A Mission with 2 Fronts to Fight In
The narrative of Front Mission 2 starts Oceanic Community Union (OCU) officer Ash Faruk and the squadron he leads, the Muddy Otters. Taking place in Bangladesh, known as Alordesh here, a revolution has begun. The Revolutionary Army, consisting of Alordesh’s main army, is tired of OCU neglecting the nation and desires change. Amidst the chaos and OCU forces desperately trying to escape, an OCU special intelligence unit lead by Lisa Stanley arrives to assist the attacked OCU forces. Her unit has a different objective, which is to suppress The Revolutionary Army and regain control of Alordesh.
As the Muddy Otters fight off The Revolutionary Army while attempting to escape, they eventually meet up with Lisa’s unit. After some persuasion, the Muddy Otters and the remaining OCU divisions are convinced to assist in the recapture of Alordesh. As a result of this, the narrative switches between Ash and Lisa’s point of view until the two sides merge. The narrative is a bit chaotic, with the both sides having separate objectives to do. However, the issues and events become clearer as both protagonists realize hidden truths that explain the causes of the revolution. Overall, the narrative is interesting and nicely executed to keep the player interested in Front Mission 2.
For the time it was released, Front Mission 2 had some impressive visuals. The backgrounds are nicely rendered for an early PS1 product. The polygonal wanzers, Front Mission-speak for mecha, are crisp and showcase smooth animations. Jun Suemi’s character designs are a good fit for the atmosphere of Front Mission 2. Unfortunately, the loading times for battle are 10-20 seconds long due to the impressive combat sequences. The aural presentation remains true to Front Mission with Noriko Matsueda returning to do this installment. The sound effects have definitely improved to PS1 standards, with bigger explosions and bullets tearing through wanzers.
The gameplay of Front Mission 2 holds numerous similarities with Front Mission. This is not a surprise as basic foundation and interface of the previous installment have been retained for Front Mission 2. Players are able to purchase parts at the Shop, fight in the coliseum for extra money, or find information in the town segments. The wanzer customization is back in full force as well. The Network feature is the main addition to the non-battle portions, allowing players to learn more about the world in pseudo-Internet websites. This feature is a nice diversion from mission play and preparation.
The bulk of the changes come from the new additions to the battle system. First, more weapons can now be used at varying ranges as opposed to being at 1 square away to use them. Second, all weapons now have ammunition counts and must be replenished in the heat of battle. Third, the Geo terrain feature affects conditions in regards to offensive or defensive maneuvers. The biggest changes, however, lie in the Action Point (AP) and Honor system additions. The AP system is first seen in this Front Mission and makes appearances in the future installments, while the Honor system is exclusive to Front Mission 2.
The basic fundamentals of the AP system are that every action takes a certain amount of AP to use. At the end of a full turn, Player and Enemy Phase, a certain amount of AP is replenished. Front Mission 2’s AP system differs in that it is more advanced than the ones seen in future installments. The amount of AP dictates the effectiveness of stats such as Accuracy and Evasion or the success rates of skill activation and counters. Having full AP makes it easy to avoid enemy attacks while a lower amount results in missed hits during an attack. Ultimately, this advanced AP system forces players to think and act more strategically.
The AP system is further enhanced with the Honor system, which dictates the levels of respect between ally and foe. The biggest feature of Honor is the team effect, which grants special bonuses for acting with teammates nearby, such as extra AP or boosted stats. This effect can also be used to weaken combatants by surrounding them with teammates, which results in lower AP and stats. These effects apply to enemies as well as to make things fair. Battle skills are gained through Honor, which increases by destroying enemies and utilizing the team effect. Combined with the AP system and the other changes, Front Mission 2 is very heavy on strategy though definitely not user-friendly.
Missions are of the same variety as seen in Front Mission, but also undergo changes. To better understand the helpless and chaos in Alordesh, a mission often involves the protection of special units or rescuing allies. As most missions pit the player in overwhelming situations, numerous missions end simply after the destruction of the designated commander unit. Due to the additions and changes to the battle system, missions are often difficult and require some trial-and-error before succeeding. There are some secret missions mixed in the game, but there’s not much in the way of replay value.
In conclusion, Front Mission 2 is a worthy successor that expands on what made Front Mission attractive to fans. The presentation is nice and clean, dampened only by the long load times. The foundation from the first installment is retained, with new additions to prevent monotony and keep things interested. The inclusion of the AP and Honor system add many layers of strategy in battles, giving it a strong focus on strategy even though it isn’t user-friendly. For those looking to import, grab the Ultimate Hits version rather than the normal ones. The Ultimate Hits version allows for battle skipping, which negates the long loading issues.
As a Japan-only product and the real sequel to Front Mission, Front Mission 2 did not see an overseas localization. This might be attributed to some factors, which will be discussed later, seen in the game. Even though it is a Japan-only product, Front Mission 2 is a worthy addition to the Front Mission lineup.
||"Keeping the foundation from Front Mission, Front Mission 2 adds new material and the AP system makes its debut here. While a bit rough on the edges, Front Mission 2 is heavy on strategy and a worthy successor."
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