Front Mission Evolved Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
Front Mission Evolved box art
System: PC, PS3, X360 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Double Helix Games 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: PUBLISHER 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Sept. 28, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Big Robots Blowing Things Up
by Robert VerBruggen

There’s nothing wrong with tweaking a beloved series to make it more accessible to the general public. Plenty of great games have come from this process. Just think of Resident Evil 4, Splinter Cell: Conviction, or Civilization V.

Front Mission Evolved screenshot

At some point, however, an adaptation of a franchise is such a departure that it’s not really part of the franchise at all. This is the case with Front Mission Evolved. We understand that Front Mission games haven’t been selling well outside of Japan lately, but if Double Helix wanted to make a third-person mech shooter instead of a tactical RPG, they should have dropped the Front Mission name entirely (as Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light did with the Tomb Raider name). What’s worse, Front Mission Evolved doesn’t even work that well as a third-person shooter.

As the game begins, it’s 2171 on Long Island, and the human race’s latest project is to build “orbital elevators” that spy on their rivals in space. You step into the shoes of Dylan Ramsey, a civilian engineer who designs mechs for a living. He’s testing out a new “wanzer” when he learns that a rival faction has attacked an orbiter that’s near where his father, a scientist, works. He sets out in his creation to make sure his dad is okay. Unfortunately, the enemy destroys the building his father works in, and his father is unable to escape. Ramsey decides to seek revenge.

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As you attempt to get Ramsey some payback, you encounter three different types of gameplay. The first (and most common) involves merely mowing down enemy robots from the relative safety of your mech. Your machine controls smoothly for the most part, and you have an impressive range of options for killing your foes. You can shoot them with a variety of guns, blast them with heat-seeking missiles, or even backhand them with melee attacks. In addition, you can move quickly for brief periods of time to traverse long distances and evade attacks; sometimes, you’re given extended use of this mechanic so you can speed through obstacle courses. Early in the game you gain access to the E.D.G.E. system, which heightens your awareness, slows down time, and allows you to inflict more damage.

Front Mission Evolved screenshot

This basic setup could have lent itself to a phenomenally fun game, but the level design keeps that from happening. In the end, this is more or less an arcade shooter: you simply walk (clank, clank, clank) from one waypoint to another, blasting whatever happens to get in your way, and hiding behind cover whenever you get the chance. While your different methods of attack give you some tactical options, the mech sequences begin to feel stale in a hurry.

In fact, most of the actual strategizing for these sequences happens in between levels, when you decide what setup you’ll use. The range of options is initially impressive; you can choose from a variety of weapons, skills, and armor, and you can customize your mech’s paint job. If you want, you can even put one weapon in each hand and two more on your shoulders. However, you quickly realize that as awesome as a mech equipped with four huge guns would be, it’s not really an option, because your mech has a weight limit. This makes customization a chore, and we normally just went with one of the pre-built mechs instead of trying to build something from scratch. Further, the sniper rifle is dramatically overpowered, so equipping it is half the battle.

Front Mission Evolved screenshot

You’ll also face numerous bosses in your mech. Unfortunately, though, the boss fights are one of the game’s worst features. Most of the battles are manageable in terms of difficulty, thanks to the regenerating health packs that can usually be found nearby, but they drag on for inordinate amounts of time, sometimes fifteen minutes or more. The worst thing a boss fight can do is put the player to sleep, and that’s exactly what happens here.

Screenshots / Images
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