As any fan knows it's been quite a while since any game in the Front Mission franchise landed on English-speaking shores. So long, in fact that a few dedicated gamers went and did it themselves.
Now, the series is set for a return, albeit in a decidedly different form, as Front Mission Evolved is more of 3rd-person action game than a turn-based strategy title. Old fans and new players alike simply must know more about this latest, current-generation installment.
To that end we sent Square Enix a bunch of questions, and got a bunch of answers. Read on for Destructoid's exclusive Front Mission Evolved Q&A with Square Enix producer Shinji Hashimoto. You can also check the gallery for some hot new screens they sent just for you!
Destructoid: Front Mission Evolved is certainly a departure from the previous games, which were turn-based titles. What was the creative drive behind the change of style?
Shinji Hashimoto: The genre for previous numbered Front Mission titles that we’ve released was turn-based strategy games. There were several spin-off titles, which were real-time simulations and side-scrollers, but I believe users have developed a strong recognition that Front Mission is a turn-based strategy game.
We feel that there are a lot of opportunities with the change of style because controlling the Wanzers seemed to have great compatibility with the shooter genre, making it a natural choice for this title.
Among its fans, the Front Mission series is known for having a very dense, involved backstory. Where does Front Mission Evolved stand in that canon? Will the game's story be making any references to previous (or future) events?
This title is set farther in the future than any other game in the series. In 2171 AD, the human race, seeking supremacy on Earth, began to reach for the stars, racing to build orbital elevators.
Although it shares a common plot with the series, the story is not directly related to the previous renditions. Anyone playing this series for the first time will be able to enjoy it.
The game apparently offers on-foot action alongside the Wanzer-piloting. Just how much can the player do when he's outside his Wanzer? Will he be able to get in and out of it at will? Can he hijack other Wanzers?
During the single player mode, there are several missions in which the player character will exit the Wanzer to explore surrounding buildings and areas. Due to the map design and story, however, the player cannot get in and out of the Wanzer nor hijack other Wanzers at will. The third-person action as the pilot is exciting for any shooter fan, though.
One of the conflicts that came out of the original design concept was balancing the flow of the game and difficulty. It is difficult to keep consistency in the story when you can leave your Wanzer at a moment’s notice, while at the same time possibly creating impossible situations if, say, you were to lose your Wanzer in a boss fight because you decided to jump out. Additionally, retaining the graphical scale of both "worlds" – on-foot action and battles with huge mechs – would have been very difficult. We decided on a design that allowed both game types to be optimized graphically without sacrificing the fidelity of the game’s next-gen aesthetic.
Will there be a strategic or tactical element in Front Mission Evolved's gameplay? Will the player be able to control a squad or be part of a larger operation?
The players will be able to enjoy tactical battles in the online multiplayer mode, where players can customize the allocation of roles such as snipers, assaults, and medics in each team. We’ll be sharing more information on multiplayer in the future.
Front Mission games have traditionally featured a fair amount of customization, with players able to choose from a variety of weapons and body parts to use in combat. Will Front Mission Evolved also have this sort of feature?
Yes, there’s an incredible amount of customization elements you can look forward to! The title offers a variety of stages, as well as vast choices to customize your Wanzers for the online PtoP mode to fully express your unique designs. I’m excited to see all of your Wanzers!
That concludes our exclusive Q&A with Square Enix's Shinji Hashimoto. We would like to thank him for his time. I for one am quite excited, and can't wait until new gamers get to know just what a "Pile Bunker" is when related to robot weaponry.
Front Mission Evolved is in development for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and is due for a Spring 2010 release.