Initial release date: November 2022
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developers: Forever Entertainment S. A., Square Enix
Publishers: Forever Entertainment S. A., Microïds
Series: Front Mission
Genres: Role-playing video game, Strategy video game, Strategy game, Adventure game
"Review Copy Provided By Forever Entertainment S. A"
The Front Mission series made its debut in 1995 with the release of Front Mission for Super Famicon in Japan. Although the game was remade for the PlayStation as Front Mission 1st, neither of those versions were available in the United States. Front Mission 3 was the first installment of the series released to Western gamers in 2000, and a remake of Front Mission 1st for the Nintendo DS was released in 2007, giving them the chance to experience the initial title. After fifteen years, Square Enix licensed series remakes to Forever Entertainment, who faithfully remade the Front Mission 1st experience for the Nintendo Switch. Although the first entry in this long-running series is showing its age, Front Mission 1st: Remake is a gritty, unflinching story of war and the scars it leaves both on and off the battlefield.
The game’s story takes place on Huffman Island, a fictional territory in the Pacific that is in a perpetual dispute between the United States of the New Continent (USN) and the Oceania Cooperative Union (OSU), with both factions vying for control of the land for its geopolitical resources. Before the game's events, the simmering tensions led to the 1st Huffman Conflict, which resulted in the island's bifurcation. As the dysfunction between the two factions ebbs and wanes over the years, an event known as the Larcus incident occurs on June 3, 2090, sparking the 2nd Huffman Conflict. The game begins during the opening hours of the Larcus incident.
In the story, players assume the role of OCU Captain Royd Clive during a mission in the Larcus District. Upon arrival, Royd’s squad is ambushed by an enemy group, and their leader, Driscoll, destroys the Wanzer operated by Royd’s fiance, Karen, presumably killing her. The enemy group destroys the factory located in Larcus, with the USN using its attack as a pretext for initiating the 2nd Huffman Conflict. As a result of their involvement, the OSU discharges Royd and his cohort from the military.
The story resumes a year later, where Royd has been spending his time in cage matches to forget about Karen’s death. He is approached by OCU Colonel Olson and recruited to lead a mercenary group known as the Canyon Crows. Although disillusioned at the notion of working for the same military that unjustifiably exiled him, Royd is eager to swallow his distaste to hunt down Karen’s killer. Players are given the choice between two campaigns representing each side of the conflict. There is also an opportunity to play through a second scenario from the perspective of USN Officer Kevin Greenfield in a storyline that begins before the Larcus Incident and throughout the timeline of Royd’s scenario, providing new revelations and a chance to experience this modern warfare from the other side's perspective.
As the ranks of the Canyon Crows grow, Royd bears witness to the horrors of modern warfare, with old friends scarred by war, offers of aid giving way to duplicitous intentions, and a growing body count on each side of the war. The story grapples with the effects of nationalism in wartime through the lens of this global conflict. These themes are a welcome departure from the high-fantasy politicking frequently experienced in the genre, and even more fascinating considering the story is 27 years old. The corresponding environments are also enthralling, with Wanzers gliding across a highway and laying waste to other tanks in the middle of an urban downtown.
Despite some minor gameplay issues, Front Mission 1st: Remake provides an engaging and thought-provoking experience. The game's narrative explores the complexities and consequences of war, touching on themes such as nationalism and the scars of conflict on individuals and society. Additionally, the game's customizable Wanzers add a layer of depth and strategy to the gameplay, allowing players to tailor their units to their playstyle.
Overall, Front Mission 1st: Remake is a welcome addition to the series, faithfully recreating the gritty and unflinching story of the original game for a modern audience. While some elements may show their age, the game's engaging narrative and deep customization options more than make up for any shortcomings. Fans of the series and newcomers alike should consider giving this game a try.