Front Mission 2 Remake Review

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I’ve sat on my thoughts about Front Mission 2 Remake for months, probably too many months. As an avid fan of SRPGs, giant robots, and unlocalized games from the ’90s I was excited from the get-go. This game was notable for how elusive it has always been to western audiences, so while the ideal situation would be a localized port or remaster of that PlayStation version, a full remake has its value. I thought the remake of the original Front Mission was overall solid, so I had high hopes that feedback could be used to make this remake the best possible. Unfortunately, for a copious amount of reasons we’ll likely never fully know, Front Mission 2 Remake is full of problems.

There’s been a large number of updates and tweaks to Front Mission 2 Remake since its rocky launch, so much so that I feel that it’s a living game. This is not the same game that I played months ago, but I wouldn’t really say it’s that much of a better game. It plays better, and there are definitely balance adjustments that make for a more enjoyable SRPG, but it’s obvious from following it closely that it’ll take a while before this lives up to its potential. Maybe it never will, or maybe an update will drop seconds after this review goes live. I can’t fully know, but at this point, I don’t really wish to wait much longer.

The story is a direct sequel to the first game, involving a new cast of Wanzer pilots needing to survive a political coup where they’re stationed. Any gameplay issue would have been unfortunate to deal with in a revival of a game this special, but as long as we had a chance to experience the story as intended I’d be somewhat forgiving. The translation is probably one of the worst I’ve seen in years, reading stilted at best and full of typos with nonsensical grammar at worst. The original Front Mission had been translated when it was officially remade by Square Enix on the Nintendo DS, but its sequel had to be translated from scratch. Even if this wasn’t the case, the script that came on launch feels like machine translation or at least a very unedited raw translation from someone on a time crunch.

Front Mission 2 Remake Review Screenshot 1

The script is so lacking that it is honestly hard to judge the story accurately. Every character talks the same, with the only bit of unique flavor coming from the occasional typo. Any potential emotional moment falls flat. All of the sites on the network, providing key lore and background information, reads nonsensically. The reason for this is that this text supposedly was written in broken English even in the JP release, but I feel like in that case some of the original team should have been brought in to provide clarification on the intent instead of presenting it as is. The story, no matter how good the original Japanese script might be, is never able to present itself as anything better than passable. 

This translation also affects the play experience, if even to a lesser extent. There is a plethora of typos in the menus, like “Career” displaying as “Carrer” and the color “Gray” presented as a man named “Gary”. The latter one was patched at some point, but was quite hilarious to see for a while after launch. Supposedly the latest demo features a look at their latest big localization update I can only assume is being prepared for the upcoming physical retail release. Since we don’t have an exact date for this, I can only report on what has been available for several months since release. 

Having originally released as a Nintendo Switch exclusive, the visuals are solid but nothing groundbreaking. This isn’t a rock-solid 60 frames-per-second experience, and even docked the game is hardly a looker. It simply gets the job done, with a lot of the detail put into the Wanzer models. Given the system’s weaker hardware, this was probably the best thing to put resources into. There’s a lot of fun mech customization on offer for every single unit in your army, from parts to designs, and they’ve made the jump from the PlayStation beautifully. You can tell the 3D artists have an adoration for mecha, they did a wonderful job.

Front Mission 2 Remake Review Screenshot 2

Because these models look so great, it’s sad to say that it seems that they’ve cut the incredibly dynamic battle animations from the original game. Just looking at gameplay online shows really lengthy battle animations for each encounter, and while I understand that could lead to fatigue for modern audiences, what they went with instead strips out a lot of personality from battles. Now we just get a very generic set of approach and attack battle animations popular in the genre today. 

The gameplay is another aspect that I’m equally mixed on. I’m glad they remained faithful to the original game, but that’ll probably come at the cost of alienating a lot of players. Every single engagement in Front Mission 2 Remake’s battles comes down solely to RNG. There are ways you can build your Wanzers to handle this, and you can specialize them in certain ways, but at the end of the day whether you win or lose comes down to a dice roll. The parts of a Wanzer all have their own health, and what parts your attacks hit is what is random. An enemy could come at you and score an incredibly lucky attack to knock out both arms, leaving you defenseless. However you could just as easily do that to them, and that messiness of battles being able to go any way at a split second adds a tense feeling to them that makes you feel immersed in the war. 

What feels much less immersive is the user interface (UI) and the game feel being clunky. Battle UI doesn’t always give you the best idea of what you’re getting into when you approach an enemy, and isn’t very readable when you are in combat. Moving your units also feels floaty, something common in 3D SRPGs emulating 2D grid-based games. You get used to it, but menu navigation doesn’t feel snappy and it makes fights grow tedious as you struggle with the controls.

Front Mission 2 Remake Review Screenshot 3

You can have the RNG play out more in your favor by assigning skills to units, which prog at random but can give you more moves in battle or possibly buffs to specific actions. Another aspect I think is bound to be divisive is ammo, with the early missions in particular being rather punishing to players who aren’t playing optimally. I grew to really love battles, but there are moments when there’s just too much friction that doesn’t always seem intended.

Despite how much I ultimately really enjoy how battles play out, this game has a lot of bugs being reported by fans in Forever Entertainment’s Discord. Crashing issues, visual effects not rendering correctly, AI issues, and more. I had plenty of issues early on with ally AI being incredibly poor, making characters I was supposed to protect drive right into enemy lines and causing me to restart. Bugs and glitches are a hard thing to report on, and I say this as someone who codes for a living. Talking about them in depth will make this review not hold up, but most of my experience has been inconsistent through a series of patches. The difficulty balance, for example, has felt a lot better since I first played. 

This is a textbook case of a disappointing remake. Without the context of the original, you’d probably assume Front Mission 2 is a mediocre game. I’m sure the intent of all of the developers wasn’t nefarious, and it’s possible that there was just a brutal time crunch they had to work under that resulted in so many cut corners. The translation is such a massive blemish on this game that I can’t recommend this even being worth your time until it is properly retranslated, and hopefully, by then, you can grab it for a convenient sale. Front Mission 2 deserved better, and I wish I could have properly experienced everything it had to offer.

However, I don’t think a better script will fully alleviate a lot of my disappointments with this remake as a whole. As a work of art, this just seems lacking compared to the original game. So much is lost aesthetically, and it doesn’t feel like this was faithfully adapted. The style chosen also doesn’t feel unique enough to warrant the departure, the game is visually generic most of the time. I think the best summary of the ways this remake disregards the artistic legacy of the original has to do with the removal of a seemingly inconsequential menu option.

front mission 2 remake color palette

In the PlayStation version’s configuration menu, there was only one thing you could change, the window color. The Japanese version has a lot of English used for mostly stylistic purposes, but all with intent. Each of these you’d scroll through features alternating color palettes:

  • #00 Default Color
  • #01 Color of your eyes,
  • #02 My eyes,
  • #03 Your hair,
  • #04 My hair,
  • #05 Your voice,
  • #06 My voice,
  • #07 Your tears,
  • #08 My tears,
  • #09 Your heart,
  • #10 My heart,
  • #11 Me in your mind,
  • #12 You in your mind,
  • #13 You,
  • #14 Me,
  • #15 and You and Me

This small feature, something easily missable, is emblematic of Front Mission 2 Remake. The art is gone now, and the beautiful contrast of disparate elements with it. It’s all homogenized, safe in a way where love cannot bloom.

Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Forever Entertainment

Total Score
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