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ups: Nice Graphics and Wi Fi multiplayer.
downs: Stale gameplay, inaccesible for newbies.

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Armored Core: Formula Front Review
game: Armored Core: Formula Front - Extreme Battle
two star
posted by: Matt James
publisher: Agetec
developer: FromSoftware
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ESRB rating: T (Teen)
date posted: 10:33 AM Tue Jan 10th, 2006
last revision: 10:36 AM Tue Jan 10th, 2006

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Click to read.The Armored Core game series continues on the PSP with Armored Core: Formula Front ? Extreme Battle. Although this most recent incarnation of the series does sport the longest title, it doesn\'t offer anything else to set it apart from the rest of the series. The upside is that it is pretty close to what you get on the PS2 only in a nifty little UMD for your PSP.

Formula Front plays almost more like a sports title than a sci-fi mech game. There is very little presentation, no real story. You are the manager of a team of mechs competing in a futuristic sport. That is basically what the game tells you, by way of a couple lines of text, and then you\'re sent straight to a menu screen. Maybe that is a good thing. Sometimes games like this throw in a story where one really isn\'t needed and usually it is done pretty half-assed. I can\'t give Formula Front a lot of kudos for presentation but I do thank the developers for sparing me some after-thought storyline and crummy dialogue. Like a sports game, each match is the story.

Armored Core offers a ton of customization, which is good because this is the majority of the game. You can customize just about every square inch of each mech. The big problem is that you have very little idea what each part will actually do for you. The only real way to know if a part is what you want is to equip it and try it out. This can be pretty tedious.

It is made even more tedious by the uninspiring battle system. While there isn\'t anything really wrong with the battle system I just couldn\'t get into it. At first I wasn\'t very good, and neither was my mech, and I got mopped up. I figured once I got better I would like it more but that didn\'t happen. It just feels slow. It\'s like attacking a mountain with a rock pick. Sure, I was kicking its butt, but it took forever and felt like work, not fun.

There is a new AI mode that makes it so you can just manage your team and leave the battling up to the computer. Given my disdain for the battles, this seems like a blessing but it actually turned out to be more boring than fighting the battles myself. The matches last 3 minutes and, as slow as they feel when you are actually involved, it is ten times more boring to simply watch. I wanted to just skip to the end results. It would have been far better served to have allowed you some input into what was going on, even in the AI mode, especially when you are watching your mech get it\'s armor plated butt handed to it.

I just felt thrown to the wolves playing Armored Core: Formula Front. While I actually appreciated not having a lot of filler story at the beginning of the game, I sorely missed having any kind of introduction to the gameplay. There are so many parts to customize your robot with that it would have been very helpful to have a better explanation of what each did. There could have been a tutorial built around designing your first mech.

Likewise, I could have used a little help the first time through a battle. The game is almost overwhelming. When you load Formula Front, it opens to a menu screen with no hint as to where you should start. Then when you go to customize your bots, you have over a hundred things to choose from and little explanation as to why you would choose one part over the other. When you start battling there are a number of stats displayed on the screen, but no explanation about what they represent. You have to guess at how best to battle with each mech through trial and error in an already frustrating battle system. Then when the battle is over you are given a multitude of stats that will make your eyes glaze over. Then you get to do it all over again, only the next time it will be slightly harder. For people who don\'t already follow the series, Formula Front-Extreme Battle is almost inaccessible to get into.

Fans of the Armored Core series will be glad to have more of what they already like. They may be disappointed that not a lot has been added to this iteration of the series, but the graphics are real nice and the gameplay is close to what it is on the consoles. So, for fans looking for a portable version of a game they already dig, they should be pretty happy. If you\'ve already discovered the series is not your cup of tea you won\'t find anything here to change your mind. If you\'ve never played Armored Core at all, this is probably not the best introduction to the series. I can\'t recommend Armored Core: Formula Front ? Extreme Battle, but fans of Armored Core will probably buy it anyway and will probably enjoy it. I\'ll still be playing Lumines.

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