From the moment you plug this game into your PSP, Armored Core Formula Front — Extreme Battle gives out the impression that you’re about to be thrown into a non-stop no holds barred barrage of action and excitement created with great care and focus by the developers. The FMV shows brilliant stylish presentation with every frame displayed on your widescreen. The introduction really gets you hyped up and ready for action.
Then after the dizzy heights of the exciting introduction, you’re dumped into a plain, unimaginative, and rather strangely laid out menu system. All the style and grace of the introduction vanishes and you’re left with plain white background with blue text. Oddly enough, when you start a new game it takes you to the sound options first before dropping you into the main menu. It’s kind of weird and a slightly annoying niggle in my opinion.
Once you pass the sound screen, you are taken to your main menu. From here you can read your messages, check your next fighting fixture, see what rank in the league you currently are, and fully customize your Armored Core (that’s the name for the mechs you control and battle against) with a whole slew of weapon upgrades, user designed logos, and custom colours for each individual section of armour.
Once you’ve got your mech exactly how you want it, only one option remains – Whether you let the computer control him using AI your mech has learned from other fights, or whether you want to get down and dirty personally. Once you’ve paid your money and taken yer choice, you are thrown into one of the many combat arenas ready for a series of 1v1 battles.
And this is where you realize that Armored Core is a rather pretty game. Both mechs on field are fairly intricately modeled and textured, and are animated well.
Those arenas are pretty too. Heat haze and distance blur is used to great effect, and the draw distance is quite simply fantastic. Everything around you looks great. Textures are well drawn, and levels are multi-tiered and seem like they go on for miles… but they don’t. This is one of the major flaws in this game. FromSoftware tease you by creating lovely locations that make you want to explore your surroundings, only to be confined to a small section of them. If you move out of the square shown on the map, you forfeit the match. This also annoyingly applies vertically too. Fly too high using your mech’s jump facility, and before you know it you’re dumped back to a “You Lose” screen.
Aside from these quite frustrating flaws, Armored Core is a rather good game. The whole game runs at a smooth 30 frames per second at all times, the mechs are easy to control and the button layout makes good sense. There are certain issues with collision detection when trying to shoot past scenery though. Say for example, there’s a metal frame of a tower standing between you and your opponent — leaving the enemy wide open for a clean hit with your machine gun — you line up your shot between the legs of the frame and let ‘er rip… only to see your bullets ricochet off the empty space. These minor flaws build up to be quite annoying in a game that’s rather tactical like this one.
On the whole, despite it’s issues, Armored Core Formula Front — Extreme Battle is a title that will keep you amused for a fair while, with a reasonably difficult single player campaign, plus the opportunity of ripping your friends a new one in multiplayer.
As long as you don’t expect anything new or innovative out of this game, you might just have a lot of fun with it.
Armored Core Formula Front — Extreme Battle is a rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence.
Armored Core Formula Front — Extreme Battle is a rated 11+ and 12+ by PEGI for depictions of violence.