Skip to content

Front Mission 4

I knew little about the Front Mission franchise prior to getting Front Mission 4 for the PlayStation 2. The closest I got previously was Kotobukiya’s brilliant action figures for the third game in the series. What little I did know about FM4, however, appealed to me. An RPG with tactical turn-based combat featuring giant mecha? Why, that might very well have been pulled from a List of Things I Really, Really Like.

(It bears noting, however, playing with giant mecha wasn’t sufficiently exciting for Square Enix’s marketing department. A less-observant and less-informed gamer might be forgiven for assuming FM4 is the world’s first Third-Person Sleeper after seeing the game cover.)

The game includes a decent manual and useful in-game tutorials. It’s a good thing because there’s a lot to take in. Most of the game mechanics should be immediately familiar to anyone who’s played strategy games or RPGs for a while but there are some interesting twists. Pilot links, for example. Taken at face value, this is a pilot’s ability to support linked teammates offensively or defensively, but its true worth is it effectively enables a pilot to make multiple attacks a turn.

I’ve put in about 35-plus hours now but I’m not sure how far I am into the game. Have I reached the beginning of the end or have I just completed the end of the beginning? There are no story cues I can rely on.

FM4 is a little unusual in that it features two storylines: one seemingly influenced by Three Kings while the other features a standard warmongering military-industrial complex conspiracy. The game alternates between the two storylines before they slowly begin to intertwine. I suspect both will converge for an explosive finale but I have no way of telling how far away that finale will be.

What I can report is the game takes a long while to really get going. Indeed, my first few hours playing the game led me to believe this was another MissionForce: Cyberstorm: a polished turn-based combat system yet somehow a soulless, forgettable experience.

FM4 does get better though the impatient gamer might put it away before it gets good. I don’t think I was fully engaged before the 25-hour mark. At that point, the difficulty ramps up, the players are given some additional options in battle (for instance, calling for airstrikes and supply drops) and mission objectives involve more than simply eliminating all enemy units.

The game is quite engrossing now. There are numerous pre-battle decisions to make, new tactics to try on the battlefield and, though I have very little interest in the characters, I am interested in seeing how the storylines will conclude.

Posted in Games, PS2.