User Rating: 8 | Front Mission 4 PS2
Front Mission 3 was really the game that turned me on to strategy-RPG's, and I've been highly anticipating this sequel. Unfortunately though, it just doesn't compare to its near-perfect predecessor. It's a fun game to be sure; it's just disappointing because I expected so much more. The Good Link System: Allows you to link pilots attacks and defense together causing them to attack the linked pilot's target as long as they have enough AP left, and they're within weapons range. Great Character Art: I've always been a fan of hand-drawn character heads to accompany dialog boxes and FM4 has some of the best I've ever seen. Solid Voice Acting: For a Japanese translated game, FM4 has surprisingly good voice-acting. The music and sound effects are also top-notch. Deep Wanzer (Mech) and Character Customization: Just like in FM3 you'll probably spend just as much time in the wanzer shop as you will fighting. The Bad: Shorter Playtime: Whereas FM3 took a good 90-100 hours to complete it's two campaigns, FM4 has only one 30-40 hour campaign. Salvage System Removed: Gone is the salvage system were you could hop out of your wanzer and commandeer a damaged enemy wanzer, which you could then sell or use as you please. Skill System: In FM3 you'd receive skills by using different wanzer parts. This was really cool because you'd have to experiment with all kinds of different parts to see what kind of skills you could get out of them. FM4 however uses a much more standard skill system where you spend EP to purchase the skills you want. Shifting Characters: Throughout the game you'll constantly be switched between two groups of characters. This really interrupts the flow of the gameplay. For instance, you've just finished a battle and you've got enough cash for that new missile launcher for Zead, and you should probably upgrade the legs on his mech while you're at it since he's been lagging behind, also Hermes should have enough EP to upgrade to the next level of skills. You're anticipating doing these things... but wait, now the game switches to the other group of characters and all these plans will have to wait. By the time you get back to this group you'll probably have forgotten what it was you were planning to do. This really irked me to no end. Lack of Variety in Mission Objectives: Destroy all enemy units. Destroy all enemy units. Destroy all enemy units... ect. ect. In-Game Internet Removed: Gone is FM3's intenet feature where you could recieve emails from characters and visit web-pages. It's a small thing, sure, but it's all the small things that make a game great. Bad AI: While the AI in FM3 may not have been perfect, FM4's seems to be considerably worse. Enemies will frequently stand around waiting to be attacked and you can usually pick off opponents one or two at a time. One expects an improvement when moving to a vastly more powerful console. Infinitely Reusable Healing Packs: There’s now a healing pack which magically repairs your wanzers and can be used over and over as many times as you want. Lose a limb? No problem just restore it. This really removes a lot of the tension from the battles. And as if that wasn't bad enough, later on in the game you'll be given the ability to fly in a shiny, brand-new replacement for your destroyed wanzers. These overly forgiving healing abilities combined with the previously mentioned AI problem make for a far to easy experience, and completely remove the need for any strategy on most missions. Throughout the entire game there was only one mission which I actually had to play more than once (and it's no coincidence that that was also by far the most enjoyable mission). Now it may sound like I hated this game. I didn't. I actually had a lot of fun. It's just that I had greater expectations. I'd say it's a lot like the situation with Deus Ex and its sequel, Invisible War. If you haven't played the original, you'll probably enjoy the sequel quite a bit. But if you've played FM3, you'll probably find plenty to b!tch and moan about (but even then, you'll still enjoy it).