So after almost two weeks solid of Warhammer Online and various half hour sessions of Mega Man, I decided to take a little break by starting a new series I haven't played before. After seeing the trailer for the new Armored Core game coming out, I decided perhaps it was time to check those games out. 1997 with my Playstation, here I come!
Now, usually when someone goes back to play an older game like this they have a safety net built from nostalgic memories to fall on to when the game appears to fall short. That is, unless you've never played the original game before. In that case, its a requirement to always remember two things.
1) The graphics are old, get over it.
2) No, the game doesn't suck, you do. Learn the controls, learn the game.
My first attempt at play, was a complete failure. At first, it seemed like an easy enough concept. Just complete missions, earn money, buy upgrades. Sure I sucked pretty bad but thats alright. I didn't have a manual for the game and I wasn't using a guide. Learning things the old fashioned way left me feeling pretty frustrated only because I had no idea what to do.
I kept at it though. Each mission I tried to move just a little better, aim just a little straighter. Using L2 and R2 to look up and down really threw me for a loop, but I got used to it. Just like a good pilot, you have to put your time in to learn how your craft moves and become better at maneuvering. 10 missions later I felt like I was finally getting a handle on things and pulling off some slick moves with my boosters, except I was -10k in the funding department... not exactly good.
Then it hit me. Progression relies on your ability to buy the right upgrades which in turn depends on you making as much money possible by not sucking.
I had not thought of that. This is a good thing to know. So far my mech sucked and I bought him crap parts with what little I could afford.
However, I then discovered the beauty of this game. You can sell your parts at full price, and buy them back at full price. There is no penalty for scrapping your equipment and trying out different parts.
I soon found out that this is key. And so began the process of learning what works and what doesn't through trial and error with experimentation. A few hours later and I was ready to start over.
With everything I learned so far, I was finally able to demolish the first 10 missions. Auto-firing missile lock is slick, laser weapons have terrifying power but limited ammo, quad legs (Tachikoma style) to zip around and support the most weight are VERY useful, shiny new generator to recharge energy levels quickly is a must, sell the useless radar, and mix and match the core/arms/head to get just the right build down. Now I'm having fun! Missions went much easier for me the second time around and I had lots of money to try some of the pricier parts and options.
So far I'm very glad I decided to play this series. I can't wait to finish this game and get to Armored Core 2 where the graphics start to really catch up to what the AC units look like in the much improved cutscenes. Not to mention a farther draw distance and levels that don't make me feel like I'm playing in a dark basement.
I'm also thinking the story might be better told in later installments of the series, because right now... emails from random corporations just isn't cutting it for me. I guess if wanted story in my mech games, perhaps I should be playing Zone of Enders.