Since the first game arrived in 1995, the Front Mission series has seen six follow-ups, spin-off games, models, manga comics and a book.
Now it marks its debut on current consoles with a radical departure from its previous strategy RPG-style gameplay.
In the new game, Front Mission Evolved, players step into and control Wanzers – huge destructive war machines – from a third-person perspective, rather than dictating their movements from afar, as they did in previous games in the franchise.
“As the title suggests Front Mission Evolved evolves the series into a third-person action shooter but still keeps core elements of the franchise,” says Square Enix senior product manager Paul Benjamin.
“The immersive story, rich characters and in-depth customisation are all key elements from the previous releases and areas that Square Enix excel in.
“There are city-based battles in giant mechs and frantic online multiplayer.”
Front Mission Evolved takes place 50 years after the events of 2005’s Front Mission 5: Scars of the War on PS2, where a terrorist attack has destroyed one of the fictional Unified Continental States’ orbital elevators and in turn set a military response in motion.
Players will take on the role of young engineer Dylan Ramsey, who finds himself caught in the middle of the action-packed destruction. And for the first time players are able to control a Wanzer mech from inside the cockpit, with numerous enhancements that allow them to personalise a Wanzer to their liking.
Gamers can select from a wide range of weapons and Wanzer parts to build unique machines capable of holding their own on the battlefield.
The mechs can equip a weapon in each hand with two more on their shoulders. Weapons include swords, machine guns, high-powered rifles and even rocket launchers, with players having to decide which gun to use and where it will set on the mech – adding a layer of customisation to the game.
The Wanzers also include the skating ability, which enables the big machines to move quickly across landscapes, as well as a flying ability, which gives players the chance to destroy enemies from above.
Users can battle against enemies across a number of varying locations in Front Mission Evolved such as the frozen wastelands of the Antarctic and complex concrete cities. With specialised Wanzer leg parts available, players can move around quicker than in previous instalments of the series.
Another first for the franchise is the ability for players to step out of a Wanzer and take on soldiers and other enemy mechs on foot.
Players can also take on opponents online with solo and team-based games, giving consumers the opportunity to show off their customised Wanzers across the globe.
To fuel excitement for the game, Square Enix is kicking off a pre-release marketing assault.
Fans will see advertising through an intensive video-on-demand campaign, which includes web pre-rolls. This will be accompanied by a print campaign running in gaming and sci-fi magazines as well as more online activity targeting PS3 and Xbox 360 gamers through site takeovers and video MPUs.
“We are using our media to show the diverse gameplay Front Mission Evolved has to offer,” adds Benjamin.
“We want to show that it is more than just a mech game – it has an epic story, spectacular city-based battles and online multiplayer but it also offers out-of-mech action. Players can take control of the main character Dylan as he infiltrates enemy bases using a range of weapons at his disposal.”
With the explosive game trailer fuelling interest in the title, along with the new approach to gameplay, engaging storyline and customisable Wanzers, Front Mission is set to make a triumphant current-console debut as one of the most accessible and successful titles in the franchise to date.
The Front Mission series has established itself as one of the longest-running gaming series. Since the mid-90s fans have experienced futuristic conflicts in the franchise. We take a look at the previous titles:
Front Mission (1995) – Initially released on the SNES in Japan, the original has since been re-released on PlayStation, DS and mobile phones. The game features a plot that intertwined the stories of various heroes and their mechs across Huffman Island.
Front Mission 2 (1997) – This sequel on PlayStation covered the conflict between the fictional forces of the Alordesh Army and the Oceania Community Union.
Front Mission: Alternative (1997) – Players explored the origins of the African Conflict in this Front Mission prequel on the PlayStation.
Front Mission 3 (2000) – This title marked the franchise’s North American debut as players uncovered a national conspiracy told from two different storylines. These narratives can be chosen through early decisions made in the game.
Front Mission 4 (2003) – The shifting narratives continued in the PS2 debut and fifth instalment of the series, which boasts battles involving up to six units and a link-up system.
Front Mission 5: Scars of the War (2005) – The most recent game before Front Mission Evolved featured a survival simulator and scouting system.
Other spin-offs from the series include 1996’s scrolling shooter game Front Mission: Gun Hazard, mobile phone title Front Mission 2089 and PC’s Front Mission Online.
Front Mission Evolved hits stores on October 8th on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.