War is Hell. War is Other Robots.
The unfortunate task of updating the Front Mission
series has fallen to developer Double Helix. Despite their experienced, capable hands (having recently westernized Silent Hill
), the question remains: Can venerable Mech strategy series Front Mission
cut it as a third-person shooter in Front Mission Evolved
? Hard to say, but I know one thing: I love blowing bots to bits.
And you will too. Double Helix makes sure the player is firing on all cylinders all the time. Enemy encounters are frequent, but nothing feels like a slog. From start to finish, it's easy for you to feel you're the last soldier the army will ever need, as you lay waste to every poor sap that crosses your path. I assure you, stomping on soldiers will never get old.
Shotgunning soldiers directly in the face isn't bad either. I'll probably be court marshaled for this, but Evolved
's sparse on-foot sections are a nice break from the heavy mech meat of the game. Once every so often, people do have to get out of the battlesuit, possibly to eat, take a piss, or visit their families. Hoofing it through a few sections on your own two feet can be a relief
This would be false if it weren't for the disparity between mech-to-mech and person-to-faceless-enemy-soldier battles. In your suit
, you have all four shoulder buttons at your disposal. On the ground, you only fire with the right trigger. Mechs can be dealt damage to their body and their extremities, where destroying limbs results in debuffs. When you're on foot, I recommend aiming for the face.
Also, on-foot sections are just plain easy. Two points of detail are all you need to know: you shoot people; they die. Breezing through these sections is a welcome escape, which just speaks volumes about the intensity of mech battling.
As previously mentioned, Front Mission
is a Japanese strategy series, but Evolved
is all about very direct control in very direct battles. Some strategic elements are found through weapon buffs and previously mentioned enemy debuffing. All enemies require a healthy dose of strategy to defeat as well. Knowing how to attack is the only way to prevent being shredded into recycling.
Of course, the inclusion of both health packs and regenerating health completely negate a lot of the difficulty into combat. Every boss battle has a health and ammo drop. Frankly, though, it's needed. Even if you're using cover, strategizing with your weapons, and just generally working it, enemies can deal a load of damage. Bosses are total sponges. The fuckers can take it, but you've got to be able to dish it out.
Online multiplayer also lends itself well to strategy. Everyone starts off with the mech with streamers on the handlebars and pink beads on the spokes. As you level, unlocks will allow you to turn your mech from embarrassing to badass. All in all, it works, but don't expect Front Mission Evolved
multiplayer to have strong staying power.
It might be obvious to you that I've been blatantly ignoring the story so far. Honestly, it's incredibly easy to do. Front Mission Evolved
takes itself way too seriously. While the battlesuits and characters all look decent, the cut-scenes are all unintentionally comical. There's a grandiose plot about being thrust into battle despite never having experience as a soldier and excelling at it. You're also the only soldier the army has with the EDGE system in your battlesuit, which basically means bullet time with robots. The campaign was fun to play through, but trying to make sense of the plot is road that leads nowhere
On the good side, Story mode does take you to some pretty exotic locales, and while nothing really blows the competition away graphically, it doesn't look bad either. Frequent opportunities to customize your "Wanzer" (short for the German "wanderpanzer" or "walking tank") allow for fine-tuning for specific objectives.
When all is said and done, Front Mission Evolved
is an enjoyable, albeit flawed, turn for the Japanese series. Double Helix accomplishes a lot in appealing to Western gamers while still sticking to the themes Front Mission
has established through its 15-year history.