|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Stormregion||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Deep Silver||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 22, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Steve Haske
Call it a bad taste leftover from the short-lived yet horrific FMV-game genre that reared its ugly head in the early-to-mid-nineties, but I'm always wary of any game that uses live-action actors in CG settings. So when the intro movie to Mytran Wars started off with exactly that, it threw up a cautionary red flag in my head. Nothing personal against a series like Command & Conquer; these kinds of signs just don't usually end up representing a product you should take too seriously.
You would be wise to bear this in mind when approaching Mytran Wars. It's sluggish, sloppily-made, and, perhaps worst of all for the genre, has no concept of what the word "strategy" means. In fact, it may be the poorest excuse for a strategy RPG I've ever seen, which makes its exclusive presence on the PSP, a platform graced with Jeanne D'Arc, the Final Fantasy Tactics remake War of the Lions, and the Disgaea series all the more insulting.
But, as is all too common with the plague of bad game design, this won't be immediately apparent-not that other signs pointing to a lack of quality can be easily missed. The game begins inexplicably by replacing the intro's CG with a flash animation-style motion-comic cutscene. The art is hideous enough, but the voice acting is the stuff nightmares are made of, making the performance of the FFX laughing scene look like Shakespeare in the park. Adding insult to injury, the script sounds like it may as well have been written by a tenth grader whose main inspirations were Starship Troopers and his own naïve perceptions about what romantic dialogue should sound like. Even the plot is tired and cliché ridden, following a small band of mech pilots standing up to an evil corporation that's destroying an alien world in order to get its planet's wellspring of resources.
Despite all these immediate strikes against it, Mytran Wars could've still earned its stripes on the battlefield. Had it provided a balanced and effectively strategic campaign to play through, its awful production values and generic plot probably could have been overlooked without too much of a loss, if begrudgingly so. But this isn't the case, thanks to a few very glaring problems with the game's design.
Mytran Wars comes from a typical turn-based strategy RPG template, using grid-based maps, weapons and equipment upgrades, and customizable unit types. Basically, there is nothing here you haven't seen before. The mechs are ripped from Front Mission, right down to the individual body part modifications. The game employs a fog of war to obscure the enemy from your site a la Advance Wars, but (maddeningly) only in some levels. The prerequisite elemental and unit strengths and weaknesses, melee combat and everything else you take for granted in the genre also are presented and accounted for.
But unlike most SRPGs, cure items in Mytran Wars are not perishable, and they can be used as many times as need be in battle. The catch is they must recharge, meaning you can only use one such item once every three or four turns (or thereabouts). Here's where the game's balance is seriously maligned. For some reason, someone thought it'd be a good idea to have each cure item automatically refill all your hit points, no matter how much or little life you're missing, in order to compensate for the unlimited uses.