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Bev Chen
17 Dec, 2010

Front Mission Evolved Review

PS3 Review | Taking a step back in the evolutionary cycle.
The Front Mission series has long been a gaming favourite of mecha fans, finding its roots as a strategy title on the Super Nintendo. Now the game makes its debut on the latest generation of HD consoles, not as tactical title, but as third-person shooter in the same vein as the Armored Core franchise. It’s a logical avenue to take, given the popularity of the genre nowadays, but unfortunately, this change only serves to take Square Enix’s franchise baby and turn it into something utterly mediocre and bland.

Front Mission Evolved sees players control and do battle with giant humanised robots known as Wanderpanzers (Wanzer for short). But like most Front Mission titles, the focus on the mechs takes a backseat to the story, which follows Dylan Ramsey, an engineer for Diable Avionics who is recruited into the USN Army to avenge the death of his father. It’s a story that’s more than slightly cliché, and the characters have such bored facial expressions and uninspired voice acting that it’s a struggle to care about them and their plight. The futuristic setting and the technicalities of the Wanzers themselves are at least attention-grabbing, so it’s a shame that they are used as a supplement for the main storyline rather than the other way around.

The Wanzers in Front Mission Evolved control much like any other game in the giant robot genre, if slightly clunkier and unresponsive. As you can imagine, your Wanzer isn’t exactly a lean, mean, bot-killing machine, and if it weren’t for the dash button the game would be a sluggish, frustrating affair. As far as your offensive capabilities go, you have melee attacks and long-range attacks, varying from sniper rifles, light machine guns and missiles. Depending on where the weapon is located (for example, on your Wanzer’s right left shoulder or its right arm), will change which shoulder button will activate which weapon. It’s a little bit annoying, then, that you are only able to zoom in by pushing down on the right control stick. While an understandable decision on the developer’s behalf, it’s something that we never really got used to through our playthrough of the game, and we can imagine players who are used to games that map the zoom function to the shoulder buttons will find this strange too.

Additionally, in a rare move for a game centred around giant robots, Front Mission Evolved contains the occasional stage in which players can take control of Dylan himself, briefly transforming the game into something more recognisable to fans of the genre. It’s a very basic take on third-person shooters though, and more than anything it feels tacked-on at the last minute.

Wanna see my Wanzer?

Wanna see my Wanzer?
Close
It’s a good thing Double Helix Games decided not to rework this title as a squad-based mech shooter though, as the game’s AI isn’t wonderful. As you’re usually tagging along with a couple of other members of the USN Army, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this would make combat situations easier. While they do prove themselves useful at times (and actually seem to be able to defeat enemies) they do sometimes behave questionably, like crossing the length of the battlefield to run a circle around you and run elsewhere for no reason. It’s a blessing that your partners have infinite health and ammo.

Further adding to the mediocrity of the whole package is the unimaginative, repetitive level design. Levels are linear and take place almost wholly outside, treating players to the same view of buildings and skylines while they clank around in the Wanzer. That’s not to say that Front Mission Evolved is a bad looking game at all; the lighting effects, details and multitude of explosions in your surroundings are quite pleasing to the eye, but the real eye candy is, of course, the Wanzers themselves.

Enough explosions to rival a Michael Bay flick.

Enough explosions to rival a Michael Bay flick.
Close
As in previous Front Mission titles, players can customise their Wanzers, although the purpose for this is more for operational enhancement rather than improving its visual appeal. Players are forced to comply with very strict power and weight ratios when deciding which parts to use though, which takes a lot of the fun out of the process.

Interestingly, the parts that players have to choose from is decided on their military rank, which increases as the game progresses or, in the style of Call of Duty, increases depending on how many hours you sink into the game’s multiplayer mode. Prepare to spend a long time though, because defeating other players and winning games (which take on average about half an hour) don’t score you too many points. In fact, it becomes somewhat of a chore.

Front Mission Evolved isn’t a completely terrible title by any means, but it lacks the shine, polish, and all-around interesting gameplay of several other third-person shooters on the market. In its favour however, is the customisation feature which is really quite interesting, if you are willing to work within the very strict guidelines. On that note, several players are likely to get a kick out of the ability to turn the Wanzer into a technicolour mess. Other than that though, Front Mission Evolved isn’t really worth racing down to the shops to buy or rent, unless you really like explosions.
The Score
Ultimately, Front Mission Evolved isn’t a particularly satisfying title for those who are fans of the series, mech games or even third-person shooters in general. It might be worth a rental if you’re a fan of pyrotechnics, but other than that, expect an utterly mediocre title. 5
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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12 Comments
3 years ago
Just do yourself a favour and buy Front Mission 3 on PSN instead.
3 years ago
*sniffle*
I bought this on a Zavvi special before it was released.
Man, I like giant robots and stuff, but... I weep for my $34.
3 years ago
I would of bought it if they kept the turn-based tactics.
3 years ago
As a big fan of Front Mission 3, this was a huge disappointment. Like Bish, I bought it on the cheap from Zavvi hoping to be pleasantly suprised. I wasn't. The combat feels tacky and terrible. Kinda feels like the Gundam game on PS3 that was also terrible.

They really should've stuck to the turn based tactics as that's what really made combat fun. It was like they went this route just to try and pander to the masses who don't have much patience for the turn based stuff.

Hugely disappointed tbh.
3 years ago
I didnt mention before but I too bought this game from Zavvi and it is highly unlikely I'll ever end up playing it.
3 years ago
This ought to have been called Front Mission: Devolved. And it once again displays the lack of appreciation for the quality and talent that went into SquareSoft Games. I'll stick to my collection of the awesome versions that came before it, thankyou very much.
3 years ago
I happened to finish playing it yesterday. I actually enjoyed it a lot. I love the Front Mission games but I already knew it wasn't going to be like the main series, I expected it to be like the Mechwarrior games on Xbox, and that's exactly what I got. A spot of brainless blowing-up-robots fun.

I think the real problem is that everybody has too high an expectation for games nowadays, so run-of-the-mill titles get called "bad" when compared to titles that cost tens of millions of dollars to make... just because a title isn't the flashiest or most inventive thing in the world, doesn't mean it can't be fun. It's like saying that driving a car is only fun if you have a Ferrari.
3 years ago
Yeah, I played it again last night. I, personally, don't think it's really bad, per se, and giant robots are pretty cool (the pew pew is fun enough), but it's just so average in every way. Really, really average.
3 years ago
Squaresoft have had a dull recent run on the PS3.
Star Ocean was ok.
FF13 was boring and linear
FF14 was buggy
No decent Front Mission strategy game since Front Mission 3.
No Mana or chrono cross/trigger game.
They seem like a shadow of the company I loved back in the PS1 days - FF7-9, Chrono Cross, Xenogears, Front Mission 3, Parasite Eve, Vagrant Story(brilliant!) and FF Tactics.
3 years ago
Sounds a lot like my experience with Armored Core. I bought it (it was one of the PS2 Armored Cores), hoping that it would fill the void I've had since the Mechwarrior series from the PC many years ago. However the controls were clumsy, the gameplay sluggish and generally a wholely unsatisfactory experience. The "clunkier and unresponsive" comment is how I would have described that game too.

Still waiting to fill the void.
3 years ago
fireflybck wrote
Squaresoft have had a dull recent run on the PS3.
Star Ocean was ok.
FF13 was boring and linear
FF14 was buggy
No decent Front Mission strategy game since Front Mission 3.
No Mana or chrono cross/trigger game.
They seem like a shadow of the company I loved back in the PS1 days - FF7-9, Chrono Cross, Xenogears, Front Mission 3, Parasite Eve, Vagrant Story(brilliant!) and FF Tactics.
PS3, 360, Wii, PC. They've all sucked.
The only decent games they've made this gen are the ones that Eidos did and some DS/PSP games.

Fortunately, though, their profits dropped 90% in a single year, so that should mean that they'll either shrink the company and and let someone good take over, or the CEO will step down and let someone good take take over. Either way, gamers worldwide should rejoice at the fall of the behemoth of shit.
3 years ago
fireflybck wrote
They seem like a shadow of the company I loved back in the PS1 days - FF7-9, Chrono Cross, Xenogears, Front Mission 3, Parasite Eve, Vagrant Story(brilliant!) and FF Tactics.
I agree with you fireflybck, i still play the games you mentioned every couple of years, just because they were so great. In comparison to todays graphics they dont match up, but they had enjoyable,emotional and interesting characters and stories as well as a god sense of timing in thier execution. It seems today that too many games are more about the 'halo' experience with mindless shooting, than trying to push the story barrier with great playability and something else that has become lost is a healthy respect for the backstory. Front mission is a good example for losing the way with a label. If you want to see a succesful company that continues to improve and value where its come from look no further than ATLUS and the Shin Megami/Persona Series. It just gets better and better.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  08/10/2010 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Square Enix
Genre:
  Action

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