Armored Core: Last Raven
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|Armored Core: Last Raven|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable|
|Genre(s)||Action, third-person shooter|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
Armored Core: Last Raven (アーマード・コア ラストレイヴン Āmādo Koa Rasuto Reivun) is a mecha video game developed by FromSoftware and published by Agetec. It is the last game to follow the storyline started in Armored Core 3, and the direct sequel to Armored Core: Nexus. Last Raven is also the last game to use the Armored Core 3 engine as a basis for its graphics, as the next game in the series would use a new engine built specifically for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
The game features a branching plot line with multiple distinct endings, a first for the Armored Core series. Depending on the players' actions within the game and which of the factions they ultimately side with the game's plot and ending will vary dramatically. There are six distinct endings featured in the game.
In the wake of the now defunct Navis's failed attempt to control recovered ancient weapons technology, the world has been left in tatters. Looking to consolidate power, the Corporations (Crest, Mirage, and Kisaragi) have merged into one super-corporation known as "The Alliance". Fed up with corporate rule and oppression, and seeing a newfound threat in The Alliance, a Raven known as Jack-O (an important but minor character from Armored Core: Nexus) forms an organization of Ravens known as "Vertex" from the ashes of the fallen Raven's Ark. After rallying a sizable force of fellow Ravens to his cause, Jack-O declares that he will launch an all-out war on the Alliance in 24 hours. Leading the opposing force, a Raven named Evangel has rallied just as many Ravens to the Alliance and is preparing to fight Jack-O head on. Making matters all the more complicated, many Ravens have turned into independent warlords, setting out on their own after the collapse of Raven's Ark.
To finish this volatile situation: you. You are approached by both sides seeking your cooperation. Will you side with the Corporations, or assist Vertex in causing their downfall? You have a choice to make, Raven.
The plot begins with the Raven choosing to take a mission for either Vertex or Alliance who after completing the mission was "introduced" to Evangel, Zinaida and Jack-o; The major characters of the struggle.
Throughout the story missions, the Raven learns of that they may be a "Dominant", an extremely gifted pilot who can turn the tide of war. This was a title sought by both Evangel and Zinaida, who are driven to become the strongest by any means necessary. In desperation to be the strongest, Evangel betrays Alliance and winds up getting Triturate killed trying to follow him. Meanwhile, Jack-O puts Zinaida and the Raven through several missions which often pit them against other Ravens with both managing to kill their targets, Jack-O even was so desperate to find the one Raven that he would betray fellow members of Vertex to test the Raven's skills.
The struggle reaches its climax at the Querr Energy Plant, where the Raven learns of a destructive weapon called Pulverizers. A weapon capable of taking data from its destruction to create a new Pulverizer. Its true destructive potential appeared again when Tartarus Headquarters and the Garav Desert was attacked by another Pulverizer. Meanwhile, Triton Ecoactivity center was destroyed as well, which was a source of biological weapons created by Kisaragi.
The intentions were then revealed by Jack-O, the goal of the attack was not to defeat the Alliance but to destroy the Internecine, a computer system who produced the suicide weapons in Nexus and is now planning to create an unstoppable Pulverizer which will destroy humanity if left unchecked. To do this, he was seeking a Raven who has the potential to be a Dominant and narrowed it down to Zinaida and the Raven. The final ending however is up to the player pending on who he sided with.
In addition to a graphical update from Armored Core: Nexus, Last Raven's game engine has undergone another significant overhaul. 19 new parts have been added from Armored Core: Nine Breaker; 5 heads, 5 cores, 2 back weapons, 4 right arm weapons and 3 left arm parts. The majority of new parts are remakes of parts from previous PlayStation and PlayStation 2 era Armored Core games.
Some ballistic weapons such as assault rifles and machine guns now have a magazine loaded into the unit, meaning once a certain number of shots have been fired at once, the weapon must "reloaded" before it can be fired again
Boosters are now affected by a new "Acceleration" stat that affects how quickly your booster is able to reach top speed.This drastically affects booster selection and gives certain boosters previously overlooked new use and meaning.
The Garage section of the game has been streamlined with the menu and assembly system being made faster and easier to navigate.The number of ACs a player has access to in their garage has been increased from 3 to 5 and a physical garage environment and has also been created as the in-game menu screen (Players have been given the option to view their ACs from whatever angle they chose using the analog control sticks while at this screen). Another new addition, is the ability to see how any part change (even ones that have not yet been bought) can affect your AC in every statistic. This has greatly aided in helping a player decisions on AC design.
The 24-hour time line described in the summary is advanced incrementally with each mission the player undertakes.The player is presented with multiple mission choices and the game's storyline will change in relation to the player's choices in the game.There are six endings to the story line because of this.
Actual in-game humans appear for the first time in the Armored Core series (Project Phantasma showed a human in one mission but the player could not interact with him). Humans in the game are minuscule in comparison to an AC and serve to reinforce the scale of an AC which is sometimes lost on players after fighting similarly sized enemy ACs and MTs for the past nine games. The opening video from starting a new game even shows the Raven Zinaida coming out of her AC, Facinator, previously unseen. Before that, players have only gotten a glimpse of the cockpit of an AC in both Armored Core 2 and Armored Core 3. This helps end a long debate of where and how a Pilot controls an AC.
ACs now take physical damage to external parts. If extensive damage is incurred by parts like heads, arms, legs and cores they will become weaker over the course of the game and eventually be destroyed. Destroyed parts cannot be used on an AC and replacement parts need to be purchased from the Shop. Losing an arm will mean the loss of the weapon equipped on it, the loss of a head will mean loss of radar functions and a damaged leg part will hamper the AC's mobility. An AC can continue operating with nearly every part of its anatomy destroyed except its Core. If the Core is destroyed in battle then the AC itself is destroyed and the game is over.
Multiple AC test options are now available in the Garage menu. Players can now chose to face two regular MTs, nine light floating MTs, four automated missile turrets, a single basic AC or no opponent at all. A VR Arena also exists in the game and allows players to face up to 30 opponent ACs in arena combat. Nine of the ACs in the VR Arena are remakes of the ACs that have appeared on the covers of every Armored Core game to date, except Armored Core: Formula Front and the Mobile Phone AC games.
Upon completing the game the player is given access to two additional menu options, "EX Arena" and "Free Mission". The EX Arena is made up of all the Ravens the player fights and kills over the course of the game's story. Playing through the game's storyline multiple times and exploring different story paths will add more Ravens to the EX Arena stable. The Free Mission option is a holdover from previous AC games where all the game's missions are unlocked after the player clears the storyline. In Last Raven's case, only the missions of the particular path the player has cleared are available. Like the EX Arena, multiple play-throughs and exploring the different plots of the game are required in order to completely fill out the Free Mission page.
The PSP version is titled Armored Core: Last Raven Portable (アーマード･コア ラストレイヴン ポータブル Āmādo Koa Rasuto Reivun Pōtaburu) and was released in Japan in March 4, 2010, and elsewhere in May (North America) and July (Europe). This PSP port received a number of additional features from the original version which include 16:9 widescreen support, improved menus, ad-hoc wireless play, additional parts only for the portable version, and the ability to transfer save data from one game to another. Japanese gamers who pre-ordered the game received an art book and a download code for an exclusive variant of the Moonlight close-quarters weapon for use in Armored Core V.
Last Raven received "mixed or average reviews" on both platforms according to the review aggregation website Metacritic. The game was praised for continuing the impressive level of customization that Armored Core has become renown for, yet it was also cited as a daunting barrier to new players. GameSpot's review of the PlayStation 2 version claimed the difficulty of the story and arena missions were too steep, and relied too much on trial and error to customize the player character successfully for the challenges at hand. IGN's review of the same console version was slightly more favorable, but still criticized the game's extreme learning curve, the lack of new graphics, and lack of significant innovations to the game's formula. In Japan, Famitsu gave the game a score of 29 out of 40 for the PS2 version, and 26 out of 40 for the PSP version.
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