Review | Front Mission Evolved
Big robots with equally big explosions
Format: PS3/ Xbox 360/ PC| Genre: Third Person Shooter | Publisher: Square Enix | Developer: Double Helix Games | Release Date: 08/10/10 | RRP: £49.99
Greg Giddens builds and maintains a devastating walking tank to crush his enemies in FRONT MISSION EVOLVED.
TAKING THE series in a bold new direction, Front Mission Evolved discards the turn based RPG strategy setup for a more action orientated third-person one. To its credit the result is a fairly solid mech action game with a dash of RPG elements to keep it familiar, but the narrative fails to keep you engaged and it’s unlikely to satisfy the series’ current fans.
The Front Mission traditional setup of military splinter groups and shadowy political intrigue is maintained in this evolution of the series, and it’s an interesting setting that provides ample opportunities for fictitious but believable stories within its universe. However, whilst many of the series trademarks remain, and the evolution involved with the play-style is well delivered, the narrative fails to engage. It wavers between appropriate and over the top cliché and has bouts of being mundane. It’s a shame. All the ingredients are there to sculpt a better story but the emotional attachment of a son and missing father, matched with the relationships and tales of each mechs – or Wanzers – pilot – with a few twists involved along the way – level out at mediocre.
The delivery doesn’t help with this one bit. Voice acting is flat but adequate but the biggest problem is in the writing. Much of what the characters say is just appalling melodramatic drool wrapped up in stereotype. Occasional lines are delivered more believably and the exceptional cut scenes help draw you into the world, but you’ll always be pulled straight back out when one of the characters decides to open their mouths. The quality of the narrative is an unfortunate casualty of the series’ evolution; however, what remains almost redeems this sacrifice.
Front Mission Evolved is one of the better mech games currently out there, and in a genre so devoid of absolute classics this could spell a victory for the bold new direction. Breaking up the Wanzer sections are entertaining turret sequences where you unload embarrassingly huge amounts of ordinance on static and helpless enemies, and the occasional “on foot” mission occurs, which are less fun due to damage inconsistencies but at least provide variety. You and your allies can absorb a terrific amount of damage, the direct opposite of your enemies. This arcade setup, which is further portrayed by the ammo and health pickups scattered across each level, does make for the fun times but this same sense of vast superiority carries over to the ‘on foot’ mission, disrupting any immersion. The third person action ends up suiting the series very well and handles exceptionally, It’s fun with a great variety of levels and locations, but whilst this drastic change from birds eye viewed turn based battles suggest very little relation to past titles in the series, the same scope of customisation is still present.
The RPG-esque customisation of your Wanzer is just as vast as it ever was, allowing you to design your preferred Wanzer – including colour, pattern, and even glossiness – and stick with it throughout. The occasional mission will demand you change a specific part – such as hover legs to traverse water – but for the most part the customisation means sifting through mountains of weapons and body parts to find the best match for your play-style verses your power limit, forming a more personal journey. Additionally, premade builds are available if customisation doesn’t take your fancy, so there’s no alienation.
Alienation is unfortunately present in the multiplayer. The Standard modes of deathmatch, team deathmatch, and a capture point variant, over a small selection of maps is all that’s on offer, although to its credit when everything comes together it work well enough. The standard modes are predictable but human opponents put up a significantly harder fight that the A.I and there’s inherent fun in giant robot combat. However, the huge divide caused by multiplayer unlocks in equipment means there’s a terrible issue with balance between level gaps that makes it unplayable at times.
The new direction for Front Mission provides a good action experience but the narrative lacks the same charm. It’s fun but short lived and shallow. It’s certainly not the Front Mission many were hoping for but if you’re open to this change to the series, and if you can look past the issues with the narrative, then there’s more than enough robot action to satisfy your needs.