Here in the EU the last Front Mission game we got was Front Mission 3 (in 2000, on the PS1), #4 and #5 were released only in the US/Japan and, in #5's case, only
So where's the market for a franchise that's been denied for ten years? To top it all off, the isometric strategy/RPG hybrid everyone was comfortable with is now a multiplat third person shooter. I really had to try to get over my frustration with these decisions. Personally, I haven't played a FM game since #3 when it was added to the Playstation Network.
I played this game through twice on Normal difficulty with mouse & keyboard and an Xbox 360 controller.
Front Mission Evolved is an OK mech game. It's very similar to the Armored Core titles that were released on the PS2, only with more drama and plot - I'd go as far as to say the level of customization is almost the same, except you can't design your own decals.
Gameplay is typical stomp to the waypoint, dash, smash and blast everything. Enemies range from soldiers on foot to artillery units, gunships, tanks and (of course) other Wanzers. If you've played a Front Mission game before you will recognize everything from Wanzer types, to parts and weapons, and it's pretty cool seeing them as 3D models. There is a story, but it's pretty stupid, and all the antagonists are over the top in ways only Japan knows how. Fair chance a new player isn't going to know or care about things like O.C.S., O.C.U. and D.H.Z. either.
It's mostly of interest to fans of mech games, though not as strategic as PC players are used to - compared to Mechwarrior and Heavy Gear it's a basic shooter, but it's fun and satisfying most of the time. Damage is localised so parts such as arms and legs can be destroyed, though by the time you get that far your opponent is practically dead anyway. The sound design is good; weapons/explosions sound heavy and all the Wanzers stamp about very loudly.
Most of the time you will have an AI-controlled squadmate or two with you, they are useless and thick as posts. They hang back, stop moving, don't engage enemies and stand in your line of fire. There's also boss-fights; when it's time for those your teammates conviniently disappear. I found most of these battles to be dull, frustrating, annoying, cheap, bullet-sponge pieces of ♥♥♥♥ that rely on stunlocking and cheesing the player so much as to encourage controller smashing. To add artificial difficulty the game often likes to throw in two to four overpowered characters at you at the same time you've been force-equipped mobility hampering lower chassis like hover legs or quad legs. There are also occasional stages where you get to play outside of your Wanzer, these sections are fairly basic third person shooter fare, aren't particularly great but they do help break up the gameplay and add a nice sense of scale, especially when you get to fight piloted Wanzers armed only with a light machine gun and a missile launcher.
Overall: worth a look for mech/FM fans, but can't really recommend it. A port of Front Mission 4 would have been more welcome.