Another Century Episode series is always one of my favorite Mecha Simulator games, while not as hardcore as AC series, this is the only game that provide solid crossover mecha action experience. I used to play this game as a teen back in high school but never managed to finish the game unlike ACE 3. Out of 5 entries to the series, most of the fans who had gone through most of the games will agree that the only solid games of the series were 2 and 3. While the first one was riddled with issues as From tried to figure out what works and what doesn't, on ACE 2 they begin to find the working formula to the series. I will try my best trying to give the necessary coverage of the game in this post.
ACE 2 features mechas from 12 different series though not all of the series are featured in the story mode like Wings of Rean or Prince of Darkness and even some of them doesn't have much screentime throughout the game. I was surprised G Gundam series only got one unit in this game but at least From Redeem themselves in the 3rd by putting Master Gundam
Unlike the 3rd, ACE 2 handled the story series by series which is rather strange as 3rd one is another way around. While it gives fast conclusion for each series it does give strange feeling for someone who played SRW often. Out of all of the titles, only 4 of the series got the spotlight in the story department as the other concluded in 2 or 3 stages. Personally i find the crossover interaction of the characters in ACE 2 are not as good as the 3rd probably due to synergy issues.
Hmm didn't expect i took alot Gundam Wing Screenshots but anyway for its time ACE series got really remarkable graphic and took great leaps in improvement of gameplay. The control gets more fluid which was kinda surprising as ACE 2 only have 6 months time gap with the first game. The series also got couple of team attacks but not as awesome as the 3rd was. Out of all units, Wing Zero Custom and Valkyrie units are some of the best units in the game with the former capable taking down grunts and bossses to the point of being cheesy while the later are very efficient units in killing grunts.
Personally i find the weakest aspect of ACE 2 is the boss fight, ACE 2 doesn't have any Final Boss due to anticlimatic final stage and the only boss enemy that proved its worth was Gato's Neue Ziel in the early game. Anyway most of the issues in ACE 2 got fixed in the 3rd Game.
Also ACE 2 is the first of the series that finally got the originals their own story. ACE 2 original story revolves around Gunark, an experimental unit of Earth Federation which got some sinister secret behind around something called Guardian System. There are 2 Units of Gunark piloted by 2 Pilots; Tak and Marina from the EF's task force who went through countless battles as comrade in arms until only 2 of them were remained from their units. In the story early on Marina appeared to sacrifice herself to save Tak only to face him as enemies for a certain reason until Tak convinced her to join him back.
In ACE 2 Tak only got Gunark as playable unit, but in terms of ability it does well all around along with great mobility as it got flight mode as well. Initially Gunark doesn't have much arsenals to boot with but as story progresses it gains more arsenals and capable of dishing out good damages even dealing heavy damage by summoning pillars of light which sacrifice some Health at the same time.
Back then when i played the game for first time i didn't dig Gunark's design much due to my shallow taste in mecha but as time goes on i get to like the design more with its minimalist and efficient design. Now i really wished there was a plamo kit for this guy.
One of the best thing that ACE series ever brought out are their use of Macross series. Out of all action games that features Macross so far none of them able to surpass ACE series depiction not even the series own game. ACE series took the best part of Macross as a series; "Dogfights" while leaving the worse aspects of the series behind the door. The Macross units are certainly some of my favorite units as they offer 2fast2furious playstyle while performing Hit&Run attacks really well capable of mowing down grunts efficiently with their Itano circus missiles massacre. Also their team attacks probably the coolest in the game.
While ACE2 was not my favorite entry of the series, it does bring significant impact to the series as it is the game where ACE begins to get awesome. Personally i really wish there were more of this series to come but seeing the current trends and recent SRW games, i suppose it is really hard to make a good mecha game like ACE for now as the top management consider these kind of games unprofitable with costs from licensing while fanservice smutty games capable of raking in money without much investment. The series got Vocal version as well which brings even better experience with the original vocal songs from each series.