|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
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|Distributor:||ASCII||1-2 Player Split Screen|
|Game Type:||Action||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||October 1998||Analog Compatible|
Setting the Scene
Imagine having to live in a time where nations have been virtually dissolved...no more real governments to speak of and huge conglomerations of corporations locked in constant combat. Hmmm...if you think about it, I guess it really isn't all that hard to imagine, but anyway that's the basic premise behind Armored Core: Project Phantasma. Corporations are more ruthless than ever and are pretty much in control of everything and everyone...except that is for a group that calls themselves "The Ravens". This rather small clan of Mercenaries takes orders from nobody, rather they accept missions from anybody with enough credits to make things interesting. To aid them in their mission, the Ravens use combat Mechs called Armored Core's. AC's are being continually upgraded and modified with the credits gained from previous missions. Always trying to make the AC's more powerful for that next crucial mission. It seems the tougher the mission, the more credits you are paid. One day a Raven is contacted to complete what initially sounds like a very simple mission. The message read; "Infiltrate the underground urban complex, Amber Crown." No sweat you think until you take a gander at the amount of credits being offered...best be getting your favorite AC out for this one; it's time to rock!
Armored Core: Project Phantasma is an action game in which you control a variety mechs in a mission-based scenario.
Compared to the original Armored Core, the graphics in AC: PP are a bit sharper and much better animated. The attention to detail is still in there, but now everything just looks a little nicer. Of course, the first title never really had cutting edge graphics to begin with so the small jump that AC: PP makes is not going win an beauty awards, yet they are totally functional. The varieties of mechs are very easy to distinguish from one another and the earth-tone colors provide a nice background to the multi-colored explosions that take place throughout the game. The environments and the mechs are all made up of polygons so the action is fast and three-dimensional. The characters and backgrounds tend to have rather jagged edges and appear to be minimally texture mapped. The appearance reminds me very much of the old Twisted Metal games...very functional and fluid, but kind of grainy and rough around the extremities. The opening CG FMV is decent and sets up the game nicely.
Sounds and Effects
The sound effects are crisp and clean...and loud! The metallic sounds of the AC are well enforced here, as are the sounds of weapons and explosions. I was especially pleased with the communications voices. They cut right through the noise and invoked a futuristic computer driven voice dialog. The musical score is mainly of the techno-pop variety. I don't particularly care for this type of music myself, but I found that it fit in extremely well with the game. The tunes are engaging and surprisingly kept the excitement level high.
I have always felt that the first Armored Core title captured the essence of Mech battles better than any other title for the Playstation. Once you got used it, the mechs were easy to control and behaved in a logical manner. Armored Core: Project Phantasma is basically more of the same, with all-new missions and battles to be fought. Upon entering the game you are presented with a revolving menu system (the Raven's Nest) that gives you the choice of modifying the various configurations of the game, your garage, the shop, arena mode, mail and finally the missions. The first thing you'll want to do is enter the garage and review you AC design to become familiar with its capabilities. Each major component on your AC can be upgraded; the head, core, arms, legs, weapons, generator, firing system, and boosters. You start off with a pretty basic AC, some cash and dreams of fortune and fame. While in the garage you may wish to change the color and pattern of your AC, create an emblem (or select from a pre-designed group) and test your AC to see if all the parts you pieced together make functional sense. The test area is a good place to become accustomed to controlling you AC as well. Every button is used on the Playstation controller and the sooner you memorize the layout and actions the better your chances of survival will be. Control is a bit awkward at first, but becomes second nature in rather short order. Response from the pad to the screen is excellent which is a good thing because the action is virtually non-stop. Parts can be purchased or sold at the local shop. There is a veritable fortune of components that you can mix and match to create the ultimate AC of your imagination. Just me careful because some parts do not match well with others and you may end up overloading you AC to the point that it can no longer function. Also, the top-notch parts are expensive and sometimes not necessary so select with caution. A careful eye will be able to pick up some real bargains in the shop. If you think you are ready it's time to accept your first mission. Go to the mission option and you will be briefed as to what is expected of you. I found the 17 missions to be both engaging and full of variety. Missions consist of search and destroy, protect targets, kill everything, and rescue missions. The landscapes are interesting and diverse and open up nicely as you progress through Amber Crown. Oh, a lot of them are not cakewalks either. Not only is the battling intense but you are teased with puzzles throughout. Fixed amounts of credits are offered for each mission and bonus credits are issued to those skilled enough to impress the corporations. Of course the credits you receive are not exactly free and clear, in your pocket cash. After each mission there is usually a fair amount of damage to your AC and weapons such as missiles and bombs need to be replaced...all this costs credits and tend to eat into your profits. You should also know that if you don't complete a mission you will still have to conduct repairs and replacement of weapons for your AC, so remember to save before entering each sortie. If not you can easily go broke and end up with a hunk of scrap metal for an AC unit. If you are daring enough or just need to make some quick cash, there is the Arena mode. Here you will face 49 other AC warriors in a battle to become the meanest SOB in the land. You start in 50th place and can challenge anyone you choose. I advise working your way up from the bottom at first. The upper classes of AC's are brutal and deadly. A really nice feature of the Arena and two-player mode is the ability to select different areas to conduct your battles in. The locations are have a lot of variety to them and can have strategic advantages depending on how your AC is configured. The two-player split screen mode is totally awesome and adds additional longevity to the title. Grab a friend and annihilate them...you know fun stuff like that. The action is fast and furious and a lot of fun to boot. You can also transfer the saved game data from the original Armored Core game so if you have any killer AC's from that game bring 'em on over! There is one thing that I should mention before closing here, I could not get the vibration (Dual Shock) feature to operate. Both the game booklet and cover doc indicates the game to be Dual Shock capable...there is even a setup in the menu options for it, not a shock to be felt anywhere in the game. Maybe there's a sub-sub menu in there somewhere....
Value for Money
AC: PP offers gamers a lot of options, challenging gameplay and a decent number of missions (17). Getting through all of the AC's in the Arena mode will take a ton of time and the foes you will face are varied and challenging. Overall I feel this title offers a good deal of value for the money and is worthy of a purchase, especially if you enjoy pure action, 3rd person style shoot 'em ups.
Core: Project Phantasma is hands down the reigning champ of mech-style
games for the Playstation. It ends up being the perfect sequel to the
original AC game...the graphics are a bit nicer, the sound is a notch up
in the right direction and the gameplay and control are as flawless as
the initial title.
I found the missions to be absorbing and in some cases downright challenging! The missions do a good job in combining all out attack and warfare, with some not so easy puzzles thrown in to keep you off balance a bit.
This is another fine effort brought to you by From Software and deserves a spin in your PSX.