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Front Mission 4 is a tactical role playing game developed and published by Square Enix that was released in Japan on December 18, 2003 and in the US on June 15, 2004. It is a tactical role-playing game in which the player assumes the role of two characters, both of whom pilot large mecha known as Wanzers.
This is the fourth installment in the Front Mission series, the first to be released on the Sony PlayStation 2 video game console, and the second to be released in North America, the first being Front Mission 3.
Front Mission 4 borrows several of the gameplay mechanics found in Front Mission 2. The game progresses in a linear manner: watch cut-scene events, complete missions, set up their wanzers during intermissions, and sortie for the next mission. The player travels to locations on a world map. As the player progresses through the plot, new locations are revealed on the world map. Towns and cities act as intermission points where the player can organize and set up their units for the upcoming mission. Battle zones are where the missions take place, though they become inaccessible upon the completion of a mission. Like in Front Mission 2, Front Mission 4 alternates control between the game's two main characters. However, the two scenarios never merge at any point of the game.
The missions in FM4 are traditional tactical RPG fare, ranging from destroying all enemy targets to protecting a certain allied target. There are a number of returning features from Front Mission 2 that are used for mission play, namely Action Points (AP) and Links. Action Points (AP) is a feature that dictates how much actions can be done with each unit. Actions such as moving and attacking require a certain amount of AP to use. At the end of a full turn, which is one Player Phase and Enemy Phase, a set amount of AP is replenished. A unit's AP amount and recharge value depends on how many AP-specific abilities its pilot has learned.
Links is a feature that allows multiple units to provide offensive and defensive support to each other during battles. Unlike in Front Mission 2 and Front Mission 3, players have greater control over Links. Up to four units can be linked together to form one "link"; an offensive link for Player Phase battles, and a defensive link for Enemy Phase battles. Additionally, the player can dictate the degree of support a unit can provide; a linked unit can use battle skills or no battle skills at all. For linked actions, a weapon must be set in order to participate in an offensive or defensive linked battle. Lastly, two special actions can also be set as linked actions: Antilock and Salvage from EMP and radio backpacks, respectively. Antilock causes missiles within range to miss, while Salvage restores any wanzers destroyed in battle.
Returning features aside, Front Mission 4 has a number of new gameplay mechanics. Weapons are now capable of attacking more than once during any battle, provided that the unit initiating the attack has sufficient AP and weapon ammunition. The time of day affects a weapon's chances of hitting its target; for example, accuracy is lowered during night time. Weather conditions affect the effective range of weapons; for example, a blizzard will reduce a machine gun's maximum firing range by one square. Like in Front Mission Alternative, there are new auxiliary backpacks that offer unique features when used on the battlefield. In addition to the item, turbo, and repair backpacks, players can now use jetpacks, sensor backpacks, EMP backpacks, and radio backpacks.
Sensor backpacks are equipped with sonar and radar sensors that extend the firing range of missile launchers. EMP backpacks are armed with electromagnetic pulse (EMP) waves that disable various functions on its target. Jetpacks have built-in verniers that allow a wanzer to scale buildings and directly bypass obstacles such as water. Radio backpacks have communications equipment that allows a wanzer to act as a forward air controller by signaling a transport to drop supplies, armor coating, or call in an air strike. Aside from these new additions, turbo backpacks now come with a small amount of item space and repair backpacks can remove EMP-inflicted status damage.
Setting and storyEdit
See also: List of Front Mission 4 characters
Front Mission 4 has two major scenarios that run parallel to each other, set in the year 2096. One scenario takes place in the European Community (EC) and the other scenario takes place in the Unified Continental States (UCS). UCS is the North American translation for the United States of the New Continent (USN), though the reasons for the change are unknown. In the North American translation for Front Mission 3, USN is left unchanged. A large portion of the between-mission dialogue is delivered through voice overs in English (for all regional versions of the game), which is a first for the series.
At the beginning of the game, the player assumes the role of Elsa Eliane, a new recruit for the EC Armored Tactics Research Corps, the "Durandal". The Durandal's initial assignment is to investigate a series of recent attacks on EC German military bases by unknown forces. After completing several missions with the Durandal and learning more about the causes of the attacks, the narrative shifts focus to the other scenario. The second scenario starts off in UCS Venezuela (which has attempted to secede from the UCS) and centers around UCS Army Sgt Darril Traubel and his teammates Billy Renges and Phillip Chaeffer. The three witness the crash of a Venezuelan State Army (VSA) transport plane that turns out to be carrying gold bullion worth up to $25 million belonging to Venezuelan Governor Bruno Diaz. They decide to steal the gold and go AWOL, but it is not long before they are found out by the VSA and have to escape Venezuela.
After a few more missions detailing their attempts to escape, the narrative returns focus to Elsa and the Durandal. For the rest of the game, the narrative continues to shift back and forth between the two scenarios after a certain amount of missions are completed. Eventually, a plot connection is established between the scenarios, though they remain independent of one another for the entire game. Eventually, the Republic of Zaftra is discovered to be source of their issues. Front Mission 4 expands on the unresolved plot elements regarding Zaftra that were revealed at the end of Front Mission 1st, detailing the real reasons behind Zaftra's involvement in both installments. Two characters from the first game also make appearances in Front Mission 4: Frederick Lancaster from the OCU side and Maria Paredes from the UCS side. Several minor loose ends are resolved in Front Mission 5: Scars of the War, though all of the major plot elements are resolved in Front Mission 4.