VGF.Net - Video Gamers First Network
 
   Navigation menu
  New Page 1
PSGF Home
News
Codes
Reviews
Previews
Mailbag
Features
Release List
FAQs
Contests
Affiliates
Staff
Misc.

     

 
 

 


Specials:
-
The Budget Gamer's Repair Kit
-Things To Do While Waiting for Final Fantasy XI to Install
-Virtual Reality or Art?
(More Specials)

Reviews:
-
Harvest Moon: Back to Nature
-Wheel of Fortune
-Bombastic
(More PS2 Reviews)

Previews:
-
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
-Mace Griffin Bounty Hunter
-Final Fantasy X-2
(More Previews)

News:
-
Leisure Suit Larry Announced
-New Greatest Hits
-Unlimited SaGa FFX-2 Prologue Bonus
-XIII Multiplayer Details
-Acclaim Releases XGRA
-Sammy Ships Lethal Skies II
-SNK Announces King of Fighters Pack
-Chris Vrenna Scores Area 51
-PS2 Shipments Hit 60 Million
-Grand Theft Auto "Double Pack" Announced
-Soul Calibur II Ships
-New PS2 Bundle
-Soul Calibur PS2 Bonuses
-Atari Announces DBZ: Budokai 2
-Midway Announces NARC
-Midway Announces Area 51
-Lethal Skies II Dated
-Sony Announces PSX
(More News)

   
 
Message Boards | VGF.com | Hosting/Get Affiliated  
 
Ad Info
 
 

Silent Line: Armored Core
Review By: J. Michael Neal
 
Developer:  From Software
Publisher:  Agetec
# Of Players:  1-2 (2-4 i.Link)
Genre:  Simulation
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card, i.Link, USB Mouse
Date Posted:  11-2-03

Armored Core has always set out to be the MechWarrior of the console world, blending arcade-style action with sim-level customization, and while there is certainly no lack of “giant robot games” around, few if any have offered players as much freedom to build the mech of their dreams as AC. However, Armored Core has never truly moved forward as a series. Pseudo-expansions precede every release while sequels ignore long-standing criticisms. In that respect, Silent Line: Armored Core is yet another example of the series’ arrested development; a game that despite it’s many additions and visual facelift feels closer to Armored Core 1. -Something than what should be Armored Core 4. So what does this mean to you, the gamer? Well, if you have every Armored Core to date sitting on your shelf already, and hence, don’t expect much change out of the franchise, you’ll probably be satisfied with Silent Line as well; if you’ve been waiting on the sidelines for the right moment to entire the series, now is as good a time as any; if you have been putting off another Armored Core until something truly innovative comes along, you’ve got to wait a little while longer; and if you’ve never found anything terribly appealing about what Armored Core had to offer, you still won’t. That’s not to say that Silent Line isn’t good; it’s a solid, enjoyable mech sim once you get in to it, but it’s steep learning curve, painfully slow start, cumbersome controls, and often daunting difficultly level will put off all but the most dedicated.

Silent Line begins like any other Armored Core – all-powerful corporations fight tooth and nail over the remnants of a scorched Earth while mercenaries, such as you, make fortunes playing all sides of the battlefield, Man With No Name style. Like any post-apocalyptic future worth it’s salt, combat is primarily robót e robót; sure, it may not be the most original of set-ups, but who needs and excuse to play around with giant Gobots?

The majority of missions consist of the typical search and destroy/escort/press the shiny button fair, but to the game’s defense, a few break from the typical mold and offer gamers some variety; not much variety, but every little counts. Successfully completing missions earns you credits (and occasionally special parts) that can then be used to upgrade your war-machines so they can then handle tougher and tougher missions. This, however, brings us to one of the first (and biggest) problems with this game, and that’s that it’s just too damn difficult from the start.

If you have Armored Core 3, you have a head start, as you can once again convert your old save file and begin where you left off. Everyone else has to start from scratch, and that is far tougher than you could ever imagine. In Silent Line, the first few missions can be easily beaten with the stock “Core”, as the mechs are referred to in this game, but after that you are expected to make something out of nothing. Turn a hunk of junk into a juggernaut like some sort of warmongering Martha Stewart, or better yet, MacGyver? What, with the hundreds and hundreds of available parts being well beyond your price range? It’s impossible! You’ll have to save up from three or four missions just to get a $24,000 weapon; one that is only negligibly better than your old weapon, mind you. Don’t even ask me how they expect you to save the dough for those $750,000 parts. Meanwhile that new mission that just opened up is near unbeatable with your current Core, particularly if it is one that doesn’t allow you to hire a wingman. So you need to complete missions to earn money to buy better parts, but you need better parts in order to complete these missions. See the vicious cycle? Sure, you can earn some spending money in the Arena, a Virtua On-style mech tournament against CPU-controlled Cores or player created AI creations within the main game, but you won’t gain much success there either without a top-notch Core. In a game that is 99% about building a personalized, ass-kicking robot, it’s frustrating that doing so seems such an uphill battle.

The options available to you while constructing your Core are impressive to say the least. You’ll have 428 parts to choose from, including all the old parts from previous games in the series, paint tools, and even a decal creator. You’ll be able to tweak every aspect of your Core, from generator to radar, and that is where the depth, fun, and replayability of Armored Core lay. Striking the perfect balance between speed and strength while keeping a constant eye on torso and leg weight capacity, output, and cooling is key to building a mech in Armored Core. Master it, and you’ll be unstoppable, earning bragging rights among those within the fervent AC community, who swap Core designs and exhibit their custom configurations with pride. Earn out-and-out trash talking rights if your Core is a powerhouse in the Verse mode, which allows up to four players to battle via i.Link across 21 maps in team or free for all matches. Considering how devoted a following this series has, though, it’s a shame that online play has once again been overlooked, as it would not only add to the replayability of Silent Line, but also to the “must have” factor of the game.

Too bad many gamers will never see this side of Silent Line, the “fun” side so to speak, as the limited funds issue seriously puts a damper on anything enjoyable this game might offer newcomers. Sure, there is a certain Gran Turismo feel to it all; the steep learning curve, the complex mechanics, the piece by piece transformation of a rust-bucket into a tour de force, but even GT made it a little easier to buy new parts, considering that you can revisit beaten Cups to earn more money. Maybe if you were allowed to do the same here, replay completed missions to earn quick cash, things wouldn’t be so bad. Instead you are doomed to “window shop” expensive parts for what seems like an eternity, which is exactly twice as long as most gamer’s threshold for frustration is. I myself broke down and got an Action Replay because I just couldn’t take it anymore, and I have to say it did the trick. It bumped the “fun factor” of this game up some notches once I was able to spend like Michael Jackson on a sugar rush and actually create some mechs I was proud of, then test it against the computer and watch it perform.

Sure, some of you may shrink at the thought of cheating on a game, but I blame From Software for practically leaving me no choice. Not only is the gratification so delayed that one looses all will to continue, but there was one boss battle early on in the game that I am convinced can only be defeated by cheating, as even with unlimited health it took me a good ten minutes (and what would amount to well over seven “Game Overs” worth of damage taken) to finish him. If it weren’t for the fact that I HAD to play this game I would not have stuck around long enough to reach any sort of fulfilling pay-off in Silent Line, especially considering that the entire time I was wallowing in unhappiness I had to put up with some of the most uncomfortable controls I’ve seen since the 32-bit age.

Breaking from the standard set by just about every 3Rd person game to be released in five years, Silent Line, although analog compatible, does not allow you to control the camera with the right analog stick. No, the kind people at From Software decided to allocate the look up and down features to the shoulder buttons while using R1 and L1 to strafe – even while in the 1st person cockpit view! Now, considering how long it took me to even get halfway comfortable with this set-up and the fact that the right analog stick is completely functionless, you’d think there’d be some way to reconfigure the controls. Well, there is, but mapping anything to the right analog stick is not possible. Compare this to the elegance of MechAssault’s controls and you have what can only be described as a needlessly sadistic design decision. Surprisingly, the developers did include USB mouse compatibility, which alleviates some of the problem, but I’m sure the only thing less likely to be owned by prospective Silent Line shoppers than a USB mouse for their PS2 is an i.Link.

After all this negativity you may be asking yourself, “why should I even consider buying this game?” Well, the answer is if you aren’t a real fan of the Armored Core series (or the often cumbersome, slow-paced, and difficult mech sim genre in general) you probably shouldn’t; it will offer you little more than headaches unless you are prepared to do some serious cheating. With a little nudge in the right direction, however, the game can be quite fun. The Verse and Arena modes are much more enjoyable than you would think, and the thrill of designing and upgrading Cores lasts well after the 34 missions have come and gone. Being able to convert your old file once again makes continuing in the serious a no-brainer for fans, and although serious progression is still lacking, in respect to enhancements like online play or improved controls, there is probably enough steady improvements to please die-hards once again. However, I would encourage everyone else to consider spending your money somewhere else.

HIGHS:

  • Extensive customization, including a decal creator.
  • Ability to convert AC3 file for use in Silent Line continues to extend the series.
  • Verse and Arena modes are enjoyable, particularly among AC enthusiasts.
  • Missions are plentiful and try, though not always succeeding, to break from the usual routine.
  • i.Link and mouse support is always welcomed.

LOWS:

  • Terrible camera controls.
  • Just more of the same.
  • Online play has been postponed once again.
  • Often painfully high difficulty.
  • Extremely laborious first few million hours of the game will put off just about everyone.

FINAL VERDICT:

There is a halfway enjoyable game buried somewhere in here. It’s nothing terribly new, but might be worth finding for fans of the series, or die-hard mech simmers. My advice to everyone else is "find your fun elsewhere".

Overall Score: 6.7

Additional Media:

 


VGF.com
Cheat Codes
Nintendo Gamers First
PC Gamers First
Xbox Gamers First



 



 

© 1999-2005 VGF.com. All Rights Reserved. All content contained herein is property of VGF, Inc. VGF is not affiliated with any video game companies. Logos, trademarks, names, images, etc. are property of their respective companies. More legal info. Privacy Statement

Cooler than IGN.

Click for VGF.com Main Nintendo Sony PlayStation/Playstation 2 PC Xbox