PC ¦ PlayStation 3 ¦ Xbox 360 ¦ Wii ¦ DS ¦ PSP ¦ Others ¦ DGC Grade Table

Armored Core: Nine Breaker PlayStation 2

Published by 505 GameStreet
Developed by From Software
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £19.99

Armored Core: Nine Breaker, an introduction.

We've been fortunate enough to review a couple of Armored Core titles in the past and we were surprised how enjoyable they have been. We were delighted then when Armored Core: Nine Breaker arrived for review, as it gave us the chance to jump back into an AC and take part in exciting battles. In case you haven't played an Armored Core game before a little description is in order. Essentially you pilot these mech-like machines known as Armored Cores (or AC's for short) and battle it out against other AC's. Whilst some mech games can be a little on the simulation side of things (and quite complicated) the Armored Core games have always managed to have depth and yet remain perfectly accessible.  The series has always been known for its enjoyable missions and customisation options. Whilst the customisation options for your AC's are as impressive as ever in Armored Core: Nine Breaker, there are no missions at all.

What's the game about?

There's not a lot to Armored Core: Nine Breaker. Essentially you have the single-player game and a Versus mode for 1 to 2 players. The single-player game allows you to take on various challenges in the Training mode and have battles in an attempt to increase your rank in the Arena mode. Versus mode allows either one player to take part in one-off battles or two players to go head-to-head in a split-screen multiplayer battle.

What's good about the game?

Those Armored Core fans that are happy to have what feels like a stripped down version of an Armored Core experience will doubtless enjoy the battles that are on offer. The Training mode essentially has a multitude of challenges (there are well over 100 challenges in total) that are designed to help you polish your skills. These challenges range from the tediously easy to fiercely challenging and the mode serves as a useful way of getting to grips with the game. Of course the game is all about the battles but before you head off to the Arena mode, you may want to visit the garage. In the garage you can tinker with your AC's to your heart's content. Like in previous Armored Core games the customisation options in the garage are phenomenal. AC's are made up of many parts that are fixed to the core and each of these parts can be customised for greater efficiency for a particular tactic you may have in mind. In fact the level of customisation on offer here (there are over 400 different AC parts available) makes the level of customisation in games such as Gran Turismo 4 look quite pitiful. Naturally you tune the performance of selected parts too. A total of three custom AC creations can be stored in the garage. Once you've customised your AC you'll head off to the arena. The Arena mode allows you to play against AI rivals in order to improve your rank and class. You'll be able to take part in test matches and official battles. Winning battles earns you ranking points whilst you'll lose points if you are defeated. There are hundreds of AI enemies to face and it will keep those who enjoy the battle system in the Armored Core games busy for months as they aim to attain the highest rank. 

What's not so good about the game?

As we've already mentioned the lack of a story mode really makes this a lightweight Armored Core experience.  Going from battle to battle with nothing in between to encourage you, except the reward of seeing your rank increasing, is a very dry experience. Sure you could argue it's one Armored Core enthusiasts would appreciate but even the most ardent Armored Core fan would be hard pressed to admit that this no frills approach is desirable over a game with proper missions and a story. Yes what's here is good but it's not enough in all honesty. There is no online multiplayer, which is a shame and a wasted opportunity. Sure the asking price is budget friendly £19.99 and yes that does compensate for the rather skimpy nature of the product but still a full Armored Core experience for £39.99 would have been preferable. 

How does it look?

Nine Breaker is a bit of a mixed bag. The general presentation of the game will be very familiar to anyone who's played an Armored Core game before in regards to the menu and HUD layout. The AC's look good and animate quite nicely but the various arenas you fight in don't look anything special. In fact in terms of graphical quality the game hasn't really made any advancements on previous titles in the series, which is a little disappointing.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

The Armored Core games we have seen previously have been deaf gamer friendly and we are pleased to say that Nine Breaker is also perfectly fine for deaf gamers. When you start a new game you're given the option enable text messages and doing so will mean you'll have no problems at all. With the text messages enabled, all verbal comments and warnings (that you'll receive from the operator) are shown in text which means you'll have no problems in either of the Training or Arena modes. In fact there are no problems with Nine Breaker for deaf gamers which is great news.

Final thoughts.

Armored Core: Nine Breaker is by far the most disappointing Armored Core game we've reviewed.  That's not saying that what's here is poor, in fact it's quite good, but in all honesty there's not a lot of content here to keep you interested for long. If you're just looking for a raw Armored Core experience and are happy simply jumping from battle to battle and taking the odd break to customise your AC then you'll have few complaints with Nine Breaker. Those wanting more substance and missions to play through, will feel short changed. Had online multiplayer been included then the product would have made a lot more sense but sadly that isn't the case.

Overall Game Rating: 5.5/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

(Click the letter or here for details)

What's here is good but there just isn't enough. Armored Core: Nine Breaker feels like a cut-down game rather than a proper sequel.