Armored Core: Formula Front was the first version of the series released for Sony's then-new PSP system. Players were architects for teams of unmanned arena combat Armored Cores that competed in organised leagues. Fan backlash was vocal around the point of AI, and that matches were essentially only spectated by the player. 'Formula Front Extreme Battle' was a subsequent version for the US market that added direct AC piloting to the game and was then rereleased as 'Formula Front' International in Japan. A version of the core game was released for PlayStation 2, but not outside Japan.
Set at an undisclosed point during the Armored Core 3
era, 'Formula Front' competitive leagues have entered their 25th year on the back of unprecedented popularity with the public. Teams of up to 3 Armored Core
units compete in arena-based competitions, sponsored by corporate parties and designed by 'architects'. These unmanned AC units (uAC) were considered disposable, albeit expensive assets, that were suitable replacements for the arena combat of ages past where loss of the pilot's life was a constant concern.
Several top teams attain the status of celebrity in the context of these competitions, but none of the characters, nor AC designs, bear any significance to the rest of the series.
Architects could engineer teams of uACs from a vast pool of parts that represented almost all from the period between Armored Core 3
. In addition to basic unit design, AI characteristics could be modified for the first time in Formula Front. Until the release of Extreme Battle, this was the most direct influence players had on the behaviour of uACs in battle.
Although direct control was eventually added, the control scheme was nowhere near as robust as the one found in later AC offerings on the PSP. Inputs were crude and the fact that the portable system lacked many of the key buttons of the PS2's DualShock was not properly compensated for. Additionally, as with most titles released early in the PSP lifecycle, graphics and presentation were not as refined as those in Armored Core 3 Portable
-Formula Front was perhaps the worst received Armored Core game to date. This was acknowledged by developers and led to a quick succession of updated releases acceding to fans' demands.
-The original box art features a predominantly Chrome-manufactured AC, while Extreme Battle boasts an entirely Mirage unit which is remarkably similar (except for the legs) to the modern Nine Ball
AC from Ninebreaker