Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Front Mission

Wow, I've been playing Front Mission for the first time and it's pretty darn good and I'm wondering "How did I miss this?". Well I guess it's no wonder considering Square Enix (Square Soft at the time) never saw fit to publish the original game in the U.S. for the SuperNES and all I can say is it's a shame.


So there have been other Front Mission games that did make it stateside including a revamped release of the original for the Nintendo DS and Front Mission 3 and 4 for the PlayStation 2 and while the series isn't exactly the most obscure it's far from the forefront of mainstream gaming. I suppose if it were then Square would actually have plans to publish Front Mission 5 in the U.S. but as of writing this they do not.

Just look at those beautiful low res pictures! Pixel art in action.

Front Mission was originally released for the Super Famicom in Japan back in 1995 and it's a turn based strategy game in which you command an Oceania Community Union (OCU) mercenary unit in a war against the United States of the New Continent (USN) forces set on the fictional Huffman Island. But really with out getting too much into the politics or explaining all of the game's factions let's just get to the fun part; mechs! Apparently the principal fighting vehicle in this war are giant mechs (essentially walking tanks). At least that's what you'll be using and mostly dealing with during your campaign.

A large part of the game consists of customizing your team's mechs and making sure your unit is well rounded and the each mech is well suited to it's pilot's abilities. You can have mechs that specialize in long distance combat that mostly use missiles or grenade launchers, mechs that are heavy brawlers that basically use hand-to-hand combat, mechs that specialize in using 'close range' weapons such as machine guns or rifles, or balanced mechs that do well in a little bit of both close range and long range. In fact most of your close range mechs will probably have some form of long range attack for most of the game.

Even though the amount of customization you can do is fairly comprehensive it never really feels overwhelming once you get a feel for it. This is probably because you're only really setting them up to fulfill only 3 or maybe 4 roles in combat. That may not sound like much but it's actually just about right in my opinion. This is a good game to pick up if you want a decent amount of depth to the strategy but don't want to deal with something super complex that will eat up hours in just the planning phase of how you set up your team. I've played 'tactics' style strategy games where it does get to be rather overwhelming to set up all of your characters and if you put the game down for a while and pick it back up a few months later you really feel lost because you forgot what you were doing with your two dozen or so characters and whatnot.

As for the strategy game play itself it's pretty good. It certainly isn't the most difficult I've encountered but there are some missions that pose a decent challenge. You'll probably be fairly familiar with how the enemy AI behaves by the time you've progressed a good way through the game which will provide you with a distinct advantage in the face of superior firepower but even so a good grasp for tactics and planning how you will accomplish your goals is the most important key to victory. Just spreading your forces out and attacking at random is going to lead you into trouble. It really helps to know what each of your mechs is capable of so you can have them properly support one another in combat.

And once again I feel like the depth is just about right in terms of game play as well. It's a good introduction to this type of turn based strategy gaming or it could serve as a good strategy game for when you don't feel like getting into something so complicated it takes months to slough through. This is the type of game that if you play it for the first hour or so you'll likely come back until you finish it rather than getting bored and abandoning it half way through.

I definitely recommend this game to any strategy fan who gets a chance to play it. In addition to the solid game play and well managed depth it's a well polished game with a nice sense of atmosphere and aesthetics.

Now if only Square would get on that American release of Front Mission 5. I've heard it's probably one of the best in the series according to many.

No comments:

Post a Comment