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Front Mission: Evolved


Front Mission is a long running series from Square Enix (from as far back as when they were Squaresoft). Evolved is the series' first foray into the current generation of consoles, and is also a drastic change in game style. Traditionally the Front Mission games have been turn based strategy games, where you're in control of a squad of soldiers, each one pilots a mech, and the mech can be outfitted with all kind of different parts. The most standout aspect of it was that each of the mechs was completely customizable. You can replace the legs, and arms, as well as choose what weapons to equip in either hand, as well as either shoulder.

Evolved keeps that same level of customization, but instead puts it into a third person shooter. You now play as just one man, driving a mech, kicking butt and taking names. Your mech, or "wanzer" as they're called in the game, is a formidable piece of hardware, easily a match for most tanks, helicopters, and other traditional war machines, it can jump on top of buildings, and strafe while firing. However, as far as shooters go, your mech moves very slow, which makes sense since it weighs 50 tons or so, it just can't hop around as quickly as you can in Army of Two or Rainbow Six, which takes some getting used to. You do have a dash button that you can press, which allows you skate around much faster, but you can only do it for a minute or so before you overheat. Additionally, all of your guns overheat, you can't just hold the trigger until you run out of ammo. As a result, it feels like a much slower more deliberate shooter than most of the other options out there.

The real fun comes once you've gotten a ways into teh game, and have unlocked a variety of weapons and wanzer parts. From a menu, you're able to pick from several prebuilds (Sniper, Medium Assault, Ballistics, etc.), or you can go through and pick each piece by hand to make it exactly like you want. At first I was a little disappointed that you had so few opportunities to change your load out, I wanted something like Rainbow Six Vegas where you found points throughout the level where you could change your gear, but I found out that after you die, you can choose to customize your mech, and then reload from the last checkpoint. That's a great feature, if like me, you chose the Sniper build first thing, and then walked into an ambush in a fort where you were in close quarters, once you die, you can respawn as a heavy assault and take care of business. It would have been nice if they'd given you the option from the pause menu if you want to change things up.

Occasionally they mix things up, by having you run around on foot, outside of your awesome mech. These portions are really nothing special, just another third person shooter, but they aren't awful, and they certainly don't seem to be particularly frustrating. One thing that always bugs me about games where you pilot something, and then they also give you the option to go out on foot. I really want to be able to get out of my vehicle at any point. If I'm driving my mech down a canyon, and I see a set of stairs that goes up to a doorway, I really want to be able to just hop out, climb the stairs, and see what's in there. Very few games give you that kind of freedom, which is too bad.

All in all, I really enjoyed this Front Mission, I would love to have a more traditional version as well, but I won't complain about a decent mech shooter being on the market. As it is, it's going into my list of games to buy, and I'm sending it back to Gamefly.

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