The Let's Play Archive

Armored Core: Project Phantasma and Master of Arena

by ArclightBorealis

Part 1: Project Phantasma - Chapter 1: Enter Amber Crown

Before starting, feel free to take a look at the demo reel and intro video for the game. Neither is that remarkable, the opening especially by the series' standards but it's there for those who're curious.

Also, when selecting new game we're brought to this screen which provides a brief explanation of the context behind the game. The nice thing about this is that we're not thrown into a mission at the start that determines whether or not we get to play the game. You even start out with 100000 credits to spend however you want once you begin.

However, we're not starting this game from scratch. We've moved over our save file from the first Armored Core right into Project Phantasma, parts, credits and all. Our win loss ratio is also reset, and this time failing a mission for 100% completion will not be required.

Still, with that much money on hand, and with the new parts added to the shop, some extra tuning to the AC is in order.

These right here are three of the twenty two AC parts only available in Project Phantasma. Not every single one of them are in the store right from the start, but these are good ones to get when transferring over. As to what these all are, the first is a new torso that has the least AP (Armor Points) out of all the available ones but also the most extension slots. The second is the newest optional part which reduces energy weapon consumption by 50% (as an energy weapon user, this is especially helpful), and the third item is a laser rifle not unlike the legendary KARASAWA with double the ammo at the expense of fire power. But it's a trade off I'm willing to make for missions, it's not like my build in the first game wasn't OP as hell to begin with.

Throughout most of Armored Core 1 I stuck to the XCH-01 because of it having a ton of defense, but compared to other cores it was limited in extension slots, which allow the AC to equip optional parts to modify certain aspects of the build. The XXA-S0 swaps those defense and extension slot values around, giving us significantly less AP but also just enough open slots to equip the optional part we just bought at the shop. It all works out splendidly.

Here again, you can see the list of all the parts we have equipped on our AC in the garage. No real change to how their built, still the same components you see here. The AC Performance screen is also the same, providing detailed stats and providing a grade to the design that doesn't really matter at all.

Other than those changes, this build is essentially the same as what I used throughout most of the original Armored Core. It's legs provide enough mobility to not feel completely slow without boosters, there's little weight put on its shoulders save for the WC-01QL plasma laser cannon (the weapon type is renamed here for whatever reason), and not a single solid rounds weapon is anywhere on this machine. Why do I go with all energy weapons? Because in Armored Core after you get paid for missions you have to pull money out of your own pocket to pay for expenses towards AC repairs and reloading ammunition. Since energy weapons pull entirely from the AC's generator and boost meter, the munitions cost for this build is cut down to zero. It helps us in getting much more money out of missions, and is why I ended the first game with about 100K below a million. It's a very economic strategy.

Also, because this is a slightly modified version of my original machine in AC1, I have renamed this AC to the ARC II to differentiate it from the previous game. It's a habit of mine with each Armored Core game to give it a number based on which main entry game it is in. Although in Project Phantasma, the player Raven is not the same character from the original Armored Core so I simply imagine that in universe the schematics for this design just get passed off to the next guy once the previous Raven was done with it and then added their own touch to it.

But enough talk about builds and reasons for it, here's a test mission to show this thing in action.

AC Test

Yep, several months later, and I still got this shit. Let's get into the campaign now, shall we?

Before actual employment, we would like to gauge your true power.
Destroy all opposing forces.

Target any troops you see defending the materials dump. Destroy all
opposition. You will have three minutes.

If possible, destroy the materials dump as well. Do not worry, we will
provide an additional reward depending on your skills.

We have our first mission, and it borrows from the concept of the Attack Urban Center mission from the previous game. It's a timed mission, and our reward depends on how well we go about blowing up shit. Let's go.

Click the mission titles below to see the videos

Project Phantasma starts the series trend of providing extra mission details during the loading screens, displaying code name, start time, and location. These screens become much more in depth as the series goes on.

Mission start!

As you can see, shit has started to blow up, and we've got to destroy all enemies in the area within the time limit, along with destroying as much of the dump as possible. There's only four enemies to deal with, three Centaurs (the tanks) and one Scimitar (the bipedal mech), so this mission could be over very quickly if we so choose.

But we're not gonna do that. We're gonna destroy as much of the area before taking out every enemy.

Although letting this mission go on for as long as possible brings up a nitpick I have with this and other missions in the game. The game likes to repeat dialogue constantly. Like the exact same lines with no break in between whatsoever. There always has to be a fucking text box occupying the bottom of the screen because these people won't shut up.

Eventually I end the mission close to the one minute thirty second mark, and now we can get our reward.

I think this is the highest special addition I've ever earned on this one mission. Deciding to stick around for the extra thirty seconds got me nearly double what I would have earned otherwise. Too good.

Also like the first Armored Core, after missions characters will send us emails informing us about our progress or the general state of things in the AC universe.

Sender: Unknown

Your work so far has been
satisfactory. The missions
from this point forward will
be somewhat more difficult.

We clearly passed the test with flying colors. Now let's start the second mission.

Raid the underground city, Amber Crown. It should be easy to pass the
entrance, although take note there is a security system.

In order to bypass entrance security, simply destroy the four energy
generators located outside.

The entrance gate to access the city is secured by computer. Destroy
the underground condensers then go inside.

Once we confirm a successful raid, we will provide further
instructions. Good luck.

A simple infiltration and sabotage mission. Nothing we can't handle.

I'll admit, I like the name City Sneaker for a code name.

Ah, the Barracuda, our transport vehicle that has no issues with dropping us right into the middle of a hot zone. Even if it means getting itself blown up (though it doesn't here, actually).

Free falling while dodging enemy missiles, always a fun experience in Armored Core.

Aside from the two missile turrets on the top of the entrance, we need to destroy these four generators holding up the force field around the gate to Amber Crown. Simply circling the perimeter and destroying all four is easy, just two shots from our rifle is all it takes.

Heading inside, we find a switch for an elevator that lowers the platform and connects us to a hallway. At the other end is an entrance to another elevator shaft we'll need to make it further down.

Here we're given a short introductory cutscene to a new enemy type in Project Phantasma, the Fireflies. They're not that much different in style to flying enemies present in the original Armored Core, but their attacks will whittle down your AP pretty fast if you let them.

Anyway, this area right here is a nitpick I have with this mission. You are expected to ride down this slow ass elevator and take out the ceiling turrets and Fireflies that come your way. Thing is, falling to the bottom of the shaft doesn't kill you, and the door is right there, so there's nothing stopping you from just falling to the bottom and going through the door...except that it's locked, and won't unlock until the elevator reaches the bottom. It just pads out the mission in an annoying way, and sometimes the angle of your weapon won't always hit the enemies you're trying to shoot while riding down. I have a couple fuck ups at this part as a result, losing quite a lot of AP.

Also if you noticed, this mission falls into the same problem as Search and Destroy in that the intercom never shuts the hell up.

The next hallway has us facing some opposition, but at the end is a floor grate that leads us to the generators we need to destroy

Time to put the shoulder cannon to work.

And, done. Hammering the fire button and watching those big explosions is so cathartic.

And another good turnout on our pay for this mission.

We also got another message from our anonymous client. Let's see what it says.

Sender: Unknown

We have confirmed your raid.
Please await for another mission
in the near future.

Yeah, there's still more to come. Another mission is already waiting for us as well.

Conduct a rescue operation. Your target will be brought through Amber
at Loop Line Angle Junction. Save the target at all costs.

The enemy convoy consists of three vehicles and a couple of MT guard
tanks. Destroy the convoy, but save the transport that contains our

We will take care of things after that. Good Luck.

A rescue mission this time. Nothing should go wrong here.

That right there is our target. The convoy in the center.

There are five enemies of the same type to deal with, the Ogres. They're new to Project Phantasma and compared to most MTs in the series, these ones are of higher quality than others and can be quite a threat if you're not careful. They are highly mobile, almost on par with a typical AC, and have a powerful laser blade that can deal some damage if you get too close. I nearly avoid a close encounter with one near the start of the mission.

There's plenty of time to take out all five ogres and explore the map area before you need to focus on the convoys.

It's always handy to have a good mapping system on your AC if you want to see how much ground you've covered.

Just follow the road back from the end point and you'll see the convoys still trucking along. Destroy the front and back unit, and the mission will be done.

That is, until after the following cutscene.

...well that happened. I guess we're not getting paid since we technically fai-

Oh never mind, that would be silly if we didn't get paid after that cutscene.

We got a new message this time. Maybe some light can be shed on the situation.

Sender: Unknown

I apologize for your recent
inconveniences. Since our messages
are sent anonymously, somebody took
advantage of that fact and sent
you a fake. I want you to conduct
a rescue mission.

However, we are still researching
the whereabouts of our target. As
soon as we locate this person, I
will be contacting you with further

Someone has caught on to our activities in Amber Crown it seems. Gonna expect more opposition in the future.

Next update will see the next mission in the campaign, some story and character elaboration, and the introduction of the game's Arena mode.