Front Mission 2: Remake Review - Screenshot 1 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

It takes a lot to make a game about giant robot battles feel dull, but somehow Front Mission 2: Remake manages it. While it improves on some of the shortcomings of Front Mission 1st: Remake, the combat system isn’t fun enough to fully salvage this tactical RPG. While it might be worthwhile for strategy fans eager to test out G-Craft's 1997 PlayStation game that never got released outside of Japan, we can’t see Front Mission 2: Remake offering much to anyone else.

It’s a shame that the actual combat in Front Mission 2: Remake is so frustrating because the story is much improved over the previous entry. You control a group of soldiers who find themselves on the losing side of a coup and are trying to flee the nation of Alordesh. Warfare in this setting takes place almost exclusively in Wanzers, which are highly customisable mechs of varying levels of effectiveness depending on how you outfit them.

Front Mission 2: Remake Review - Screenshot 2 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

While the characters are all tropes pulled straight from the most generic action film in history, the plot touches on themes of colonisation and industrialisation throughout, giving the impression that at least this game has something to say. It is a bit heavy-handed, in the way that most games tend to be, but we appreciate the attempt. If nothing else, the inciting incident, which tosses a mismatched group of OCU soldiers together as they try to escape Alordesh before the rebel forces close in on them, is genuinely fun.

Even this highlight has a downside, though, as there are some obvious typos and grammatical issues in the English translation of Front Mission 2: Remake. Most are minor capitalisation mistakes or saying that a Wanzer is the colour “Gary”, but it adds up to making the game feel rushed and cheap, to the point where Forever Entertainment has had to put out a statement saying that they are going to patch the localisation in future updates.

One of the issues with how the game was localised is that large chunks that were in English in the original Japanese release – specifically text in the game’s background information that could be accessed via an in-universe database – weren’t updated at all for this remake. This kept all the syntax errors and obvious mistakes that should have been spotted quickly by native English speakers. The fact that Front Mission 2 never had an English release should have meant a clean slate to work from; instead, decades-old errors compound with new ones and distract from the best part of the game.

Front Mission 2: Remake Review - Screenshot 3 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Front Mission 2: Remake, as with most tactical RPGs, takes place on a grid map with various terrain and enemies scattered around. You control a group of Wanzer units and guide these mechs around the battlefield. There has been an obvious graphical upgrade from the first remake, particularly in the short battle scenes that take place when two units engage each other, but our biggest issue from the Front Mission: Remake remains present here in its sequel.

Each Wanzer has several health bars correlating to a part of their frame. Depleting one can either slow down the unit, remove one of its weapons, or cause it to explode entirely. This wouldn’t be an issue if you could choose which of these health bars you wanted to target in an attack. As it is, what you target, whether it is with ranged or melee attacks, is left completely up to chance. Not only does this remove a potential strategic angle to how you engage an enemy – do you slow them down, try to disarm them, or just go for the kill? – but it means your best-laid plans are completely at the mercy of chance.

Front Mission 2: Remake Review - Screenshot 4 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

This resulted in much of our careful planning coming to naught as random chance either crippled one of our mechs or refused to let us target the main body of an enemy. Being unable to focus fire on a specific point resulted in fights dragging longer than they needed to and, ultimately, made us feel less in control of the outcome than we expected from the genre. The addition of character skills mitigated this somewhat in the later stages of the game but it didn’t stop the first five missions from feeling like a slog.

Add in some awkward controls when picking which grid square your Wanzer moves to and some downright frustrating allied AI and you end up with a game that fails to come anywhere near its full potential. A tactical RPG about giant mechs stomping through the battlefield should be the coolest thing on the planet but somehow Front Mission 2: Remake feels like a chore.

The one thing that might keep you engaged is how deeply you can customise each Wanzer in your squad. From the weapons to the body type to the targeting system, you can dive into the customisation system and have a lot of fun tweaking and finetuning your setup if that is what you are into. This was one of the strongest parts of the first Front Mission: Remake, so we’re glad the sequel delivers on it as well.

Front Mission 2: Remake Review - Screenshot 5 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

And graphically, this game feels like a big upgrade over the first Front Mission: Remake, with some impressive landscapes and environments. This brings about frequent loading screens, sometimes even within a menu, which is frustrating, but the load times are quick enough that we could move on before it impacted our enjoyment too much. Loads here are much shorter than in the original Front Mission 2 but still happen just as often.

As with the first remake, we wanted to like Front Mission 2: Remake more than we did, since there are elements that are good. Even with a host of localisation issues and some obvious tropes, the story has some interesting facets, but the gameplay simply didn’t grip us, with the combat too reliant on random chance to make any amount of strategy work. If you’re already a fan of Front Mission combat, here is a chance to play this entry officially in English for the first time. Newcomers, however, and players without the affection and patience for its RNG, will have a tough time loving this one.

Conclusion

The combat kept us from enjoying Front Mission 2: Remake due to its over-reliance on dice-roll luck to succeed, but the plot has some decent story beats if you aren’t bothered by obvious localisation errors. We did enjoy the customisation options of the Wanzers, but battles felt slow and dull when the RNG gods weren’t on our side. Just like with the first game, this one will service longtime fans of the series and its combat adequately if they can overlook this remake's rough edges.