Do the words “walking tank” mean nothing to people?

7 11 2009

Recently a good amount of demo footage from Square-Enix’s new entry in the Front Mission series, Front Mission Evolved, has surfaced. Granted they’re not making it since it’s not an SRPG like the others, rather it’s a 3rd-person action shooter similar to Mech Assault or Mobile Suit Gundam Crossfire. A lot of people have had a lot of complaints about it, and personally I feel some of them are unwarranted. I mean that shouldn’t really be surprising seeing as how this is the Internet where logic frequently seems to take a backseat to shouting loudly about your opinion. Anyway I feel it’s time to add my own voice to the mix in terms of some of the more vocal complaints I’ve seen

1. The Wanzers Move Too Slow: This is kind of a big one. Many people who have played any 3rd-person mecha game has probably not played the ones I mentioned but instead played Armored Core, a game which very heavily relies on the “gundam” model of movement i.e. strap on some vernier boosters and go nuts. Front Mission is a lot different. While you do have a system for boosting it’s often limited to just going in one direction at a time and in very short bursts. This is not anything new. Every single Front Mission that has used the boosting/dashing mechanism has done it in short bursts. Same for the Verniers (or Jump Jets for you Mechwarrior fans).  Of course maybe I’m missing something since I didn’t play Front Mission 2 or 5 (they weren’t released stateside and I’m not into modding consoles or trying to read japanese at this time), but the systems always worked the same in the 3 games I did play, if they were even there at all (Front Mission 4, I’m certain, did not have in-game dashing). As to the Wanzers moving too slow, well that’s kind of the point. “Wanzer” is a portmanteau of “Wanderung Panzer” or “Walking Tank”. Tanks, to put it bluntly, do not go fast. Sure there are some wanzers that are lighter than others and thus can move further per turn (i.e. faster) but it’s not a huge difference. None of them are going to tear up asphalt at 100 mph. They are definitely a lot more like battlemechs or the HOUNDs from Chromehounds. Weapons of war that are far more utilitarian than stylish. And perhaps the biggest thing to consider is that the Wanzers used in the demo footage by the player looked a lot bulkier than normal, so it stands to reason they would move slowly.

2. AI is stupid. I disagree seeing as how the AI for games like Mech Assault and Chromehounds seem to have only one setting: “run forward, fire relentlessly”. And don’t get me started on the AI for Armored Core. Either it’s cheap as hell or dumb as toast. In FM Evolved the Wanzers will actually flank, move to cover, make tactical withdrawls in the face of overwhelming force, etc. No it isn’t perfect, they tend to have trouble finding accurate cover from sniper fire, but it does work fairly well. Another thing to consider is that again, this is demo footage. Demo footage never seems to be cranked up to the max difficulty settings (if such a thing exists) because the demo exists to show a player what they can do, not what they can fail at.

Those are really the two big complaints, I’m not going to address the truly stupid crap like saying the game automatically fails because the developer hasn’t put out anything good. Actually on second thought.

3. Double Helix Studios Sucks. Again, disagree. Double Helix is fairly new, formed by a merger of two other companies, one of which was Shiny Entertainment. Yes we can agree that Silent Hill Homecoming wasn’t up to par, but then again it’s hard to do a good SH game if you’re not Konami. Yes we can agree the GI Joe game wasn’t very good but it’s hard to judge a company based on a movie tie-in game. But really the whole reason why this argument is dumb is because if we’re to judge future output based on previous output alone, then that would’ve meant Deus Ex would’ve never been lauded as the amazing game it is because of Daikatana. And that obviously wasn’t the case seeing as how Deus Ex is awesome

Ok so now I think I’m done addressing the complaints. Really I think it’s dumb to immediately label a game crap based on demo footage unless it’s really obviously bad, which again is not the case here. To judge a game without playing it feels disingenuous to me. So far I have to say what I’ve seen of FM Evolved is good enough for me to want to play it when it comes out next year, and I feel that it will hopefully be that good. It has what I like out of games like Armored Core only seeming to do it just a bit better. Heck it even allows you to target the specific wanzer parts like in the strategy games. So I don’t worry about it too much. I do worry about the people who spend too much time complaining about it though.

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