Part 10: A Short Guide to Front Mission (non-mission update)
What is Going On, by Request of the Harsh Criticism Thread!
It was requested in the critique thread that I should explain this game for people who haven't played it. So, here's my best shot.
Front Mission is like Final Fantasy Tactics with mechs. You've got an isometric map on which your guys and their guys line up, and you fight it out.
These pictures demonstrate the map and combat respectively. Most input is done on the map, with highlighted squares showing your movement/firing range. (like Advance Wars, FFT and all the others)
Combat takes place in the form of little cutscenes where your guy takes a shot at the enemy, and the enemy fires back if they've got any guns left. Counter-attacking can be just as good as attacking and there's no penalty to doing so if you can (except you lose defensive bonuses from guarding/using a shield) so I recommend it. In fact, some weapons (flamethrowers especially) have a chance to get first strike on counters and can prevent an enemy from attacking by destroying them.
You've got four life bars - Body, Left and Right Arms, and Legs. If your body dies, in true Mechwarrior style, your pilot's out for the count. If the main character dies, it's game over. Losing your arms prevents you from attacking and losing your legs limits you to 2 spaces of movement a turn.
The van which follows you around, aside from being an extra gun, does a few things. It can store extra disposable items like flashbangs and repair kits, spare parts like replacement weapons (if you need to upgrade mid-fight, for example), repair destroyed limbs to 1HP and can reload weapons with limited ammo (missiles). Note you have to forfeit your turn for that unit to do this.
Combat and EXP
Killing stuff gives you EXP (as does taking a shot at the enemy even if it doesn't kill them) and as you gain levels your damage increases. The more you use a certain class of weapon, the less damage other types do (so if you level up melee loads, missiles do less) so it helps to see what weapons a newcomer has levels in.
As you gain levels, you learn skills based on what you're levelling up. In the last battle, Clevain learnt a skill allowing him to pick what limb his missile launcher targets, and other skills increase your rate of fire (actual shots fired, so a machine gun may hit six or seven times instead of the normal 4), allow you to fire twice (or more) in a turn, or allow you to attack first when attacked by the enemy.
Pimping Your Wanzer
Between battles, you can fight Collosseum battles for money and upgrade your units at the shop. Different parts have different HP, Defense and Weight values (and arms have a base melee attack power too) and you have a max weight of 100, so you have to pick carefully. Backpacks are items which reduce your total weight and allow you to have more weapons and heavier parts.
Weapons come in six types, Machine Guns, Melee Weapons, Rifles, Flamers, Grenade Launchers and Missile Launchers. Machine guns, melee weapons, rifles and flamers have a 1-square range, grenade launchers and missile launchers have longer range (and grenade launchers have no minimum range or ammo limit, but make up for it with godawful accuracy). Later on, machine guns are replaced by miniguns which have amazing rates of fire and damage but are expensive and heavy.
There are also shields, which can reduce the damage you take but blow up eventually. Each mech can have two "hand-held" weapons and two shoulder mounts (missiles and shields are shoulder weapons, everything else is hand-held). However, there are some arms which have built in weapons and disallow shoulder mounts. These generally have much higher HP than other arms, but suffer for damage and the inability to have missiles or shields.
Finally, there's wheels and hovercraft legs. These have high movement and defence but, like Daleks, flounder on stairs and cliffs.
What's very weird, though, is all body parts have the slot for integral weapons, and some (like the GROP chassis) have the graphic of a minigun built in. But they don't have stats, probably because being able to fight with no arms is not exactly fair.
Other Things of Note
To finish off, I'd like to say that there's a lot to this game even though it's not very hard. You can avoid recruiting some characters and handicap yourself by not upgrading very often if you wish, but it's fun to fight "boss" mechs with a vast army simply because they often have massive HP and weapons a couple of tech levels above yours. For example, you can't survive a 1-on-1 with Driscoll until the last third of the game, while other "big" units (which we'll be seeing soon) can easily one-shot one of your mechs if you're not careful.
And then there's grenades, which have fun effects like increasing your damage (Acid Bomb), making the enemy miss (Chaff Grenade) or making you always hit (Flash Grenade).
I hope this made things a little clearer.