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Front Mission 4

Platform:
ps2
Developer:
Square Enix
Genre:
Strategy
Series:
Front Mission
  • 15 June 2004
  • 18 Dec 2003
B+ 14 total ratings
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Front Mission 4ev4r

A Front Mission 4 review Author: Jeriaska Published: November 21, 2006
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Front Mission 4 was such a financial failure in North America that the most recent title in the series, Scars of War, has been seemingly suspended from localization in perpetuity. Perhaps the cause of poor sales results from the leisurely pace with which the story initially builds tension by setting up two parallel plotlines, or some other anomaly leading to the title's lackluster reception. In truth, this is the most successful Front Mission in any number of areas. Though the scope of the plotline is less melodramatic than the Super Famicom iterations, well-drawn characters and a concerted effort to provide a degree of verisimilitude clearly demonstrate that the Front Mission series is headed in the right direction. Or, at least, was.
A return to the gameís aesthetic roots works in FM4ís favor


American gamers might be surprised to discover that the Japanese import came replete with English voice acting. This strategy might have been an attempt to bridge Anglophone and Japanese players ala Nomura's Disney-Square crossover. In this light, the failure of the game to capture an overseas audience is particularly disappointing. One could point a finger at the game?s subtle critique of American imperialism at a time when flag-waving and xenophobia is all the rage. Some reviews have dissed the voice acting for its broadly drawn regional accents, a complaint I would deem unfairly judgmental considering the voice talent for most games is vastly, vastly inferior. The somewhat silly French, Russian, and German accents one encounters in Front Mission 4 are voiced by competent actors and the character art, by Unlimited Saga's uber-talented Yusuke Naora, is both creative and deeply engaging. I would go as far as to say character design in Front Mission 4 far exceeds that of the most popular Square RPGs, where a motley crew of cartoons are thrown together without much meaningful interaction happening between them. Here, we find an international cast of characters who both occasionally betray stereotypes of their given nationality while embodying a fully formed, fleshed-out personality.
Transitions between overhead map and battle occur instantaneously

There are two separate stories in Front Mission 4 that never completely intersect. One plotline focuses on a military research team called the Durandal funded by the European Community who are investigating the destruction of a military base by an unidentified squadron of highly-trained rogue Wanzers. The other plotline follows a trio of lackadaisical wanzer pilots of the American UCS- the Unified Continental States- stationed in Venezuela. The story is an evident plagiarization of the movie Three Kings, all the way down to the lost gold swindled by likeable American meatheads from a tyrannical warlord. It is a case of Japanese confusion between the homage and copyright infringement, probably an attempt at portraying a politically controversial situation while having a box office success to point a finger at in the case of a PR shitstorm. One could certainly choose more frivolous Hollywood vehicles to cut and paste from (see Kingdom Hearts), though the fact that the affable American douchebags led by the mulleted Darril end up keeping the Venezuelan people's swindled millions for themselves instead of learning a morality lesson and giving the indigent farmers their proper means of subsistence is something of an ethical failure on the part of the game designers. The real gravitas of the storyline belongs to the Durandal half, led by the surpassingly likeable perky Parision beauty and unstriving tough cookie Elsa, where we clearly get the impression that our heroes have a sense of democratic ideals and selfless devotion to keeping the peace.
Top notch graphics, character design, and music. Hot French and Russian women with minds. Why wonít you embrace this game, you stupid America!?!

Hidenori Iwasaki's Front Mission 4 soundtrack is a welcomed addition to the series, offering a decidedly tropical mix to the gritty angst of the previous games. Such tracks as "Break Free," "Free Spirit," and "May Day" set this soundtrack apart as a distinct entry in the Square canon. Overall, Front Mission 4 is a well-crafted game clearly striving to provide a quality of storytelling on par with a high-caliber Hollywood film. The game succeeds, while retaining the best elements of action and strategy that the series has been evolving for over a decade. The story is less ludicrous than number 1, the action is faster than number 2, the characters are more likeable and well-formed than number 3. Most significantly, the story does not rely upon demonic aliens from space to draw the player's attention. Despite poor sales, the title is one of the strongest and least ostentatious title on the Playstation 2. It is one of the cleverest and most consistently rewarding stories to be found of any game whatsoever.
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Editor's Grade
A-
dotted line "Despite abysmal sales, Front Mission 4 is one of the strongest and least ostentatious titles on the Playstation 2."
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B+ dotted line Average Reader Score (Based on 14 ratings) | Rate it Now
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Author
Jeriaska
Endoplasmic Reticulum
Square Haven Editor
Member since October 03, 2003
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