a fair arcade mech shooter
It was indeed a surprise to hear that Front Mission would be getting a new title for the west especially after the neglection of Front Mission 5. The change from turn-based-strategy to 3rd person shooter did indeed have many fans worried. Well, this game is indeed a 3rd person action game and plays very much like one you would expect. But does it feel like a Front Mission game? Yes it feels like one but I as a fan wouldn't say it is one. This does not mean it's bad however.
One can tell that Double Helix put a lot of effort in making it worth the Front Mission title, all the classic mechs (plus more) are there even down to the weapons and their obscure japanese-translated names. The politics and factions of Front Mission are all present but the story runs a little too wild than the more subtle political drama of past FM games. These factions are barely mentioned as the story focuses more on a single villain who's so cliche its laughable. The story compared to the past game is very simple and a bit too 'Hollywood', this really serves only to get to the action rather then have the player feel part of a journey.
The voice acting and characters are quite good but the dialogue provided and situations they are involved in could have made the story something more than the generic action game tale.
This is to the extent Front Mission Evolved's universe can relate to the past games, apart from the story being a far thinner it can still be enjoyed by a Front Mission fan if they don't expect anything heavy.
This sort of mentality can also translate well to general gameplay. The game is plays like an arcade shooter, it is no way tactical or strategic. The customizability aspects serves only for the sake of blowing shit up in different ways. Does that mean its useless? No. Its quite cool.
At the start / end of each mission you can setup a new loadout with new parts in stock, you can do the same whenever you die as well. So if you find a loadout frustrating for a boss you can switch easily to something which works better. It's fairly quick to do, but only when you get to grips with the fairly unintuitive customization interface. This game is meant to be played with a controller I feel, but one can still content themselves with mouse and keyboard.
The action in this game is great. Explosions, missile trails, mechs zooming around with machine guns and metal shields. Each encounter feels like something you'd stick in a trailer. Seeing it is great. Playing it isn't too shabby either, the controls feel fine and rattling your shoulder mounted Gatling gun at the disintegrating armour of an enemy feels very satisfying.
There are on-foot sections which play rather poorly when compared to the mech parts. One gets the impression these were added in after to include some diversity in the game. It did give the game a different pace however and gives significance to the power of the mech when you have to fight one on foot. I am glad there weren't that many of these sections though.
The games visuals are cool from a design aspect, but technically they fall behind modern graphical barriers of acceptability. It isn't ugly to look at it but it does make the locations feel forgetful and not very important, it is quite sad because the world they designed could have looked far more awesome. The locations you do get to visit are crazy and strong technical application could have made this game rememberable.
Front Mission Evolved is a fun 3rd person shooter - a mech game even! You don't see many of them really nowadays so there may be some sort of bias. Still this is the type of game which is enjoyable regardless if you like mechs or not.
However it doesn't do anything new and for Front Mission fans they may find themselves thinking that this isn't the Front Mission game they feel should have came.
However, what it lacks doesn't really take away from what it has, approachable mech action. Action which was fun for what it was.
As a Front Mission fan I do appreciate Square-Enix not forgetting the franchise and for Double Helix I appreciate the action packed game which was provided.