Part 9: Master of Arena - Chapter 1: Setting Off for Revenge
The third and final game in the PS1 Armored Core saga now begins. Like before, Master of Arena has an Opening CG movie and a Demo Reel, though the former in particular is very much worth watching.
With that said, selecting new game gives us this brief summary of who we are in this game and what the goal is.
And that's our setup, A simple revenge story. Or at least that's what it seems.
Now, upon entering the Ravens' Nest, you can see that the menus have received a bit of an upgrade. New icons for the different menus and a new background as well, making things look much nicer overall. You can tell this was a game that they took their time with making as opposed to Project Phantasma feeling like a quick expansion pack job.
We're also given our first email from our new operator.
Sender: Lana Nielsen
Congratulations. How does it
feel to finally be a Raven?
I'm your RAVENS' NEST contact, and
the person in charge of handling
negotiations with requesters to
sort out your missions. Orders
must be followed to the letter.
Your first mission is already
available. It shouldn't be too
difficult, but remember to be
wary of any unforeseen obstacles.
Exercise caution at all times.
Back in Project Phantasma we had Sumika as our primary contact that was operating in the field. From Soft took the idea behind that character and applied it to an operator that gives you up to date info on mission conditions as they go on. Lana is not only gonna be a voice we hear a lot from during the game, but her role will be the standard for all future operators later in the series.
It also establishes that, as an organization that stresses its neutrality as armed mediators, the Nest operators filter requests out to their Ravens and keeps them from taking direct requests or being in contact with other entities. Makes sense enough given their roles. But before we get going to the first mission, we need to make yet another set of tweaks to our AC.
Along with the change in menu UIs, the selection of AC parts all around have received various buffs and nerfs to their stats, making the unlockable parts from Project Phantasma's Arena not stupidly broken. This does affect the weight of some parts so loading in specific ACs might reveal that it's got too much weight on it and can't go into battle.
Now, I technically would not need to do this as I've 100% completed the previous AC games and doing so nulls the weight restrictions, but that would be cheating and I've played these games enough times within the game's rules that Human Plus or Overweight mechs aren't necessary for me. The build is still similar to what it last was in Project Phantasma, though I've touched up the paint job yet again, and I went back to the KARASAWA rifle and WC-01QL back cannon for my go to energy weapons.
Next on the list was further modifying our emblem. What was before a roman numeral II is now a III. And that's because...
...this is now the ARC III. With that done, our AC is ready to go.
All the credits earned from previous games still carry over, and there's more to see in the Ravens' Nest that will be covered in a later update. There's still a mission report that tracks the number of sorties and our success/failure ratio, but there's also separate reports for the game's Arena modes, so perfectionists like me have another thing to worry about. Interestingly, win/loss ratios for the Arena is a thing that wasn't carried over to many of the future games for whatever reason. Here at least it makes enough sense given the name of the game.
Now then, enough menu talk for now. Let's get into some action.
We've recieved a request asking for assistance in tracking down an escaped
The fugitive is a chronic corporate hacker. He has hijacked an
Armored Car and locked himself in the Botanical Zone.
He hacked into the facility's security system, and all security MTs are now under his control.
The offensive capability of a single MT is no match for an AC, though they can be a
nuisance when encountered in groups. Immediately destroy all MTs you come
across. The building's structural data has been prepared.
Your goal is to capture the fugitive. You have permission to take him out if necessary.
Well at least it isn't a factory. Granted we're still in the Subterranean Era this point in the series, but it's nice to see some greenery.
The mission loading screens return once again, though the data that's displayed is different from what was in Project Phantasma.
So the only enemies in this level are small MTs known as Spatulas and they only deal minimal damage with their machine guns. Compare that to the KARASAWA's power to one shot everything into a massive explosion, I'd say the odds are greatly in my favor.
This mission area is also quite extensive, even though the two types of places you'll be in are long corridors or large octagonal rooms. Though here there is a split in the path and one of those paths gets us closer to the target.
...except that it's locked, and thus we need to make a detour.
Taking the other path leads us to a large room that holds a single column in the center that serves as the locking mechanism for that door. Destroying it disengages the lock and we can proceed forward.
At this point, there really isn't anything else to obstruct our progress, so the rest of the mission is pretty straightforward.
Once we reach the end, the game seamlessly transitions into cutscene mode as our AC automatically moves in to apprehend the fugitive.
Man, just listen to this guy's voice, what a nerd.
Yeah, didn't you get murdered twice in the first ga-HOLY SHIT!!
Well, at least we still got the money.
Returning to the Nest, Lana has sent as a message in light of the events during the last mission.
Sender: Lana Nielsen
When we first met on the Network,
you mentioned becoming a Raven
because there was someone you
wanted to kill.
AC Name: Nine-Ball
Pilot: Hustler One
Top ranked AC in the Arena.
That is all we know.
All that is needed for you to
participate in the Arena is a
corporate sponsor. This opportunity
will present itself...eventually.
Let me warn you though, anyone
who attempts to face Nine-Ball
in battle will surely be destroyed.
If you're willing to risk your
life, I can arrange it so that
one day you will fight him.
That is all.
So that's probably the most we've had to take in from a single email in the Armored Core games thus far, but this further clarifies who our target is in this revenge story. The top ranked AC Nine-Ball. An opponent who we supposedly blew the hell up two times at the end of the first Armored Core along with R, but has now returned from the grave. Ignoring where this might potentially fit into the timeline given the shit that went down at the end of the first game, it's clear that Nine-Ball is our enemy once again, but instead of fighting him in a giant ass vertical chamber it'll be a fight for the number one spot in the Arena.
But before that happens, the ARC III is gonna need a sponsorship. Time to work hard to get one. Next update.