Previews

Armored Core 4

Core blimey? Or an armoured snore? We'll be the judge of the first online Armored Core title ever...

Those PlayStation 3 exclusives are falling away thick and fast this generation, but in terms of Sony-only franchises that we wanted on our beloved Xbox, Armoured Core probably falls somewhere between Street Golfer, 007 Racing and EyeToy: Perpetual Star-Jumping Edition.

Sorry to be a bit bleak, but we don't really have the time nor the patience for Armoured Core's slow, clunky mechbased gameplay. Armored Core is similar in execution to FROM Software's other 360 title, Chromehounds - customise your mech with parts made up from a garageful of spare parts, and unleash your robo-man onto a big, brown map. What is different from previous ACs is that this will be the first Armored Core playable online, and considering that Chromehounds was modestly popular over Xbox Live on release this should go down a treat for fans of the genre.

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LA VIE ARMOR

Another shred of hope that we're busy clinging to as desperately as a 1990's boy band member clings to his memories is that it does genuinely look the business. A new physics engine throws the debris around in a convincing manner, showing multiple Cores clunking around making foot-jam out of everything in near proximity. In fact, a lot of the new gameplay elements we've seen - such as underwater combat, the huge multiplayer maps and a mysterious enormo-machine that towers over the ACs during the E3 2006 trailer - suggest that this will, in all likelihood, be a big step up from Chromehounds' ambitionless efforts. And it's another string to Microsoft's bow - a bow that is being twanged right in Japan's face. If you haven't heard, the Blue Dragon bundle pre-orders are selling out left right and centre in The Land Of The Rising Sun, and if there's one thing the natives love more than genero-RPGs, it's mech-based combat games. Pencilled in for a 2007 release over here, courtesy of Sega, we'll soon see if the Japanese's enthusiasm is warranted.

The verdict

While we're not exactly soiling the bed at the thought of playing this, we have to admit that FROM Software have put some serious thought into how they can use the Xbox 360's added power and online capabilities, and as such this could well be the best mech game ever. To us, that's like hailing 0157:H7 as 'the best strain of the E-Coli bacterium ever', but, in the spirit of fairness, we'll withhold further judgement until we get some serious hands-on time.

Format
Xbox 360
Developer
From Software
Publisher
Sega
Genre
Shoot 'em Up

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