Front Mission 3 has a long story set in a hard-future earth (around 2112) in which the player, Japanese Kazuki Takemura is caught in a struggle between super alliances involving a weapon of mass destruction known as MIDAS. On board your (mecha) Wanzers, you and other characters engage in combat fighting and uncovering a political conspiracy between the super nations of the game. The majority of the story takes place in south-east asia between the fictional OCU nation and China.
Early on in the game it is possible to take one of two very different routes for the games story. While the fundamental core of the narrative is similar, the progression, characters you encounter and enemies you fight changed drastically between both. The main story was believed to be the one with Kazuki's sister being a playable character while the alternate was one involving a blonde haired woman named Emma. Both these characters appear in both versions but play quite different roles.
In order to chose which story you experience you must make a decision to your friends offer to go with him to a shopping mall early in the game. If you say yes you get Story A, no, Story B.
Players of Front Mission 3 must progress through the games linear story by engaging in tactical turn based combat, selecting which areas to visit and characters to talk to and by checking emails and browsing information in the games fictional Internet known as Tenmou.
Tactical Turn Based Combat
Character Progression and Mech Customization
The character progression aspect of Front Mission 3 allows different tactics to be played out on the battle screens as different Wanzers can be built to play different roles such as an up close attacker or a fast moving sniper.
Like general RPGs, characters are able to level up and increase their various stats which in turn boost their abilities in battle. Character skills can range to increasing the rate of fire when firing the Wanzer's machine gun to doing a full body charge when attacking with a melee weapon.
Wanzers can be built from different parts which range in abilities such as accuracy, speed and defence taking into account weight and energy levels. Additionally Wanzers can be given weapons ranging from knuckledusters, flame-throwers to shoulder-mounted missile launchers. Wanzers can also be given back packs which can hold extra ammo or repair items, some backpacks have the ability to hold stored energy to expand the limits of customizing you or a team mates Wanzer.
Additionally aesthetic details can be given to the mech such as paint jobs or giving it a different name than the stock parts.
Combat and Tactics
Combat in Front Mission 3 is usually Wanzer vs Wanzer but occasionally you will find yourself fighting against military hardware such as tanks, attack hellicopters or gun emplacements with you and your team either in Wanzer or on foot with a handgun.
Combat in the game is played on a square grid in which the usual win-condition is defeating all foes. Occasionally you may protect a certain character or vehicle whilst battling. On each turn you have the ability to move and attack with each of your characters on the field if your Ability Points permit it. When all your characters have ended their go then the turn order will switch to the enemy and they will proceed with moving and attacking. Wanzers can be customized in a variety of ways giving the player a different options to complete the battle objective. Wanzers with fast mobility legs can move more squares than a Wanzer which is fitted with a heavy grenade launcher for example.
Not all combat is resolved by violence, occasionally if you cause enough havok on the battlefield AI NPCs will perform a surrender check. If the player shoots them lightly without destroying them they will fully surrender leaving them out of play for the entire match.
Front Mission 3 also gives you the option to leave your Wanzer during battle expanding the overall strategy allowing for hijacking of enemy Wanzers which have had their pilots ejected by a forceful attack. Hijacking enemy Wanzers is beneficial as you obtain their Wanzer at the end of the battle and keep your own. Not only does hijacking benefit profit but can prove to be a greater combat tactic as it sometimes faster to hijack than to destroy on occasions.
Character interactions and visiting locations
When you are not battling on the field, you will be talking to characters and visiting locations such as bars or market places to advance the story. Talking to certain NPC characters can grant you bonuses such as an extra weapon. The same can be said for extensive navigation of the fictional Internet Tenmou which has a variety of websites under password protection. This aspect of the game is not 3D like the combat and is displayed from a list of options such as TALK, VISIT, CHECK MAIL etc. over a 2d sprite backdrop.
Front Mission 3 sports two distinct game designs for each of their types of gameplay.
When on the battle screen mechs can be seen on a fully rendered 3D backdrop and when attacking with a mech, the camera pans in at a stylized angle giving a visually detailed impression of the combat, (bullets ricochet of enemy Armour for example.)
When on the character interaction and location visiting aspect of the gameplay, different 2d backdrops are displayed with anime-esque character portraits shown during dialogue.
Occasionally full motion video is also used during the story.
Music and Sounds
Sound effects in battles range from the clunking movement of a mech's feet hitting the ground, the sound of bullets penetrated metal to the woosh of an attack hellicopters missile flying
through the air.
Music is also used to create the tense atmosphere of the tactical combat to the mellow moments of the investigative location visiting and character interaction.
The music in Front Mission 3 was also made available on an official sound track publication by DigiCube ranging two disks and totalling to 47 tracks.
Front Mission 3 was well recieved in Japan selling 298,000 copies in its first year. Like many other Squaresoft RPGs, merchandise such as a Official Sound Track was also made available for purchase.
The success of Front Mission 3 spawned a number of re-releases such as Square's Millenium collection in which the package contained small collectables such as keychain and wallet. Another release in 2002 placed Front Mission 3 in Japan's The Best Range. The next year the game was repackaged with the two previous installments in the Front Mission Compilation. Finally the game was released once more in 2006 in Square Enix's Ultimate Hits line.