The Let's Play Archive

Armored Core

by ArclightBorealis

Part 17: EX Chapter 4: Human PLUS

Editor's note: this applies to Chapter 4

So “R” just recently gave us some info about the Human PLUS project. Not only is this another piece of back story in the AC universe, but it also factors into gameplay.

For start, the player can actually become a PLUS if a certain condition is met. Get 50000 C into debt, and you’ll be treated to a cutscene where (from the player’s POV) the Raven is about to be put through the Human PLUS procedure. The game starts over from the beginning, and the player has an enhanced ability. This can be repeated up to eight times, and while some of the effects are very hard to notice, some of them have a major change on the gameplay. The upgrades you can get as a PLUS are:
As you can probably expect, Human PLUS in terms of gameplay would be considered cheating…unless it’s you’re first time through and you’re having a difficult time in combat, especially against another AC. But with enough practice the game can be completed without the need for PLUS upgrades, and in my opinion, the major additions like the energy wave from blades and moving while using shoulder cannons don’t really make the game THAT much easier. There’s skill needed in order to aim and hit enemies reliably.

That said though, the part where “R” says there’s a rumor of high ranking Ravens having undergone Human PLUS is actually a fact. In later games where battles with other Ravens becomes more common, the more challenging opponents will have Human PLUS capabilities. And because the computer knows how to better handle an AC than the average player, they can be some tough sons of bitches.

Human PLUS would exist as a concept all the way up through Armored Core 2: Another Age, as AC2 and its sequel share the same timeline as the first game. AC3 would reboot the timeline and introduce a more balanced version of Human PLUS via the optional part OP-INTENSIFY. It can only be obtained after completing the main game, and its individual abilities are further unlocked when meeting optional goals. From Nexus onward, this part would be removed entirely, although by the time Last Raven comes around, many of the opponent ACs use OP-INTENSIFY.

So that’s Human PLUS in terms of gameplay. What about in terms of story?

Contrary to what “R” said about Murakumo being the creators of the Human PLUS project, the technology was actually created prior to the Great Destruction. Although the ACs did not exist prior to the Great Destruction, so it’s actual application to the Raven’s can still be attributed to Murakumo. The pilots are linked so to speak with their ACs, and this allows for a performance increase in the machine, no doubt taking signals from the nervous system to send commands faster than it would be with regular controls. However, the PLUS procedure has numerous side effects that are psychological and often lead to subjects going insane. One example of that is Wildcat, the AC we fought at the fuel depot.

Yeah, a little detail Murakumo chose not to divulge was that Wildcat underwent the PLUS procedure and went insane from the modifications. He’s very much a danger to himself and everyone around him, so putting him out of his misery was a good thing. Funny enough though, even though he’s PLUS, he doesn’t demonstrate any of the benefits that a PLUS Raven has, such as the use of shoulder cannon weapons while moving. He still kneels down in order to use his chain gun.

Outside of the game, a manga was released in 2007 called Armored Core: Tower City Blade. Although it’s set in the AC3 timeline where the PLUS program shouldn’t technically exist, it focuses on an AC Pilot named Catarina who underwent the procedure, and the result was that it stunted her growth, giving her the appearance of a 12 year old despite being 21 (the concept sounds gross in a way only Japan would know, but it's Armored Core and isn't about that shit). Over time, the implants from the program stiffened her muscles to the point that she can barely show expressions or speak, and would eventually cause her heart to stop functioning. While it’s not related to the original timeline, it does show off how dangerous and risky the Human PLUS procedure can be. Hell, getting the process reversed is too expensive, even for an accomplished Raven.

So yeah, for gameplay purposes Human PLUS makes you a dirty cheater, and for story reasons the treatment makes you go insane. Too risky and not worth it.