Front Mission Evolved
A game where you control giant robots and at the same time fight in crowded cities, this has to be great, no? Well, Square-Enix and Double Helix prove it isn’t with Front Mission Evolved!
To cut right to the chase, the game can’t be compared with the previous Front Mission. Where older parts were turn-based, we now get a third person shooter. As such this should increase immersion, but the way how things are set up results in a complete disaster.
First up there’s the story, usually the foundation for a great singleplayer experience. Who doesn’t enjoy an immersive story that plays during a global war? A story that makes you empathise with the characters, where you get angry when one of the “good guys” gets wounded or killed? Well, if these things appeal to you then it’s already best to look for another game. The story here is so superficial and cliché that it’s outrageous compared to the previous Front Mission games where the story was always one of the highlights.
The story has the lead character accidentally testing an experimental robot at the moment an attack is launched. Without any combat experience he manages to completely wipe out any hostile in his way to finally get recruited by his nation and smash the terrorists. That’s it in a nutshell.
Also little good to be said about the gameplay. You play with a giant robot in the middle of a city or wilderness but during development the word “freedom” seems to have gone lost. That a player needs to be sent to a certain location isn’t a problem, but some freedom to choose your path would have been welcome. Now it’s just following a straight line from A to B.
You’re supposed to believe you’re in the middle of a war but there’s little to show for that. Only rarely do you meet allies that are fighting next to those of your own squad. Your teammates do do their job well and regularly kill hostiles. If you play smart, you can even have them kill entire groups of enemies without ever running any risk yourself.
Hostile robots, infantry, tanks, helicopters and so on are always found in the same place. Not really a plus when it comes to replayability. Regularly you’ll also leave your own robot to enter buildings and this does offer the necessary variation, but unfortunately can’t make up for the crappy and failing robot part.
Graphically the game is a major disappointment. Cars that you encounter on the roads look like they’ve come from a Playstation2 game and the same can be said of the buildings. The enemies themselves look a bit better but they’re still not up to par when comparing with other recent games. You can weaken certain parts of hostile robots, but the animation and graphics of this part each time look 100% identical. During the non-robot sequences the weak textures are even more noticeable. Overall this game look like one from the previous generation.
The sound is just weak. The sound effects sound granular, the music isn’t anything to write home about, and the voices are a true disaster. The Japanese voices may be perfectly chosen, but the Western ones are completely wrong.
Something that should bring a bit more variation is your hanger. This location lets you adjust your robot to the smallest details, going from the chassis to the emblem on your arm. This would have been great in the singleplayer if you wouldn’t be forced to use certain specs. There’s a mission where you’re obliged to use a six-legged chassis while this would have gone a lot better with a floating one. It’s beyond comprehension that something like this isn’t properly integrated.
The game also comes with multiplayer that include well-known modes like King of the Hill and Deathmatch, and the hangar does offer some value here, but it’s all for nothing as there’s no-one to be found online. You’re more looking for other players than actually shooting each other. Those looking for a new multiplayer game better look elsewhere. The only light at the end of the tunnel that I found are the many collecting missions that range from blowing up sensors to finding hidden keys.
Front Mission Evolved looked promising, but put an incompetent team on it and you’ve got a big failure. The singleplayer blows, nobody plays the multiplayer… so why buy this game? Only use is playing for the Achievements, but whether you can stand it long enough is another matter!