When I heard Square Enix was showing a long-awaited new installment in its old Front Mission series of giant robot-based strategy games here at E3, I expected to see exactly that same style of turn-based gameplay with a much prettier coat of paint. Boy was I wrong.
The new game, Front Mission Evolved, isn't a strategy game; it's a third-person shooter. The game is being co-developed by the original Front Mission team at Square Enix, and Orange County-based Double Helix for release on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. Square is focusing on the story and character design, while Double Helix is working out the action, which a rep for the developer likened to games like Call of Duty in terms of big, cinematic presentation.
Neither company was ready to talk much in the way of specifics nor show the game itself at E3, but they did say it will feature the same factions, locations, and wanzers (the series' name for its big combat robots) that fans are used to. Ditto the wanzer customization, which is said to feature all the same options and techniques for building a better battle robot that the old strategy games did. Aside from the campaign, there will be a significant online multiplayer mode with a heavy emphasis on team-based modes. There will also be some kind of persistent experience system that allows you to grow your character from match to match.
Square Enix and Double Helix will be taking the wraps off Front Mission Evolved in stages later this year, first at the GamesCon in Germany and then at Tokyo Game Show. I'm curious to see how it shapes up as an action game--but as someone who never got into the old strategy versions of Front Mission, I'm even more curious to see how diehard fans of the series take the transition. How do you feel about it?