The tactical Front Mission series is reborn as a third-person shooter that boasts decent action, but can't quite compete with the best in the genre.
- A fast-paced Front Mission reboot minus the RPG gameplay of previous games
- Solid mission variety and gameplay mechanics
- Tons of customization options
- Uninspired multiplayer that isn't very satisfying
- Bland, forgettable story
- Few new ideas to be found
Front Mission Evolved may be one of the most misleadingly named games released in a long time. You’d expect the game to be well, an evolution, of the long-running Front Mission franchise. But this is not a natural extension of the games before it – Front Mission Evolved throws out almost everything and relaunches the series as a third-person shooter.
Front Mission Rebuilt?
Scrapping the turn-based, tactical RPG gameplay of the majority of the previous games, Evolved plays and feels a lot like last generation’s MechAssault franchise. Piloting giant mechs called Wanzers, you’ll wade into arenas of third-person combat and lay waste to hordes of enemies that pop up with guns blazing. Other than the fact that you’re a giant robot and not a hulking space marine, Evolved also doesn’t play dissimilar to a cover-free version of Gears of War. Sure, you’ll be upgrading your Wanzer with new parts between missions, but you’re still just shooting enemies at the end of the day.
Gears and Pistons of War
But just because the Front Mission franchise has been transparently recreated with more mainsteam appeal in mind doesn’t make Evolved a bad game. While definitely not innovative, it’s a rock-solid shooter that delivers consistent action throughout its roughly eight-hour campaign. Unlike many Mech games, Evolved wisely varies the action, which can tend to feel a little plodding (even though Wanzers are a little zippier than most other Mechs). There are a few on-foot sections and a few turret-based segments sprinkled about the campaign and break up the gameplay. Again, these diversions are nothing innovative, but they’re every bit as well-built as the rest of the game and give the campaign a nicely paced flow.
While there’s little to complain about in the campaign, multiplayer doesn’t come across as quite so sturdy. It’s mostly fine, but fine doesn’t cut it in the ultra-competitive online area. It has all the bells and whistles you expect from a modern online shooter – unlockable ranks, multiple game modes, leaderboards and so on – but the core gameplay just isn’t as satisfying. When every player is a slow-moving bucket of hit points, online combat just doesn’t feel as visceral, and with spawn point issues and bland maps, there’s no reason this should tear you away from your favorite online shooter.
A Partial Evolution
While Square Enix would clearly gain a whole new audience for Front Mission Evolved than retain the fans of the older games, Evolved at least retains story elements from the previous games. To new players, the conflict between the various factions will come across like forgettable sci-fi nonsense, but series diehards will be pleased to see how the continuing story of the franchise unfolds.
Whether those same fans embrace the change in gameplay remains to be seen. But regardless of whether you’re an old fan or a new player, Front Mission Evolved offers up solid third-person shooter gameplay that may not evolve anything, but will at least keep you entertained throughout its campaign.