Review: Armored Core: Verdict Day

titleWhen it comes to niche games, Armored Core is about as specialist as they come. Developer From Software may have found their breakthrough series with Dark Souls, but even after fifteen years of Armored Core, the hardcore mecha simulation genre still has a limited appeal. Verdict Day is not much more than an extension of Armored Core V, and does little that will change anyone’s opinion of the series.

02We’ve actually had very few mecha games this generation, although Armored Core: Verdict Day reminds me a lot of Chromehouds, the last notable game (that wasn’t Armored Core) in the genre. It was also developed by From Software, which explains why their newest game offers pretty much the same multiplayer experience I remember from 2006. It’s unintuitive for new players, and until you’ve mastered the game you’re going to get your ass kicked and have zero fun. Therefore if you’re not already an Armored Core pro then you’ll first need to put some serious work (and it really is work) into the game’s single player mode, which (spoiler alert) is complete garbage.

The story itself is so far beyond generic it’s unbelievable, and this same lack of imagination carries on through into the level design. Each mission lasts about 5 minutes, with the general objective being to shoot at just about everything that moves. The mecha are fairly agile, which does mark an improvement for the series, but the game still fails to be any fun whatsoever. At heart it is a very basic third person shooter with shocking mission design, but this takes a while to realise as the package is so confusingly wrapped up in unintuitive menus, endless statistics, and the guise of being a ‘simulation game’.

04The levels are incredibly bland, and I’m surprised by how little variety has been achieved when the missions themselves span the entire globe. It’s graphics are technically unimpressive, but it’s the colour palate and lack of imagination that makes it so uninspiring to look at. The game’s H.U.D is needlessly complicated and again reinforces the game’s focus on menus, numbers and lists over gameplay and fun.

03In all fairness I’m sure there is someone, somewhere who will enjoy this game. I can’t speak as a hardcore Armored Core fan, and if you liked the last one then there’s no reason you wouldn’t like this. There’s a huge amount of customisation when it comes to creating your mecha, but again working out what you’re doing in unintuitive and not really worth the effort for new players. If you’re yet to experience the series, I really wouldn’t bother. If you remember how awful Chromehounds was, the genre hasn’t evolved much since. In fact, the only mecha games I can really recommend are all fairly old, but there are a number of titles from last generation that both look and play better than Armored Core: Verdict Day.

5/10

Play instead: MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf, Phantom Crash, Bulk Slash

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