Front Mission Evolved
Mechs invade Xbox 360 and PS3, courtesy of Square-Ennix: but are they killer machines, or bumbling toasters?
Robots and mechs are cool. It’s a fact of life that saw the rise of Transformers, and is so ingrained in our culture that even a Michael Bay/Megan Fox tag team failed to kill our fascination with big metal things ripping into each other.
- Solid multiplayer experience, mechs will always be cool
- Single player is boring, doesn’t really feel like you’re controlling a mech
As a standard shooter, Front Mission Evolved misses a huge opportunity, but the core mechanics are there, and if you get into the multiplayer, you’re going to have a good time.
It’s this attraction that Square-Ennix is banking on with Front Mission Evolved. In most ways, it’s a standard third-person shooter, but rather than control a mere human, you’re controlling a human sitting in a “Wanzer” (temptation to insert a ‘g’ rising) mech. In the end, though, it’s quite a superficial coat of digital paint.
Name aside, Wanzers don’t seem to have any real tricks that virtual humans aren’t capable of, unfortunately. They can glide across the ground in short bursts, but other than that, Front Mission is just a shiny, standard shooter. You select your weapon loadout before heading into a level (taking into account that too many weapons and armour will slow you down to a snail’s pace), and then blow stuff up.
If we’re being completely honest, developers Double Helix Games missed a real opportunity here. Despite the Wanzers towering over the surrounding buildings, tanks and people, at no stage do you feel particularly powerful. The Wanzer can take a fair bit of punishment, but then again, so can the heroes of most shooters.
The single-player mode in Evolved isn’t very evolved at all. It’s short and high energy, but ultimately quite shallow and has limited replay value. That said, it was clearly designed as a training ground for the multiplayer mode, which comprises the main meat of the game.
In concept the multiplayer mode is awesome – the levels are well designed, and once you get hooked, you’re going to plug in a lot of hours to level your profile all the way to level 70. There’s a lot of customisation you can do with your characters, and in team mode there’s a great deal of team strategy that can be built around the unique roles of those builds.
But here’s the rub – the game’s been out a little while now, and the online user base has settled down into its comfort zone. The people still playing tend to be really good, and have access to all kinds of toys and tricks a newbie is not going to understand.
In multiplayer, a great level of skill and control over the Wanzer is needed to succeed, and when the action heats up (which is often, given that the maps are quite small) the game becomes somewhat discouraging.
While I freely admit that I’m new to this kind of game and didn’t expect to excel online initially, it was quite a few matches before my kill/death ratio was even remotely reasonable. That’s discouraging for newbies, and will put many off what is essentially the main component of the game.
Once you become more confident in your abilities, however, Front Mission Evolved is a classy shooter. For it to properly compete with other online shooters though, like Call of Duty: Black Ops, it probably needed to be a little more accessible in the early stages.
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