When it comes to Mech games there aren't usually too many to choose from in a consoles life. Fortunately, From Software jumped on the Playstation 2 bandwagon early and have spent quite a bit of time developing this title, Armored Core 2. Sales in Japan were very strong and the title was soon picked up by Crave for release in Europe and Australia. (It was released in America thanks for Agetec.) Prepare for some serious combat, some frantic action, and plenty of big explosions.
Armored Core 2 includes fairly standard storylines throughout the single player game, although it hardly needs it. This is an action game first and foremost. Your first task will be to create your mech robot. From Software have gone to enormous lengths in this area with more than 200 customisable parts available on the mechs. These feature both interior equipment & extension packs such as arms, legs, radars, armour, weapons and speed. Once you have created your dream mech robot it's into the battlefield to take on opposing mechs. The battles take place in large arenas where anything goes, including the destruction of surroundings. The weapons are varied and basically the more shrapnel you hit your opponent with the better. It's a battle to the end, and there's no running away. The game includes a total of 35 levels in the single player mode with a dozen more in the 2-player mode. The single player missions are varied with different tasks to complete including destroying objects within a map or catching up to others along highways.
Unfortunately the Japanese and American versions of Armored Core 2 only allow control of the mechs via the digital control. Few games screamed out more for analogue controls then this game. Analogue controls would help to move the mech as precisely as you would expect in real life. It's highly unlikely that this will be altered for released in Europe and Australia. Perhaps the most interesting part of the game will be the 2-player split screen mode which will allow you to battle with your friends with your custom built mechs. This should proove to be immensely enjoyable, especially if you have both invested a lot of time in the game and know what to do.
The graphics in Armored Core 2 look pretty crisp with a 60fps rate promised throughout the game. While the backgrounds look a little bland the mechs are highly detailed and the explosions realistic. Not only can the mechs destroy each other but also much of the scenery and buildings within the levels. Apparently, the game contains no problems with any draw-in whatsoever.
Armored Core 2 will be a great alternative to the numerous arcade ports on the Playstation 2. The game is interesting and the genre should be fairly fresh to Australian console owners who have seen very few mech games in recent years. Ubisoft, who are distributing the title here, have said the game will hit the shelves on March 29th. Hang on, thats only a couple of weeks away now. Time to start saving then.