The best part about starting a new series is the hopes of finding something new. That’s what is so magical about walking in fresh to a new adventure, not only is the potential for something exciting there but you may find something else to keep you occupied when boredom strikes. Unfortunately, the downfall is that when you have those unknown games, you can wind up with something that leaves your mouth dry and feeling slightly letdown. Thus is the case with Front Mission Evolved, it’s something new for me yet nothing is quite polished enough to make it worth it.
It goes without saying that if you have seen or played one giant mech-thing before, then every other rendition you come across is going to be the exact same, it’s only the story that defines each one. Taking place in the year 2171, the Earth has sectioned itself off into warring militant factions, centered on “orbital elevators.” Our hero, Dylan Ramsay, has been provoked into a war that he never felt was his to fight after watching his city of New York (which still looks the same after 150 years) burned for no cause.
The story is somewhat compelling and the five-part sections makes it easy to knock it out with only minor resistance for any experienced player. For those that aren’t as robotically inclined, the zipping and moving around on the fly can be disorientating consequently causing difficulty focusing on what you’re really after: finishing the specific section.
With so much going on around you everyone involved may have an issue trying to figure out exactly what to aim at, and even more importantly how to keep track of the target long enough to kill it. With such a chaotic and dynamic world, you need something like a target lock to keep you focused on the particular enemy you are trying to kill. Since you cannot aim, fire and move at the same time it is really just a matter of who can fire off the most repetitive and powerful shots first.
That’s where the Wanzer’s customizable frame comes in handy. A staple of the series, heading into the hangar before a mission allows you to customize your mech for the specific mission at hand. The trick is mastering the creation of a balanced load-out as you upgrade your misslepods, assault weapons, and melee abilities in order to make sure your Wanzer will still be able to function and move on the battlefield. You could ignore this advice if you like, but you will learn a difficult lesson on the battlefield.
Or at least it would if you weren’t forced into specific load-outs for specific missions. At one point, you’re forced to use gangly crab-like legs that allow you to travel over water. The downside to this is that your movement is substantially reduced which subjects you to endless punishment as you travel into an area that is going to be heavily populated by well armed enemies. It’s one thing to make you try something different in order to make it challenging, it’s something completely different to just make it a nuisance.
Thankfully, there is one place where it doesn’t matter about objectives or what load-out you have, as long as you can take out the other person. With Front Mission’s multiplayer , it’s almost like this was what Square Enix and Double Helix really wanted to make but they had to attach it to a complete game instead. Giving you four different game types – Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Domination and Supremacy – you pit your most auspicious Wanzer against your opponents. The fun is actually having to compete with unpredictable and moving targets, though in a bit of a downer matches can last in excess of twenty minutes.
As far as a mech games goes, it’s everything that you have seen before. With sloppy controls, ambiguous enemies, and a lack-luster targeting system, only the slightly appealing story and its multiplayer saves it from being a bargain-bin item. Sad to say, everything could have been avoided if a little more buffer and polish had gone into development: a little more design and depth here, less cluttered environments, and there could have been something worth taking home to tell your friends about. Instead, Front Mission Evolved looks just like all the rest, only with a different name.
ZoKnowsGaming gives Front Mission Evolved, a lucky 6 out of 10.