Front Mission: Evolved is a revival of the old Front Mission series that many Japanese players know and love. The love that has unfortunately withered away with this title as Square have 'Westernised' it to promote to, funnily enough, the West. We got our hands on the multiplayer demo at Square's E3 booth to take a look at the gameplay that has upset many of Front Mission's old followers.
Diving straight into the game, i could see remnants of the old Front Mission games through the weapon selections and mech designs but sadly this is where it ended. The 'Westernisation' of the game has stripped the game of all of it's tactical RPG roots and turned it into a run and gun shooter. I would've preferred a more tactical approach to the actiony shooter i saw before me but it still had hope of bringing me around.
Controlling the robot was easy enough, it moved and responded just like any other third person character in a shooter would. Left analogue to move, right analogue to look, the only variation being in the other buttons. The two trigger and bumper buttons were all used for weapons which were pre-chosen by whoever set up the demo. It would've been nice to choose different weapons but the three options were enough to get a taste of what the game is all about.
Another feature that the Mechs have is their jetpacks, clicking in the right analogue stick will thrust the mech across the battlefield gracefully to get the drop on their opponent. The trouble is, everyone else was armed with these too, the turning cycle of each mech is very slow so an opponent zooming off to the side is a big problem in the game. Many would argue that this is a tactical move and that hit and run tactics are the way to go, i would argue that it's just plain annoying.
Going back to the weapons, we were shown three different ways of attacking the opponent, the first and simplest way to attack is to stand next to an opponent and punch them with robotic fists. This is not very effective as the force of the punch will change the Mech's direction and also leaves it vulnerable to attack during the animation. The machine gun is simple enough, it is primarily used to wittle down an opponent's health between other, more powerful attacks. The last, most powerful, weapon was a hail of rockets, players had to hold down a button to target their opponent and fire rockets at them, the longer it is held, the more rockets that are fired, it is these that cause the most damage.
Overall the gameplay was solid, the Mechs were easily controlled and using the weapons was pretty straight forward. The multiplayer aspect of it however was a tad boring, playing as the same robot with the same weapons and abilities was a little underwhelming. The game looks great however and with the inclusion of power-ups found on the battlefield and with different weapons and tactics, the game could be just as great as its predecessors. It is just hard to say whether the more action orientated approach could please the fans of the tactical days of old.
The game will be fully available later on this year in September, i just hope that the single player campaign will be less tedious than its multiplayer.