Front Mission returns as Evolved takes on a new generation

Square Enix revive a classic and give gamers another opportunity to get their wanzer out!

Front Mission Evolved makes its welcome return as Square Enix breathes new life into its classic series. Will the mech’s power on through and achieve legendary status again? Or will it be a case of scrap metal sold for spares or repair? lets find out in the GamesMediaPro review of Front Mission Evolved.

With the amount of titles that Square Enix have released in the last few months anyone would be forgiven for assuming that it has become a case of corporate quantity over quality with the pioneers of the gaming world? But how wrong you would be. Oh so very wrong indeed. Front Mission Evolved is the next title that has come out of the long-standing developers and if you think that the studio has become that kind of ‘take the money and run’ kind of developer, like so many others we could name, then you have another think coming. Front Mission Evolved is indicative of the level of passion and commitment to producing quality and quantity by Square Enix. Whereas it is beyond most developers to spread themselves and their assets over such a wider range of titles, it seems as if Square Enix have revelled in the challenge and have risen to it. The fact that we have reviewed not one, not two but around five top quality titles from the award-winning developer in just the last few months speaks volumes, in our opinion, for the dedication and hard work that the development teams at Square Enix put into each individual title that they release. So with that in mind, let us take a look at the latest offering from those busy little bee’s at Square Enix; Front Mission Evolved

Even though it has been around since 1995 the long running series of Front Mission titles may have slipped passed your attention being that the games have become more an underground classic than mainstream blockbuster hit. It could just be, however, that the latest outing for the critically acclaimed franchise see’s Front Mission Evolved turning this around and even becoming the monster success that we always felt that the series could, and should, have been. 

Set in a non-too-distant futuristic dystopia Square Enix’s mechanoid RPG action title see’s the world teetering on the brink of all out destruction as the three main factions that have divided the planet up for themselves, they being Europe,China and America, are tip-toeing around an uneasy pact that looks almost certain to shatter into a thousand pieces at the first gunshot.

When the unsettled and uneasy peace is threatened by a group of unknown international terrorists attacking the USN’s Space Elevator in New York, the three nations look ready for war with each other. When it comes to light that the real culprit’s of the increasing attack’s on the world’s Space Elevators are a previously unheard outfit by the moniker the Sword of Damocles the tale takes on its main storyline, as the three former warring factions must unite to cooperatively destroy the terrorists that ultimately threaten to annihilate them. In and amongst all this is our hero of the hour, a certain Dylan Ramsey who, as an engineer, is working on a defence system called E.D.G.E. that will hopefully counteract the massive power of the enemies ‘Wanzers.

The ‘Wanzers’ are, in fact, huge hulking mechanical walking panzers, hence the name ‘Wanzers.’ These colossal mech-frames that resemble the cargo lift suit used by Sigourney Weaver’s character Ripley in the movie Aliens, are literally what the description paints them to be. They are highly durable and heavily armed frames that allow the player to move freely around the game zone as a ‘walking tank.’ Calmly despatching enemies and other robotic or mechanized combatants before stepping into ‘armour orbs’ that repair and reinstate your shields instantly thus allowing you the kind of free-flowing gameplay that other mech-based titles have always failed to accomplish.

With more than a nod to a myriad of Japanese anime titles and comics, as well as Metal Gear Solid and Gundam, the mechs of Front Mission Evolved still manage to make the title feel fresh and inviting as they stomp around the city meting out death and destruction to all who stand before them. The controls are very likeable and are not at all ‘fiddly’ or over-complicated. There are some particularly nice touches in there also such as the ability to ‘skate’ by pressing down the L3 button and almost gliding across the terrain before delivering a savage melee attack the reduces opponents to little more than nuts and bolts or squishy red stains on the pavement.

Being that your character Dylan Ramsey is central to the storyline, and also an engineer, it is appropriate then that your ‘wanzer’ should be kitted out with further bonuses and features so that you stand out from the crowd and are given just that touch of an advantage of the hordes of enemies that will be headed your way. In your wanzer you have the awesome E.D.G.E. system that allows Dylan to incorporate a special meter that gives him the ability to perform a Matrix-esque  ‘bullet time event.’ This is attained by the filling of the E.D.G.E.meter and once said meter is at around 25% operational capacity you are then able to perform the ability,  this will allow you to slow time and so give the bad guys a double portion of lead poisoning for their trouble. Although a good part of the game is spent without the E.D.G.E. power being available to you, once you are into the campaign full-swing you will notice that at around 75% of the meter you can perform an awesome power boost that will give you the ability to decimate opponents before they have even had the opportunity to decide on what aftershave to wear that morning. But alas this cracking power-up is not available until well into the game, but it one that is definitely worth keeping an eye out for, especially when attempting the later levels on a harder difficulty setting.

The beginning of the title does offer the standard fare the tutorial level and we do advise you to pay attention to this, as even though the controls in the game are so well suited and easy to operate, you will be offered insights into using the Wanzer as a battle tank on leg’s and so are given lessons in how to take down enemy wanzer’s and also how to disable their weaponry first so that they don’t take you out in a ball of fiery blue light.

The fact that Square Enix have managed to make the gameplay and the controls so fluid that at times it is barely even noticeable that you are even in a huge metal mechanoid powerhouse at all goes some way to describing to you just how well this game handles. Although there have been the inevitable comparison’s with Transformers and their ilk, we are here to tell you that if you did not particularly like Transformers then that does not mean that you are not going to enjoy Front Mission Evolved either, as the games are world’s apart with Front Mission Evolved offering up a far more integrated gameplay mechanic and storyline. In the same breath, if you did like Transformers then you are going to love Front Mission Evolved as there is a much greater sense of freedom and range with this title that allows for a far less linear feel to the campaign and storyline. The upgrading and customization of you Wanzer makes for some superb action as you get increasingly powerful and your weapons take on an invincible feel. The only thing that you really do have to watch out for with Front Mission Evolved when you are giving your wanzer the personal touch is the weight restrictions. You can alter just about everything on your wanzer from arms, legs torso and weaponry to turn yourself into a mech that would make even The Terminator turn tail and seek solace in his Mummy’s breast, but bear in mind that you also have to be able to move or you are just another heavily armed target practice for the enemy troops and mechs.

Another nice feature in the customization menu was the ‘backpack.’ This allows you to totally alter your rig as you swap your main load out for alternate systems that will allow your character to equip some serious pieces of kit such as the EMP charge which will come in particularly handy when used in conjunction with the games multiplayer experience. Personally during the campaign mode we never changed the backpack from the standard setting, but in the games multiplayer we found that it was a constant case of ‘horses for courses’ and that it would greatly depend on the map as to which load out and backpack we adopted. But try it for yourself, experiment and mix things up a little until you find the perfect combination that is right for your style of gameplay.

There are occasions when you will be removed from your wanzer completely during the solo campaign and these are few and far between but are, nevertheless, necessary to the plot of the game.  The boss battles are a particular highpoint of the game, but we will not litter the review with spoilers making your purchase of the game moot.

Multiplayer is fast, frenetic and a whole lot of fun. Its continual action makes for compelling stuff and we can only hope that there will be some DLC pack for both the campaign and the multiplayer soon as we thoroughly enjoyed our time getting our Wanzer out. Trust us, you will too.

Graphics: Looking more classic than cutting edge this was still an appealing title to us as it concentrated more on the excellent gameplay than trying to impress us with the way the light reflects precisely off a surface just as it would do in real life when a torch is shone at it at three in the morning. Sound effects and renders are solid and dependable.                  7

Gameplay: This is where the game stands up to be counted. Both in its single player campaign modes and in its online mode Front Mission Evolved takes the mech title to a new level as it gives fast gameplay with quick responsive controls. Cracking stuff.    8

RePlay Value: Although not blessed with the longest campaign mode in gaming history what it does have it has in spades and that is quality action. The solo experience is compelling enough to make you return time after time attempting the more difficult modes, but the multiplayer will keep you entertained for many a day to come. Hopefully DLC may yet fatten out the campaign, but it still does a great job and will keep gamers enthralled.   7

Presentation: All in all the return of Front Mission Evolved can be considered a great success, and here’s hoping that the arrival of this underground hit will now be afforded the respect and sales that it so genuinely deserves. A truly great classic brought into the now by one of the best developers in gaming. What more could anyone out there possibly ask for?    8

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