For those who signed up at the official site some weeks ago, a pretty extensive demo disc on the upcoming turn-based strategy title should have arrived by mail. When our copy showed up, we tossed it in our console and gave it a solid run through. With character designs by Yusuke Naora, whose art was one of the best aspects of Unlimited SaGa, this Front Mission takes place in 2096, six years after the first Front Mission title. With two story arcs staring Elsa and Darril, the game's story is set in both Germany and South America.
When you get into the demo, you'll find four missions immediately available. While one mission is purely a lengthy story sequence and another is a tutorial on how to move and attack for those who have never played a Front Mission title before, the other two missions give you an idea of how the game plays out. Once you're through with those four, another two become available and once through with those, there's a secret mission available. The three unlockable missions prove to be much harder and really get into the meat of what Front Mission 4 will give players.
While the core gameplay of Front Mission 4 proves to be pretty familiar, there are enough new changes to keep the die-hard fans happy. Once again, players will have to gauge how they use their AP to move, attack and counter enemy attacks, but this time they can use the link system to perform group attacks and counterattacks. This gives the player another option when planning their offensive. Another change is a stronger implementation of the backpack. This time around, you have backpacks that store items, use AP to repair, use EMP attacks or even radio in air strikes.
Gameplay-wise, Front Mission fans will get a lot of what they expect, including the skills system. When it comes to graphics and audio, the demo shows off some noticeable improvements there as well. First and foremost, the orchestration of the cutscenes is improved. They feel more fluid and less clunky and there seems to be less standing around. The graphic engine is improved with lots of nice details, but it still seems to need some polish (which won't likely be altered before game release). Mostly, the issue comes from a lot of jagginess present throughout the demo. If you've played previous strategy RPGs, this won't be much of an issue as FM4 still looks better than most. The presence of voice acting in the non-combat story portions is nice and except for the heavy-handed accents, the performances seem to be adequate.
While this may not be too comprehensive, it should give you an idea of what to expect. With the game release just around the corner, die hard Front Mission fans are sure to wear out their demo disc until the full game hits retail stores.