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Front Mission 5: Scars of the War is the fifth game in the main Front Mission series of strategy role-playing games from Square Enix, which focus on conflicts between several world powers: the USN, OCU, EC, OAC, and Republic of Zaftra. The game was released on December 29, 2005 in Japan only. Both English and Russian fan translations are available for those who wish to play the game outside of Japan.
Front Mission 5: Scars of the War borrows much of the core gameplay mechanics found in Front Mission 2, as well as a plethora of features from other Front Mission entries. 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. Military bases and supply camps act as intermission points where the player can organize and set up their units for the upcoming mission.
Missions in Scars of the War 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 its pilot's proficiency levels; the higher it is, the greater the amount of AP that can be used and replenished.
Links is a feature that allows multiple units to provide offensive and defensive support to each other during battles. Scars of the War streamlines this feature by allowing up to six units to form one "link" for Player Phase and Enemy Phase battles. As long as a unit's pilot has a Link-class skill and the appropriate weapons equipped, they can participate in linked battles. Incorporated into the Links feature is pilot types; this dictates the linked actions that a unit can do during combat. For example, an aggressive pilot will attack with complete disregard for friendly fire situations and AP. Likewise, a defensive pilot will avoid causing friendly fire, but will disregard this concern if they have used repairs on an allied unit in the line of fire.
Returning features aside, Scars of the War has a number of new gameplay mechanics, the most notable being friendly fire. Unlike other Front Mission titles, any units in a weapon's line of fire will be subject to being hit by its rounds. Each weapon class has a distinct firing path; for example, shotgun rounds spread in mid-flight and can hit units away from its firing path. Another new addition is part skills; parts can be equipped with special features that grant them unique properties. For example, rifles can shoot through multiple targets in its line of fire with the part skill "Piercing". Auxiliary backpacks from Front Mission 4 that make a return include: item, turbo, repair, jetpack, sensor, and EMP backpacks. Several of the auxiliary backpacks have new functions: item backpacks come with a small increase in power output, sensor backpacks can use EMP, and EMP backpacks can add armor coats or repair damaged parts.
Outside of battles, Scars of the War also boasts a New Game + option as well as a Hard Mode difficulty setting. Other returning features from other Front Mission entries include: Arena, Battle Simulator, briefings, mission branching, and remodeling. Other new features to Scars of the War include: part sorting, scouting, Survival Simulator, and Theater Mode.
- Arena is a feature where the player can field a number of pilots to battle Arena combatants, controlled by AI, for monetary rewards (Command Points, or CP). The player can also battle characters from past Front Mission entries.
- Briefings are shown to aid the player about mission conditions, special notes, and special enemies. Pictures, streaming data, and the ability to review the mission area are used to illustrate these details.
- Battle Simulator is a VR simulator where the player can improve the combat proficiencies of their pilots. These simulators can be taken and repeated at any given time.
- Mission branching is an option that allows the player to choose what type of mission they can play next. This feature is seen several times in the game.
- Parts and weapons that are purchased can be upgraded through remodeling. New to remodeling in this game is part optimization; when using Remodel Points (RP), a part can transform into one of many derivative versions from its part set.
- Parts, auxiliary backpacks, weapons, and items can be arranged in a number of ways through part sorting.
- Scouting allows the player to recruit extra pilots to their platoon. The range of pilots that can be recruited increases as the game progresses. Over 80 pilots can be scouted, with a maximum of 12 pilots being used at any given time.
- Survival Simulator is a simulator where the player goes through a set number of floors with one pilot. Upon completing the simulator or finding the item "Escape Code", the player can end the simulation and bring items found in the floors back to the main game. Any leftover item space is converted into RP.
- In Theater Mode, the player can view event cut-scenes that have taken place based on when the save file was made. Players can also change their wanzer setups at any given time.
In Front Mission 5: Scars of the War, players assume the role of United States of the New Continent (USN) soldier Walter Feng. The narrative takes place over several decades from 2070 to 2121, passing by time periods from other Front Mission installments (2089: Border of Madness/1st/2/3/4). In addition, unresolved plot elements from the said installments are explored in greater depth in the narrative. These plot elements are answered conclusively as the player progresses further in the game. However, because of this, only those who have played all of the previous installments mentioned above will fully understand Scars of the War's narrative.
In 2070, Walter and his friends Randy O'Neill and Glen Duval witness the outbreak of the 1st Huffman Conflict. Walter and Glen receive injuries and physical scars as a result of the opening skirmish. The three boys are separated after the war; Glen stayed with the Oceania Cooperative Union (OCU) whereas Walter and Randy joined the USN. The three enlist in their respective militaries and reunite by chance during a peacekeeping skirmish at Peseta City in 2086. After seeing Glen pilot a wanzer, Walter and Randy undergo training to become wanzer pilots themselves.
In 2090, an OCU attack in the USN-controlled Larcus District sparks the start of the 2nd Huffman Conflict. Walter and Randy, now wanzer pilots at Fort Monus Base, are sent out to assist the USN offensive against the OCU. Early in the war, Walter's platoon encounters Glen in Freedom City and a battle ensues. Despite taking Glen as a prisoner, Walter and Randy visit him before he is shipped off to a POW camp. The three meet again in the final day of the war, one year later in Fort Monus. This time, Glen easily handles Walter's platoon and kills Randy. The OCU and USN declare a ceasefire shortly after Glen leaves.
While cleaning up Randy's belongings, Walter notices an application form to join the Strike Wyverns. He crosses out Randy's signature and signs the form. Walter is accepted into the unit after weeks of training and is assigned to the USN Navy aircraft carrier Eclipse, where meets his CO, Lynn Wenright, and old friend Edward Collins. Over the years, Walter participates in military operations worldwide and builds a reputation as an excellent soldier both on and off the battlefield. Hector Reynolds, the Barghest CO, recognizes Walter's potential during an operation to recapture Zaftran oil rigs in the Caspian Sea from terrorists.
In 2097, Cambodia and Laos form an alliance to declare independence from the OCU. When the OCU fails to comply with their demands, the alliance resorts to armed conflict. At the outbreak of the Indochina Conflict, the USN sends in peacekeepers between the alliance and the OCU. The Strike Wyverns are deployed to reclaim the Ratanakiri Province from insurgent forces. An intense battle ensues at a base by the Vietnam border against the Cambodian Army, where Walter encounters Glen again. Glen tries to kill Lynn, but Walter takes the attack instead and sustains serious injuries. Glen and the surviving insurgents retreat afterwards.
While recovering, Hector visits Walter in the hospital to disclose top-secret information about the incident with Glen. Walter keeps this information in mind and decides to investigate it upon returning to duty in 2098. His investigations lead him to the Barghest and a hardened terrorist named Morgan Bernard.