Front Mission 4 is a single player, tactical role-playing game, made by Square Enix. In the game, players take control of two protagonists: Darril, a care-free and kind army deserter, and Elsa, a serious pilot in the small organization -- the "Durandal." The two characters start off in their own stories, but further down the road the stories end up being inexorably intertwined.
Much like the previous games, players progress through the game in a series of missions, which are driven by the game's overall narrative. Battles take place on a grid map with Members of each squad Piloting Mechs known as Wanzers. Moves are turn-based, with each member having a set amount of spaces to move and an array of weapons with a certain amount of range. There are five points of damage that a Wanzer can take; Head, Body, Left arm, Right arm and Legs. Destroying the arms prevents use of the weapon that is attached to that arm, Destroying the legs limits movement to one space at a time, Destroying the Body destroys the Wanzer completely. So even if the head, Arms and legs are at 0 Hit points, they can be fully healed. Players should take that into account if they have certain equipment on a certain body part that can be useful in protecting the body.
There's also been changes to the Battle system setting it apart from previous entries:
- Battles now operate with up to six units, though the player can access additional forces in certain missions.
- Players can now attack more than once, though only if the unit has enough Action Points(AP) to do so. With the exception of Melee and support Fire which can only be used once per battle.
- New backpack types have been implemented into the battle system. Sensor backpacks are equipped with sonar and radar sensors that extend the firing range of missile launchers. EMP backpacks hit a Wanzer with an Electromagnetic pulse and disable them for a set amount of time. Repair backpacks fix Damaged parts, and Status Effects. Jetpacks have built-in boosters that allow a Wanzer to scale buildings and directly bypass obstacles. Radio backpacks have communications equipment that allows transport to drop supplies, armor coating, or call in an airstrike (which the player must wait two turns for).
- The Biggest Change is the Link system, a tactic players can use to have characters in their unit help each other. They can set them to Offensive or Defensive attacks and they will move accordingly. Using this function requires Link Points which the player assigns to each character. Though players should take care when utilizing such a strategy as when a Link Battle commences that Persons AP also depletes, so if the Link system is spammed come the time when it's that characters move, they will have nothing to do.
Other changes to note: The Ability to strengthen a Wanzer's Qualities (Implemented from FM3) has been removed. Stronger parts and weapons must always be bought, with more coming in the further the player progresses -- although some can always be acquired through battle simulations. Characters are restricted to only one Wanzer Each. Characters also gain Enhancement Points (EP) Which are gained by destroying units and beating missions. The EP is spent on Skills, or upgrading previous skills to a higher level.
Setting and story
Set in the year 2096. FM4 takes place in two Scenarios simultaneously. One scenario takes place in the European Commonwealth (EC) and the other scenario takes place in the United Continental States (UCS).
The first, Elsa Eliane is a new recruit for the EC Armored Tactics Research Corps, the "Durnadal". The Durandal's initial assignment is to investigate a series of recent attacks on EC German military bases by unknown forces. The second scenario starts off in UCS Venezuela (which has attempted to secede from the UCS) and centers around UCS Army Sgt Darril Traubel and his teammates Billy Renges and Phillip Chaeffer. The three witness the crash of a Venezuelan State Army (VSA) transport plane that turns out to be carrying gold bullion worth up to $25 million belonging to Venezuelan Governor Bruno Diaz. They decide to steal the gold and go AWOL, but it is not long before they are found out by the VSA and have to escape Venezuela.
After a few more missions detailing their attempts to escape, the narrative returns focus to Elsa and the Durandal. For the rest of the game, the narrative continues to shift back and forth between the two scenarios after a certain amount of missions are completed. Eventually, a plot connection is established between the scenarios, though they remain independent of one other for the entire game. Eventually, the Republic of Zaftra is discovered to be the source of their issues.
Elsa is the newest recruit to the E.C. Armored Tactics Research Corps, otherwise known as the Durandal. Elsa enlisted in the E.C. French Army at the age of 18 and worked 3 years for them as a volunteer. At the age of 21, Elsa applied to become a wanzer pilot and succeeded after a year of intense training. Elsa reached the rank of Master Sergeant in the E.C. French Army before applying to the Durandal, as recommended by one of her superior officers. Though Elsa has no actual combat experience prior to joining the Durandal, she is capable of piloting a wanzer with little difficulty. Elsa has an admirable grasp of wanzer combat theory, but she understands little of the mechanical engineering in regard to the wanzers. Still at a relatively young age, she has a strong sense of justice and Zead identifies her as a stickler when it comes to principles.
Zead is the commander of Durandal and a former Lieutenant Colonel for E.C. British Army. After Zead left the E.C. British Army, he was requested to join the Durandal by several figures within the E.C. military. Zead eventually became the new leader of the Durandal and has led the organization for a long time. With a strong military background, Zead is eternally courteous to others and hard on himself. He does not, however, demand the same rigid discipline from his colleagues; he is patient enough to accept their individuality. Zead's subordinates regard him as both a dependable leader and a kind father figure as a result.
Hermes is the systems engineer and technology specialist for the Durandal. Growing up in a political environment with his father working for the U.C.S. government, Hermes is no stranger to computer technology. Hermes is a genius in the areas of information analysis, communication systems, and computer security. Hermes graduated from a U.C.S. university at the age of 13 and was accepted in the Durandal shortly afterwards, specializing in computer hacking and data gathering. Hermes has no actual combat experience, but his connections with the Durandal have allowed him to gain experience piloting wanzers. Hermes is always positive and jovial, but he can be childish when arguing with those of different opinions.
Latona Rodiona Vasilev
Latona is a senior member of the Durandal and a former Lieutenant in the Zaftran Army. As a Lieutenant, Latona served in the border patrol division within the Zaftran Army before she decided to quit. After leaving the Zaftran Army, Latona applied to work for the Durandal and was accepted due to her military experience. Due to her extensive military background, Latona talks and behaves in a mostly masculine way. She tends to be strict towards both herself and others whom she talks with, even towards her fellow Durandal members. Latona also holds patriotic feelings towards the Republic of Zaftra, but she is not loyal to the point that she is blind to Zaftra's faults.
Dieter is a senior member of the Durandal and a former Lieutenant in the E.C. German Army. Dieter went to a military academy that was also attended by Rolf Wagner, a friend of Dieter's. During his time at the academy, Dieter was noted for having exceptional skills in reconnaissance and espionage. While his future looked bright in the E.C. German Army, Dieter was not prepared to accept the harsh realities that awaited a soldier's life and left the army. Upon quitting, Dieter was scouted by a Durandal member and asked to become a member of the organization.
Beck is a member of the Durandal and a former professional soccer player. Beck played professional soccer for E.C. Italy until he suffered an injury that forced him to retire. He then took an interest in studying human engineering and physiology at an E.C. university. Upon graduation, Beck dedicated himself to medical research for the next few years. Over time, he took an interest in apply his research to wanzer technology. Beck was invited to conduct research with the Durandal and eventually became one of its members. Beck applies his research into improving the performances of the Durandal's custom-made wanzers.
Robert is the VTOL transport aircraft pilot for the Durandal. Prior to working for the Durandal, Robert was a fighter pilot for the Royal Air Force based in E.C. England. Robert serves as the transporter for the Durandal and he takes them to where they need to go without hesitation.
Noland is the Prime Minister of E.C. England and a member of the E.C. Central Assembly. While he supports the Durandal, Noland does not trust them as much as Vice Minister Allison does.
Allison is the Vice Minister of E.C. England and serves under Noland in regard to E.C. England affairs. Allison trusts the Durandal the most and constantly supplies them with assistance in any possible way. Allison and Zead know each other very well and have been good friends for years.
One of the protagonists on the O.C.U. side in Front Mission 1st, Frederick is a freelance journalist and former member of the O.C.U. mercenary outfit Canyon Crows. Aware of Zaftra's subtle role in the 2nd Huffman War, Frederick searches for information regarding the attacks in E.C. territory and understand Zaftra's true objectives.
Rolf is a Major and the leader of the Blauer Nebel special forces based in E.C. Germany. Rolf went to a military academy that Dieter Bosch also attended. Rolf was praised as the ideal soldier and ended up graduating at the top of his class. Rolf was assigned to the regular army and served in numerous missions prior to being assigned to lead the Blauer Nebel forces. Rolf's calm and collected actions make it difficult for others to identify how he truly feels or what he is thinking.
Glaeser is a Brigadier General in the E.C. German Army. Niklas is an old-fashioned soldier who believes in the notion that soldiers are emotionless machines who meet their objectives in any way possible. Niklas has a cold-hearted attitude and does not treat anyone in a kind manner, particularly those who report failure to him. Niklas is displeased with the current state of E.C. military affairs and he feels that many soldiers do not rightfully deserve to call themselves as such.
Dranz is a Captain in the E.C. German Army, as well as being a member of the Blauer Nebel. Dranz is a faithful subordinate of Wagner's and follows his commands without hesitation.
Darril is a sergeant in the UCS Army's 332nd Mobile Company. Darril enlisted in at the age of 18 and was recognized as a promising and talented soldier by others. Darril is also a firm believer in justice, but tends to disregard orders from his superiors due to his morals. An unfortunate incident with a superior officer resulted in a demotion from captain to sergeant. This incident effectively changes Darril into a disillusioned soldier and he seemed to have lost interest in fighting for the U.C.S. When Darril is dispatched to Venezuela, he decides to steal a cargo containing Governor Bruno Diaz's gold to live a care-free and stress-free life.
Billy is a U.C.S. Corporal in the employ of the 332nd Mobile Company. Billy was born from a poor U.C.S. village and enlisted at the age of 18 to escape the harsh conditions of life in his village. Billy is Darril's best friend and he has fought alongside him for years. When Darril is demoted, Billy is also affected and begins to have a skeptical view on military life. Billy has several connections to the black market and often makes deals on behalf of other clients in the U.C.S. Army as a secondary job. In the Nintendo DS version of Front Mission 1st, Billy and Darril work under Kevin Greenfield during the 2nd Huffman War. Billy is also a playable character in this specific Front Mission installment.
Phillip is a U.C.S. Private First Class in the employ of the 332nd Mobile Company. Phillip enlisted in the U.C.S. Army at the age of 19 as an infantry unit before becoming a wanzer pilot. The youngest of Darril's squad, Phillip is treated as a younger brother by both Darril and Billy. Phillip tends to act carelessly or recklessly attracts unwanted attention to Darril's squad. Phillip also lacks the combat experience that Darril and Billy possess, which leads to moments of fear and he often acts without thinking in these situations.
Luis is the idealistic leader of La Alianza de Libertad Venezolana (Venezuelan Freedom Alliance). Growing up in poor and dismal living conditions, Luis aspired to change Venezuela for the better as a child. At the age of 15, Luis joined the La Alianze de Libertad Venezolana as a guerrilla soldier. At the age of 20, the leader of the La Alianza died and Luis was made as the group's new leader. Luis opposes Governor Bruno Diaz's rule and wants better treatment of his people from the U.C.S. Central Government.
Ines is Luis' girlfriend and a high-ranking member of La Alianza de Libertad Venezolana. Ines acts as the second-in-command of the La Alianza. Ines is more calm and controlled than Luis, which enables her to double as the strategist of the guerrilla forces.
Carl is a retired soldier turned schoolteacher in Luis' village. Carl served in the 1st Huffman War in the U.C.S. Volunteer Corps, earning several medals for bravery and service. Though he opposes violence, Carl joins Darril's squad in order to ensure the safety of Luis and Ines. Of the La Alianza forces, Carl has the most combat experience and he assists in formulating strategies along with Ines.
One of the protagonists on the U.C.S. side of Front Mission 1st, Maria is a former member of the U.C.S. special forces unit Black Hounds. Maria now serves as an intelligence agent based in the U.C.S. Central Region and works with Luis to help Venezuela attain independence from the U.C.S.
The U.C.S. Venezuelan State Governor, Bruno is a puppet leader that follows the orders of the U.C.S. Central Government. While Bruno follows the U.C.S. orders, he has extensive connections to the mafia and outside sources. Bruno uses these sources to help oppress the Venezuelan people and make himself wealthy, having robbed the citizens of an estimated 100 million dollars. Bruno eventually desires to break away from the U.C.S. and accepts help from the Republic of Zaftra to make it happen.
Anizka Ivanovna Aleksandrov
Anizka is a Colonel in the Zaftran Army. Anizka was born in the town of Velikiye Luki and grew up learning many things about the Republic of Zaftra from her parents, who worked in the Zaftran government. Anizka enlisted in the Zaftran Army at the age of 18 and quickly rose up the ranks, already in the employ of Zaftra's special forces at that age. Zaftra's military heads took note of her accomplishments and identified Anizka as a genius on the battlefield. At the age of 20, Anizka was promoted to Captain and Major at the same time as her commander died right around the time of her promotion to Captain. 2 years later, she was promoted to Colonel and leads the special forces to Venezuela as part of a complex plan to initiate a war between the U.C.S. and E.C. Anizka is an extremist who supports war and demonstrates very aggressive behavior on the battlefield, always fighting in the frontlines and having no concern for non-combatants in the way.
Maksim Troadiev Vavilov
Maksim is a Major in the Zaftran Army. Maksim serves in the Zaftran special forces and is Anizka's most trusted subordinate. Despite his loyalty to Anizka, Maksim is often subjected to her scolding and criticism even though he never disobeys her.
- A large portion of the between-mission dialogue is delivered through voice overs in English (for all regional versions of the game), which is a first for the series.
- Darril also appears in the Nintendo DS version of Front Mission 1st and in Front Mission 5: Scars of the War as a playable character.