Front Mission is a decent strategy-RPG that has you fielding a team of giant mechas instead of fantasy warriors. Story is kind of a generic military opera/revenge tale, but not too bad.

I think the love/hate dividing line for this one is going to be whether or not you enjoy long periods of tinkering with customizing your robots for maximum battle effectiveness. You can kit out each member of your party with new frames, engines, arms, legs, arm weapons, shoulder weapons and leg weapons. Basically, engine power determines how much weight you can carry, and naturally the best engines are the most expensive. You can also develop your characters as specialists in hand-to-hand fighting, submachine gun and rifle users, or long-range missile snipers, giving them appropriate abilities as they level up. There's a good amount of depth, but it takes a damn long time, especially later in the game when you have a lot of units to juggle.

Unfortunately, the only way to gain levels and money outside of the 26 missions the game offers is to fight in one-on-one arena combat, which quickly gets repetitive and tedious, particularly with how long it takes to generate the cash needed to properly outfit your unit. Characters also are limited in what abilities they can learn, and if you pick the wrong ones you can bone yourself later in the game.

Combat is solid, but a bit frustrating. Every robot has separate health ratings for their body, arms and legs. If you take out the body you kill them, but taking out the arms and legs first gains more EXP. The thing is, for much of the early game you cannot choose to target an area when attacking. So combat becomes frustratingly random as you wait and see what part your character decided to hit this time.

Graphics are passable, nothing special. The music is composed by Yoko Shimomura and sounds very similar to her work on Live A Live, which is generally a good thing.

The game is pretty decent, but it really requires you to dump a lot of time into tinkering around with it, and definitely gives you a few kinks to try to ignore and put up with. I think a lot of people will dislike it on that basis, or at least lose interest before getting very far in it. It definitely piqued my interest to see what later games in the series did to expand on this formula, however.

Links :

* Front Mission Translation Project

Videos :

Gameplay Video