Front Mission 4

Review

posted 6/30/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
(For this review I'm going to try something a little different. As I write I'm going to get comments from my girlfriend as she's playing the game. So periodically you'll see breaks in the writing to get her thoughts and comments on the game. That way we'll get an indication of how well the game caters to the type of girl that's in love with Hello Kitty and Animal Crossing.)

When your portfolio includes names like Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts it’s easy to forget a name like Front Mission. But before Square Enix fully dedicated itself to next generation role playing games it had a wide variety of genres under its belt, good ones at that. Now with the development of games such as Full Metal Alchemist, the reintroduction of the Brave Fencer franchise and the next installment of the Front Mission franchise hitting store shelves, Square Enix just might prove once again that it’s more than a one trick pony. If Front Mission 4 is any indication of what the company has in store for the future, the gaming world will be a much better place.

This is when Jennifer says: "Huh? Oh sorry, there were explody things all over the place. I can't pay attention to you right now, Front Mission 4 is talking!"

Although this is the fourth entry in the series, gamers won’t need to have any experience with the previous entries in order to get into the action. The story, characters, world and mechanics are entirely self-contained, and although it’ll help to have some experience, it’s not required in order to be proficient. If you’re new to the game it’s essentially a turn-based strategic game in the same mold as Final Fantasy Tactics. Action takes place on landscapes which are then overlaid with tiles that act as moving and action spaces. The real strategy doesn’t come in the form of who hits who the most or the fastest, it’s all about properly assessing the situation and performing the best possible action. This means that you’ll have to survey the terrain to determine the best point of attack while bringing in the best weapons for each encounter.

Jen says: "Damn straight, because I've never played the other ones. It's got tutorials and everything. And come on! Things explode! It's good!"

For a game of this type Front Mission 4 sure is heavy on the story. To put it into perspective I had only been in two battles within the first hour of gameplay. Of that hour I was probably fighting for about 15 minutes while the rest of the time was spent reading dialogue and going through tutorials. If you’re not one to give things a chance to develop you’d be hard pressed to sit through FM4’s endless amounts of dialogue and plot development. Then again my supremely Asian girlfriend (read: loves Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh! And Animal Crossing) was able to pour over 10 hours into the game within the first four days. In fact, I couldn't even pry her away from this game, not even to play James Bond: Everything or Nothing)

Jennifer says: "I can't play Bond because Front Mission will get mad at me. Animal Crossing's already mad at me for playing Front Mission. I can't have two games mad at me!"

Front Mission 4 tells the story of two completely unrelated individuals whose paths unexpectedly cross in the midst of war. At the onset you’ll play as Elsa, a research engineer for Durandal, the E.C.’s branch dedicated to Armored Tactics Research. As you progress you’ll shift back and forth between her and Darril, a member of the U.C.S. Army. Conspiracies are abound as Elsa learns that the German army is attacking its own bases while Darril does combat with the corrupt governor of Venezuela. As stated before, the storyline is insanely deep for this kind of game, especially since we’re used to seeing paper-thin plots that are essentially used to setup battles.

She looks at me and as an enemy goes down she shouts, "Die biatch!" Jesus Square, what have you done to my girlfriend?

Combat is done exclusively through giant mech-like vehicles called Wanzers. If you’re a MechWarrior fan, Wanzers are essentially Mechs which can be outfitted with a wide assortment of weapons and objects. As you complete each mission you’ll gain points which can be used to upgrade pilots and purchase new and better parts for the Wanzers. How you decide to upgrade your pilot determines what type of arsenal you want to use. So if you place a bunch of points into the machinegun proficiency you’ll most likely want to equip the Wanzer with a machinegun as opposed to a shotgun, etc. There are boatloads of skills that you can pick up to help accommodate each pilot, most of which will come in handy during combat.

Jen says, "The proficiencies thingie, it totally reflects on the game. When you hit the triangle button it shows you what the upgrades do. It makes it easy!"
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