Front Mission Review

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Front Mission Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix

Platform: DS (originally released for the SNES)
Reviewed on DS

Huffman Island is stuck in the neutral zone between the Oceania Cooperative Union (O.C.U.) and the United Continental States (U.C.S.). The O.C.U. and the U.C.S. already battled it out on Huffman for two years, beginning in 2070. When a ceasefire was finally negotiated, Huffman was divided in two, becoming a haven for mercenaries and a hotbed of tensions between the superpowers. Now the year is 2090, and a U.C.S. military factory on Huffman has been destroyed.

Inevitably, war is, once again, at hand on Huffman Island.

Kyle Ackerman

Front MissionBy modern standards, there's a lot that Front Mission lacks, both technically and as a game of turn-based tactics, but that's because a more-than-a-decade old game has been brought to modern audiences via the DS. Front Mission was something remarkable at the time, and still stands up surprisingly well, given its age. But there's no mistaking the fact that aspects of Front Mission are like a museum piece – a decade is a long time in terms of video games. If you can overlook the obvious changes to the user interface that would have made a bigger difference than just adding touch-screen support, and remember that the series did add considerably more strategic and tactical options over time, there's still a solid game to enjoy here.

The new, DS version of Front Mission adds two things to the venerable turn-based tactical game. First, it supports limited multiplayer matches. Much more importantly, it adds a second screen and support for the DS stylus. The one thing the original Front Mission desperately needed was the ability to display more information. Having a second screen takes care of that.

Front MissionOriginally, playing Front Mission meant constantly changing away from the grid-based battlefield (where movement, enemy positions and obstacles are represented) to various data screens to see the strength of various wanzers (two-legged battle tanks), including their armor, armaments and ammunition. With the DS version of Front Mission, all of that information is displayed simultaneously, making play go a lot faster (at least without extensive memorization). And the ability to tap menu items with the stylus is more convenient than using the directional pad to maneuver through layer upon layer of information designed for an SNES controller.

Front MissionOnce you're past the advantages of new technology, Front Mission is the same game on the small DS screen as it was on televisions in the '90s. Compared to more recent fare, it would be nice to have more options in terms of configuring wanzers, aiming, and moving. But those kinds of improvements haven't been made to the game. So, Front Mission feels like what it is: an aging tactical game. Aside from allowing you to experience the beginning of the series, Front Mission also still has an impressive variety of missions. You can play through the conflict between the U.C.S. and the O.C.U. from either side, crafting a fighting force to battle for your chosen partner.

Front Mission is an old game, but a surprisingly meritorious old game that's now as portable as your DS Lite.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on November 2, 2007 6:19 PM.

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