A solid and surprisingly deep strategy game, with 60 missions available to keep you busy( for a good 40 hours or so).

User Rating: 8.5 | Front Mission 4 PS2
I went in to this one not looking for a lot. I have never played any of the Front Mission games, of which there have been a few. Still, I was hoping for some solid, strategic gameplay, along with some in-depth customizations to my team. Phantom Brave looked fun, especially after the fun I had with Disgaea, but it looked a little too messy for my tastes (read the review on Gamespot for a description of the "square-less" battlefield. I had just completed Final Fantasy Tactics: Advance, and I was hoping for something a little more challenging. I figured that Front Mission 4 comes from Square Enix, who will always hold a fond place in my heart for the gem that is Final Fantasy Tactics, so it was worth my money (30 bucks when I picked it up a few weeks ago). I was pleasantly surprised by this game's depth, and the smooth ramping up of the game's difficulty and complexity. There are just about 60 missions to play through, with 30 of them being repeatable. However, don't expect to get much in the way of rewards for playing repeatable maps over-and-over again. The game scales experience to your character's levels, so it is very difficult to get your party a lot stronger than they "should" be. The action is split between two different teams; both will eventually build up to 6 members. Having two teams, with access to different sorts of technology -- at least superficially, only a few pieces of gear actually differentiate the two teams -- allows for a variety of different strategies to try out on your various wanzers. There are a few issues with various menus not working as efficiently as I would like, especially when you are trying to customize a wanzer with parts in your inventory as well as store-bought equipment. Other than that, the controls are simply and straight-forward. By the end of the game, your teams of giant robot-tanks have become satisfyingly powerful, and the gameplay only gets more enjoyable as you sink your teeth into the later stages of the game. The graphics are a mixed bag. They are fairly crisp, and the animations are quite nice. The wanzers look great, and the engine used to render combat gives a real visceral sense to the whole experience. Unfortunately, the game is very gray. Even when carving your way through the jungles of Venezuela, expect to see a lot of gray. A few of the city levels are very nice, and the tones are lightened up a bit. It is fun to see a wanzer going marching past a row of trees, or jump up onto an apartment building to get a clean shot. The music is decent, but fairly repetitive (this doesn't really bother me much, but some people might complain). The voice acting is also so-so, not especially bad, but nothing to get excited about. In conclusion, if you are looking for a strategy game to spend some time on, with decent customization options, a decent storyline, clean graphics, and some giant robots, I highly recommend this game. Be careful, though! You might just lose a few weekends of your life to this game! :)

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