Welcome to the future, and it is much like the present for some people since it sucks. The world is filled with terrorists, but at least there is a shaky forced peacefulness... That is crumbling as each day goes by. The solution to the problem of crumbling peace is to add in a few mechs so that peace can be restored at the cost of an iron arm, rather than a human one. To enforce peace you need not look to your government, but rather contract killers to get the job done, who do work at the drop of a few thousand credits. Of course there is a bit more to this, but if we just look at the basics well we can strip it down to this.
Well since the Armored Core series has always been about piloting mechs, well obviously that is what you are doing in this edition. Of course this time it gets a graphical boost to help push the boundaries on what you have seen and played in mech games. The game is not like Steel Battalion since you are not piloting the beast from the inside, though I would love to see a follow-up to the game that allows you to use that giant controller. At the same time though the game differs from Chromehounds because the characters move with speed. If anything the game could be considered to be much more Gundam like than other games, and much more fun than the Gundam games.
The game features a bunch of missions to complete, around 37, and you must go through the motions to complete most of them. Sometimes they can be short, even to the point where it takes less time to beat it than it did to load the level. Other times -- in the same chapter -- you will run into so major ball busters that crush your will to continue playing. You do not need to complete all of the missions to move onto the next round, just enough to unlock the end of the chapter mission that pushes the storyline forward once completed. You also have the option of four different missions to choose from, so if you are stuck on one you may also choose to take a break with a different one. Plenty of them are a little bland, or offer little new over previous levels, but for the mech fans at heart you will be at home.
The controls, while limited compared to Steel Battalion, do a great job of putting everything at your fingertips. X and A fire your main weapons, and the bumpers switch current weapons with your alternative ones. The B fires your standard shoulder weapon. The left trigger boosts you in the direction indicated on the left analog stick, and if no direction is indicated you are boosted vertically. The right trigger engages a quick boost mode that quickly jets you in the desired direction. The Y button activated the over boost, which combines the regular boost and the quick boost, though it also eats up the energy like candy.
Gameplay is pretty tight depending on the mech you use. When you start the game you choose between several mechs and from there you are able to customize them with many different options. As the game progresses, and you complete more levels, not only will you gather credits to buy more peripherals but also more options will be unlocked. The great thing about the game is the level that you can customize these beasts, where you can outfit them with different base equipment and different weapons. Most of it deals with armour or weapons, but some involves things like radar, which is important when you need to track down the targets.
Perhaps my favourite level of customization comes in the form of the paintjobs you can give the metallic monstrosities. Not only can you choose to colour the base suit, but also cover it with camouflage. There are a few emblems that you can adhere to them as well, but I would have liked to see a few more. I would have also loved to see the option of free painting them, but I guess that would have been a problem online with the game.
Speaking about online with the game, it is a great option for multiplayer. With 2-8 players in co-op or verses, action can get fairly heavy. This is a great thing to see in the game, because the general storyline can be a little bit bland at times. There are a few ways to do it like with split screen, system link, or even over Xbox Live. Person to person battle is probably the most fun aspect about the game.
Graphically the game has its ups and downs. The maps that involve cities are generally pretty nice with many buildings to fly around, but sometimes you will be stuck on the top of a hill with not much to look at. There are some interesting weapon affects that can destroy some of the environment, but general craters only last for so long. Not all environmental affects are bad though, where if you walk around on an ice flow it will generally crumble under your feet. It gets the job done, but not much more than that. The game offers some decent sound for weapon attacks, boosting, and explosions, but beyond that everything is forgettable. I would recommend even using your own personal music in the background for this game.
In the end, it ends up being a bit like your average mech game. Only your hardcore players will really enjoy this game, and for them I would give it a B+. For your average player though it will be a bit lower because it can be a bit troublesome at times. The average player will not enjoy mixing and matching the mech bits to try and get the best suit, nor will they really enjoy spending time painting their robot. Sometimes the creating mechs can be a little annoying too if you do not have enough money for the upgrades because it forces you manually to manually remove them rather than giving a quick an easy option to cancel them. Wrapping up, Captain Gordon gives Armor Core 4 a C+.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? CaptainGordonEdward@Gmail.com