"Huge shiny robots with red rocket launchers; money to buy me a laser with radar; Mech body parts on my video screen - these are a few of my favorite things." I never thought that song could work for Mech construction, but what do you know? Well Armored Core is back and it's all shiny and new on the brand new PS2. That's good news for fans of the series, or Mech fans in general.

When you get right down to it, what could be more fun than destroying robots? How about destroying robots with your very own mechanized mercenary? That's what From Software was thinking when it designed the new and improved Armored Core 2. If you are one of the many fans of the first games, prepare to do battle in a whole new light. The PS2 enables From Software to produce more realistic graphics with smoother animation not to mention a offer a multitude of tasks that makes the first version seem like a game of Punch Buggy. Even with all of the improvements in the graphics, the gameplay largely remains the same as previous AC's. In fact, exactly the same.

The premise is fairly straightforward. Based on the PSX series Armored Core, you create a humanoid robot called a Mech which performs tasks, usually fights, for money. As you climb the ladder of conquest, you will receive financial compensation which you may then use to further customize your Mech soldier of fortune with a variety of weapons, appendages and other accessories. There appears to be no limit to the amount of available features you can add to your Mech. Pulsating energy bombs, lasers, radar, rocket launchers, boosters, legs, arms and custom paint jobs. The more missions you accomplish, the more features you unlock.

Two of the most frustrating aspects of the game are getting your Mech's hands on enough money to upgrade, and the rather awkward controls. Is it just me or should there be analog control in this game!! I know where I want to go but I'll be darned if I can't get there in time. Of course if you can't get all five of your digits synchronized on the D-pad, you will never beat your Mech foe and you won't get any money for those badly-needed upgrades. To make matters even more stressful, you can actually go into debt having to repair the damage inflicted on your Mech after an unsuccessful battle. Just when it appears there is no way out, there isn't. You'll have to commit e-suicide and start all over again.

If robots are not your thing then this game isn't for you. It's a robot nightmare ingratiated with mechanized machinations that will have you so paranoid you may consider wearing a diaper during your next visit to an automatic car wash.

Creating a Mech couldn't be easier, especially if you don't have any money to buy parts. When you're starting off you choose from a variety of shells and then the computer will walk you through the options. You do get some freebies. When you've completed your Mech you can take it out and test it to get the feel of it before you commit to a real confrontation. I suggest that you practice turning quickly, jumping and dodging, these are the skills you will need to master when faced with an opponent.

Once the controls are mastered, and that's no easy task I'll tell you, you can start putting together the behemoth of your dreams. Some level require that you have very specific equipment and powers and these features will be made available as you progress along a series of related missions. The bounty of missions is vast and varied me Bucko so's ya can 'xpect a long and adventurous journey with this game.

Some missions will require that you are airborne and others will require the strategic use and deployment of the rocket launcher. Too bad if you don't pick them up before you enter the battlefield because you will surely lose the match and end up sustaining some damage which will cost you.

It's a tough life being a Mech but it beats being a Transformer; with kids chewing on you all the time, parents stepping on you while you're trying to take a nap at the top of the stairs and the concentration camp called a toy box where you eventually end up with other dismembered and disfigured figures. With such impressive graphics, sound and gameplay it will be a long time before AC2 is relegated to the toy box, just be sure that you know that it's basically the same game(s) you've played before on the PSX.

System: PS2
Dev: From Software
Pub: Agetec
Released: Oct 2000
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Cole