Thursday, March 26, 2015

Press Start: Megaman X Command Mission Review

Battle Networks forgotten, awkward younger brother.
Developers: Capcom Production Studio 3
Publishers: Capcom
Genre: RPG
Platforms: GameCube, Playstation 2

Well, this is a weird one. I considered doing a Gamer’s Frontier on this one, but honestly, I didn’t like it enough to consider it a hidden gem. That’s not to say it isn’t a good game, but it has some issues that prevent it from being a truly great game. Let’s find out why that is.

Story and Concept
As per usual, the fate of the world is in the hands of a ragtag group of weirdos. How come this keeps working?
In terms of the Megaman X canon, this takes place long after the events in the main series games. X and a small group of Maverick Hunters are sent to Giga City, an artificial island built to mine and smelt an advanced material known as Force Metal, to subdue a rebellion. When one of X’s fellow hunters betrays them, the rebellion leader, a Maverick named Epsilon, attacks and separates the group of Hunters. Separated from his friends, X has no choice but assemble his own resistance group of local Reploids to fight against the rebel army.

One of the bad guys, who's been trained for battle. How come these guys never win?
If you were confused by the above story introduction, then that’s probably because you’re not a Megaman X fan (that or I’m a terrible writer). This game is mostly meant for followers of the series, and I had to do a bit of research to get familiar with the in-game terminology. That said, the entry barrier is pretty low, and you can still enjoy this simple tale of good and evil without having played any previous Megaman X game. I also have to say that the original characters for this game are fairly interesting and enjoyable, and fit in with the Megaman X canon (at least with the little I know).

Graphic and Design
A bit rough around the edges, but still a solid looking game nonetheless.
For a PS2 game, Command Mission looks very good. The character models look very good, if not a bit jagged, and they mesh well with the chosen artstyle. It definitely looks like a Megaman game in 3D. The enemy design is also very good, with lots of colors and a good deal of creativity behind some of them. However, I do have to complain about the dungeons. They look very simple, and most times, it doesn’t deviate from being basic. While I think Command Mission is a fine looking game, it could use a bit more complexity in its dungeons.

Sound and Music

While I think the characters are well designed, I can’t say the same for their voicework. For the most part, its painfully mediocre, even underachieving in some places. The voice acting isn’t Arc Rise Fantasia level bad, but its not very good either. The music is pretty good though. The soundtrack is mostly electronic, and it has a decent collection of tunes that, while not as memorable as the main series Megaman X themes, are still pleasing to the ears. The sound in this game isn’t the greatest, but it does its job well enough to avoid being grating.

Sample battle.
Command Mission isn’t your typical Megaman X game. Rather than being a fast paced action platformer, its a turn based RPG. You control X and his allies as you explore dungeons, blast baddies for experience and zenny (in-game currency), and participate in good ol’ turned based combat. Sounds pretty standard, but there are a few combat mechanics that makes this stand out from your typical RPG (besides starring Megaman).

Sample battle. Sub-weapons can be triggered with either the Square or Circle button.
For starters, each party member can equip two sub-weapons, specialized attacks that consume Weapon Energy (basically MP). While weaker than your regular attack, these sub-weapons add an extra layer of strategy to battle. Party members can also equip Force Metal, which can do things like modify stats, add immunities and resistances, and can even allow for resurrections when killed by an enemy. While not the deepest customization system, sub-weapons and Force Metal add a lot to an otherwise simple combat system.

X's Action Trigger. In this case, you hold the X button and release for a powerful spreadshot.
Each party member also has access to a Hyper Mode and Action Trigger. Action Triggers are special attacks that require specific inputs (for Massimo, you mash buttons, for Marino, you spin reels, etc). Hyper Modes are special forms party members can temporarily take that increase their stats and, in some cases, give them new Action Triggers. Like Force Metal, these mechanics add a layer of strategy to the battle system, and they make the game feel very Megaman-y, especially the Hyper Modes.

Boss fights can take forever, even with their weakness exploited.
However, this game has some pretty big downfalls. For one thing, the dungeon design is less than impressive. They’re very linear and there’s not much incentive to explore unless you want every single item. The encounter rate is incredibly high, with fights triggered sometimes a few seconds seconds after you just won one. And while the combat system is fairly enjoyable, the boss fights are more tedious than they are challenging. All these things drag down the experience, but fortunately they do not overshadow the good.

Command Mission is not a bad game, but its shortcomings prevent it from being a great RPG. If you’re a Megaman X fan or if you’re a hardcore RPG enthusiast, then you’d probably like the game. If you aren’t, then you won’t be missing much if you skip it.

6.5/10 - Decent

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to leave a comment! Constructive criticism is always welcome.

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