Return to the Second Huffman Conflict
Front Mission is a tactical mecha series that has been popular among fans but has seen limited release outside of Japan. The few mainline titles that have been released in America have been highly praised. So it should be no surprise the that the release of Front Mission 1st: Remake would be welcoming to a mecha fan like myself.
Front Mission 1st: Remake recreates one of the defining moments of the series. At the same time, it introduces one of the most iconic mecha games to a new generation. Following its success on the Nintendo Switch, it’s time for PC gamers to enjoy this classic for the first time.
Welcome to a New World
Front Mission is a tactical mech game that made its debut on the Super Famicom in 1995. It was later ported to the PlayStation in 2003 as Front Mission 1st. Although the franchise has gained popularity, its releases in the West have been limited. Front Mission 3 for the PlayStation and Front Mission 4 for the PlayStation 2 are the only mainline titles that received a releases outside of Japan. Making this remake a highly anticipated delight for fans of the series.
The Larcus Incident
The Front Mission series is set in a world where nations have come together under different multinational unions to protect their economic and political interests. The defining weapon of this world is the wanzer, mechs that are used by national armed forces and PMCs.
The story is set on Huffman Island which has been at the center of a dispute between the Oceania Cooperative Union (OSU) and the Unified Continental States (UCS). When a USN munitions plant is destroyed (the Larcus Incident), both sides declare war. This begins one of the defining moments of the series, the Second Huffman Conflict. Players take on the role of OCU Captain Royd Clive and UCS Officer Kevin Greenfield. They will each experience different aspects of the conflict while also stumbling upon a sinister conspiracy that has been playing out in the background.
The Second Huffman Conflict is an event I’ve only heard about when playing other entries. So to actually experience it from different perspectives brings some additional context to the events of future titles. One element I have to praise is the nuanced approach to telling the story. The conflict is depicted in a balanced perspective as neither side is presented as valiant or as villains.
Piloting the Wanzer
The series has been known to blend the elements of a visual novel and a mecha combat game, offering the best of both styles. Front Mission 1st: Remake is no exception as the story primarily unfolds through the format of a visual novel and is supplemented by cutscenes. Although this creative endeavor may have carried inherent risks, it was executed masterfully so many years ago that it still holds up today.
The gameplay is the standard turn-based JRPG that has been a staple of the series. Players will command a squad of wanzers that they could send into battle while plotting each move on a grid. Combat is done either using short to long-range and melee weapons. Attacks result in strikes to a critical section of a wanzer, resulting in decreased performance or becoming immobile. After each battle, players earn XP and money that could be used to upgrade their wanzer. Players also have the choice between modernized or classical setup.
The Arena had to be one of the most helpful aspects of the game. Here, one could grind for XP and cash so they can be better prepared for the main storyline. It also allows you to practice your tactics along with building the perfect wanzer.
Front Mission 1st: Remake is an opportunity for mecha fans to play the game that started the iconic series. However, fans should be aware that it does have a fair share of issues. The biggest among them is the attacks are based too much on randomized chance and poor level design regarding the jungle environments.
As this is a JRPG, there is always a chance that your attacks may miss. That is not the case here as your success rate is primarily determined by chance. Initially, there is a high likelihood that your attacks may not land successfully. I experienced a situation where one of my units failed to hit the same target four turns in a row during a mission. While your chances of hitting the target do improve as you level up, the odds of success only increase marginally.
The urban environments offer a distinct and engaging experience, providing unique challenges and obstacles. The same cannot be said for the jungle environments. While an environment should present its fair share of challenges, all that is absent in the jungle stages. This is in contrast to the urban settings in which your view or path can be obstructed by the condition of a structure.
Where it All Began
As a fan who was first introduced to the series with Front Mission 4 for the PlayStation 2, this remake is welcoming. It allows me to experience the original game for the first time but in a modern framework. The story is a timeless classic while the game itself set the groundwork for a series to grow. It has some shortcomings but it doesn’t hinder the overall experience.
Front Mission 1st: Remake is the long awaited chance for fans to experience the game that established the iconic franchise. At the same time, it will allow a new generation to be introduced to one of the most iconic mecha titles.
Disclaimer: Forever Entertainment provided the game used for this review.
This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.
8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the gamer community of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Front Mission 1st: Remake (PC)
- Mech fans can finally play the first Front Mission game.
- Story from different perspectives offers a nuanced approach to the experience.
- Option between modernized gameplay or the classical setup.
- Easy to learn gameplay but requires time to master.
- Combat maneuvers are determined too much by randomized chance.
- Poor level design regarding the jungle environments.