Square Enix showed off some footage from Front Mission Online, the newest game in its giant-robot combat series. The game takes the series online for the first time as a real-time combat game, as opposed to a turn-based affair like the previous games in the franchise. Presumably this should make the game play similarly to other robot combat action games like Mechwarrior and Mechassault. Square Enix is also billing the game as a "massively multiplayer tactical action role-playing game." However, it's worth noting that actual battles in the game will be restricted to 10 players per team. The massively multiplayer aspect of the game will primarily come from massive graphical lobbies, reminiscent of Phantasy Star Online. You'll walk around with a graphical avatar who will talk battle strategy with other players, and you'll perform other tasks prior to the next combat mission.
The storyline pits the Oceania Cooperative Union against the Unified Continental States, who are warring for control of a global hot spot called Huffman Island. You can choose to go off and battle as a lone wolf in your own combat robot (or "wanzer"), or set out with teammates from your nation to take on opposing teams in larger battles. Like Square Enix's other MMO game, players on the PlayStation 2 version will be able to play with those who are on the PC version. Voice chat will be implemented to streamline communication among teammates.
Those just starting out in the game must first hone their combat skills against non-player character enemies in training grounds. Once you feel like you're up for the challenge, you can then graduate to fighting for your nation against other players. As you make your way up the ranks of your respective nation, you'll be able to receive missions from your country's central command, and then issue orders to other players. The missions sent from central command will have a tangible effect on which nation controls Huffman Island.
Front Mission Online has already been released on the PlayStation 2 in Japan. A PC version is coming to Japan at a later date, while the ship dates for other regions of the world have not yet been determined. We'll have more information on the game as it becomes available.