As Final Fantasy Tactics is my favorite game of all time, I really loved the old Front Mission titles. Why? Because both were turn-based strategy/RPGs; they both featured that old-school “board” and you positioned and executed various commands with your chosen units. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for such productions so when I heard Double Helix was going to eliminate that style of gameplay and replace it with full-on real-time mech combat, well…needless to say, I was disappointed. However, that being said, Front Mission: Evolved is shaping up quite nicely; it appears the developers are using the extra time – the game was initially expected to arrive this past spring but got pushed into September – to their advantage and the final result could be awfully appealing. Provided this is your bag, Square-Enix might have a solid treat lying in wait up their sleeve…
The main character for the storyline will be Dylan, a rookie wanzer pilot who has the immediate edge because his father was involved in the creation and building of those immense robots. Therefore, being around wanzers all his life, Dylan has an intimate knowledge of their inner workings; their capabilities, the techniques required to take advantage of those capabilities and of course, basic control. But his skills are immediately put to the test when New York City comes under attack when Dylan is taking a test model out for a spin. He knows his father is in danger and turns to the military for help; both are now pitted against the invading forces in a desperate attempt to save the city. Therefore, you had best become acquainted with the gameplay darn quick: the good news is that you won’t have to deal with slow, clunky mech controls, as these particular wanzers are built for both power and speed.
But there will be a wide variety of mechs, so you can pick and choose. Some are designed specifically for agility and long-range attacks while others are more like tanks; they move slowly but can dole out immense amounts of damage. The quick guys are often equipped with a jump pack that lets you leap over obstacles and land atop tall buildings to gain the advantage, in addition to propulsion jets that allow you to move quickly in almost any direction. The long-range weapons include a massive sniper rifle, which lets you zoom in and pick off enemies from a distance, and yes, you can indeed target certain parts of foes if you so desire. Nail an arm to hamper their accuracy (or completely eliminate a weapon), or hit the legs to slow them down considerably. This works both ways, though, as your own wanzer will take damage in specific parts of the body, so upkeep and maintenance will be crucial.
It also means you’ll have to be able to adapt on the fly. And if you’re not the biggest fan of zipping about and fighting from afar, get in a big ol’ tank-like wanzer equipped with missile launchers, machine guns, and enough steel in the body to keep it functioning even in the face of heavy enemy fire. There will be over 10 total wanzer models several dozen different weapons available for each, so there will be shortage of options or firepower. And although we’ve left the turn-based strat/RPG formula behind, the depth is still apparent. In addition to what you’ve already read, bear in mind that all your battle skills will be fully customizable and you can even camouflage your mechs for a wee bit of stealth. Last but not least are the different classes: you can be an assault trooper, a healer or a defender, so don’t think for a second that because it’s now real-time action, we’ve had to sacrifice the depth and strategy. It’ll be there; just…everything will be moving a lot quicker, that’s all. Here’s hoping they get it right and Front Mission: Evolved turns out to be a fun, quality title.