Front Mission Evolved [Review]

Front Mission Evolved

Front Mission Evolved is a bit of a reach from its turned based predecessors.  This marks the series’ first attempt at a third person shooter.  But in a world that’s had a taste of Mech Warrior and Armored Core, is there room for Front Mission Evolved?

Let’s start with the story.  The year is 2171 and the world is divided into several government factions; the U.C.S., the O.C.U., and the D.H.Z. just to name a few.  Each faction has their own orbital elevator (big satellites that reach from earth to space) that allows them to watch over their enemies.  In the beginning of the game, the orbital satellite for the U.C.S. is attacked.  You are an engineer working on a new Wanzer (pronounced juan-zer not waan-zer) for the U.C.S. and you see the satellite being attacked from afar.  Your dad is in the area being attacked so you spring into action with your new super-secret Wanzer.  This is where your story begins.

The campaign is pretty linear.  You go from mission to mission completing objectives that for the most part consist of getting from area to area and destroying all of the enemies along the way.  One of the things I like about this game is that they don’t keep you in one area for too long.  Missions are usually about 10-20 minutes at max; then you move on to the next area.  Areas are pretty distinctive.  One mission you’re in a city, next you’re in a tropical climate, then maybe in arctic tundra.  If you come across a mission that’s longer it’s usually because you go from being in your Wanzer to on foot.  I was a little concerned that the game play on foot was going to be bad; an afterthought.  I am very pleased to say that it didn’t suck at all.  It felt like the developers took their time with the human game play to make sure it was enjoyable.  There are about three or four times where you will get to go on foot.  I had fun with them so kudos to the developer for successfully fusing two types of game play without sacrificing one.

You will face many types of enemy units.  You will come across tanks, helicopters, heavy assault Wanzers, light assault Wanzers, ballistic missile Wanzers, sniper Wanzers, and even Wanzers that will try to bash your torso in.  Sometimes you will fight all of these at the same time.  The AI is pretty aggressive; specifically toward you.  If the AI is engaging an ally of yours, they will more than likely turn their attention toward you when they see you.  In order to stay alive you will need to utilize whatever cover is in the area.  Mostly every area you fight in has some type of building or structure that will help you avoid enemy fire.  If you try to go toe to toe with a group of enemies you will quickly find yourself losing parts as enemies are non-forgiving of mistakes.  Finding and utilizing cover is a big part of this game.

Front Mission Evolved Screenshot 2

The fighting in this game is fast and fierce.  Not as fast as Armored Core, but not slow either.  While the Wanzers move at a moderate pace, the speed part comes in skating.  Skating allows your Wanzer to move around quickly in any direction by hovering off the ground slightly.  It’s a great way to get from place to place, dodge enemy fire, or close the gap between you and an enemy.  How long you can skate is controlled by your energy.  Your energy gauge will drain if you use skate but will automatically recharge.  If you allow your energy gauge to drain completely you will have to wait a few extra seconds before it starts to recharge again.  It doesn’t sound like much, but it could mean the difference between life and death for you.

You will spend a lot of time in the customization area.  This is where you will equip your parts, weapons, battle skills, and pimp out your Wanzer with paint and decals.  If customization isn’t for you, you can always choose one of the prebuilt Wanzers.  Your Wanzer consists of five main parts; torso, arms, and legs.  You can also equip a backpack for added abilities such as repairing, anti-targeting measures, and hovering with your Wanzer.  Your torso is your primary piece of armor for two reasons.  One, if your torso is destroyed it’s game over.  Two, your torso provides power.  The balancing act you need to play is that the total weight of your Wanzer cannot be greater than your total power output.  So if you think you’re just going to load up on every high powered weapon and then head out, think again.  The weight is the total of all parts, weapons, and accessories combined.  Weight also controls how fast you are.  This affects running and skating.

Each part has its own stats that consist of armor, weight, skate value, power, mobility, and accuracy.  You can mix and match parts from different types of Wanzers to completely customize yours.  Maybe one of your arms carries a shotgun so you don’t need accuracy, but you would like the extra armor; just pick an arm from a Wanzer that gives you what you need.  Your arms, legs, and torso can all be destroyed separately.  When a part’s armor is destroyed it handicaps you on that part pretty badly.  If your arms get totaled, your accuracy drops drastically.  If your legs armor is destroyed, you speed will drop drastically to the point that your skating will still be a bit slower than your normal movement.  As you play, you will find armor repair pickups to restore your armor, even if it’s totally destroyed.  I wouldn’t rely on these though, because if you get caught with no armor while there is no armor repair around it will probably be game over.

Front Mission Evolved Screenshot 1

You have four locations to put weapons; one on each arm and shoulder.  Arms can hold items like shotguns, rifles, shields, and melee weapons.  Shoulders can house rocket launchers, missile launchers, and even chain guns.  Each weapon also has its own stats such as accuracy, damage, weight, ammo, rate of fire, and battle skill slots.  You can put just about any combination together as long as your power output allows.  You could choose one of each weapon and be ready for different situations, or just try to get a bunch of weapons that pack a punch and try to mow through your enemies.  Battle skills on weapons are power ups that have a chance to activate when you use the weapon the battle skill is assigned to.  Battle skills can do things like make your bullets corrosive, ignite on impact, drain your opponent’s energy, etc.  As you get stronger battle skills they will take multiple slots.  Some weapons have one slot, some have three so you need to choose wisely.

Your Wanzer doesn’t have any special armor or weapons.  It abides by the same rules as other Wanzers.  What makes it special is the E.D.G.E. System built into it.  Not sure what E.D.G.E. actually stands for but according to the game it puts the pilot into a state of high performance overdrive where they can quickly react to and eliminate enemy threats.  What does that mean for you the player?  It means time will be slowed down while you move at almost normal speed and enemies will be highlighted for you to target better.  E.D.G.E. saved my life on more than one occasion, so learn to use it efficiently.  There is an E.D.G.E. meter that you can build up by damaging and destroying enemies.  You only need to fill the gauge 25% to use it.  However, if you wait until it’s at least 75% full before using it, the enemies will slow down even more and you will deal more damage.

Visually, the game looks good.  It doesn’t have the greatest graphics I have seen, but it is definitely above par.  The full cinematics look fantastic, but most of the cutscenes will be with in-game graphics.  The games coloring is a bit bland, but I guess that makes for a more realistic.  The game has a nice, steady frame rate so your experience should be pretty smooth.  My biggest problem with how the game looks is the scale.  When you’re outside, you get the feeling that your Wanzer is tall which is fine.  However, when you’re inside the buildings and structures don’t seem to be scaled properly against the Wanzer.  Instead of feeling like you’re in giant robotic armor, it feels like you’re a guy in a human sized robot suit.  To be clear, this didn’t take away from the fun; it just pulled me out of the game a little.

Front Mission Evolved Screenshot 6

I have to warn you, this is one of the loudest games I have ever played.  They did a good job sound wise making you feel like you are participating in giant robot battles.  Whenever you destroy a Wanzer, it makes a loud exploding noise.  Even the sound of hitting enemies is very noticeable.  They took notice to detail as well.  You will hear shell casing hit the ground and you will notice the sound of a missile trailing away as it goes to hit a distant target.  I thought the voice acting was well done with the exception of the main antagonist.  His voice really didn’t seem to fit his character.

I found the multiplayer to be enjoyable.  You can select from prebuilt Wanzers or customize your own.  In order to unlock parts and weapons you will need to gain XP, so you will not start off by customizing your own Wanzer.  Technically speaking you can, but it would be a really bad idea.  The only difference in game play between the single player and the multiplayer is that you do not have the E.D.G.E. system.  Other than that, the same rules apply.  This is a very class oriented multiplayer.  You’re not going to be a medium or light armored Wanzer and be able to stand toe to toe with a heavy Wanzer in any capacity.  Heavy Wanzers have more armor so they will outlast you.  On top of that, since they have a heavy torso pumping out lots of power their weapons will be much stronger than yours.  On the same token, you can’t be a medium or heavy Wanzer and expect to keep up with a light Wanzer in speed.  You and your team need to work together to take out foes and minimize death.

There are four game modes; Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Domination, and Supremacy.  Domination is a game mode where you need to control multiple points to win.  Supremacy is more like king of the hill; one control point.  There are 5 maps to choose from and all 5 support every game mode.  I did have two instances where I got stuck loading into a game lobby and had to completely shut my game down and come back in.  I got a few games in, but I have to admit that this multiplayer was also sacrificed to Halo: Reach.  It’s not completely dead like the H.A.W.X. 2 multiplayer, but it was that active either.

Overall, I think Square did a good job bringing this series into the third person world.  I only noticed one or two bugs that were hardly game breaking.  The game play was solid and entertaining the whole way through.  You don’t get bored; mainly because you really don’t have time to get bored.  The game moves at a very steady pace that isn’t too fast or too slow; it’s just right.  Also, with how highly customizable your Wanzer is, you can change your setup if you get tired of the one you have been using.  That is something that can change your game play experience all together.  I’m glad they added the on foot play as it really shakes things up a bit and gives you a rest from the Wanzer.  This game won’t go on my must buy list, but I would definitely recommend it to friends.  If you’re like me and like big fighting robots I recommend you check it out.

*Images taken from G4TV website

Jarret Redding
Jarret Redding
Jarret Redding

Executive Director

Jarret is Executive Director as well as one of the founding members of Mash Those Buttons. He plays all types of games, but tends to lean more toward FPS, Stealth, and Combat games.

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