Armored Core: Formula Front Review


Armored Core: Formula Front is a giant robot action game, but it’s not your typical giant robot action game. In Armored Core the combat is almost secondary to robot design and customization, which means that you’ll either really enjoy this game or it will bore you quickly. It all depends on the type of giant robot guy (or gal) you are. If you were born in the distant future in a robot-battling kind of universe, would you prefer to be a robot engineer hanging out in a lab and sending your creations off to war or would you rather be a robot jockey?

A giant robot with a giant gun.
OK, so technically the robots in Armored Core are not fighting a war. The premise of the game is that future sports fans have grown weary of watching men in tights or shorts chasing balls around and have instead turned their attention to one-on-one matches fought by the aforementioned giant robots. The duels are fought between robot teams that pick one of their five robots to represent them in the match in the hopes that their robot will emerge victorious and the team will climb up a spot in the league rankings. It should comes as no surprise to you that you’re in control of one of these robot teams and that you must claw your way up from the bottom of the “Bottom” league by building better robots.

The vast, and I emphasize vast, majority of your time will be spent in the garage tweaking your robots. If you just try and skip the whole design thing, your robots will quickly get chewed up in battle and you can expect to be the perennial Kansas City Royals of the robot leagues. Ask any KC fan and they’ll tell you this is not a fun place to be. So anyway, each robot is rated in six areas – attack, defense, mobility, energy, cooling, and ECM resistance (hmm, ECMCM?) – and how well you balance these factors is measured in your robot’s rating and in its performance in battle. Of course, each part you place on your robot will add to some areas and decrease your stats in others. For example, placing more armor on your robot may increase defense, but it will come at the cost of mobility and cooling. The game comes with an absolutely dizzying array of parts that can connect to the various parts of your robots including their heads, arms, and torsos. Unfortunately it’s not always clear how adding or removing a particular part will affect your robot as the parts are definitely lacking any kind of decent documentation in the game. The game attempts to give you constant feedback as you play with the parts through the use of a small radar chart, but these things are just as confusing here as they are in an Excel spreadsheet. To really see the results of your design changes you’ll have to field test your robot which means that you’ll often lose a battle due to poor design choices. You have to have a good attitude about losing here, because lose you will and you will do it a lot.

In addition to customizing your robots’ parts, you can create their color scheme using a fairly sophisticated palette tool. You can even design your own team logo from scratch using the in-game paint program. Pretty cool stuff for you design freaks out there.