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     " The fact that youíre a mercenary has lost all of itís fun. "

      Title: Armored Core 2: Another Age by Agetec

      Format: Action/Mech simulation for PS2

      Reviewing Monkey: Simi N.

      The Hype: 100 missions, Tons of new weapons and upgrades, better graphics and tighter game play, the best Armored Core game in the series! Youíve got to love games wherein you pilot a gigantic robot with, tons of weapons, and hire yourself out to the highest bidding company to destroy whatever they ask you to.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: Those of us that have followed the Armored Core series since its inception know that AC2: Another Age is to be considered an addition to AC2 (like AC Project Phantasma was to AC) and not a brand new game. And we all remember that the two add-ons for the original Armored Core on PS One had no real graphical improvements or changes to speak of. This is why I was pleasantly surprised to see the changes that came about in this game. The game looks very similar to AC2, but many things such as missile smoke and explosions look a bit better than before. The problem that the first game had with slow down seems to have been resolved, and there are a few touches that separate this game from its predecessor; touches like the lock on targets that changes color if something is obstructing your shot (not 100% accurate but cool nonetheless). Like the first game, the textures are detailed, and the animations are very smooth. But an improvement could be made. If the programmers went that extra mile and showed the damage taken by a mech, it would be amazing. 4 out of 5

      Sound: As always the sound effects in this game are top notch. From the gunfire, to the locking sounds, to water running and of course the sound of your heavy-footed mech clunking along the ground, the sounds are crisp, realistic, and put you entirely in the game. The music is also more of the same, basic techno songs with no words to distract you that serve decently in the background. You would probably do good to just turn the music off (the game is much more suspenseful that way). 4 out of 5

      Game Play: This is another one of those areas that is much like the AC2. The game play really hasnít changed all that much. The mechs are very complicated machines, but remarkably the controls donít take an unreasonable amount of time to learn. One addition (which many people have been begging for) is the ability to use the left analog stick to control your movement. This was a nice addition to the game, but as some people have pointed out, and they are quite right, the right analog stick could be well used for looking and turning (or strafing). In essence this game would be much easier to play and pick up if it had the standard controls of a FPS. Still, as Iíve said before, I believe that since this game is half simulation, complex controls add (in a positive manner) to the feel of the game. These are giant intricate machines that in real life probably would be difficult to control. Other than this there really isnít any change, except for the fact that the lesser amount of slow-down allows you to pilot your mech more effectively. Here I would like to address the complaint that I have heard from a few people about this game, that being that the mechs are kind of slow and clunky. All I can really say to this is, Duh! These are gigantic metal robots weíre talking bout here. If they moved swiftly and stepped lightly, it wouldnít make sense. Not to mention the fact that there are so many different types of legs a person can buy, your mech can just about move reasonably fast if you want it to. 4. out of 5

      Level and Environment Designs: One of the really cool aspects of this game is the variety of levels that you get to fight in. There are one hundred missions in area that range from city streets, to sewer systems, mountains secret bases, battle ships, airplanes, etc. There is always something new to catch your eye, and not only are there a great number of different areas, the missions that require you to move through them are well designed, diverse, and fun to explore. 5 out of 5

      Multiplayer: Even though they had a kick-ass vs. mode in all their previous titles, they decided to give even more to us social gamers. There is an extra vs. mode in AC2:AA. This mode pits you against your friend to see who can get through a mission with more money (or less debt). This is a really cool feature, and I hope to see more of it in games to come, but the only problem is that there arenít really a whole lot of missions to choose from. My friend and I finished them all in about a half hour. But of course there is always the straight battles to fall back on; those never get old. The only real problem with the vs. battles is that you have to obtain a certain amount of weapons in the game to use in vs. mode to make it fun for a long time. 3.5 out of 5

      Replayability: The Armored Core games have always had high replay value. This one is no exception. There are many reasons that the replay value is so high. First of all, the game stresses assembling your own unique AC with hundreds of different parts. So of course it is always fun to see what different configurations will be successful in different missions. This game has two different vs. modes, so you and your friends have more ways to challenge each other. And finally there are AC parts hidden in missions that a player may easily miss the first time through, and if past Armored Core games are any indication, these hidden items may be some of the best in the game. 4.5 out of 5

      Story/Dramatics: Unlike other Armored Core games, this one didnít even try to have a good story. One of the biggest disappointments for me was the lack of e-mail in this game. Why? Because it was through e-mail in the past AC games that the story developed. When you beat a mission the contractor would often contact you and tell you of how your efforts helped their situation. It was through this medium that the cool story involving politics, rebellions, and industrial espionage was expressed. The other drawback is that when the games had more of a story, there would inevitably be points where you had to choose one of two missions (based on your morals, politics, or how much money you make), but now you get to play every mission regardless; this gives the player a feeling that his actions donít matter. Whoever decided to make this change needs a good smack in the head. Now normally when a game doesnít bother to include a story, we donít grade that section. But since this is the first incarnation of Armored Core to not have a story, I must grade it on the expectation of a story and, frankly, this game blows in that department. 0 out of 5.

      Instructions and Learning Curve: The instructions are great at letting you know what you need in order to pilot your AC. However, they do not teach you how to beat each mission that is something youíll have to figure out on your own by trying different AC configurations and developing your piloting skills. That is the tricky part. The ACs are very complex and becoming a good pilot takes quite a while, and the different parts that you can equip can make it more difficult, luckily there is an AC testing mode so you can practice your movements, and targeting skills. 3 out of 5

      Installation and Real System Requirements: This game supports the Dual Shock controller (but not the analog buttons of the Dual Shock 2) and it takes up a small amount of memory card space. The load times are quite a bit more reasonable in this game than in AC2. This game I think does a good job at getting a lot of performance from the PS2. Obviously we donít know what the full capabilities of the PS2 are yet, but considering the amount of slow down that was present in the first game, which has been eradicated in this more complicated game, I think its safe to say that there has been a huge improvement. 4 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       The best thing about this game is the number of missions: 100 (way more than in previous AC games). The only problem is that without a story the missions arenít as enticing. The fact that youíre a mercenary has lost all of itís fun, since it doesnít matter who you help. But at least the game runs smoother, looks better, and has a new mode for you and your friends to screw around with.

      The Good: Great graphics, new parts both hidden and rewarded, analog joystick control, 100 missions including vs. missions, and less slow-down!

      The Bad: There is no more e-mail, hence no more real story; hence less incentive to play, and the arena mode has been taken away.

      The Overall Ugly: I would advise people to treat this game as an add-on to AC2 (which it basically is). It shouldnít exist in your game collection without its predecessor, because if this is the only one you play, you are missing out on much of the true Armored Core experience.

      What it's Worth: $35.00 (not because its bad, but because its an add-on).

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