I have been an avid fan of Armored Core since its first iteration on the PSOne. Yes I realize that there have been damn near ten titles in just as many years, but hey I love my big mechs. While the general premise has never changed AC has always had small increments of improvement to appease its loyal fans. Nothing drives this point home more than the latest incarnation of the never-ending series know as Armored Core.
There is one very important thing to consider when you first pick up Nine Breaker, are you a fan of the series? If not then this game is probably not going to change your opinion. Nine Breaker is definitely aimed at the AC faithful, with very little direction given to newcomers of the series. Navigating your way around the Raven’s Nest can be a chore, the menus tend to be confusing to the uninitiated not to mention overwhelming. The controls are the same as always, although I do still love the dual analog style so much better. Newbies to the AC universe would be better off trying out the more user friendly Gundam games.
Nine Breaker basically consists of challenges and arena matches, over 100 challenges in fact, that serve in upgrading certain abilities you can use in the Arena Mode. Problem is that most of the challenges can become a series of trial and error matches. Finding a good balance for the specific challenge can grow tedious for those not use to the construction or handling of the cores. Good news though is that the action has never been this fast and this responsive. Once you find the proper balance the game grabs a hold of you and keeps you playing for hours. Constructing and personalizing your mech becomes an addiction.
For long time fans of the series this is standard fare, another year, another batch of small upgrades. Honestly though if the saying was ever true that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” Armored Core should don it as the tagline.
Graphically you are not going to see a large increase in poly counts or any amazing arenas that simply blow your mind. What you will get is a solid looking game with a consistent frame rate. Drab gray tones and lots of mechanical textures always adorn the AC titles and Nine Breaker is no exception. Explosions light up your screen like fireworks on the lake and sparks and parts fly when the tons of steel collide. Overall an extremely solid looking title.
For the sound department prepare to get extremely bored with the techno babble playing in the Raven menu. The rest of the soundtrack is pretty standard fare, lots of futuristic bland electronic beats. The sound effects as always are top notch, blazing through your speakers with grand presences. The Operator voice is also a nice touch; she sounds more like a human now and less like an android dating sim.
I hate to sound repetitive but as far as game play goes, been here, done that. Fans of the series are not going to find anything drastically changed. What you will find however is the look of disappointment on this reviewer’s face when he realized that once again there is no online play. This series absolutely SCREAMS for online play, imagine the leagues, imagine the mech trading-Imagine the custom logo designing!! The community is ripe for it, now all we need is the support. Thankfully there is an Xbox 360 version planned that should incorporate the extremely solid Xbox Live support.
In closing I have to stress again that if you are not fan of the AC series then this game is not going to change your mind. Try out the earlier PS2 titles such as Another Age or even the more recent Nexus. Nine Breaker is fan service at it’s finest with just enough additives to keep the junkies at bay, consider it an expansion pack for a PC title and you have the gist of what Nine Breaker brings to the table. If you are a fan give it a whirl, otherwise you may want to fight giant mechs elsewhere.