Armored Core 4 review

  • Crazy-deep mech building
  • A few creative missions
  • Four-on-four online play
  • Ultra-short single-player
  • Graphics rarely impress
  • Countless little flaws

Like Paris Hilton without a camera nearby or C3-PO without plucky sidekick R2-D2, Armored Core 4 is a fantastic giant mech construction sim left incomplete because it just can't find its reason for living - a decent action game. There are a gazillion destructive weapons to bolt onto your rig: bazookas, plasma cannons, sniper guns, energy swords, guided missiles... and even more standard parts, ranging from various heads and legs to missile-jamming ECM generators. You have to monitor each part’s weight and energy consumption, and even counter-balance your mech so that it isn't lopsided. Did we mention the custom paint-jobs?

But after all this is done, you're launched into a lackluster single-player story mode that has very little actual story (future mega-conglomerates fighting one another with mercenaries) and whose 35 or so missions tend to last one-to-three minutes apiece. And though there are a few flashes of brilliance, overall, these are typical blast-em or protect-em assignments with visuals that look next-gen average. That's just not a lot of game.

What it does have a lot of are little irritations. It’s tough to tell how much parts cost, or even if you own them already. Your target lock can't easily cycle to the next target, so it often gets stuck on the meaningless enemy beside the mission-critical target you want to kill. The camera often sits directly behind your mech, so you block your own view. Your mech can fly, but has to jet-boost over an ankle-high step.

Sorry - we're not done, we just paused for breath. The mission areas are tiny - we once got kicked out for flying too high. The game penny-pinches your mission payments. You have to choose your gear before you get the mission briefing, so you have to quit the mission if you want to trade your sniper cannon for a shotgun after learning what your actual assignment is. We're still not done, but you get the idea, right? We hate to suggest it, but this thing needs to be focus-tested. 

Yes, there is a multiplayer component, and it's clearly meant to be the focus here, just as it was in the slower-paced 360 mech battler Chromehounds, from this same publisher and developer. Two can go head to head on one system, and up to eight can mech things up online or system linked, either co-op or versus. Our favorites are the four-on-four or eight-person battle royale matches, which we thought were the best part of the whole game. Without it, we would have scored this at least two points lower.

Multiplayer adds life, and we guess it's cool that Armored Core 4 is nearly identical on both PS3 and 360 (though the 360 has voice chat) so nobody gets a vastly inferior version. But ultimately, this series is going to have to evolve into a more accessible, playable, solo-friendly experience if it ever wants to be known as anything other than a niche curiosity. 

More Info

Release date: Mar 20 2007 - Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Sega
Developed by: From Software
Franchise: Armored Core
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes

1 comment

  • chilarome - December 28, 2010 5:49 a.m.

    I picked this up for like $10. And I agree with everything you said. The customization is CRAZY but the game just doesn't deliver. And I don't have the multiplayer component of it so it's safe I'm screwed. Can somebody say first for an old game? I can! Haha

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