Front Mission 2: Remake Review – The Anatomy of Mech Combat

Front Mission 2: Remake Review – The Anatomy of Mech Combat

In the Fall of 2023 (spring if you’re in the southern hemisphere), Two classic Square Enix titles received Remakes. One of them was lavishly redone with full voice acting, rebalanced gameplay, and a ton of quality-of-life upgrades to bring it more in line with what we expect from a modern title. In addition, it was heavily marketed, had a three-hour demo, and clearly had the full weight and attention of the property holders behind it.

The other was Front Mission 2: Remake from publisher Forever Entertainment. Wait…. This bit seems familiar….

Historically, the Front Mission series occupies a unique space when compared to its contemporaries. Unlike the medieval fantasy conflicts found in games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem, Front Mission aimed to place its strategy RPG within a modern setting, just before the 22nd Century. It’s a story where war is a harrowing reality, and the only monsters are other people equipped with the same weaponry as you.

Entering the Battlefield: Front Mission 2’s Story and Setting

In Front Mission 2, you assume control of a group of Oceania Cooperative Union (OCU) soldiers entangled in the crossfire of a civil war that directly stems from the first game’s conflict. The violence never truly subsided, and the Alordesh military orchestrates a coup d’état. As much as you’d like to simply walk away and escape, Alordesh has taken prisoners, including your fellow countrymen. But remember, this is a video game.

Oh, and there are mechs involved—Wanzers, to be precise. In terms of combat, being a strategy RPG, it follows a grid-based system with alternating ally and enemy phases. Units don’t have a single HP total; instead, they feature multiple health bars, each assigned to different parts of the unit. Wanzers, for example, have four health bars: two for their arms, one for their legs, and an additional large one for their body. Once the body’s health is depleted, the Wanzer is out of commission for good.

This setup allows for strategic decision-making. Do you target an enemy Wanzer’s body immediately? Do you cripple its legs to engage from a distance? Or do you aim to render it harmless?

In-Depth Look at Combat Mechanics

However, there’s a catch. Much like the first game, you have zero control over which body parts your mechs target. It’s entirely dependent on luck. You do have a range of weapons at your disposal to equip your Wanzer, but you’ll notice that none of them deliver especially high damage. They often hit multiple times for minimal damage, with hit rates as low as 60-70%.

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What initially appears to be an intriguing combat system with significant depth potential, an equipment menu featuring pages of damage numbers, linked units for support, terrain and flanking mechanics—all of it ends up feeling like a wasted opportunity due to a roll of the dice. As a result, battles tend to sway based on luck. The game is compelling and enjoyable when luck is on your side but quickly becomes frustrating when it’s not.

Where Front Mission 2: Remake Falls Short

The Front Mission 2 Remake inherits all the flaws of the previous remake. While these faults were understandable in the 1997 original, the lack of effort to improve the flawed gameplay for a 2023 remake is perplexing.

The issues don’t stop there for the Front Mission 2 Remake. While the visuals appear decent, it’s essentially the original game with higher-resolution assets. Those with a discerning eye may notice that the original features dynamic movement animations, which are conspicuously absent in this release. Some might argue that these animations were removed to speed up the slow-paced battles. However, the difference in time is negligible, and there were other creative ways to enhance the combat experience.

Lost in Translation

Furthermore, much of the flavor text for locations and events was originally written in English in the Japanese release. Unfortunately, the English translation wasn’t polished for the English release. This results in nearly all non-dialogue text being messy and occasionally incomprehensible. Such issues weigh down the enjoyment of the story, which is frustrating, given the interesting world-building concepts.

These translation issues sparked discussions online, and Forever Entertainment even promised to fix them, but this problem shouldn’t have arisen in the first place. At least there’s a silver lining—you can customize your robots and make them look cool.

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Front Mission 2: Remake is, unsurprisingly, a remake of Front Mission 2. If you enjoyed the original, you’ll likely appreciate the remake. However, there isn’t much else to justify this release. The story is intriguing, but even the most dedicated fans of clunky, slow-paced video games may struggle to endure the RNG-heavy combat. This is especially concerning, considering it’s supposed to be the second of three Front Mission remakes. After the quality of the first two, there’s skepticism about whether the remake of Front Mission 3 will retain its essence.

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