Big stompy mechs and even bigger explosions, Front Mission Evolved should be one of the best games of the year, and it is undeniably a good game, it just doesn’t manage to go any further than that.
It starts with the lead character, Dylan Ramsey learning the ropes of his new mech, known as a Wanzer in 2171 Earth. The training level neatly folds into the opening act of the game in one of the best examples of how a game should do a training level without shoving it ham-fisted down your throat and breaking the immersion. Front Mission should be applauded for weaving the training level into the game so well, it is just a shame that you don’t learn about the ‘E.D.G.E’ mode which makes fights a tad easier. EDGE mode is a slow-mo and damage-multiplier in one, a very useful tool when in bigger fights.
The battles are not easy, they may big loud and brash like a Transformers movie but they suffer from a strong case of sensory overload. You see, your Wanzer can take a maximum of four weapons into battle, all of which can be used at the same time, a fun bit of trickery with the mouse and the Q and E buttons. It is all well and good when you have one or two opponents, but when the numbers start to rise you will find yourself struggling to know what is happening as you try to keep your machine gun from over-heating and getting a target-lock with your missiles while at the same time scouting around for other enemies visually and on your mini-map and finally trying to gauge how much damage your Wanzer has taken. There is too much going on, and it can get wearisome when you suddenly die from a single shot from a Sniper Wanzer during the early levels.
Several times I would enter a new section, die and on loading at the checkpoint get quickly despatched by a Sniper before I was able to engage the other units moving in to attack me. Frustration is the word that springs to mind. On the bright side of things the combat is certainly meaty, both in your Wanzer and in the few sections on foot, with explosions raging all around you certainly feel like you are taking your place in the all out war between the USC and the myriad of groups attacking you.
Between missions you are able to alter you Wanzer as you see fit with the money the USC military brass award you destroying the enemy. You can trick your metal-suit out with new weaponry and special skills creating a machine adept at anything ranging from long-range sniper battles to up close and personal melee brawls. You don’t have to worry if your mech doesn’t have a colour scheme that is up your street, there is a plethora of customization options here.
Front Mission Evolved is a fun excursion into stompy-stompy robot territory that sadly lacks the finer touches that would make it an essential purchase. If you see it for under £20 I would recommend it, at full price, it doesn’t quite do the job.