3 Missions but None of Them at the Front
Front Mission 3 starts Kirishima Industries employee Kazuki Takemura, set 10 years after Front Mission 2. The main narrative covers the struggle to retrieve a United States of the New Continent (USN) special weapon known as M.I.D.A.S. Front Mission 3 deviates from the other two installments in that the player chooses from two sides, one with heroine Alisa Takemura and the other starting Professor Emir ďEmmaĒ Klamsky. Both sides have their own unique cast and situations, which adds to the replay value.
With Alisaís side, Kazuki is employed by a Da Han Zhong (DHZ) agent Hei Fong Liu as they battle USN in attempts to destroy M.I.D.A.S. In Emmaís side, Kazuki works with USN to secure M.I.D.A.S. before any third party such as the DHZ acquires it. Although both sides overlap in certain areas, the scenarios are mostly unique. Enemies on one side are likely to become allies in another. Likewise, certain plot elements that are not covered in-depth on one side are answered in another. Overall, this method of plot progression is fresh, although it feels more like one long journey of find-the-item. In this case, itís M.I.D.A.S.
The visuals are both an improvement and downgrade. Front Mission 3 improves in terms of technical prowess, with the loading times drastically reduced and the game looking cleaner. It is a downgrade in that the battle scenes are not as fluid or crisp as those found in Front Mission 2. There are several impressive computer generated (CG) scenes to keep the game up to standard however. Aurally, the game is a hit-and-miss as well; sound effects are better, but the music by Koji Hayama and Hayato Matsuo is not as impressive or consistent as Front Mission and Front Mission 2. By all means, Front Mission 3 is reasonably decent but more couldíve been done to make it stand out.
In the areas of functionality, Front Mission 3 finally breaks away from the foundation of Front Mission with new and somewhat radical additions. A proper range system has been implemented and all weapons now have specialized uses. Normal weapons now have infinite uses again, with ammunition being reserved for missile and grenade launchers. The Geo terrain feature has been integrated into the battle system, no longer being called Geo and now including elevation differences. Players can now upgrade their wanzers, Front Mission-speak for mecha, and tweak several factors, such as armor type. The AP system also returns, although just retaining the fundamentals this time around.
The biggest changes, however, lie in the Pilot system. The Pilot system introduces the concept of wanzer pilots into the fray, with attacks being able to damage or eject pilots from their wanzers. Wanzers without pilots become rewards for the player, encouraging ways to destroy the pilots without blowing up their wanzers. While this system is great in theory and the execution is fine, it causes game balancing issues. Intentionally or unintentionally, it is easy to outright kill pilots or eject them to be killed by a machine gun through select battle skills or normal attacks. The mechanic applies to both enemy and ally, so it isnít surprising to watch a weak attack eject a pilot.
Another major deviation is how battle skills are learned. Players must equip wanzer parts and upon meeting conditions, a skill may be learned from the parts. While this is offers the ability to learn any battle skill, it is a cumbersome process and skill activation is low. A grading system has been implemented to help keep the game challenging, but this also is a problem. As the amount of deployable pilots has decreased to 4, enemy forces have been significantly reduced in size as well. With the Pilot system, it is often too easy to reach an S, the highest rank, and not have to do much in battle. Some would argue the large departure from Front Mission tradition to appeal to newcomers hurts older fans.
In the non-battle segments, Front Mission 3 also changes in several ways. Shops sell parts as before, but they must be upgraded to perform better. Given the fact that the statistical boosts donít show until the upgrade is done, it forces the player to do trial-and-error to find the better parts. There is no more coliseum as well, but the new battle simulators also give out extra money. The Network feature from Front Mission 2 has been greatly expanded, now having many more websites and destinations to check out in this pseudo-Internet. Apart from these, not much has changed.
Referring back to battles, there are many more missions playable in Front Mission 3 than the previous two main installments. However, these missions are nothing more than small skirmishes involving around 4-8 enemies with 4 combatants. A lot of them are just destroy-all-enemies, which is a departure from the mission variety seen in Front Mission 2. With the ease of exploiting the Pilot system intentionally or unintentionally, a lot of the challenge is missing from the game. On the bright side, a lot of battlefields offer destructible objects to play with.
In conclusion, Front Mission 3 is definitely the easiest Front Mission to get into and understand. The presentation and design have improved in small ways and offer replay value in regards to the narrative. The radical changes to the gameís functionality make it quicker for newcomers to get into the game, although this is likely to displease older fans. The game could be better through retaining some tradition, but it is the definitive choice for newcomers to be immersed in the world of Front Mission.
Although the two main Front Mission installments have not been released overseas, Front Mission 3 was the first to receive a North American localization. Was it an issue of timing or something else? While the localization points to an issue of timing, Front Mission 3 is the most user-friendly installment and a good introduction to the series. This may not be exactly what long-time fans are looking for however.
||"A radical departure from Front Mission tradition, Front Mission 3 is the best choice for newcomers. Long-time fans of Front Mission might be disappointed from the departures however."
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