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Project Phantasma
Developer: From Software OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
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 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

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 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

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

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 know
fun stuff like that.  The action is fast and furious and a lot of fun to

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

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.
GRAPHICS: 16/20 Armored 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.
SOUND: 8/10
VALUE: 17/20


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