Left Alive - Square Enix's stealthy reboot of the Front Mission mech-tactics series - is out now, but word on the information super-street is that it never should have been cleared for deployment. It's not a huge shock, as footage released a couple weeks back looked very stiff, and its branching dialogues felt stilted. Worst sin of all was that the mech-on-mech battles just looked awkward and flailing. A shame, considering this had some noted talent involved, including a director from the Armored Core series, and Metal Gear's character artist. There's a launch trailer for the curious below, plus an alternative recommendation.
Yesterday's Japanese console launch of the game was not the best received by players, either. As covered by VG247, a swarm of negative Amazon reviews citing fundamental issues with the game prompted publisher Square Enix to both slash the price by half and (rather questionably) block the game from being streamed. Not exactly signs of a confident publisher, and the first reviews filtering in for the PC version aren't any more positive.
It's a pity, because I dig the concept. A gritty stealth game set in a familiar sci-fi world is right up my alley, especially when punctuated with branching dialogues and big mech battles. Even if it failed to live up to Metal Gear's stealth, the survival and RPG elements could have at least made for a modern Alpha Protocol successor, but it seems we're not even getting one of those. It's not like unusual spin-offs can't work, either - look at Metal Gear Rising, capping off the stealth series with a stonking thousand-mile-an-hour cyberpunk action game. Ah well - c'est la vie.
With Left Alive looking like a big robot turkey, I'd recommend anyone looking for a mixture of RPG numbers, mech action and on-foot sneaking track down Front Mission: Gun Hazard. A Japanese-only release for the Super Nintendo, it has since been (unofficially) translated. To this day, it's the best action spin-off of the series, which makes sense as it shares many developers with Assault Suits Valken, better known as Cybernator in the west.