Oct 23, 2007
Square Enix is dusting off its large collection of giant robots and compacting them for the Nintendo DS for a compilation package that offers a deep gameplay experience with immense replay value. A repackaging of its NES and PSone Front Mission games, this DS compilation offers tons of gameplay for the thinking man (or woman). Managing and manipulating mechs is as enjoyable as it ever way, and with the unique capabilities of Nintendo's handheld system, it's much more accessible.
The game tells an elaborate tale of two warring factions that are fighting it out in a futuristic version of Earth - you know, that grim, gritty, and bleak setting that many videogames purport to be our future. Really though, it's just an excuse to control some heavy machinery and blow opposing robots up to heaven. One of the great things about this package is that you get to play as both sides, allowing you to experience the story and machinery of each faction.
Battling mechs is a highly strategic type of turn-based combat. The pace is deliberate and lots of thought is involved. On the battlefield, you'll need to blend melee, range, and support units for a winning formula. Off the field, you'll spend a great deal of time acquiring new mech parts and optimizing your team for the next battle. Some players might be surprised that the game feels like a Japanese strategy RPG, but instead of fighters, archers, and clerics you have robots that fight, robots that shoot things, and robots that repair. Being mindful of ideal parts, various terrain effects, special attacks, and stats is a fun but heady affair.
Front Mission is much more at home on the DS than a home console. Having a dedicated map screen is extremely convenient and helps each battle move faster. The developers also added a ton of touchscreen controls, which sometimes work and sometimes don't. There are a few commands that require multiple taps and menu shuffling that are simply easier to carry out with a traditional control scheme.
While Front Mission definitely has fantastic depth and replay value, it's not for everyone. This is a repackaging of two old games and sometimes they really just feel old. Outside of outfitting the game for the DS, there aren't any modernizations that help the game appeal to today's players. All that said, if you know you're getting into a heady, deliberate, and involved game then you'll be rewarded well by Front Mission.