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Platform

Playstation 3

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Sega

 

Developer

From Software

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

March 2007

 

 

- Giant robots blowing other robots into smaller, less useful, smoldering chunks

- Ability to micro or macro-manage your equipment

 

 

- Difficulty Curve is a cruel mistress

- Least useful manual for a game of this caliber

- Controller response was terrible

 

 

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Armored Core 4

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

With the current releases of games for the Playstation 3, there are few original titles to be had and so there is going to be some competition on how like titles run on competing consoles. My current fixation is squarely being driven by a giant mech that is wholly capable of delivering a cargo container of pain on any enemy. Unfortunately, enemies tend to know that they can be easily squashed and tend to group together. To succeed, you are going to have outfight, outthink, and especially evade your enemies. Armored Core 4 delivers a balance of tactics and visceral destruction that can drive your mind to distraction much like the last piece of cake in a community refrigerator.

 

armored core 4          armored core 4

 

You play as an available mercenary – you and your trusty Armored Core are available for all sorts of counter-insurgency, defense, or infiltration missions; the variety will only whet your appetite.

 

Missions are offered en masse, you can pick and choose which of them to complete and one will advance the main story. Early missions will build a confidence in your piloting ability only to annihilate it soon after. The difficulty curve for the game is a steep one, Chapter 1 and 2 missions are rather

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straightforward and without too many hang ups, then Chapter 3 has some soul crushing ones (I still cry thinking about the submarine, air interdiction, and enemy warship missions), and Chapters 4, 5, and 6 were a bit uneven in comparison – some are pretty cut and dry, others are nigh-impossible. The average mission will be completed after 2 to 3 passes assuming that 

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you can figure out the positions of the most important objects on the map; the more difficult ones will push this number into the double digits.

 

Be prepared to spend a lot of time in a heap, this may not be a good game for those with “Thrown Controller Syndrome”. Don’t even get me started on hard mode… I couldn’t get past Chapter 3 on hard mode…

 

The battles themselves quickly switch from artillery style barrages into quick penetration/slashing style fighting. If you are standing still, you are about to take a hit. As evasion becomes a way of life instead of a skill, controller response quickly becomes a vital commodity – I found the game a tad unresponsive in some aspects, especially when I was trying to use the flight systems (Just what the AI needed in this game, additional handicapping). After all said and done, I’d estimate that the game will provide about 15-20 hours of gameplay to a typical gamer.

 

armored core 4          armored core 4

 

To prepare for your wide-variety of missions, your personal ride is highly customizable, and if you intend on coming back alive, you’d better spend the time to outfit it properly. Weapons range from typical ballistic weapons, to energy-based, missiles, and even energy based swords (nothing says high-tech like a glowing weapon with an effective range of right in front of you). Kitting you robot with all the right gear is half as important as the right upgrades for the body. Interchangeable limbs, power supplies, and armor are going to dictate what you can field and how fast you are going to be able to field it. Speed becomes ridiculously important, as evasion becomes the only reliable defense against numerous attackers. The main limiter on the constant upgrading is the cost, you can only afford the best upgrades if you can maximize your profits on the missions – blowing the budget with ballistic weapons may prevent you from affording the best kit for a later sortie. A vicious cycle of cost effectiveness indeed.

 

With such a high-tempo game, one would assume the graphics would suffer. Not so. The definition on the equipment and the devastated environments makes for a very hypnotizing visual experience. Armored Core 4 is drool-worthy on my roommates’ Toshiba projector and even enviable on my 20” Apex (which no technophile would ever accuse of being a status symbol). The sound is pretty much what you’d expect from a war with giant machines and the voice acting is competent if not dialed in to their performances. The manual is well… included in the purchase of the game? It was pretty luck-lustre… I don’t appreciate having to hunt and peck or solve by trial and error, especially with the highly complicated upgrading and tuning process for the Armored Cores.

 

Compared to the version released on the Xbox 360 you ask? Looks better on the PS3, responds better on the Xbox. Not a huge win for either console in my opinion, as both wins were marginal at best. All in all, Armored Core 4 was one of the first games in a long time that actually had me sitting around trying to think of a way to beat the mission while not playing. If you are thinking about the content of the game while you are working, it’s an addictive game and definitely recommended to those who have enjoyed the franchise up to this point.

 

- Tazman

(June 22, 2007)

 

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