Armored Core 4: A Secret

Now, time was secrets was the blood of videogames. This was before the internet ruined it all, and let you look up the skirt of any game you pleased, games that deserved better. I can remember coming into school, knapsack in hand, so excited about talkin’ videogames with the other boys that I felt fit to burst. Why, I remember one day when Pretty Joe Moses told me his wizard had come back from the dead in Nethack, and I wet myself! No shame in it.

These days, I tell it true that there ain’t no secrets. I don’t know how these kids today do it, but it seems a game ain’t been out for 10 minutes before some freak from Taiwan or France has uploaded a video of the hidden ending to YouTube. You seen that chart someone made of all the weapon damages from Left4Dead2? That’s stuff’ll make your kidneys rotate 180 degrees, I tell you what.

I saw that chart, I said to myself “Oh my God,” is what I said. I said “Hell!”

You still listening?

Well, I got a secret. I got a secret no-one else knows. Oh yes, mmm, the old dog got a tooth and some spit to lose yet.

You ever play that Armored Core 4? Or the upgraded version they released after, Armored Core: For Answer?

Listen good now. These games, they got short levels, real short. They’re short so you can play ’em again and again for the good rankings, see. I’m talking maybe 2 minutes start to finish, sometimes 4 minutes tops.

Something else this game has is the worst music I’ve ever heard! This stuff is like soul poison. I got no idea which graveyard they raided for the guy that did these songs. Or more likely, this being Japan, more likely they made the guy who did the gun sound effects to do the music too.

So I’m thinking to myself, maybe I can play my own music when I’m playing Armored Core 4. Each level is about as long as a song, right? That ain’t no trouble. So I turn on my stereo and I does just that.

Best decision I ever fuckin’ made.

The game is transformed! Best fucking game I’ve played all year! I’m telling you!

See, not only have you got these astonishing graphics of robots dashing this way and that, firing bags of misiles and spittin’ bullets and lasers, now you have audio that can match up. You put on one of the more dramatic Justice or Queens of the Stone Age tracks, or some Gui Boratto, Hell, some Ladyhawke or Calexico or Mstrkrft, whatever you like, and suddenly you got something spectacular. The most dramatic, ass-kickin’ game you can imagine.

And the thing is, the real Holy thing is, this is a hardcore game, right? That’s why it reviewed so badly. It’s all closed-off and about fine-tuning your robot like you would a racecar. Well, when the missions themselves become this exciting, suddenly you’re given the incentive you need to get into the game proper!

And shit! There’s a whole sub-game in there about finding the perfect track to go with each level as you try them again and again. There’s this one missionwhere you defend a bridge from dozens of flying robots, then leap off the bridge to blow up a speeding train? I tell no word of a lie, Tangled Up In Plaid by Queens of the Stone Age matches it perfect. Just as you leap off the bridge and go blasting sideways to strafe alongside the train, the solo kicks in. And this guy’s wailing on this guitar like it was his cheatin’ wife, and you’re shooting rockets and lasers and whatever else at this train, just fillin’ it with hurt, and let me say that if you don’t get a hard-on at that particular moment then you LESS than a boy!

Phew, I’m done tired out. You shouldn’t have got me worked up like that.

I think a nap’s what’s in order. Yeah, you just close the door behind you on your way out. And you play that game! You play Armored Core 4. It’s really kinda pretty good. You should play it. You really… you really should…




  1. Yeah… we’ll do that, grandpa. We’ll play Armored Core 4. Later. You just get your rest now.

    Shhh, don’t wake him … No, just forget about it. He, uh, he doesn’t read metacritic. Yeah, I think it’s an old person thing. Can you switch off the light when you leave?

  2. Listening to Tangled Up In Plaid now, mech-centric audio-visual synesthesia sounds awesome indeed. Man, I wish AC4 was on PC…

    The best thing, in enough years time, is that ol’ granddaddies actually will be telling stories like these. Well, at least I will.

  3. Hm. I tried the Armoured Core 4 demo on PS3. It was alright, but didn’t really have the right feel for me. The movement of the mech felt inconsequential, and the weapons just didn’t have the right feel, the right kick.

    I’m waiting for MW4 to be released for free; I haven’t played that game in years, but I still remember the awesome rompy stobot action.

  4. So, which is better, For Answer or 4?

    And can we get a full suggested tracklist to kick-ass by?

    • For Answer is better. It’s kind of an enhanced edition that came out years later. And I don’t want to get any more specific with the music than I have already! The game is in mixing and matching up music you like.

      Much love! ♥

  5. That’s funny! I rented this game from Gamefly last summer, which is to say, on a whim, very casually. I don’t remember why I picked it in particular – I hadn’t played any of the previous Armored Cores. What I had played was every major XBox 360 release of the year to date, and I had not found much to hold my attention. AC4: For Answer I played twice in a row, all the way through, including the arena matches. It has branching paths, so you have to play it twice in order to play most of the levels, and if you get the two main endings, you unlock all the parts (except a few special pieces). And after I played it once, I had to play it again, to get all the parts. I HAD TO GET ALL THE PARTS.

    Yes, it’s a hard game. But, because your in-game avatar is completely customizable, it’s often hard in a way that can be overcome with the right build. The story is almost incomprehensible, but not in the usual way Japanese games can be incomprehensible – more in a knowingly incomprehensible way. It’s as if pieces of plot and characterization are missing, but it’s okay. The style is intact. Instead of character, you get hints of character, and it’s enough You’ve played these games before, so fill it in yourself.

    And damn, some of the arena battles made me feel like the ultimate badass. They don’t hand the win to you, that’s for sure. It’s got that sweet spot of difficulty. That’s all I want. Thanks for the tip about the music. I don’t remember anything about it now, but now I feel like I should rent it again and try your suggestion…

  6. Raptor3121 says:

    Hey Quinns,

    When are we going to get your breaking into the biz, how you got your start as a games writer origin story? The How to become a games journo origin story is all the rage these days.

  7. hey guys,
    I intend to write something about Big Stompy Robot games.

    What are your favorite games/franchises? Why?
    What are your least favorite?

    Mechwarrior is on one side for me, Transformers on another and I have zero knowledge of Earthsiege and its kin.

  8. Kind of resurrecting an old post here, excuse me…

    But on RPS Alec Meer recently posted a Wot I Think about the new Aliens vs Predator in which he says the only way he could get through the game was to turn off its music and pump in Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster in its place: “It’s just an accidental discovery that this grim’n’gritty but tonally misfiring FPS is sorely in need of an antidote to its own unsmiling adventurousness. That antidote is disco.”

    This leads me to believe there is a larger investigation that could be done on this topic. Call it “A DJ Saved My Game Last Night” and rescue some other half-decent games with the application of good music. This idea could potentially carry a whole website, and it could honestly even be useful! Imagine! I’ve never used music in this way (except once: played Road Rash 64 to Meatloaf’s ‘Bat Out of Hell’, it was awesome), so I wouldn’t know where to start, but I would be interested to someone take it up if they were so inclined. Looks like you and Alec may have done some other experimentation in this direction already.

    This leads into another, larger topic that’s been on my mind. We talk about the developer’s responsibility to the gamer from time to time, but we don’t talk about the gamer’s responsibility toward the game – and I think there is such a thing. Sometimes you play a game and you’re not quite into it, but you can GET into it, and start harvesting the buried fun, by doing something outside the game – changing the sound track, or following self-imposed limitations (no counters, pistols only, etc.), or (most interesting to me) just changing the way you think about the game. Making a mental adjustment.

    It’s on my mind especially just now because of some responses I’ve seen to the Just Cause 2 demo. Some people love it, and some people say it’s unfocused, the shooting is bad, I turned it off after five minutes. This latter group, I think, is committing the sin of refusing to meet the game half way. Not enough people do what you did while playing Armored Core 4, or what Alec did with AvP: you saw that there was something in a flawed game that could be enjoyed, and you thought about what you could do to highlight those strengths and minimize the weaknesses. In JC 2, for instance, one could step back and spend a minute thinking about the allegedly over-generous auto-aim, and one might eventually come to the conclusion that the mechanic is tweaked in that way because JC 2 is not about shooting people so much as it’s about pulling off crazy stunts WHILE shooting people, and the auto-aim makes that play style possible. With this thought in mind, you change the way you’re playing slightly to take advantage of the supposed “offending” mechanic, and ta da! You’re having fun.

    I’m not suggesting players are obligated to bend over backward to enjoy every game – just that a little mental nudge, from time to time, may make a game much more fun, and we should, you know, try to be aware of that.

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