Robot Mercenaries and Corporate Power – The Dark Future of Video Games Seems Closer Everyday (Video)

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Armored Core V small
Robots + Guns = Millions in Video Game Sales

Every year E3, the epic video game conference, consumes Los Angeles in a fiery ball of geeky glory, and from those ashes rise some truly impressive trailers. Japan’s Software Inc. pulled out all the visual tricks in the book to show off their upcoming title, Armored Core V, part thirty six billion in an ongoing series about mechanical warfare. Catch the trailer below and watch the enormous warring robots perform feats of battle so awesome they make thirteen year old boys poop their pants. These robots don’t just carry guns…they are guns.

Though the graphics of Armored Core V are mouth-wateringly gorgeous, the world of the game is very bleak. Surging human populations led to food and energy scarcity causing nations to be toppled and replaced by mega-corporations and their armies of mercenaries with customized armored robot vehicles. Yeesh. I’m not sure what’s more eye-opening: the dystopian future this world presents, or the fact that video games now have the budgets necessary to create graphics of this stunning caliber.

The world of video games has gotten richer and more visually stunning with every passing year. Now is a time when motion capture and computer generated images allow developers to show virtual human faces so realistic that reading their expressions is an integral part of their game. Those same engines of design let teams like Software create absurd robotic vehicles that somehow manage to look like they could belong in the real world. Cut-scenes like those seen in this trailer can cost millions to produce for a full length game, and they speak to the money and dedication that now fill the video game industry. Currently in closed beta testing, Armored Core V will be coming to Japan in October, and the rest of the world in 2012. Apocalyp-tastic!

From the opening titles of the trailer you know that this isn’t going to be a happy game. Post-apocalyptic scenarios are rarely fully of laughing loving people, but as the robots drop from the sky and shoot each other with aplomb, one thing becomes clear. This is an unhappy world because technology allows these mechanical warriors to dominate and destroy those around them. It’s a robot-fueled war, and while it looks amazing as a game, it strikes a little too close to reality.

Every few weeks we cover another real world robot that is phenomenal in its capabilities, and that just so happens to be fated for military applications. While some, like the Talon robots used to defuse bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq, save lives, many more aid US forces in killing their enemies. From armed flying drones to treaded bots with guns strapped onto them, these machines are only growing more complex and capable. They’ve already started to move human pilots out of the heat of battle, and may replace them completely. The same could be true for foot soldiers some day as well.

With that in mind, the premise of Armored Core seems less ridiculous and more merely pessimistic. Will we have skyscraper-sized mechas that mercenaries ride around inside and use to do battle? I’m going out on a very short limb here and saying ‘no’. Advanced military robots in the hands of private corporations, however? That seems fairly likely, to some degree or another. As we continue to leverage technology in war, we should keep in mind that the same machines we use to great advantage over enemy combatants have no inherent preference in who they serve. Not to be too melodramatic, but those who live by the giant military robot may die by the giant military robot. If that happens, I doubt it will look as awesome and fun as Armored Core V.

[image and video credits: Software Inc]
[source: Software]