Graphics:
6.9
Gameplay:
6.7
Sound:
6.3
Control:
6.0
Replay Value:
6.5
Online Gameplay:
6.8
Overall Rating:
6.6
Publisher:
Square-Enix
Developer:
Double Helix
Number Of Players:
1-8
Genre:
Action
Release Date:
September 28, 2010


I honestly and truly pried my brain open to accept that one of the best strategy/RPG franchises in history had gone full-on action. I accepted that Square-Enix clearly wanted to overhaul their series so as to cater to the Western crowd, which apparently isn’t interested in strategy, intelligence, or taking one’s time and planning and executing a specific plan. I pushed my many hours of involving time with Front Mission 3 behind me. I turned on Front Mission Evolved with a hopeful expression, expecting to have some fun with giant, relatively fast-moving wanzers and with the intention of becoming a mech master. And yes, I had fun. But this dumbing down of a particular formula is continually obvious throughout the experience and while the mechanics are decent and the game can be intense, it doesn’t reach third-person action nirvana.  Not really close, in fact.

As usual, Square-Enix can produce some finely polished, technically proficient, and even memorable cut-scenes. But unfortunately, the gameplay visuals don’t pass muster, as the characters are mostly bland and uninteresting, and the levels are filled with forgettable city buildings and structures. Most of the time, you don’t even notice your surroundings because there’s a lot going on – and that’s almost a good thing – but when you really pause to look around, the drab, unappealing backgrounds prove to be a detriment. The special effects are pretty cool, though, because high-impact shocks and explosions are really brought to the forefront, and that helps. It just needed another level of flash and panache that would’ve allowed the action to leap off the screen; instead, it looks a lot like most other mech games- dark and kinda boring. It can also be difficult to spot your enemies amidst the backdrops; the foes can blend into cityscapes.

The voice acting isn’t too bad and the sound effects are definitely in your face (which falls in line with the solid visual effects), but the soundtrack doesn’t do the game justice. If we’re going to be piloting the most deadly killing machines in the history of mankind, and every encounter is loaded with massive, crushing impact, shouldn’t we have a rousing musical accompaniment? The classical original score isn’t bad, per se, but we hardly ever notice it’s there, even during significant battles. The voices for some characters are good while others are mediocre, the effects are sharp and certainly fit the explosive nature of the game, and Double Helix misses a chance to improve the experience with a forceful soundtrack. Still, all that being said, I suppose it really does sound like mech combat. It’s good to emphasize a positive, right?

And speaking of good news, let’s start with that concerning the gameplay. The single biggest obstacle for action-intensive mech shooters has always centered on the controls: typically, they’re slow, clunky and awkward. Now, while wanzers are indeed large and pretty ungainly – hence, a bit of “clunkiness” should be expected and accepted – we still require responsiveness and reliability. Thankfully, you can indeed rely on the controls in Front Mission Evolved . The gliding option, engaged by simply pressing the Circle button, allows you to move about quickly and easily, and jumping and hovering involves a few simple presses of the X button. The R2 and L2 triggers handle the actions of the right and left arms respectively (if no weapon is equipped, it’s a melee attack), and the shoulder buttons…well, they control the shoulders of your wanzer. It all works pretty well, and I want to make that clear.

The other positive aspect centers on the great customization options. You can outfit your mech with up to four different weapons; one for each arm and shoulder. You’re not allowed to go overboard, though, as you have to respect the weight limits, which is basically the developer’s way of implementing at least some strategy. You can even alter the wanzer’s look by choosing from a variety of cosmetic upgrades, and that includes colors and decals. You will earn money during your travels, which can be spent at the Hanger for all your nifty new weapons, and each of those firearms usually prove themselves in battle. The Shotgun is indeed effective up close, dual-wielding a couple powerful machine guns is damn entertaining, and different missiles are invaluable. You can even outfit your wanzer with some crucial upgrades, such as hover legs, that are required for certain stages.

But in the end, the production fails to capture one’s attention. Look, they’re not going to get any of the original Front Mission fans back, because almost any small semblance of strategy has disappeared. You just clomp and zip around, shooting at most anything that moves, snagging ammo and health power-ups, battling a few challenging bosses here and there, following an okay storyline, watching a few well-orchestrated cut-scenes, and buying a few things here and there. It gets old fast because the action doesn’t quite deliver in all respects, as the camera can prove problematic and each encounter feels a whole lot like the last. They try to spice things up with a bit more diversity; for instance, you will find yourself on foot in particular missions, but they’re barely average and do little to captivate the player. There’s no cover system, not a heck of a lot of depth involved with the combat, and in general, a total lack of a brain. That’d be okay if they had put a huge amount of effort into fine-tuning the brainless parts, but that didn’t really happen.  So who wins, here?

There is a multiplayer option with four different modes, but it’s just more of the same. Human opponents are more fun to battle but I’m not sure anyone is going to get a whole lot of mileage out of the multiplayer experience. I really do understand the intention behind the franchise’s overhaul but sadly, it just doesn’t work as well as it could’ve. I’m just not sure who they’re going to satisfy. The strategy/RPG fans won’t touch it with a ten-foot cattle prod and the action fans don’t usually flock to mech titles, which dominate the Japanese culture but aren’t as big here. Besides, it’s just “meh” for most gamers looking for an intense third-person experience. It can be fun, the controls are about as good as you could hope for, the story and voiceover work isn’t terrible, and some of the battles will keep you interested for a while. But beyond that, Front Mission Evolved won’t be able to compete against the heavy hitters this fall.

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piratedrunk
piratedrunk
10 years ago

Front Mission 3 was one of my favorite games of all time. This doesn't appeal to me at all. Oh well thanks for the review Ben at least you confirmed my fears about the game.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

Well, I was never into this series but I think it's safe to consider it yet another reason not to destroy strategy in games.

Hezzron
Hezzron
10 years ago

Looks like turn-based fans might have to settle for a checker board this gen.

Naztycuts
Naztycuts
10 years ago

Im not familiar with the franchise, but it saddens me to learn another great game has fallen prey to Westernization.

So are the Japanese developers going to run all of their franchises into the ground with their infatuation with the West? When will they realize we liked the games we used to buy the hell out of 10 years ago? We liked them because of their differences

BikerSaint
BikerSaint
10 years ago

Another game that SE's been flushing down their toilet.

They had better not f*ck up my beloved Deus Ex series too!!!!

Gordo
Gordo
10 years ago

For some reason I keep wanting to call this game:

"Front Bottom Evolved"…

Must be something Freudian there somewhere?

Alienange
Alienange
10 years ago

So it's cool but it's boring. Damn. It's like no one knows how to make a good mech game anymore.

chewy102
chewy102
10 years ago

I was hoping for more but this was expected. IMO R.A.D. (Robot Alchemic Drive) is still the best giant mech game that can be played (ps2 game). No other mech game has matched the feeling that game gave me.

off topic
@Ben
Are you going to revisit MAG? Seeing how the 2.0 update just about made it an entirely new game Id say it needs it.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

I liked Iron Soldier.

Arvis
Arvis
10 years ago

I felt that way about Armored Core 3.

-Arvis

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

We might revisit MAG on its 1-year anniversary.

chewy102
chewy102
10 years ago

Haven't played Iron Soldier so I can't comment on that. May have to look it up.

As for AC games, most of them where great! But IMO they don't don't have the feeling of giant mechs when you can zip all over the map, boosters or not.

I don't know if you guys played RAD but you should at least look it up on youtube (not many videos). The voice acting may be horrible and the controls take a bit to learn but nothing else has gameplay like that.

BikerSaint
BikerSaint
10 years ago

I hate to say it but the original xbox's "Steel Battalion" using the massive 3 part, 40-button controller was the only Mech game I ever liked.

And now Capcom's going to screw that series up too, with a new Steel Battalion series re-boot that's going to utilize the frigging Kinect.

Yeah, I can see it now, standing in front of my TV acting like some kind of simple-minded spazamatic ogre….instead of allowing me to use my $200 controller, which BTW was made "ONLY" for that Steel Battalion games.

Thanks so Capcom & M$…..you A-holes!!!!!


Last edited by BikerSaint on 10/1/2010 12:06:28 AM

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

wow, never heard of that, I'd like to play it but I ain't buying any accessories for my old xbox

Arvis
Arvis
10 years ago

I've played it. It's a novelty. Not really a particularly good game.

-Arvis

BikerSaint
BikerSaint
10 years ago

World,
The Steel Battalion game itself was so-so, but what made it fun was the massive 3-part hand controller, & the separate foot pedals controller. Anf the bundle is quite a collectible now. They were about $220 when they first came out, but they just re-did a limited supply of them again a few years ago, so I saw the newer bundle(with the 2nd MP mode only game) going for around $150 and up.

Anyway, when I say the controller is massive, I mean it IS massive, & just the hand controller part is 3 foot across.

Check the game here, & then click on the controller pic to get a idea of how monstrous this thing is.

They made a second SB game, and even though I have both, I never played the 2nd one cause it was a on-line multi-player only game.
And now Capcom's ruined the whole series by making it a frigging kinect only game

Check out here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steel_Battalion

___________
___________
10 years ago

oh dear its not looking good for $E!
please $E PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!
PLEASE GO BACK TO WHAT MADE YOU FAMOUS, GO BACK TO MAKING PROPER TRADITIONAL RPGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

KNG201
KNG201
10 years ago

SE is so f'n stupid they could of made (& still can) mad money IF they just make a FF7 remake….wesrenizing is costing more then it would to remake it…square penis

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago

Thanks ben. looks like i can cross this one off my 2010 backlog list. any thing that came out before today goes officialy one my backlog list so i can only get the games that come out the rest of the year starting with WWE SD! vs Raw 11, The Sims 3 and one more yet to pick game.

A2K78
A2K78
10 years ago

I had no problem Square Enix doing an action-based FM title, but its a shame the game wasn't done in-house.

As for the review, I wasn't that suprised as I already saw this game having crap written on it at the time of announcement.

Underdog15
Underdog15
10 years ago

I was hoping to try this game out a bit, but there are just WAY too many gaming experiences on my plate than I have time for… and all with better review scores than this.

I gotta say… even if I am a fan of the franchise, I'll probably be skipping this either for a long time or completely and entirely.

Oyashiro
Oyashiro
10 years ago

It's Double Helix… What did you expect?

berserk
berserk
10 years ago

Maybe one day they will understand not to change what work .They are not good at trying new stuff anymore .

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