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GAME REVIEW: 'Armored Core' sends player's robot on quick missions

"Armored Core 4." Developer: From Software. Format: PlayStation 3 (also for the Xbox 360). Category: Action. Price: $59.99. Rated: T (Teen). Three stars (out of four).

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The "Armored Core" series makes its debut on a next-gen system with "Armored Core 4."

This title is a step up from its predecessors visually, with great graphics, great lighting and brilliant explosion effects, enhanced with a high-definition connection.

The plot, which was initially hard to follow, became clearer as I progressed through the game's chapters. The world in the not-so-near future is ruled by a group of superpower companies that have absolute control over people. You are a mercenary, battling with a high-tech, incredibly powerful robot equipped with weapons that can inflict potentially tremendous damage.

You are hired and allied with an independent company whose goal is to take out the big guys.

The story line is comprised of a series of 37 short (generally 1- to 5-minute) missions in a group of chapters. There is usually one main objective, ranging from clearing away long-range cannons to infiltrating a base to destroying experimental weaponry to bringing down a cloud of self-guided missiles or destroying an enemy robot that is quite similar to yours. Although the environments -- a sandstorm in North Africa, Antarctica's icy plains, the sea-sunken city of Shanghai -- are somewhat confined by in-game boundaries, you have a good sense of where you are.

Many would not like these straightforward, short missions, but I enjoy the fact that one won't take me all night to complete.

Because you are a mercenary, you are paid like one.

But instead of beating missions however you like just to complete a task, you must obey time restrictions, ammo limits and the amount of damage taken to be given the full reward.

Every time you exceed the limit, your pay is reduced. With the money you do manage to save, you are able customize your robot. This includes weapons, appearance and fine-tuning. Possibilities are endless and the success of missions depends on how you have configured your machine.

This game isn't as complicated as the others in the series and it's a little more toned-down, but don't expect an easy game.

If you want to be swiveling around a giant robot taking out enemies with powerful weapons, which is fun for a while, then this is no doubt for you.

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