Game Picks

Game Picks: 'Armored Core: Verdict Day'

CorrespondentOctober 31, 2013 

Fifty bucks might seem a high price to pay for what feels like a gussied-up expansion pack, but the robot action in “Armored Core: Verdict Day” is hectic, energetic, and precise.

One of the prototypical uses for a video game system is to make robots fight each other. “Spacewar,” the title some consider to be the very first video game, was nothing more than a battle between spaceships. The classic “tank” gameplay of the Atari 2600’s “Combat” was simple one-on-one face-offs between imaginary steel behemoths.

Even without primitive pixel limitations, though, there’s a certain appeal to giant robots beating the nuts and bolts out of each other. Just ask anyone who enjoyed “Pacific Rim” this past summer.

“Armored Core: Verdict Day” (Xbox 360; Rated T; $49.99) offers up plenty of robots. It has plenty of ways to build the robots, plenty of ways to fight with the robots, and even a silly little story to go along with all of the robot-centered mayhem.

Actually, that’s not entirely fair. The story isn’t silly in the traditional sense. It’s delivered with a straight face, and it truly seems to want you to take it seriously. It’s post-apocalypse wartime, and in the single-player campaign, you’re a mercenary caught between three warring factions. Also, your call sign is “Fatman,” and you’re an overly cocky maverick. Hundreds of reasons for each of the factions to hire a mercenary are contrived for your benefit, and nobody seems to particularly like you – but everybody needs you.

It’s a story. It does what it needs to do. Nobody’s here for a story, though. Everybody’s here for the giant robots and the firepower, and those things are plenty impressive.

Lots of ‘stuff’

As far as your own mechanized warrior goes, you get rifles, missiles, and bombs, and for those rare times when you’re not actually in the process of blowing things up, you get reconnaissance drones. You can upgrade your mech’s body if you want to last longer in a heavy firefight, or you can upgrade its legs if you want it to be able to carry more stuff.

And let’s be honest: You want it to carry all of the stuff.

The fact is, you need as much “stuff” as you can handle, to keep yourself from suffering another of many surprisingly quick deaths. Much of the time you find yourself among a sea of hostiles, each of which seems designed specifically to send you to the scrap heap.

“Armored Core: Verdict Day” wastes little time on tutorials and easy ramp-up missions before throwing you into firefights that’ll sap your shields quicker than you can say “uh-oh.”

That may be because this isn’t really a new “Armored Core” game so much as it is an extension of “Armored Core V.” The player is prompted at the outset to import as much “Armored Core V” data as possible, offering the most seamless possible extension from that game.

“Verdict Day” can be played on its own, but it’s meant as more content for a rabid fanbase, and as such, it’s not very forgiving to newcomers. Those that did play “Armored Core V” might actually be a little let down, as well. While there is some new content that offers better single-player options, it doesn’t feel like all that much of a departure from its predecessor.

Fifty bucks might seem a high price to pay for what feels like a gussied-up expansion pack, but that said, the robot action is hectic, energetic, and precise. The adrenaline offered by the most intense firefights is rare among all games, never mind simply comparing it to other games involving giant robots.

One can find a sizable number of nitpicks with “Armored Core: Verdict Day,” but it’s clear that this is a game that knows where its bread is buttered.

New this week

The fours have it: “Assassin’s Creed IV” (Xbox 360; PS3) takes the popular and well-respected franchise to the seas with a pirate-themed installment, while “Battlefield 4” (Xbox 360; PS3) kisses the current generation of consoles goodbye with one more round of military multiplayer mayhem.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service