Not too long ago, Square Enix sent over a playable demo of Front Mission 4, the upcoming entry in the hallowed strategy series rarely seen in the US. Though the series may have been somewhat neglected in the past, the fourth game is getting the royal localization treatment, and we spoke to director Toshiro Tsuchida about its impending release in America.
For the uninitiated, the Front Mission series focuses on hardcore turn-based strategy involving giant bipedal war machines called wanzers. These aren't the weird organic mechs of Evangelion--think "giant tank with legs" and you're on the right track. These wanzers can be heavily customized: The body type, arms, legs, shoulder-mounted weapons, and other components can all be mixed and matched for the best combat results. Front Mission 4 will introduce a new system in the game called the backpack system, which will allow you to repair other units during a battle. You'll also be able to call in tactical air stikes at certain times, and we were told these new gameplay elements will help deepen the strategic possibilities in battle.
In plot terms, Front Mission 4 will have "distant" ties to previous games but will also be wholly enjoyable for anyone who's new to the series. Several characters from the very first game on the Super Famicom will even make an appearance, though that detail may not be relevant to you if you don't speak Japanese.
In any event, it seems Square Enix is finally giving the Front Mission series the attention it deserves. The US version of the game will have a "full set" function that will allow you to use wanzers with preconfigured armaments; this feature will let you get into the action more quickly, as it were, though you may have better results by customizing your own wanzer. For more on Front Mission 4, check out our recent demo impressions, and look for even more when the game ships in June.