HARDCORE SHOOTING FEST Armored Core V (ACV or AC5) is an enjoyable game title that, were it not for a lack of mission variety and a slew of minor flaws, would be among the finest mech games on the market.
Set in the same war torn universe as its predecessors, ACV's central mechanic theme is simple - build your own giant robot and then use it blow up other giant robots. Separate from the events of Armored Core 4, AC5 sees you join a team of mercenaries in a battle against an evil tyrant known only as "Father" - the ruler of one of the few habitable areas left on Earth called "the City".
The game's main Campaign mode tells the story in the usual Armored Core (AC) way, offering the same mission based format seen in the series' previous entries. The format sees you pick and choose from a variety of missions on a global map. These missions are divided into two subcategories - "Orders" which are basically mercenary contracts that have no real bearing on the game's plot and "Story", which further the game's narrative.
While the story isn't the work of Shakespeare, it does provide a compelling enough reason to keep playing the game. This is mainly due to the fact that the game makes you like your teammates by making them more personable. So often your dropship pilot will start talking mid-mission on everything from personal grievances to the local area's history. The cast's dialogue offers a subtle doorway into the game's world that makes you actually care about their fate and want to find out what happens next.
This is particularly good considering the game's missions don't offer much in the way of variety, never really tasking you to do anything more than kill every enemy in the area within a set time. On average only lasting around four minutes, the Order missions' repetitiveness is particularly noticeable, with ACV being unafraid to reuse older maps, often simply changing which enemies you're fighting mission to mission. While the Story missions do offer a bit more variety and add longevity to the experience, usually lasting around 10 minutes, they do by and large have pretty much the same "kill everything that moves" theme.
As is the case with many Armored Core games, designing and building your own mech is far more fun than actually flying it. The garage section of the game's interface takes you to ACV's shop which is a sight to behold, offering an intimidating number of options for your mech.
ACV requires you to build your robot from the ground up, picking everything from its chassis and paint job all the way down to its targeting CPU. The feature is one of the game's biggest accomplishments, with the variety of parts on offer letting you create a mech that you genuinely feel is your own.
The customisation element is doubly important as it also directly affects how you will approach each mission - pick a tank style mech that uses tracks rather than bipedal legs and you'll be able to carry heavier weapons, but will be less mobile, select a light chassis with strong boosters and you'll gain an aerial advantage over heavier mechs but at the cost of armour and defense.
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