2010 Reviews

Front Mission Evolved

  • Review Date: 2014-05
  • Release Date: 2010-09
  • Developer: Double Helix Games
  • Rating: 5.5

I wasn't able to play Silent Hill: Homecoming, so this is the first game I've played from Double Helix Games, and it's not a good start. Evolved feels like it was made by a developer that just isn't good enough to be making video games. The story feels like it's was written by a child, and I don't mean written for children, it's an adult game, but it's so full of absurdities and clich├ęs. The overall plot sounded okay, but the way Double Helix tell the story is where it falls apart. Every single sentence and comma has what feels like minutes of pausing before the character gets to the next line. The voice acting is just as bad.

I decided to play Evolved because I'd just played Transformers, another mech game, so I thought it would be useful to compare the two. But there's no comparison at all. Evolved combat is messy at worst, average at best. You may have a few fun moments in between cut scenes and boss battles, but not many. You collect money to purchase upgrades, but the GUI is a mess and you're often forced into certain upgrades you don't want. Also I saved up most of my money for the last 1/4 of the game, only to discover the developer does away with between-level purchasing for the entire last chapter, so I couldn't even get all the equipment I wanted. I think if I quit and started over I could have purchased extra items then, but of course I'd lose my checkpoint progress and since the last chapter is played seamlessly I had no idea where one level ended and the next begun. The upgrades are rubbish.

Sometimes you get to leave your mech for some normal sized combat, which is even worse. The machine gun recoils everywhere, and there's often not enough ammo.

I haven't got to the worst part yet - the boss battles. Boss battles mainly consist of a normal enemy with 1000 times the health. Okay, maybe not 1000, but at least over 100 times the health. In turns into a game of camping by the health and ammo respawns while slowly getting their health down. Over and over again. There are couple of battles where you take on bigger enemies that stay stationary while you shoot weak spots. The final boss will take about 20 minutes of solid shooting non-stop, and I was firing both rockets and machine gun all at once. That's one good thing about the game, you have four different weapons and they can all be fired at once if you have enough spare fingers.

But back to the boss battles, they leave no feeling of completion or satisfaction because as soon as you think you've finally defeated them, a cutscene occurs where they get up and run away, or fire a single shot to disable you. After bosses repeatedly get away, late in the game you get to go up against four at once. That was enough for me, especially when they can instant-kill you with one good hit with their rockets while you'll need to hit them with literally hundreds of rockets. In the end I had to get a trainer. The boss battles are just too awfully executed, by a studio that doesn't know what the hell they're doing.

I haven't really talked about design. Mech games normally don't have good design - you end up playing in what feels like a cardboard cutout city where buildings are just plain rectangles. Transformers was different, oozing with detail. But Evolved is the typical ugly mech game. The cities look terrible, are completely linear and there are no destructibles at all, apart from lampposts and cars. There are other areas such as Antarctica, an island, a space station. They're all slightly less jarring, but overall the graphics feel like they're circa 2006/07.

If I had to pick some positives, the mechs do look cool, and the plot had promise (if it was told in someone elses hands). But otherwise not recommended.

Front Mission Evolved