Giant robots are cool; plain and simple. You know it, I know it and the Armored Core series knows it. However instead of just forcing a lot of pre-built models down your throat that you may or may not like, the Armored Core series gives you a template of what you can use and just lets you run wild from there. It's pretty much every mecha series fan's dream to build a giant robot of their own and From Software has given us Armored Core: For Answer.
Armored Core 4 was the first in the 13 game series to make drastic changes to the gameplay in the franchise and it was done for the better. At first, the controls felt clunky and the robots seemed very limited to do anything really amazing. When Armored Core 4 was released, it made the robots seem faster, more powerful, and could be used with the simplest of ease. It's only fitting that Armored Core: For Answer carry on where it left off by keeping those core mechanics that its predecessor introduced intact.
The action of the series has increased over the series and it seems to be in good amount for this title. Decking a robot you create out with ever type of weapon possible and unleashing it against other robots to blow up is greatly satisfying. There is very few times where the action slows down. You are either busy blowing up everything that moves or dodging enemy fire. The missions aren't hard to comprehend. Usually it's "Go here and blow up these targets." And when the mission changes to protect something else from being blown up, it usually boils down to blow up the things that are trying to blow up the thing that you are protecting.
The Armored Core series has pegged the customization racket like no other. For Answer has 130 more parts (maxing out at a colossal 400) than Armored Core 4 meaning that you have almost twice the number of possible NEXTs (the name of your mech) you can make. And rather than just stop at collecting parts to use, it also adds in a tuning system. What this does is give you the ability to tweak the performance of each part on your NEXT. For instance say you have a light-type pair of legs. If you go into the tuning option and add all the FRS points (points needed for tuning) you have for Leg Capacity, then it gives your NEXT the ability to carry heavier loads but maintains its speed advantage.
The FRS Memory system is a hit and miss aspect of the For Answer experience. While it does give you the capability of making the exact type of NEXT you want to take out on the battlefield, it is rather selfish with actually giving you points to use. The points are distributed after each chapter (a collection of four or five missions) and even after you get the points, you feel you were short-handed on FRS points that you should have gotten. What this forces you to do is a whole other level of micromanaging. The good side of using FRS points is that it is not permanent, so you can add and subtract points whenever you feel like in between missions letting you change your NEXT's specs at-will. So if you want your energy weapons to deal out more damage, you can take points from other specs and add them to the energy weapon section. It's a very simple, yet in-depth system to utilize, but if you aren't into spending a great amount of time in menus tuning your NEXT, you'll probably go in the option only when you get new points to add and just leave them alone once you set them.
Since the customization of the NEXTs take a predominate role in the game, the story is severely lacking in the game. It's almost downright confusing. Set 10 years after the last game, the National Dismantlement War is over and the people no longer live on the planet surface thanks to pollution that has covered the planet's surface like a poison. Mankind has built giant floating platforms called Cradles to live on. Lynx (pilots for NEXTs) are hired guns and take on different operations for different corporations that use them to establish their dominance. The downside of this story is that it is just disappointing. While it does seem like it would be very interesting story to get into, it's all very forgettable. The main thing that you take away from it is that it's your job to take blow up things that try and kill you and get paid for it. There are actually only a few times when the story really gets mentioned and even then it's rather boring because dialogue comes off as pompous jargon. However, don't assume that the voice actors phone it in on this game. They are top notch and deliver excellent lines when you hear them. Fighting other Lynx pilots on the battlefield make it seems you are pitted in a one-on-one war with your opponent and he or she will talk down to you in attempts to intimidate you. It sounds authentic and you can almost feel the rivalry between you and the opposing Lynx.
What adds to the delivering of the line is the mood that a mission brings and what helps bring it home is the music. For Answer has a great soundtrack and adds to the ensemble of missions. Add that with the dialogue delivered during missions and you have good missions with a decent sense of drama and urgency with them.
With its fast-paced nature, the story progression seems pretty rushed. You get a handful of missions to choose from, however once you undertake some missions, some become locked after another mission is over and there's no explanation to it, they just aren't there anymore. It's as if the game just pushes you along and doesn't let you try everything on the first sit down. This however adds to the replay value and you can pick those missions with a second playthrough.
Another new feature was added to this latest Armored Core title and it is perhaps a beacon in the series. The addition of online co-op was a great new feature for the game to incorporate. Now players can undertake a handful of missions with a partner (called Partnerships) via online. This is perhaps the best online experience I have ever experienced with a console game. Connections with other players seemed effortless. It was as if I was playing with them in the same room. There was no slow down or any lag whatsoever. One downside to this experience is that Armored Core isn't as popular a series as a Gears of War or Halo so there will be several times where you will not find anyone to play with. However this does have a silver lining to it. Since it could be hard to find others around the world to play with, you will experience less times of you getting kicked out of matches. Other players know that it will be slim pickings finding other pilots to run missions with so they will be happy to run missions with you and won't talk down to you.
While the online component of the game is good, it feels very restrictive. For one, you can only undertake missions with others that you have completed. So if you are just starting the game, you have to get several missions under your belt before you can undertake a partnership mission. This however does not affect the difficulty level on missions, so you can do a mission with a partner on the Hard setting you may have only completed on Normal.
And if you like your partner's NEXT, then you can also trade schematics with each other and try them out for yourself. However, if you don't have all the parts of the schematics you get, you can't even pilot the NEXT. You can't even load it to see what it looks like.
Armored Core: For Answer has it hits and misses. Is it a bad game? No. It is actually quite enjoyable. It just the things that bring it down can't go unnoticed. While the customization option has improved from all the previous titles, an excellent soundtrack as well and amazing fast paced action, the online component could of used some more work and a more engaging story could have made it better