When Dudebuilding cannot save your crappy game.
It’s been hectic times over here. Between industriousness of all shapes and sizes, and a job I’m trying to convince my corporate benefactors that “I’m the absolute best choice for.” – I have had zero time for games, until a couple of days ago.
I went through my shelf of things old and new and was rifling through the large quantity of games left “Unplayed.”
I saw something – a collection of something – and thought, this would make a great question for the column. Do you own any games that you really thought you would have liked, have no reason to not like them, and yet, here you are, making a scowling face every time you see the box on your shelves?
I certainly do. And it’s called EVERY. FREAKIN. ARMORED CORE. GAME.
I got my first taste of Armored Core, with what i believe was a secret discovery game on a Pizza Hut PS1 demo disc (remember those?).
(The very satisfying idea of getting both Pizza and Game at the same time is something that should have never went away.)
Anyway, this was a very rudimentary demo of the first Armored Core, which had it’s charm in it’s Jaggy Polygons, early Sony presentation, and gave us this awesome dueling mech game that gave the hint of customization of every single component ever, including painting, decals, the works.
THERE is NO REASON I wouldn’t then, or now, love the hell out of this game. Because it handles everything on my important checklist of things games should have.
1) Does it have giant robots? CHECK.
2) Can you fight your giant robot against a second player in a giant robot? CHECK.
3) Can you put your giant robot in a dude builder, and customize your robot/dude to be red, blue, green, salmon pink – whatever, and give it a variety of tank tread feet, anti-gravity spider legs, etc? CHECK.
It should have been perfect.
I seriously have no idea why I never purchased it back then. In fact, I don’t even have the first one now, and find it incredibly strange that it’s not on the US Playstation store in any capacity.
But tell you what I did get. Armored Core 2: Another Age. Which promised to be all the fun of the Armored Core 2 (that I didn’t play) with bonus robot components and more options. And it was for the PS2, which meant that it had to look comparatively AMAZING to it’s predecessor title.
No questions asked. My regret for not picking up robot-build-and-shoot-a-man ONE would not be repeated twice. I went to my local den of evil (the Gamestop I’ve come to mention in previous articles.) and actually bought that freakin’ game NEW. (And get this, I actually went and bought the primagames guide for one of the first and only times in EVER, because having a book that had an appendix, full of gigantic robot components and weapon listings is exactly the sort of thing I live for.)
Took it home, with heavy breathing and anticipation (Or not. That sounds creepier than i recall the situation playing out.)
I think I (hesitantly) invited my jerk friend Luis over. And we probably spent a good four to five hours EACH building what would have been our ideal 30 foot tall military mechanical murder machine of choice. Paint. Sitting and scanning it’s meticulous analyses of our technical specifications and loadouts.
This was easily the best thing that’s ever happened that was long since making up for the fact that I hadn’t had a girlfriend in over a year. And is one of the few times I’ve ever been excited about simple rudimentary math, and it took a game that said “Joe Martin. Sit down on your bed, put the disc in, and GET READY TO BUILD ROBOTS WITH NUMERICAL VALUES.”
Once we had our mechs built, we took it into the testing arena to get a feel for each, modifying leg components when we felt our mech was too slow and sluggish in response time, or equipping weapons that actually had sufficient enough ammo, or modifying reactors.
Even in describing it in jest – it sounds like the coolest thing ever. Like, when 8 year old me grew up, and imagined the idyllic future, this would have been one of my eight possible professions i would have wanted to be. Robot pilot, like in Robot Jox. Or at least dude who worked on optimizing giant robots, like in Robot Jox.
Luis and I were pretty stoked. So we decided to take on our first mission and see how it worked out for us.
And that’s where AgeTec and FROM Software got us. Because as cool as customization is, the entire bulk of the rest of Armored Core ain’t.
…SHOOT DOWN FOUR INSIGNIFICANT HELICOPTERS in a BORING ENVIRONMENT.
…WALK OVER TANKS in a BORING ENVIRONMENT.
…FINALLY FIGHT ANOTHER MECH that is RETARDEDLY HARD…in a BORING ENVIRONMENT.
Did we mention your controls handle like you’re not as much piloting a mech, but as much riding on the back of an angry fat person trying everything to throw you off.
TERRIBLE. REPREHENSIBLE GAMEPLAY. I think we regretted the amount of time we invested in what was basically the screen AFTER the title screen, and never spoke of it again.
So why do i have all of them sitting here on my shelf?
Seriously. I went and bought Armored Core 2 for pennies at my local game store, and own Armored Core III, Armored Core IV, Armored Core: 4 Answer (That one did trick me into thinking it’d be way better by promising I’d be fighting EVEN BIGGER BASE-type Mechs, and also turned out to be godawful), and Armored Core V. When that new V comes out, i know I’m probably going to get it and hate it just as much as i do the rest of them.
I own Formula Front for the PSP, which gives you the option to just build the things, and then coach them into battle, to see how the AI handles your bot, meaning that it’s giving you the option to just Dudebuild, and not even have to play the awful game.
And even THAT isn’t fun.
Is my love for giant robot customization that skewed, to where i would be willing to spend my real money on the idea that maybe i could come back to it and play it one day and maybe enjoy it?
Seriously. The game has ZERO draw factor in it’s presentation – terrible voice acting, nonexistent story, bland environments, short missions that have zero consequence.
The best part of the thing are the analytical assessments of how cool those new robot arms you put on are.
AND SOMEHOW THROUGH THE COURSE OF TIME I GAVE SOMEONE MONEY OUT OF MY WALLET FOR THESE, KNOWING FULL WELL THAT THEY PROBABLY WEREN’T GOING TO GET ANY BETTER AT ALL!
I don’t get it. I understand COMPLETELY why I’m poor and make rash decisions sometimes. But i don’t get why I own an entire series of games I don’t care for.
Any of you have anything like this? I’d like to talk about it.
Excuse me. Now that I’ve reposted a link to it, it’s TOTALLY time for Robot Jox.