Game Review: Armored Core V

Namco Bandai

Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3)

$59.99

ESRB rating: Teen

Review rating: 3.5 stars

As a fan of the "Armored Core" series since the first game's release on the original PlayStation, I've always longed for an in- depth competitive online mode. There are only so many times one can utterly destroy one's roommate in split-screen combat before it gets old. Now "Armored Core V" has been unleashed, and for once, the single-player mode is trumped by the awesome online combat.

In fact, the single-player story line is so generic that it deserves a cliche opener: In a world where war has devastated the planet, players must join the resistance and fight against yet another oppressive dictator. Yawn!

Unfortunately, the actual single-player campaign is just as boring. Players rarely ever have to do much more than strafe, dodge and shoot because winning every level is all about destruction! Some levels are over in less than one minute, which means that dedicated players will spend much more time creating their giant mechanical beasts than actually using them. Good thing the mech building mode is still deep and rewarding!

It seems as though the disappointing single-player mode is just practice for the action-packed online experience. Up to 20 players can band together in an online team, which is like having a miniature friends list used to recruit other players in the persistent fight for world dominance.

A narrow variety of missions lets players team up and lay the smack down on both enemy A.I. and opposing teams, and it's very rewarding to come out victorious. Too bad players have to repeat the same missions over and over in bland environments. After a while, it feels similar to grinding XP in an MMO.

Fans of the series will love playing "Armored Core V" online, but I doubt if anyone will enjoy the disappointing single-player mode.

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