Armored Core 4 (2006) is 4th main installment of mecha combat game series Armored Core and 12th installment overall. It is developed by FromSoftware and published on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 by itself (in Japan), Sega (in North America) and 505 Games (in Europe). The game is also the directorial debut of Hidetaka Miyazaki. The setting has been rebooted once again along with major gameplay overhaul.
The human population experienced an exponential increase, putting a strain on global food supply. As populations increased, so did the gap between the rich and the poor. The governments of the world began to lose control of their populations, and the six major corporations stepped in, declaring an all-out war. Using next generation Armored Cores NEXTs that rely on Kojima Particles, they toppled the world's governments in less than a month, and worked out a new system of government, Pax Economica. Under this system, loyalty to the corporations provides one with food and shelter, essentially forcing people to become slaves. The old system of Ravens has been practically destroyed, and most pilots are either forced to patrol the colonies for meager pay, or side with one of the armed rebellion groups. But as the time progresses, it becomes more and move inevitable that Pax Economica cannot be maintained...
Enter a mercenary acting on behalf of Anatolia, a small independent colony. Working for the major corporations just to stay afloat, the player will take part in a conflict that will change the face of the Earth. Literally.
Armored Core 4 does away with old lockbox system and allows you to engage almost every target you see provided that your FCS modules and weapon parts can keep up. Heat mechanics has been replaced with Kojima Particle and Primal Armor, an energy shielding equipped on all NEXTs that can regenerate overtime. The game also provides Quick Boosting, a new dash mechanic that taps into the energy pool for a instantaneous burst of speed which can also be used in quick succession, replacing the Bunny Hopping mechanic from earlier games and significantly ramping up combat pacing.
The game and its sequel, Armored Core 4: For Answer (2008), are arguably the deconstruction of entire series.
Please put trope entries for Armored Core 4: For Answer in it's own page.
Armored Core 4 provides examples of:
- Ace Pilot: Every AC pilot is one. LINX are judged by how many of each other they can kill.
- Action Girl: Every female pilot.
- Almighty Janitor: Roadie, a bottom-tier LINX who's said to so weak that he can only fight a small squad of Normals. In an actual Simulation fight, however, he hits incredibly hard thanks to his powerful and accurate missiles and his bazooka arms. His NEXT, Feedback, is also a GA model, so it's got good defenses—defenses good enough to tank even high-powered laser cannons that can usually destroy most NEXTs in two or three hits. Fittingly, Roadie not only survives the events of the game, but also becomes one of the top 5 pilots in the sequel.
- Armored Coffins: Allegorical Manipulation System (AMS), the method which allow pilots to efficiently control NEXT links the pilot's own neurological system to their craft. There's a high chance that the pilot would die if the AC suffered critical damage and shuts down.
- Artistic License Physics: Realistically, the whole Quick Boost system would put the pilot and machine under incredible stresses due to the massive G forces involved in speeding up and slowing down.
- Blood Knight: Some of the Originals fall into this category. Anjou in particular is the most obvious of the lot.
- Break the Haughty: Unseel's very short character arc. He's a complete ass in "Marche Au Supplice" and will even taunt you if he kills you. When he starts losing, however, he panics, and when he's finally defeated, he tries to pin the blame on his own NEXT, before finally realizing that it's his own fault.
- BrotherSister Team: BFF Originals Francisca and Eugene, which makes it all the more sadder when they both die in Hard Mode.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: It's clear that the corporations stopped giving a shit about general populace at large when Pax Economica kicked in.
- Crapsack World: Taken to sadistic heights in this installment; you pilot a Core that uses a particle that kills the environment as you work for corporations who will gladly throw many lives away and in the sequel, things go From Bad to Worse.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Pax Economica corporations VS old world's governments.
- Anything entering combat against a NEXT, short of a huge Arms Fort or another NEXT, is going to have a very, very bad time of it. Higher ranking LINX are even able to perform this on Arms Forts and other NEXTS.
- The first level of fA demonstrates this well, with your pitifully underpowered NEXT simply shredding the opposition.
- Downer Ending: By the end of the game, you win the war for the GA Group but the resulting fallout from Kojima pollution turns the world into a wasteland, and you are betrayed by the corporations, leading to Anatolia's destruction and Joshua's death.
- End of an Age: Armored Core 4 is first in the series to show the concept of independent Raven dying out.
- Featureless Protagonist: You never see or hear Anatolia's mercenary in person.
- Flash Step: The newly introduced Quick Boost option. It's exactly what it says on the tin, accelerating you to nearly double your speed for almost a second, allowing you to dodge enemy firepower. It's possible to do this while using your Over Boost and the speedometer tops out around 2500kph while doing so. Aretha, the Final Boss, pulls this one off much better. The Quick Boosters on that thing are insane, with players often losing track of it as it just disappears of their screens.
- Gatling Good
- Give My Regards in the Next World: Said by Joshua in "Seed A Barren Earth" if he wins against you. Piloting the 00-ARETHA is killing him, so he's going to die no matter what happens.
- Glass Cannon:
- Your NEXT better be capable of hitting 900kph with quick boost or you are going to die VERY QUICKLY. Even with an AP in the 6 digits (higher standard than previous Armored Core games even), you're going to need to dodge a lot of dakka to make it last. In general, the standard lightweight AC/NEXT build is like this.
- P. Dam's Hilarios has pitifully low AP but can hit like a truck thanks to its Kojima weapons and laser cannon.
- Graceful Loser: Sherring, Anjou, and Berlioz will praise you for defeating them.
- I Love Kojima Technology: Which is probably the reason why most of locations you visited are miles and miles of emptiness.
- Instant Armor: Primal Armor.
- Law of Chromatic Superiority: In-universe, White Glint is this due to the name coming from how he moves so fast that all you see is a "white glint".
- Lethal Joke Item: Technocrat Company's FSS-53 Shock Rocket is described in-game as "A dummy rocket that doesn't explode". The stats however say something else: it has the highest Primal Armor-reducing capability of any weapon, meaning one lucky hit and say goodbye to your usually very tough Force Field. To put things in perspective, weapons that usually reduce PA do so by continuous hits, large explosions, or the Awesome, but Impractical Kojima weapons. This being a rocket shoulder weapon, not only you can spam it without needing to free a weapon slot, a good hit means that you can immediately follow up with weapons that deal most damage to PA-less targets. Like grenade launchers, for example.
- Lightning Bruiser: All NEXTs are this compared to Normals.
- Machine Empathy: The AMS Piloting System links the pilot to their AC for perfect reaction time. The title LINX comes from the word sounding similar to LINKS.
- Mega-Corp: In the backstory's National Dismantlement War, the corporations became so powerful that they were able to crush all of the world's governments by force, so, in grand Armored Core tradition, corporations rule the world.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Your ammo, repair, and operating costs all come out of your budget. Screw around too long and you can go into debt from a series of successful missions.
- No Respect Guy: No matter how good you are in the game, other LINX will generally treat you like dirt, mostly because Anatolia's mercenary is a former Raven.
- Not So Different: A recurring theme with the LINX you fight over the course of the story is that most of them are honorable (if practical) warriors fighting for many of the same reasons as you are. Kinda makes it tragic that you have to kill them, doesn't it?
- Amazigh, the first LINX you fight, is a rebel fighting against the Corporations and a bit of a folk hero. In For Answer, Anatolia's Mercenary is in the same boat.
- Sherring, the first Original you fight, used to be a Normal pilot just like Anatolia's Mercenary, and still treats his Normal escorts as comrades rather than cannon fodder.
- Anjou is looking for strong opponents to test herself against. She also prides herself on doing whatever is necessary to win, and in order to get to her, you've probably used every dirty trick you could think of yourself.
- Berlioz, the Rank 1 LINX, uses parts from multiple corporations, which used to be the norm in earlier games but is rare in this game when LINX are so closely tied to one company. He's also not too proud to bring consorts with him just like you can on missions, forming a team with three other LINX.
- Lastly, Joshua O'Brien starts out just one rank behind you and goes up in the ranks at the same time as you, and just like the Anatolia's Mercenary, he's fighting to keep his colony afloat. After Defeat Sol Dios Cannons, he's pretty much the closest thing the Mercenary has to a true friend, which leads to tragedy by the end of the game when he has to choose his colony over yours.
- Real Robot: As per series tradition. This time around, the very workings of the ACs end up being a plot point; to be precise, the constant, widespread use of the very dangerous Kojima technology drastically affects the setting by the end of the story.
- Timed Mission: You pay for your NEXT's operational costs, and you're charged according to mission time. While you don't fail outright if you take too long, you can easily burn more cash than you gain if you take too long. Some missions take longer to load than they do to beat if you're going for that coveted S-Rank.
- Toxic Phlebotinum: Kojima Particles
- Ungrateful Bastard: Omer at the end of the game. Despite Anatolia's Mercenary being a major help in the GA Group's (and thus, Omer's) victory in the LINX War, Omer decides that the best course of action would be to then attack Anatolia.
- Wake-Up Call Boss: Sherring in "Sea of Blood". He's far tougher than prior enemy NEXTs, and the level is filled with pesky turrets and mooks that can sometimes interfere with lock-on and tracking. To make matters worse, Sherring is using this game's equivalent to the series-standard KARASAWA laser rifle, and it's as deadly in his hands as it would be in yours. It's all justified though since he's the first Original you'll have to fight, and Originals tend to be better than regular LINX.
- Walking Wasteland: Any NEXT is this due to the ubiquitous use of Kojima Particles in their Primal Armor and possibly weapons.
- World's Best Warrior: Rank 1 Original Berlioz.