I'm an Armored Core fan, and Armored Core 4 is the new daddy. You can forget all the ones that came before it. They're obsolete, out of date, still running DOS v2.0. The action of AC4 is faster, smarter, and ten times more gorgeous.
Thank you, and good night.
Okay, I can go into a little more detail. For some reason, the game manual doesn't provide any back story to the series. A single page would have done. So I'll give you the short-short version: It's the future, and big bad companies rule the Earth. They build hulking mecha known as Armored Cores to fight amongst each other, mainly through mercenary groups. You were one of the Ravens...until all the others died. So I guess now you're just the Raven. You brought an end to the corporate wars, and for a time there was peace. Now it's been discovered that companies have been secretly funding terrorists to begin another war, and guess who has got to put a stop to it?
I'm an Armored Core fan, and Armored Core 4 is the new daddy. You can forget all the ones that came before it.
Don't expect AC4 to control like just any third person shooter. Just as Madden plays like Madden, expect this to control like an Armored Core game. Only faster, and without the overheating. Follow the radar to get an enemy in view, then follow the targeting trails until they turn red. Open fire. Boost in any direction to avoid incoming fire. Repeat until victory. Not really as easy as it sounds. It takes practice and skill to come out on top, especially to earn the coveted S ranks. However, if you go through the tutorial, customize the controls to suit your liking (and shut off that auto weapon switch crap), and take a few AC models for a spin in practice mode, you'll get the hang of it. It just takes a little patience to get to the awesome.
Then comes modifying your mecha of choice, which is now so much easier (and fun) thanks to the new schematics system. Basically, these are plans of various mecha that you can tool around in the simulator with before you lay down the credit to actually buy the parts. If you don't care for customization, the entire story mode can be accomplished with these stock designs, and when you decide to do some modification, the game let's you decide just how much changes you want to make. Maybe you just want to muck about with a new paint job. Not only can you get pretty detailed in the color and patterns of the part sets, but you can also slap more than thirty layers of decals all over it, positing and resizing them much like in the high powered racer Forza. Maybe you just want to swap weapons. There are two hand, two back, one shoulder, and two backup weapon slots to fill how you like, with the only two restrictions in weight and energy. So you go overweight. Just swap out the legs for something sturdier. Not enough power? A new generator is in order. You don't need to worry about stabilizers or tuning. That can all be done automatically.
Now for the mecha freaks, there are plenty of numbers and options to fine tune your AC until it operates exactly the way you want. Boosters are now broken down into front, back, side, and overboost. Allowing you to work on getting sustained flight while some really quick (though energy consuming) side dashing. Then to shift the speed around even further, there's the all new stabilizer system, which in basic form means the more stable one side of your AC is, the slower but easier to control it is. So you could go for perfect balance, or you could shift the stability to the front to increase your back dashing speed. And if this isn't enough refinement, there's tuning. In previous ACs, some parts could be tuned, but if you replaced the part, you'd have to start all over again tuning the new one. In AC4, tuning is done globally by spending memory points earned in the game to boost certain attributes, which are applied to whatever parts you have. It's a brilliant and essential system for getting the most out of your mad machine.