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    Front Mission 3

    reviewed by Zero

    ESRB rating:
    Square Soft
    Square Electronic Arts
    03/00Memory Card:
    Dual Shock:
    Memory Blocks:
    Two [Four for Battles]

    Click image to enlargeI did not hear of the game Front Mission 3 until after it was released, which was rare, as I kept up with my SquareSoft games. But that was what happened, and after I heard of Front Mission 3, I ran out and chucked up forty dollars right away. After all, a character driven RPG game with big robots, what more could I ask for? Apparently in my eagerness to get my hands on the game, I mistook what the game was and was even further surprised. While not what I expected, Front Mission 3 is an addicting game in itself.

    Like other mecha stories, FM3 is about a boy and his robots. Of course, the game deviates from the formula, but still stays within range. To be honest, most will find the story boring, as it is basically used to get into more fights, instead of using battles to further the story. Strategy buffs will not mind, because the gameplay is top notch.

    FM3 starts out with a young man testing out his Wanzer. As the story flows along, he finds out some bad stuff is going around in his government and goes to find out. The storyline diverges at this point, and if one chooses Emma's storyline, then he would learn about the USN and their role in the game. The story would be completely different if he chose the other story.

    The game is not unlike Final Fantasy Tactics. You never move your avatars around, and conduct business through menus. Battles are more strategic, and force you to move your Wanzers, the robots in FM3, into position in attack. Do not think of it like a menu-driven RPG battle, more like a Chinese Chess. There is one problem with the battles, when one of your heroes die or lose an appendage, they magically pop up after the battle is over. It seems a little unrealistic to me, although it makes the game much easier.

    Over one hundred missions are included in the game, but for the majority of them, Wanzers must run in and annihilate the enemy. There is not much room for variety, as the objective is almost always to try to get the enemy Wanzers to surrender or destroy them while sustaining little damage. Luckily, the system is strangely addicting and satisfying when blowing off an enemy's arm or leg.

    Click image to enlargeThe game has a very nice learning curve, with a tutorial starting out at the beginning, and enemies getting progressively harder in the game. Although late into the game, it did not seem that the enemy was getting any smarter, there were just more and more of them with better weapons. They usually did not gang up on one Wanzer unless you stupidly sent one out into the fray. Even when they had an ace weapon up their sleeves, the computer would never fully exploit it as a human player would.

    Battle skills played an integral part in the game. If a Wanzer had a specific body part equipped, then it has a chance of learning an attack like 'Pilot Damage' or 'Shield Attack.' There are computers that can raise the chance of activating a battle skill, and ones that raise the chance of stringing battle skills together, to create even more damage. To further help develop battle skills, there is a simulation mode where you fight fake Wanzers to improve your skills. Finding stages for the simulators are one of the secrets of the game.

    Loading times drove me crazy in this game. It was not that any of them were long, rather, most were pretty short. But there were so many points at which the game must load, it frustrated me to tears. It had to load to move to another room, it had to load to get on the Internet, then it had to load to open up a site, and it had to load for me to read the site. A good chunk of time was spent listening to the PSX start spinning and cooling down.

    After progressing through the game, it is possible to customize Wanzers and tailor them to your liking. Square thoughtfully put in a weight limit so you could create an uber-Wanzer. Twiddling with a Wanzer to create the perfect one sank a few hours of my time, and is a neat little feature in itself. There are around six different kinds of weapons including shotguns, melee, and rifles.

    Click image to enlargeThe graphics are certainly entertaining to watch, from the exaggerated expressions on the portraits to the Wanzers missing one arm. Square deserves applause towards the beautiful pre-rendered rooms and how you can change an appearance of Wanzers by mixing up their body parts. Unfortunately, the PSX is finally starting to show its age. Humans are rather horribly depicted in this game, looking little more then stick figures. There are jagged lines everywhere, with the PSX's inability to use utilize anti-aliasing. But even though the textures are blotched and stretched, I enjoyed FM3's eye candy.

    Sound effects are right on, from the whirring that the Wanzers make while walking to the gun shots from above. Anything you do will create an accurate sound, from burning trees to blasting off an arm. The music was a little dull and uninspiring. It would sometimes change to a much more ambient sound when a fight was near, but I did not notice it for the most of the game.

    There was not much to do in the game overall. I found most of my time fighting battles, which is not that bad, I just wish there were more to do. Replay of the game was greatly increased by having two totally separate storylines and missions, creating an untold amount of battles for you to fight and explore. Many will begin with Emma's story, simply because they did not know any better. If you wanted to choose Alisa's story, then do not go with Ryoga to the military base early in the game. That will set off a trigger, taking you to another story.

    In the end, if you want a game with a lot of battles that could entertain you for hours on end, FM3 is for you. If you want a great mecha game where you could see robots ripping each other apart, FM3 is for you. If you want a game that will give you a constant adrenaline rush while supplying a story that makes you think, ala Metal Gear Solid, FM3 is not for you. Any others can rent the game and find out for themselves whether they like it or not.

    << Rating: 85 >>
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    Zalman: ZM-DS4F Headphones

    An affordable, ultra-portable headphone set.

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