Front Mission 4
|Front Mission 4|
|Developer(s)||Square Enix Product Development Division 6|
|Genre(s)||Tactical role-playing game|
|Distribution||1 x DVD|
Front Mission 4 (フロントミッション フォース Furonto Misshon Fuoosu?) is a tactical role-playing game developed and published by Square Enix Co., Ltd., and was released in Japan on December 18, 2003 and in North America on June 15, 2004. Front Mission 4 is the fourth main entry and sixth entry overall in the Front Mission series. Like other Front Mission titles, Front Mission 4 is part of a serialized storyline that follows the stories of various characters and their struggles involving mecha known as wanzers.
Front Mission 4 was the second title in the Front Mission series to be released in North America.
Front Mission 4 borrows several of the gameplay mechanics found in Front Mission 2. The video game progresses in a linear manner: watch cut-scene events, complete missions, set up their wanzers during intermissions, and sortie for the next mission. The player travels to locations on a world map. As the player progresses through the plot, new locations are revealed on the world map. Towns and cities act as intermission points where the player can organize and set up their units for the upcoming mission. Battle zones are where the missions take place, though they become inaccessible upon the completion of a mission. Like in Front Mission 2, Front Mission 4 alternates control between the game's two main characters. However, the two scenarios never merge at any point of the game.
Front Mission 4 missions are traditional tactical RPG fare, ranging from destroying all enemy targets to protecting a certain allied target. There are a number of returning features from Front Mission 2 that are used for mission play, namely Action Points (AP) and Links. Action Points (AP) is a feature that dictates how much actions can be done with each unit. Actions such as moving and attacking require a certain amount of AP to use. At the end of a full turn, which is one Player Phase and Enemy Phase, a set amount of AP is replenished. A unit's AP amount and recharge value depends on how many AP-specific abilities its pilot has learned.
Links is a feature that allows multiple units to provide offensive and defensive support to each other during battles. Unlike in Front Mission 2 and Front Mission 3, players have greater control over Links. Up to four units can be linked together to form one "link"; an offensive link for Player Phase battles, and a defensive link for Enemy Phase battles. Additionally, the player can dictate the degree of support a unit can provide; a linked unit can use battle skills or no battle skills at all. For linked actions, a weapon must be set in order to participate in an offensive or defensive linked battle. Lastly, two special actions can also be set as linked actions: Antilock and Salvage from EMP and radio backpacks, respectively. Antilock causes missiles within range to miss, while Salvage restores any wanzers destroyed in battle.
Returning features aside, Front Mission 4 has a number of new gameplay mechanics. Weapons are now capable of attack more than once during any battle, provided that the unit initiating the attack has sufficient AP and weapon ammunition. The time of day affects a weapon's chances of hitting its target; for example, accuracy is lowered during night time. Weather conditions affect the effective range of weapons; for example, a blizzard will reduce a machine gun's maximum firing range by one square. Like in Front Mission Alternative, there are new auxiliary backpacks that offer unique features when used on the battlefield. In addition to the item, turbo, and repair backpacks, players can now use jetpacks, sensor backpacks, EMP backpacks, and radio backpacks.
Sensor backpacks are equipped with sonar and radar sensors that extend the firing range of missile launchers. EMP backpacks are armed with electromagnetic pulse (EMP) waves that disable various functions on its target. Jetpacks have built-in verniers that allow a wanzer to scale buildings and directly bypass obstacles such as water. Radio backpacks have communications equipment that allows a wanzer to act as a forward air controller by signaling a transport to drop supplies, armor coating, or call in an air strike. Aside from these new additions, turbo backpacks now come with a small amount of item space and repair backpacks can remove EMP-inflicted status damage.
Note: In the North American release of Front Mission 4, the United States of the New Continent was changed to the Unified Continental States (UCS). This change is only exclusive to this version of Front Mission 4.
Set in 2096, the story of Front Mission 4 takes place in Venezuela and Europe. Since the revelations of the true causes behind the 2nd Huffman Conflict in 2092, the world grew wary of the Republic of Zaftra. Zaftra began losing foreign investments and many businesses withdrew from the union, resulting in major economic losses. Superpowers such as the United States of the New Continent (USN) refused offers from the union to import their natural resources, the major economic driver of their economy. With a failing economy and growing distrust from the world community, the Republic of Zaftra disbanded the Peace Mediation Organization (PMO) in 2094. Meanwhile, the discovery of natural resources in Poland led the European Community (EC) to stop importing raw materials from Zaftra. Consequently, Zaftran citizens began migrating to other countries in search for work. In 2096, the Republic of Zaftra returned to the spotlight after a mysterious blitzkrieg of EC military bases leaves Europe in an imminent resource crisis. Elsewhere in the world, Venezuela suddenly declares independence from the USN.
The plot of Front Mission 4 revolves around two individuals - Durandal recruit Elsa Eliane and USN sergeant Darril Traubel. In 2096, five military bases in Germany are simultaneously attacked by unknown assailants. At an EC Central Assembly meeting, the leaders of the union discuss the attacks. When deciding on the investigation team, British Prime Minister Lionel Noland recommends the research organization, the "Durandal". Elsewhere in the UK, Elsa Eliane undergoes a Durandal initiation test. After completing the test, the organization is called to begin their investigations. At a German base, they encounter Rolf Wagner, the leader of the Bundeswehr's Blauer Nebel special forces. The Durandal theorizes the assailants' escape route and then head to Denmark, where they fight some wanzers. When returning to the base, it is attacked by the same assailants. After eliminating the attackers, the Durandal delivers the microchip recovered from one of the wanzers to Niklas Glaeser, a German general leading the investigation. In a news conference, Glaeser's revelations that the attackers were USN puzzle the Durandal, who believe they were of Zaftran origin.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan governor Bruno Diaz declares independence from the USN. Refusing his demands, the USN sends in the 332nd Mobile Company to liberate the country. Darril Traubel and his two of friends are on patrol duty when they witness the crash of a Venezuelan State Army (VSA) transport. Inspecting the remains, they find a crate carrying gold bullion worth $25 million. The three then decide to steal the gold and go AWOL. However, they were discovered by the VSA and are forced to escape north to Cumana, where a businessman named Chang offers to help them escape. However, this fails when they are attacked by unknown wanzars at the harbor, which spills over into the city. Darril captures their leader, Anizka Ivanovna Aleksandrov, and they head for another escape route. Along the way, the deserters find a village being attacked by the VSA. Darril decides to help the villagers and in the process, meets the Alianza de Libertad Venezolana (Venezuelan Liberation Alliance) rebel group. Ivanovna escapes during the skirmish, but keeps a homing beacon on the deserters' truck believing they may be of use to her in the future.
As the game's plot thickens, the protagonists discover that Glaeser lied about the investigation and pieces its connections between the base attacks in Germany and the deserters' pursuers in Venezuela.
Front Mission 4 sold 169,606 copies in Japan by the end of 2003. Additionally, it was the top-selling game during the week of Christmas in Japan. It was re-released alongside other titles in the series in Square Enix's Ultimate Hits line on May 11, 2006. Around the time of the Ultimate Hits re-release, Front Mission 4 sold over 260,000 copies in Japan.
Front Mission 4 holds a 75% on both Game Rankings and Metacritic. North American reaction to the game was consistent across the board, receiving mixed to generally good reviews. It was praised for its deep gameplay, customizable wanzers, and high production values. On the disapproving side many felt the plot advanced at a sluggish pace, the AI was subpar, and the menu system was cumbersome at times. At least 4 of the critics below mentioned the high complexity of the game would be a benefit or a fault of the game depending on the player. Official PlayStation Magazine summed it up best with “Outside of the 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms' series, nothing surpasses the complexity of FM4”. The critic consensus seemed to be that fans of mecha or strategy RPG games would be pleased with Front Mission 4 and that the general audience should rent it first. Another complaint heard (particularly with Game Informer) is that the first few battles alternate between tedious and annoying.
- Winkler, Chris (2003). "Square Enix Talks Current Status". RPGFan.com. Retrieved 2007-08-01.
- Dengeki, ed. (February 2004). Dengeki GAMES February 2004 Special Edition, "100 Year History of Front Mission" (in Japanese). MediaWorks.
- Dengeki PlayStation Editorial, LogicGate, ed. (March 2007). Front Mission World Historica - Report of Conflicts 1970–2121 (in Japanese). MediaWorks. ISBN 4-8402-3663-1.
- McNamara, Andy. "Front Mission 4". GameInformer.com. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
- "Front Mission 4 Reviews". GameRankings.com. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
- Massimilla, Bethany (June 14, 2004). "Front Mission 4 for PlayStation 2 Review". GameSpot.com. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
- Lopez, Miquel (June 11, 2004). "GameSpy: Front Mission 4 Review". GameSpy.com. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
- Winkler, Chris (December 10, 2003). "Weekly Famitsu Rates Front Mission 4, Growlanser IV". RPGFan.com. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
- Sulic, Ivan (May 31, 2004). "Front Mission 4". IGN.com. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
- "Front Mission 4 (ps2: 2004): Reviews". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
- "2003 Top 100 Best Selling Japanese Console Games". The-MagicBox.com. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
- Jenkins, David (December 29, 2003). "Latest Japanese Sales Charts - Week Ending December 21". Gamasutra.com. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
- Winkler, Chris (August 3, 2006). "Front Mission Series Goes Ultimate Hits In Japan". RPGFan.com. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
- Official website (English) (archived from the original)
- Front Mission official website at Square Enix (Japanese)
- Ten-Mou / Worldwide Network System (Japanese)