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Front Mission
Front Mission: Gun Hazard

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Front Mission 2
Front Mission Alternative
Front Mission 3

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Front Mission 4
Front Mission 5
Front Mission Online

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Front Mission 2089
Front Mission Evolved
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Front Mission 2 (フロントミッション セカンド) - PlayStation, PlayStation 3 PSN, PlayStation Portable PSN (1997)

Cover

Front Mission 2 was released for the Sony PlayStation in 1997, roughly three years after the console's launch. By this time G-Craft had been absorbed into Square Inc., and the game marked the series' ambitious entry into 3D graphics.

Set in 2102, Front Mission 2 depicts the events of a coup d'tat in Alordesh (Bangladesh with a name change), an OCU member state. It features an ensemble cast and follows the stories of three main characters, which eventually come together for the game's climax. Taking place in one country in one month, this is arguably the most sophisticated story of all Front Mission games, more focused spatially than Front Mission 3's globe-spanning plot and temporally than Scars of the War's decade-spanning tale. The unique structure of the story is augmented by the contents it portrays. Weighty questions like the nature of revolution and colonial dependency are discussed as Alordesh goes through a bloody civil war that has consequences extending beyond its own borders.

Characters

Front Mission 2's visual presentation was well composed for the time of its release. Jun Suemi's (Wizardry) elegant artwork ventured into gritty realism, a trend continued by the future entries. The 3D graphics were state-of-the-art for its time, with the main highlight being the battle sequences. Front Mission 2 made these more realistic; combatants maneuvered around the battlefield for attacking and evading attacks. Unfortunately, this resulted in long load times and consequently was removed in future entries. (Front Mission 5: Scars of the War retains some of these elements, though.) The game's backdrops and full-motion videos (FMV) help bring Alordesh to life and do an excellent job of conveying the depressing atmosphere. Despite its technical shortcomings, Front Mission 2's highly engaging visual presentation is one of its strong points.

Complementing the beautiful visuals, Front Mission 2's aural presentation is equally as impressive. Noriko Matsueda returns as the game's composer and creates a score that is an excellent fit for the settings. Aside from several arrangements of tracks from the original Front Mission, like "Terrible Density", the game's score is largely atmospheric. Through clever usage of ambient sounds, it does an outstanding job of keeping the game suspenseful, intense, and most of all, engaging. Players can easily imagine themselves as being participants in the civil war as it unfolds and reaches its climax. The sound effects augment the musical score in that it ventures into realism as opposed to the sci-fi sounds of the original Front Mission. Shotguns sound like shotguns, jet engines sound like jet engines, and so on. The explosion sounds are also very powerful, especially when heard through sound speakers.

Front Mission 2 is a major leap forward from the original Front Mission in game mechanics as it allowed for greater tactical complexity, and a sense of scale unrivaled in the entire series. The main innovation was the Action Points (AP) system, which dictated how many times units could act. As all actions needed AP, this made the player think carefully about decisions like positioning or attacking. Another key feature is the Honor system, which encouraged teamwork to defeat enemies. To help players immerse themselves into the game world, a Network feature was added, which acts like a pseudo-Internet system with websites and forums. Also new to the game is the job system. Each pilot has a role they're good at and training in other areas is discouraged (like greatly reduced accuracy). Weapons have also been changed and are well balanced this time around thanks to the hitting property system.

Other additions such as removable skills, armor coating, and flanking helped make Front Mission 2 the series' most complex game until Scars of the War. In terms of scale, it boasts an enormous scope of battles. Most missions pit the player against 20 or more enemies, have many objectives to fulfill, and require hours to complete. The player can plan out their approach through briefings, which are improved in that battlefields can be viewed. In this sense, the game transcends most genre offerings by allowing players to think on a strategic and a tactical level. Combined with its steep learning curve and complex play mechanics, Front Mission 2 is arguably the most hardcore entry in the series.

Front Mission 2 hits the right notes on a lot of areas, particularly in story and game design. However, due to its design, the game has significant user accessibility issues. The long load times in the battle sequences are a problem and unless one has the Ultimate Hits version (which comes with battle skipping), can't be skipped. The complex nature of the game mechanics as well as the massive scale missions can overwhelm players. Even getting money in the Arena is a challenge due to its scaling difficulty. Luckily, there is an in-depth tutorial system in place that helps explain the complex game mechanics. Its flaws aside, Front Mission 2 is a pivotal entry in that it lays the groundwork, in terms of story and game design, for the future installments. Many game mechanics are expanded upon in other Front Missions. From the story aspect, the game foreshadows numerous stories that are seen in the later entries.

Front Mission 2 was released only in Japan and never considered for localization overseas. Whether it was due to the steep, complex play mechanics or its mature, controversial content (like the implied homosexuality of one of the main characters) at the time, it's a shame that the game was never localized. Fortunately, a group of loyal long-time fans of the series (detailed further in the article) are working on an unofficial English localization of the game.

Quick Info:

Developer:

SquareSoft

Publisher:

SquareSoft

Director:

Hideo Iwasaki

Genre:

Strategy

Themes:

Mechas!
Military


Front Mission 2 (PlayStation)

Front Mission 2 (PlayStation)

Front Mission 2 (PlayStation)

Front Mission 2 (PlayStation)

Front Mission 2 (PlayStation)

Front Mission 2 (PlayStation)



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Front Mission Alternative (フロントミッション オルタナティブ) - PlayStation, PlayStation 3 PSN, PlayStation Portable PSN (1997)

Cover

Developed alongside Front Mission 2, Front Mission Alternative was finished months after the former's release. Released in 1997 for the PlayStation, the game is a real-time strategy (RTS) spin-off. It was made to help recoup the large development costs used in making Front Mission 2.

Front Mission Alternative is the earliest entry in the canon timeline, set decades before the other installments. The story revolves around the African Conflict in 2034 and details the beginnings of the wanzer as a military-use weapon.

Characters

Front Mission Alternative, in terms of graphical power, is on equal footing with Front Mission 2 due to sharing the same development tools. It does differ in a number of areas; load times are much faster, the battlefields are fully in 3D, and the frame rates are rock-solid. The game's art is handled by Ryuichiro Kutsuzawa (Wachenroder) and continues the trend of gritty realism started in Front Mission 2. It's not as beautiful as Jun Suemi's work in the aforementioned installment, but it's a decent fit nonetheless. Music, on the other hand, is a real oddity in that disc jockey (DJ) Riow Arai composed Front Mission Alternative. The techno tracks Arai composes certainly feels a bit out of place with the settings. Certainly there are great tracks, such as "Airport" and "Ending", but one should approach the whole score with an open mind. The sound effects, fortunately, are more natural fit with the game.

As an RTS, Front Mission Alternative's options are limited. Players only control a platoon's movement, their behavior, and how they attack. The real depth in the game lies in its other features. The new range system allows ranged weapons to act like such; accuracy is now affected by range. Weapon functionality is also changed, like grenades firing in an arc-like trajectory. Auxiliary backpacks have also been greatly expanded upon, from anti-missile guns to night vision scopes. Players can also call in air support to repair wanzers and reload ammo. Front Mission Alternative also retains 2's job system with some changes. Through point allocation, the player controls their characters' roles. Instead of randomly activated skills, role proficiency yields abilities that the AI uses in combat. Finally, briefings return; in addition to viewing battlefields, players can now review mission details from enemies to topography.

In many ways, the "Alternative" moniker is a proper fit for this series entry. There are a lot of things it experiments with and if it weren't for the story elements, this game wouldn't be Front Mission. These experiments aren't exclusive to Front Mission Alternative though. Many of them make their way into the future titles in more refined forms. Some of the notable ones are the range system (Front Mission 3, 4, 5), diverse auxiliary backpacks (4 and 5), and ability-oriented job system (Front Mission Online). The game is also the first to have branching mission paths and multiple endings, as well as a ranking system complete with rewards. Even though Front Mission Alternative can be cleared faster than the other entries, these features make it worth replaying. It may not be the deepest RTS, but it does a good job of introducing newcomers to the genre.

Front Mission Alternative was released only in Japan. However, a group of loyal long-time fans of the series (detailed further in the article) are working on an unofficial English localization of the game.

Quick Info:

Developer:

SquareSoft

Publisher:

SquareSoft

Genre:

Strategy

Themes:

Mechas!
Military


Front Mission Alternative (PlayStation)

Front Mission Alternative (PlayStation)

Front Mission Alternative (PlayStation)

Front Mission Alternative (PlayStation)

Front Mission Alternative (PlayStation)


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Front Mission 3 (フロントミッション サード) - PlayStation, PlayStation 3 PSN, PlayStation Portable PSN (1999)

Japanese Cover

American Cover

European Cover

Two years after the release of the previous Front Mission entry, Front Mission 3 was released on the PlayStation in 1999. It also has the distinction of being the first game in the series to receive localizations outside of Japan.

Taking place in 2112, the story of Front Mission 3 is split into two scenarios: the Da Han Zhong (DHZ) and the USN. What's unique about the scenarios is that they never link up and as a result, can be considered full-fledged stories. Both scenarios share a number of major events however so their stories are somewhat the same in this sense. The main focus of the stories revolves around a new USN weapon codenamed the M.I.D.A.S.

Characters

To rectify the load times of Front Mission 2, Front Mission 3's graphics take a step back from its predecessor's visual prowess. For example, battle sequences now take place on the map itself (by zooming in on a specific area) without having to load another area like in past entries. Art direction is handled by Akihiro Yamada. (RahXephon) The character artwork is attractive, but their 3D models are bland in comparison. Koji Hayama (Cho Aniki) and Hayato Matsuo (Ogre Battle) composed the score for Front Mission 3. As in the first game, there's a contrast of styles between Hayama's electronic pieces like "Scout Unit" and Matsuo's orchestral tracks like "Determination". The game is also the first entry to have voice-overs, with languages including English, Japanese, and Russian. Lastly, the sound effects get some changes, but are less powerful as a whole compared to Front Mission 2.

Front Mission 3 is a regression of its predecessor's strategic depth and opts for simplicity. Missions have been greatly reduced in scale; battlefields are much smaller, players can only use four units max, and enemy numbers hover around eight at most. There's no job system to encourage role specialization as well. Skills are now learned by equipping wanzer parts this time around. Some features such as Front Mission 2's Action Points and Alternative's range system return, but in more simplified forms. Despite these changes, the game does have new features. Pilots can board, dismount, or be forcefully ejected from their machines. Players can upgrade their wanzers' abilities, albeit in a linear fashion. The Battle Simulator lets players train their pilots on virtual battlefields to gain money and experience. If a character is attacked, there's a random chance that they'll be ejected from their mech. Essentially this just causes them to lose a turn, but it's possible to kill a pilot when they're unprotected, or even hijack enemy mechs. Enemies can also surrender if they feel the odds are too stacked against them (usually when their arms are blown off) and their mechs can be nabbed after you've won. In turn, you can sell it for scrap, use the parts to equip other mechs, or even put one of your own pilots in it. Lastly, the Network from Front Mission 2 is greatly expanded upon, like the new e-mail feature.

Due to its design shift, Front Mission 3 is arguably the most player-friendly entry in the series. There are not a lot of things to keep track of, and the difficulty is noticeably lower than the previous entries. The game also boasts replay value through its two scenarios, with their distinct stories and cast of characters. Allies in one side become enemies in the other; the outcomes are different, and so on. The return of Alternative's ranking system also adds to this, with bonuses being given for clearing missions efficiently. All of this is great for newcomers to the series, but not so much for long-time fans. For the few steps it takes forward, Front Mission 3 takes much more steps backwards in terms of game design. The storytelling also takes steps backwards; there's many "filler" moments in both scenarios, and a lot of characters are too one-dimensional and lack the depth of the usual Front Mission cast.

Front Mission 3 was released in Japan and later localized to North America and Europe. It remains as the only strategy entry released in Europe, and the first of three in North America.

Quick Info:

Developer:

SquareSoft

Publisher:

SquareSoft

Director:

Toshiro Tsuchida

Genre:

Strategy

Themes:

Mechas!
Military


Front Mission 3 (PlayStation)

Front Mission 3 (PlayStation)

Front Mission 3 (PlayStation)

Front Mission 3 (PlayStation)



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<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Intro
Front Mission
Front Mission: Gun Hazard

Page 2:
Front Mission 2
Front Mission Alternative
Front Mission 3

Page 3:
Front Mission 4
Front Mission 5
Front Mission Online

Page 4:
Front Mission 2089
Front Mission Evolved
Other

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