Hands-on: Front Mission Evolved

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Many franchises attempt to break apart from familiar genres in an effort to expand their fan bases. Metroid went first-person, Halo went RTS and Square Enix's long-standing, tactical RPG franchise, Front Mission, has turned into a standard third-person action game.

For players still clamoring to return to the world of MechAssault, Front Mission Evolved may help cater to their needs. While the game's current state looks pretty rough, the Robot vs. Other Giant Robot action is fun, fast and fulfilling. Front Mission Evolved features a limited array of weaponry, but its quick pace actually had me hooked while it lasted. If the action becomes a little too harsh -- and the game did pose a challenge during my brief demo with the Xbox 360 version -- tapping the 'Y' button slows down time and turns every weapon in your arsenal to an automatic victory cannon.

There isn't much to the action: Run through a linear level and defeat the enemies that get in your way. It isn't the Citizen Kane of gaming, but the demo was entertaining. At least half of it was.
Eventually the game switches to on-foot action. Think Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike -- and yes, it's about as disappointing too. The controls are loose, the action is stale and the payoff is non-existent. In short, it felt as broken as it was boring.

Even though the on-foot action looked surprisingly gorgeous in comparison to the mech sections of the game, I kept hoping each room I progressed through would lead me back to a giant killing machine. Sadly, none did.

Front Mission Evolved has the potential to be a fun, albeit by-the-numbers action game. But if Square Enix and developer Double Helix Games are hellbent on including on-foot action, it had better see substantial upgrades by the time it hits stores for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
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