REVIEW: Armored Evolution

Although there are other vehicles, such as walking mechs you can control, I think of Armored Evolution as a sci-fi tank game. The RPG elements help give you something to work towards, but a lack of story or objectives undoes this benefit.

Released: Steam
Type: Single-Player, Coop
Genres: Shooter, RPG
Developer: Burst2Flame Entertainment
Publisher: Burst2Flame Entertainment
Release date: 1 Feb, 2019

First Impressions

I stumbled across Armored Evolution (AE) randomly, knowing very little about it, but saw that it has good reviews. Plus, I enjoy an overhead arena shooter from time to time, and with the trailer showing several enemies on screen and the potential to upgrade my mean machine, I was gung ho for some chaos. One aspect of AE that stood out before I even tried it though was the achievement distribution, as the percentages only range from 15-16.5%. Some of them seem like they’d be hard to get, so I’m rather surprised by how tight this range is. Is it really that addictive that once you give the game an earnest attempt, you just blitz the entire thing? Well…

Gameplay

There are 2 game modes available in AE. The first is Campaign Mode, in which you’ll pit your avatar against waves of enemies, which tend to follow a general theme. For instance, the first world had quite a few rocket turrets, and the third one implemented turtles with flamethrowers. There are 7 planets, each made up of 8 stages, and every 4th stage is a boss battle. Every planet is broken into 2 sub-areas of 4 stages, which is the reason the background environment changes from 1-4 to 5-8. You start with a single avatar, but as you progress you’ll unlock a variety of machinery to pilot, along with different weapons and abilities you can equip them with. Also, you can upgrade both the items you equip your avatar with, as well as the avatar itself, which is necessary to survive against the stronger enemies you face in later areas. The other mode is Endless, which only unlocks after you beat the campaign. As expected, you try to survive through as many waves as possible, and it can go at least as high as 100, based on the achievements.

Maybe Armored Evolution would be more exciting if you played it with others, but by yourself, the best you get is some interesting explosions.

When it comes to the difficulty settings, there are 3 choices: Recruit, Soldier, and Veteran serving as easy, medium, and hard respectively. In addition to this, you can choose to toggle on Hardcore, which enacts perma-death. Instead of just losing an avatar if it is killed in combat though, which I think would have been more than sensible since that doesn’t happen normally, your entire profile is deleted if you die at all. So, be sure not to try out a new part or avatar on a late stage, lest you get wrecked with a set-up you dislike.

Items with a stat increase on them are much more valuable, though it’s also possible to find ones that are weakened too.

Controls

When looking at the trailers, I would have sworn this was a twin-stick shooter. However, you can’t even use a controller to play the game, having to rely on mouse and keyboard controls. The mouse is used to aim your shots, while ‘WASD’ moves your avatar. You have up to 4 abilities you can use, with the ‘L’ and ‘R mouse clicks’ using your 2 primary attacks. The ‘L shift’ key activates an ability, which can either boost your avatar or interfere with opponents, with one example being a temporary stun. The ‘space bar’ activates your ultimate attack. Though this wasn’t the control scheme I’d have preferred, it works out well enough here.

This is a simple but effective way to highlight the controls for the game.

Story

There’s no story elements to AE. I thought there might have been some explanation as to why you’re piloting an avatar against all these other machines across various planets, but there isn’t one. To me, this could have helped explain the mechanics of hardcore mode as well, but as it is this game plays like an arcade title with RPG elements.

So, who’s giving me these rewards, anyways?

Graphics

AE certainly takes place in a space setting, with the backdrop of the night sky, and many arenas looking to be on asteroids. The walking mechs and turrets shooting out laser beams, missiles, and bouncing energy balls build up a futuristic, sci-fi world as well. However, I find the inclusion of tanks a bit of an odd contrast, as they always make me think of older games inspired by what was at the time recent, real-life wars. Regardless, with the consistent theming in place, I’d say that the graphics are pretty good. The terrain looks like it has texture to it, there’s debris and embers that scatter off from blown-up enemies, and the shadows from background objects make the environment look realistic. Some of the attacks and weapon icons look flat and uninteresting, but that’s about my only complaint.

They get the job done, but they’re nothing special. Plus, after a while, it starts blending together.

Sound Design

It’s a bit hard to tell since I didn’t find a soundtrack, but I think each world has unique music. I also know that there’s specific boss music. Either way, there isn’t much variety in how the music sounds, as it seems to use similar instrumentation for each song. Overall, though it has a theme that fits space-oriented combat, it doesn’t stand out very much.

Although I can technically afford it, I have no idea how it handles and might not like it very much. Plus, I have to spend even more money upgrading its base stats, so the up-front price is somewhat misleading.

Pros

  • It’s possible to play this game online with up to 3 other people. However, this is because of the control scheme and lack of controller support, as otherwise you’d theoretically have been able to do so locally as well.
  • There’s a decent range in weapons, so you’ll likely find something that suits your style.
  • If you manage not to be hit or get chain kills, you’re rewarded with extra money.

Cons

  • I wouldn’t say the game is particularly hard, but some enemies can devastate you if they get in close. With the way stages load enemies in waves, when playing a new level, it’s easy to be caught in a bad location because you don’t know any better. For this reason, I’d never try Hardcore Mode, as it’d be far too easy to get wiped out because you forgot where a cluster of enemies spawn.
  • Seeing as how you can have several avatars at once, I don’t see why the Hardcore option wipes out all of your progress instead of simply destroying an avatar that loses its battle. It’s entirely optional, but it seems rather severe when the gameplay mechanics don’t support this conclusion.
  • It seems like the rewards for beating a level are RNG-based. It’d have been preferable if they were based on how well you did in the fight, or pertained to significant events, such as beating a world boss.

Tips

  • The rewards for clearing earlier levels is smaller in contrast to what’s available in later worlds. However, there’s no limitation on how often you can replay earlier stages, which is ideal for grinding credits, particularly if playing with Hardcore in effect.
  • I found the Nova Bounce to be particularly effective, seeing as it’ll kill enemies that I’m not even aware of. However, the game doesn’t distinguish between your attacks and enemies’, so if you use the same weapons, the projectiles look the same.
  • Sometimes an avatar won’t allow you to use one of the equipment slots. Otherwise, though it’ll have a default equipped in each available one, you can switch it out for something you prefer more.

Final Thoughts

Though I’m not fond of having to play with the mouse and keyboard, it functions well enough that this isn’t the decisive factor in how I view AE. Instead, the issue is how it doesn’t entertain or engage me as I’m playing. I’ve played several games of this style before, and there’s nothing here that makes this experience stand out. At least not in a good way, and a lack of any story elements certainly doesn’t help matters. For a while, I’d considered giving AE a cautious recommendation, but as I went over more matters in further detail, I found more issues and flaws than redeeming qualities, so I won’t be recommending this game. It’s mediocre at best, yet with problems such as not being able to distinguish your attacks from the enemies’, I’d say it’s worse than that.

Stupid enemy tank, getting stuck behind cover and having no way to hit me.
Written by
Fruit N Doggie
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