Armored Core, ah memories. One of the few series that persuaded me to purchase a PS2. Despite your shoddy controls and lackluster story we had some great times together. Granted, there were some bad spin offs and sequels, but that hasn’t ruined our memories. Foremost amongst the memories is Armored Core 3, which has recently been ported to the PSP, and released in America on the PSN only, under the title Armored Core 3: Portable. The title isn’t incredibly original, but the series has never really been known for its originality.
What is most striking about the game is how much it is like the PS2 version of Armored Core 3, specifically in the graphics. The PSP, while on a higher graphical end than the DS or iPhone, is still not quite as powerful as the PS2. That being said, the game does a fairly good job of duplicating the same graphics as the PS2 version. Granted, there are some draw issues, and it’s not identical, but considering the obstacles that had to be overcome the game is still impressive looking.
One factor I always though of as one of the weakest points in the Armored Core series was it’s controls, which were often woefully inadequate despite being able to use the dual analogs fairly early in the series. The weak controls have transferred over to the PSP and it almost ruins the game. Rather than reconfigure the game to work better on the PSP, they reconfigure the controls to shove them all on the PSP despite lacking the second analog stick and two extra shoulder buttons. This has often left me with just the basic strategy of circle strafing and holding down the fire button in fear of messing up the vertical axis with the incredibly subpar controls.
The game has a story, which is the same as the story from Armored Core 3. There’s a plot of conspiracy and betrayal everywhere in the story, but much of it is text from the mail you get from completing missions. I frankly found a hard time caring enough to read the story, or listen to the description of each mission and it’s relevance to the overall story arc. With the most significant characters in the game only being represented by logos and giant metal robots, that are incredibly inhuman despite their shape, you don’t really care about any of the people in the game, and really don’t care about the story. Ignoring the story doesn’t quite ruin any part of the game though, just makes it quicker.
What is most perplexing about this game to me is that, despite the incredibad controls, it’s somehow entertaining. The game is by no means without fault, but there is a certain entertaining quality surrounding creating your own mecha piece by piece from a rusted scrap pile of hydraulics and wiring to a pristine piece of robotic destruction. I would much prefer to see the robots move more elegantly and with a more arcade-like focus rather than the mecha sim it plays as(spread sheets and all), but for all of it’s flaws it’s strangely appealing.
To me Armored Core 3: Portable comes down to a point from someone who is familiar with the game. The game is far from perfect, with the astoundingly terrible controls, to the throw away story, and more mechanical-than-one-would-like gameplay. The creation of monstrous monoliths of massacring might is still, against all logic, somewhat alluring. For someone who knows the series, and has enjoyed it, Armored Core 3: Portable isn’t a horrible buy, especially considering the price tag of 14.99. For a person new to the series, you’ll probably be better off spending the money elsewhere.