Chances are that if you are reading this then you have played an Armored Core game sometime in your life and it is equally likely that Armored Core 4 was not your first experience with the series. Armored Core has always been easy to understand, frustrating to learn and difficult to master. But, above all, Armored Core has always been rewarding to play. The core concept of every Armored Core game is basic- take missions, get paid, buy parts and repeat. As simplistic as this concept is it is truly the challenge, execution of concepts and mechanics of play that makes each game worth picking up. Armored Core: For Answer certainly delivers. AC: FA not only takes the world that was introduced in Armored Core 4 and expounds upon it but also introduces more fluid control response and many new features.
AC: 4A not only offers veterans of the series a bit of hope for the future and a good bit of challenge; it also offers new comers to the series a good place to start. The Vanguard Overboost adds a fun little mini-game-esque feature, and yet manages to avoid being trite by only being present in a few missions. The addition of Cooperative play makes for a whole new level of game play. In the past, the only multiplayer feature available for Armored Core was AC VS. AC arena matches. The only exception is AC2: Another Age- but even the very few co-op missions in that game were "co-opetition" normally ending with the best pilot standing. Having a true Co-Op feature in AC:FA means not only can two experienced friends play together for fun, but a less experienced person can enlist the help of someone else in order to complete a difficult mission. This obviously could help eliminate some of the frustration that newer players may experience when they get stuck on a level. One cannot, however, join a co-op mission that you have not unlocked. This prevents players from jumping ahead of the game.
AC:FA contains 45 mission- 40 of which are co-op enabled. The remaining five non co-op enable levels are decisive missions that directly affect the ending you will receive. In addition to the new co-op feature AC:FA also has the ever faithful versus- with up to 8 player support. Modes such as defeat all, defeat leader, and destroy objective breathe new life and grant added interest into the classic one on one AC matches of old. Also, the new Assault Armor makes multiplayer matches even more frantic than ever before.
As for the core game concepts- story, graphics, controls, concept, and replay factor, AC:FA follows the tradition with most games of the Armored Core series. AC:4A presents a story that is patchy at best. However, the silent protagonist (or antagonist depending on the path you choose) that you play as is a mercenary and one has to think "would a mercenary really fully understand or care about what is going on around them"? You do missions for money- simple enough. The game presents to you a general idea of what companies do and do not get along with one another as well as who some of the major players are and what part you play in the fate of the world when the resolution has been met. Graphically, FromSoftware follows tradition again by delivering unparalleled, stunning pre-rendered CGI movies. However, the in-game graphic rendering is just a slight mark above the industry's middle ground. Thankfully though, this is an improvement to AC4 where surroundings were very drab and borderline monochromatic. The sound in AC:FA is also an improvement from AC4- especially the music. As aforementioned, the controls of AC:FA are a lot more responsive and fluid than AC4 which makes it much easier to play even without having to set a custom control scheme; a feature that is available if you would like to completely remap the controller- always a plus. The concept of AC:FA is classic Armored Core- take missions, buy parts, make a better AC, repeat. The real joy and replay factor comes in the form of clearing the AI arena and achieving S rank on all missions on both difficulty levels. Doing so grants you more parts and other tuning adjustments to make your AC better. Playing with, or against, a friend always provides replay factor to a game. So, if you like Armored Core and your friend likes Armored Core you will both most likely be playing this game with each other quite a few times. Plus, for the very determined, there is the online arena ranking to conquer.
As for Playstation 3 specific enhancements- AC:FA fails to deliver for the most part. Playstation trophies are not supported (however, Xbox 360 Achievements are available in the Xbox 360 version) neither is custom music. These features were introduced to the PS3 after AC:FA was released in Japan so that most likely is the presiding factor for this. An improvement for the PS3 version of the game is the inclusion of voice chat. This feature was unavailable for the PS3 version of Armored Core 4.
Overall, Armored Core: For Answer is a very good game for those that enjoy the series or for those that are looking for a game that features tons of customization, a decent amount of on-line functionality, and a lot of large scale destruction.