed a smoother and tighter control system. What I really would've liked to have seen in this game would be better swordplay, instead of a simple and obnoxiously loud slash. But this title still pulls through ok with control in the end.

Super Size!While AC2:AA has many missions, there are some flaws. If you are new to the series, this may not be your cup of tea. The game is challenging, but you can always beat something, though not as easily as in the previous titles. There will be instances where this game will test your skills to the max, like when you must fight one Raven after another (or two at one time!!), but you can always beat them somehow, and when you do, you just have that feeling of "I am wicked awesome".

With that said, let's look at the themulti-player system. There is online support for this game in Japan, but since the PS2 hard drive that would enable you use it is not out in the USA yet, I couldn't test it. However there are now 2-player cooperative missions available. These are really fun when you've got a friend over, and should ideally keep you busy. But you won't be busy for long, sadly, because there are only a scant eight missions you both can do, and they are too quick and easy, though still somewhat fun. And one thing that puzzles me is that you can gain money as a team or individually from these missions, yet you cannot save this progress, buy parts in this mode, or even carry this cash to your single player missions, when the whole concept of the game is to get money and buy parts! So playing cooperatively can seem almost a waste of time! But at least Agetec included this cooperative mission feature, instead of none at all. It's just that it could have been so greatly improved upon! Then there is the standard 1on 1 two-player combat, and that is so-so. It's not really deep, but it can provide you with some fun when you've got company in your house.

Super Size!There are also a few advantages to buying this game. If you own the original AC2 for the PS2, then you can import your data from that and bring it into this game,with your mech and all your hard-earned money. Then you can really kick some robotic booty!

With literally millions of parts and combinations available to make your own Raven robot machine, more missions than you can shake a leg at, and some multi-player options, "Armored Core 2: Another Age" has proven to be the best in the AC series! If you're a newbie to the series, you may want to rent the game first, to see if it fits your style. If you are a fan of this series, or want to run around in a mass machine of doom, then "boost" over to your local game store and pick it up.

System: PS2
Dev: From Software
Pub: Agetec
Released: Aug 2001
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Zehxis
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4
GRAPHICS
4
CONTROL
3.5
MUSIC/FX
3.5
VALUE
4.5