Armored Core: Last Raven Portable

May 23, 2010

There is nothing wrong with difficult games. There is, however, something wrong with games whose difficulty is created by a poor control scheme, and that is exactly what Last Raven Portable is – difficult because you have to fight the anemic control scheme in addition to the enemy mechs.

Last Raven started its life as a PS2 game, and when it released it was released only for existing fans of the Armored Core series. Just as Nintendo cultivated a generation of platform gamers to be able to pull off ridiculous wall-kicks and long-jumps in Super Mario 64, From Software had cultivated a group of mech action players that demanded a difficult but fair campaign in Last Raven. And that’s what they got – Last Raven, when it released on the PS2, was punishing difficult, but every time you died you knew it was your fault for wasting ammo or taking a risk that you shouldn’t have. This encouraged players to refine their strategies and get better acquainted with the controls.

Unfortunately, Last Raven Portable is a photocopy-perfect port of the PS2 original. None of the enemies have been rebalanced, and none of the mechanics have been changed. Ordinarily this would be a good thing. Nobody wants to play a version of Duke Nukem 3D where all of the secrets have big neon arrows pointing them out, after all. In the course of a day, you’ll fight a war against the very corporations that you used to serve. And if you can keep your wits about you you’ll be the last Raven left alive when it’s all over. As with the mechanics, the story is a photocopy of the original game’s so if you enjoyed it the first time you’ll enjoy it again here.

Here, however, the perfect translation serves to frustrate the player as the PSP just doesn’t have enough input to competently play the game. Last Raven was designed with the DualShock 2 in mind, and it shows. There are airborne enemies to track, but you’re short an analog stick. And in Last Raven you can’t afford to be fumbling with buttons to rotate the view because the enemy has already spotted you and now you’re dead. Same outcome as before, but now you can completely blame the control scheme for your failure. If you’d had a second nub panning your view would be easy, and it would be in line with how the game was originally designed.

The Last Raven that you remember fondly is present on your PSP, but playing it is akin to strumming a guitar one-handed or driving a manual transmission car without a clutch. It’ll get you where you’re going, but nobody will be happy by the time you get there. Sometimes, games need to be changed when ported from one platform to another, and this is one of those times. 

Plays Like: Armored Core: Last Raven with a broken controller

Pros: Competent port of the PS2 original to portable hardware

Cons: Exceptionally difficult to control, hard for all the wrong reasons


Score: 1/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.