Armored Core: Verdict Day – PS3
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games America
Developer: From Software
Release Date: Sep 24, 2013
Genre: Action, Simulation
Reviewed by Oscar Perez

Review Score: 4 of 5

Last year we reviewed Armored Core V, a brand new take on the Armored Core series with the addition of the online team and world map conquest which fueled the fires of mech lovers everywhere who wanted to really have something at stake when they win battles rather than just another notch in their belt, it made it worth it to make a team and stick to it and help everyone be as best as they could be so your name, along with your teams, could be seen around the world as the best of the best.

Like its prequel; Armored Core: Verdict Day is focused on the multiplayer scene with its expanded global conquest mode. Like Armored Core V, you join a clan of sorts and choose from one of the three factions to represent during your endeavors. Building upon Armored Core V the missions have been expanded, gameplay has been fine-tuned, yet again, and weapons have been balanced. Story mode returns with 60 missions with an additional hardcore difficulty being unlocked after beating the game in your first playthrough. Missions range from the standard “Kill X amount of useless fodder” to “go fight Ace Mech in a 1V1”. Much of the story still focuses on the “Ancient” technology that somehow ends up being more powerful than most weapons that are being produced current day, I keep expecting halfway through the game that aliens will just show up and it all starts to make sense.

When starting the game you are asked to import your Armored Core V save file, and doing so of made the game way too easy as you can literally just one-shot-kill almost everything if you had a decently powerful mech in the last game. The item store gets its parts unlocked by playing story missions and ranking yourself up. At certain intervals you gain enough points to unlock tuned items so you can choose from either high damage, high reload or even fire rate. It really makes you feel like you are in complete control of how your suit feels while in a fight. Speaking of the item store, weapon arms make a comeback, so if you don’t want to customize your mech with different items you can just opt for simple sniper arms, machine guns or even full-on missile pods.

Along with all the new parts we are also given back our shields after losing them last game for no real reason. This makes fights a lot more fun in my opinion in that you need to have more than the biggest gun available to wreck someone’s mech. Now you have to figure out how to take down their shield protecting them as well. With all these new additions to the game there is one that really stands out; especially if you want to play as the lone wolf type of character and that is the new UNAC system. Basically you create a squad of mechs that are handled by A.I that you program with set characteristics right down to the angle at which they approach enemies or how they patrol for enemy detection. If that sounds like too much to work on you can also just use one of the default setups and it’ll do just fine on its own. I did that and really never had too many issues.

While the game can be intimidating with the level of tuning you can do to each individual part of your mech, veterans will feel right at home with the new tuning system rather than the old rank through combat system, which got a little bit boring using the same weapons over and over just to get that boost in power only to have to start over later when something else was unlocked.

With the start of this season’s conquest mode each faction holds some of the 56 available bases for enemy factions to overtake or for teams to defend against, attack, and takeover. Capturing a base works as before. Normal sortie lets you whittle down a base’s defense while going against the standard cannons, turrets and enemy mechs. If a team happens to be online at the time they can defend it themselves and suddenly it turns into a crazy team match for control. While fighting enemy teams can be quite horrifying if you happen to be newer to the game I would rather fight humans than some of the giant “boss”-like mechs that I never once was able to defeat. I don’t even get how some bases get them to show up and others don’t – luck of the draw maybe. The fact that the servers are now open to all regions is going to guarantee that this time around Armored Core players will be able to keep fighting for control of the map much longer and the gameplay won’t get as stale as it did in the previous installment due to the closed server systems being used.

With the vast improvements over its predecessor, Armored Core: Verdict Day shines with its captivating tuning, its surprisingly easy to use UNAC system and its rewarding team battles that fill us all with glee at the sight of that victory screen as we retake yet another base for our faction. I hope to see the same amount of strategy based battles in future games to come.