Armored Core 4 is the 12th installment of the Armored Core series despite being titled Armored Core 4.
Armored Core 4 is set in the future, where a great war has left the nations of Earth devastated and their respective governments taken over by corporations. The game features a system for personalized customization of the player's AC and an online mode where players can battle each other over either the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live.
Gameplay in Armored Core 4 is divided among several modes, where the player can build an AC unit for combat and test its abilities.
- Assemble - In this section, players build their ACs from the current pool of available parts. This works differently than in previous installments of Armored Core, in that the Shop area is integrated into the garage and can be accessed as the player assembles their AC. All the parts that are currently available are listed in the garage, whether the players owns them or not. Parts that the player does not own are marked "DATA ONLY".
- Paint - This section is for changing the color of the AC. The player can change the color of any and all elements, except for boosters (same color as core), generator, and FCS.
- Simulation - Simulation is Armored Core 4's version of the Arena found in many previous Armored Core games. A single data pack contains simulation data for one or more enemy Nexts. When a Next is defeated in a Data Pack, the player is given a monetary reward, with an additional monetary award for defeating all the Nexts in a given Data Pack. Other rewards are also available, and include items such as exclusive parts for the AC, emblems, FRS Memory for tuning, and even new Data Packs. One thing to note about Simulation mode is that the player doesn't need to buy the parts in the schematic to use it. A schematic made entirely out of unpurchased, "DATA ONLY" parts can be used in Simulation without penalty. There is no penalty for losing in Simulation mode, and no cost for repairs or ammunition if the player wins.
- Test - Launches an AC test simulation. As with the Simulation mode, the player doesn't need to purchase the parts in a schematic to use it in a test simulation. By default, there are no enemies in the simulation and the player can add enemies. Targets available include a squad of MTs, a small group of Normals, or a single Next. Only one type of target can be active at a time, and changing target types restarts the test.
- Tutorial - Selecting this option launches the tutorial from the start of the game.
- Schematics - This category is in essence the library of various AC designs. The player can have up to five different sections to keep certain designs separate if desired. There are also pages for enemy designs that are acquired by beating them in the simulator, Company Standard designs, and one reserved for other players designs that have been traded to the player via online. Main, slot A-D, and trade can total up to no more than 100 AC's per save file. To load a design, the player must have at least as much FRS as the desired design uses.
Armored Core 4 has more new features than previous AC games although some features found in previous AC games were removed. The lockbox from the first AC game up to Last Raven was enlarged to nearly the size of the entire screen and its borders were made invisible. As a weapon's lock approaches the edge of the lock box, its tracking ability decreases, this is most clearly seen when using sniper weapons. AC's will now automatically lock on to enemies when in FCS range instead of waiting for the weapon to be in range. Lock box tracking is now second to melee ability in importance. Melee ability determines how fast a weapon's lock on reticule can track an opposing AC. A heavy weapon with low melee is likely to lose a lock on if a fast AC QB's to the side, while a high melee weapon will maintain its lock on.
The controls for the game have been reworked from the ground up to provide easier and more efficient play. Also, the environment is now affected by AC battles. For example, an AC moving on sand or on the ground will leave footprints, boosting leaves a trail. Some buildings and landmarks can be destroyed. Weapons possess terra-forming effects. For example, if you shoot a plasma energy bolt at a building, a small chunk will be removed, if you lay waste to your opponents with a machine gun or assault rifle and in that rush you continue firing, bullet holes appear. yet, most notably in an unlockable Arctic battle stage, snow rushes up in an explosive fashion. Battlefields are now considerably larger, but relatively barren of details like previous AC games. The player can now fight on water unlike past AC games where the player would fall straight to the bottom if contact was made (that is, the player was not given a chance to try to recover).
Other changes made from past AC games include all weapons doing more damage, the heat and overheating game mechanics being replaced with Kojima Particles and Primal Armor shielding, AP and defense being raised greatly, leg weight capacity being more forgiving, the removal of cannon restrictions on non tank legs, boosters being separated into categories of main, side, back, and overboost, and boosting along the ground (and sometimes in the air) no longer consuming energy, but merely causing the energy bar to regenerate more slowly (Generator output no longer stops when boosting, so total drain is a function of output added to boost and weapon drain). A quick boost (QB) function was also added which causes almost instantaneous bursts of speed. QB is the main method of movement in AC4, and has many analogies to boost movements in older games, such as the QB hop vs boost hop. New techniques include "second staging" and "chaining". Second Stage (or SS) QB can only be used when QB is mapped to a pressure sensitive button, like the triggers on the 360 and PS3 controllers. Pulling the trigger at the correct and steady rate results in a more powerful QB that increases speed and acceleration for negligible drain penalties. Chaining is a move that overcomes the latency time between QB's - if one QB is activated but then immediately followed by another in a different direction, the recharge time of the first QB is voided, allowing that booster to be used immediately after the second QB is fired. Overboost is relatively weak, and drains Kojima Particles (KP) when activated. This means that frequent use of OB may leave one's defenses greatly reduced. This led to OB being less popular than in previous games.
The world experienced a period of rapid population growth, which put a strain on global food and energy supplies. As populations increased, so did the gap between the wealthy and the poor, and so did the unrest within the population at large. Eventually, violence began to erupt and the governments quickly lost control of their populations as their cities were consumed by terrorism and anarchy. People began turning to corporations, complete with private armies, to keep them safe from the chaos.
In the midst of the meltdown, the world's six most powerful corporate conglomerates decided to do away with national governments and install their own brand of rule and law. They launched a full scale war on the nations of the world, which came to be known as the National Dismantlement War.
Using advanced Armored Core technology, the corporations decimated the forces of the nations and declared victory in less than a month. With the old nations of the world effectively toppled, the corporations set out to work on a new system of government.
The corporations dubbed their new order as the "Pax Economica" ("Economic [or Corporate] Peace", Latin), a system where loyalty and service to the corporations guaranteed food and survival. Under the Pax, however, people were forced into corporate-run colonies and essentially became slaves serving wealthy corporate masters.
One of those colony, Anatolia, stays independent by profiteering from the inventions of the NEXT engineer Professor Jarnefeldt. However, the professor eventually dies, this plunging Anatolia in an economic crisis. A former assistant of his named Emil Gustav elaborates a plan to sustain Anatolia, which consists of renting out a NEXT mercenary pilot for the corporations. A man only known as Anatolia's Raven is chosen to pilot the NEXT, with Fiona Jarnefeldt being his operator.
The Raven is hired to counter various attacks made by rebel groups, which are actually fronts for corporate warfare. The Raven eventually battles against one of the biggest anti-establishment group, the Maggrib Liberation Front and successfully kills their iconic NEXT pilot Amazigh in an ambush. This boost Anatolia's mercenary visibility and desirability among the corporations, a development that worries Fiona.
The Raven is then hired to participate in various minor skirmishes between the corporations. The Raven is eventually hired by GA to destroy weapon platform prototypes developed at its European subsidiary, which announced it is seceding from the group. The mission succeed, but the corporation Akva Vit, which had close ties with GA Europe, considers the attack a direct assault against them and declares war against GA. The other companies of the Pax Economica use the action as an opportunity to declare war against each other, leading to an all-out war between the corporations.
The Raven participates in various missions during the war, felling many Originals along the way. During the course of the war, the Raven makes contact with Joshua O'Brian, a skilled Lynx and friend of Fiona who is fighting on behalf of his home colony of Aspina.
The Raven is sent on a mission to assassinate BFF's top leadership, which stationed aboard the Queenslance. He successfully completes the mission, essentially destroying one of the biggest corporation by himself. This exploit worries one of the company, which sends the Ursragna weapon to destroy Anatolia. Ursragna is however intercepted by the Raven, with Fiona wondering who did it and why.
The Raven is then hired to clear various BFF holdouts and foils operations of the Rayleonard group, which has made increasingly risky attacks on the other corporations. The Raven is eventually sent to destroy Rayleonard's headquarter and successfully does so. At the same time, Joshua O'Brian destroys Akva Vit's headquarter, spelling the end of the Lynx War.
After the war, Fiona and the Raven decide to take a temporary leave from Anatolia, which Emil accepts. However, shortly after they leave, the colony is attacked by Joshua O' Brian, who has been blackmailed by Omer Science and is forced to pilot the deadly 00-ARETHA prototype NEXT. The Raven returns to Anatolia and Joshua is killed in the ensuing battle. Fiona and the Raven then decide to leave Anatolia permanently. Emil lets them go, stating that he has no right or words to stop them.
- Anatolia's mercenary/ Raven/ Lynx: The silent protagonist of Armored Core 4. As in previous Armored Core titles, the Raven is unnamed and does not speak. The story plays out entirely from his perspective. The Raven is, during the course of the game, responsible to the near-destruction of the BFF, and the complete eradication of Rayleonard Co. The Raven is the #39 Irregular Lynx.
- Professor Jarnefeldt: As the developer of Next control technology, he single-handedly supplied the core of Anatolia's livelihood with his many technical advancements . His death left Anatolia in a state of economic crisis. The Professor may also have played a part in the development of Rayleonard's prototype Nexts.
- Emil Gustav: Though a member of Professor Jarnefeldt's Next tech development staff, his true talents lie in the world of politics. Following the Professor's death, Emil assumes responsibility for the Colony's welfare and proposes that they sell the Nexts. With this in mind, he asks the Raven to act as the Next's pilot. He was voiced by Dwight Schultz for the US version.
- Fiona Jarnefeldt: Not only is she Professor Jarnefeldt's daughter but she also worked as the Raven's support partner (operator) in the field. Though she understands the necessity of Emil's plan, she is unable to relieve her feelings of guilt at using the Raven, she also seems to have feelings for him. Both She and the Raven together leave Anatolia after the war. She was voiced by Kari Wahlgren for the US version.
- Joshua O'Brien : An old friend of Fiona's, this former AMS test subject now works as a mercenary for Aspina. He pilots the Next White Glint, tuned for extreme mobility, and utilizing Joshua's high degree of AMS compatibility. Despite his gentlemanly calm nature and somewhat apathetic aura, he continues to fight to protect his tiny homeland. He destroys Akvavit at the same time the Raven destroys Rayleonard, and is forced by Omer Science Technology to attack Anatolia, in a new-model prototype Next, in an attempt to remove both O'Brien and the Raven. He is the #40 Lynx. He was voiced by Daryl Kurylo for the US version.
- Leonhardt: He pilots the Next, Noblesse Oblige, with large-model custom laser cannons. An enigmatic character, he and his AC are regarded as the symbol of Rosenthal Corporation. His consistent success on the battlefield is seen as justification to Rosenthal's extreme quality-over-quantity philosophy. He is the #04 Original.
- Mido Auriel: She pilots the Next Null. An experienced pilot and very adaptable, she was selected after the Dismantlement War for training. She is considered highly talented, and is regarded as Omer's most powerful close range combatant. She was voiced by Masasa Moyo for the US version.
- Amazigh: He pilots the Next Barbaroi for the Maghrib Liberation Front. Born and raised in Africa, he stands as an iconic hero to Maghrib and the other anti-establishment forces in Africa. He's pushed Barbaroi's performance to the limits, despite extremely low natural AMS compatibility. This leads to him enduring a tremendous amount of psychic shock. He recently started working alone to avoid contaminating his comrades. He is an unnumbered Irregular. He was voiced by Jeffrey D. Sams for the US version.
- Sus: He pilots the Next Asyut Minya for the Maghrib Liberation Front. He is generally seen as inferior to Amazigh as a pilot although he tries to emulate his combat style. He is an unnumbered Irregular. He was voiced by Bumper Robinson for the US version.
- Sherring: He pilots the Next Critique. Under Aldra's command, his Next utilizes powerful, high-output energy weaponry. A former Raven during the Dismantlement War, he is not fazed by the rapid technological gains made by the Companies. He is the #14 original.
- Mary Shelley: She pilots the Next Prometheus. The undisputed leader of BFF Corporation's military, she utilizes long range weaponry to deadly effect. BFF Corporation based its official design methods on her combat style. She is the #05 Original. She was voiced by Karen Strassman for the US version.
- Anjou: She pilots the Next Orleans. Her chief power lies in close combat, where she astounds her enemies with her extremely powerful experimental MOONLIGHT laser blade. Her Rayleonard Next utilizes custom-made parts and is extremely fast. Her skill on the battlefield is almost unparalleled, and she is known for killing the most Ravens during the Dismantlement War. She is the #03 Original. She was voiced by Karen Strassman for the US version.
- P. Dam: She pilots the Next Hilarios. She utilizes a Akvavit AC with first generation Kojima technology. She is known for advanced combat skills, but is prone to emotional instability that impairs her ability to complete missions. She is the #21 Original. She was voiced by Kate Higgins for the US version.
- Unseel: He pilots the Next Red Cap. Infamous as a rough Original from BFF Corporation, he utilizes sniper weaponry and ECM highly effectively. Although boasting of his talents, he feels no shame in stooping as low as he needs to in order to win. He is the #15 Original. He was voiced by Crispin Freeman for the US version.
- Zanni: He pilots the Next Roughcut. A Rayleonard Lynx, he utilizes his Company's powerful boosters in a unique, 3-dimensional combat style. Known for utilizing experimental weaponry. He is the #12 Original.
- Berlioz: He pilots the Next Supplice. A legendary hero during the Dismantlement War, he is Rayleonard's most powerful Lynx. A pragmatist and consummate soldier, his impressive skills have earned him the right to use any part he chooses - even from companies other than Rayleonard or Akvavit. He is the #01 Original. He was voiced by Chris Edgerly for the US version.
The world of Armored Core 4 is ruled by six major companies, each of whom constantly vie for control with one another. The six companies are the Bernard and Felix Foundation (BFF), Eqbal, Global Armaments (GA), Leonemeccanica, Rayleonard, and Rosenthal. Besides these, several smaller companies worldwide often cooperate with the larger conglomerates for mutual benefit.
- Bernard and Felix Foundation: An integrated military company based in Europe, they produce highly precise weaponry and are a solid supporter of long range armament. The Bernard and Felix Foundation has an adversarial relationship with GA. The BFF was dealt a heavy blow during the Lynx War, but, with help from GA, would return to its former level of power.
- Eqbal: An industrial integrated enterprise, based in Asia. Eqbal is known for their solid mass-production system and for unique and unconventional weapons. After the Lynx War, during which a majority of Eqbal's Lynx would be killed, including their most powerful Original, #02 Sahdana, Eqbal would reorganize and rebrand itself Algebra Co.
- Global Armaments (America): The largest integrated military company, they based in the Pacific Rim economic region. GA has a solid reputation for practical and stable armaments; their arms are characterized by simple strength, and have a strong military favor. GA has an adversarial relationship with Bernard and Felix Foundation, using the beginning stages of the Lynx War to take out their leadership and their top LINX, Mary Shelley. Afterward, they would turn to Rayleonard and Akvavit, hiring out The Raven and Joshua O'Brien for a number of missions against the group's assets, as well as allying with the Rosenthal group, which culminated with the destruction of Berlioz's elite NEXT squadron, followed by Rayleonard's corporate headquarters.
- Leonemeccanica: Develops AC units entirely with energy in mind, both offensively and defensively, Leonemecannica is based in Europe. Their AC's low-drain parts are able to get the most out of their high grade energy-based weapons. Leonemeccanica would later merge with Melies to form the Interior Union.
- Rayleonard: An emerging energy company, based in North America, that occupies an important place in the development of the highly secret Kojima Technology sector. They are primarily responsible for escalating the Lynx War, during the course of which they would lose 4 out of 5 of their Lynx and would be destroyed by the Anatolia Mercenary. Later, engineers from Rayleonard would join Omer Science Technology.
- Rosenthal: A military company that was derived from a huge industrial conglomerate, they share close ties with Omer Science Technology. These ties led to Rosenthal becoming involved in the mission initiated by Omer and GA against the Rayleonard group's elite NEXT squadron near the end of the Lynx War.
Subsidiaries & Minor CompaniesEdit
- Akvavit: A new company in strong partnership with both Rayleonard and GAE. They are in strong competition with Omer Science Technology for the development of Kojima technology and weaponry. Akvavit was destroyed at the end of the Lynx War, and would later be merged, under the supervision and support of the Interior Union, with the former Global Armaments (Europe) to form Torus.
- MSAC International: Considered by most to be a complete subsidiary of GA, MSAC International is currently the main manufacturer of Missile-type weapons for Nexts.
- Omer Science Technology: A fierce rival of Akvavit, they were the first outside of the Rayleonard group to replicate Akvavit's Kojima technology through independent research. Shares close ties with Rosenthal, and after the Lynx War, the two companies' roles would be reversed, with Omer heading the group.
- Technocrat: A former state-owned holding of the Russian government, they are the primary manufacturers of Rocket-weapon technology for Nexts, and are heavily affiliated with Eqbal.
- Couger: Another subsidiary of GA, Cougar specializes in rocket engines. Although overshadowed in recent years by other corporation's Kojima-based rocket technology, they still provide solid, high output boosters for GA's Nexts.
- Aldra: A break-away group from the Interior Union, a merger of Leonemeccanica and Melies, Aldra is a heavy-arms manufacturer. They make and utilize heavier, more powerful, solid-round weaponry, and their Nexts are heavily armored.
- Melies: A smaller company in the same region as Leonemeccanica, they control a large share of the energy-weapon market. They would later merge with Leonemeccanica to form the Interior Union.
- Global Armaments (Europe): The former European branch of GA, GAE was known for more unconventional arms designs, and were responsible for GA's first set of Quad-legs. Would later break away from GA, only to be destroyed by their former parent company. Merging with the remnants of Akvavit, they would form the company, Torus.
- Arisawa Heavy Industries: A smaller company based in the Pacific Rim, Arisawa cooperates heavily with GA, and the two maintain a close relationship. Arisawa controls the predominant share of the Grenade-type weapon sector, for Nexts.
- Aspina: A Next technology research and development group, they have close ties to Omer. They are responsible for the creation of the AMS control system used in all Nexts, and Joshua O'Brien, a highly successful mercenary, is one of their former test subjects.
- In this game, all laser weapons (Laser Blades included) fire blue lasers, regardless of type or company. This was not carried over to Armored Core For Answer.
- At the time of the game's English release, there were many complaints about the poor translation, as many things were not explained (e.g. who was piloting the 00-Aretha in Seed a Barren Earth).
- One of the missions in Chapter 2, Water Gliding, can cause the game's sound to glitch and the game itself to crash if the player engages the ships at close range combat
- Missions in Armored Core 4
- Armored Core 4 Arena
- List of Originals in Armored Core 4
- Armored Core 4 Parts