Critically-acclaimed for its work on Dark Souls, From Software returns to its aged mech-fighter franchise with Armored Core 5, a game that reflects much of what’s wrong with current Japanese video games and is evidence that some old design philosophies simply aren’t timeless.
It’s hard to believe that that the developers of Dark Souls made Armored Core 5. Dark Souls showed that Japanese games could still impress the American audience, featuring a large, daunting world that forces players to earn every inch of progress. AC5, however, gives little incentive to do more than press triggers and strafe across its dull, urban environments. Dark Souls has deep role-playing elements that mix well with its unforgiving combat. AC5 follows tradition with myriad mech upgrades, but loses them under an impossibly confusing menu system. There’s a pattern here: Armored Core 5 evokes the same disgruntled attitude towards Japanese games that Dark Souls combated.
This iteration of Armored Core feels different than its PS2-era brothers, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t change much at all. As the videogame medium matures parallel with player-demand, there’s more impetus for developers to deliver well-developed narratives, smart mechanics, and interesting spins on genre archetypes. During my time with it, Armored Core 5‘s failure to deliver any of these was apparent. Though I played—and, I believe, thoroughly enjoyed—the mech-fighter combat of yesteryear, my personal maturation and change in expectations over the years left me disappointed with this iteration, which feels like a relic narratively, mechanically, and creatively.
The biggest departure from the typical Armored Core structure is… [Read the full review at GamerNode].