Mega Man X: Command Mission review.

After reviewing all the BoF games, it only felt natural to look and see Capcom’s excursions into the genre since Dragon Quarter. So, I did.

I have to confess: I only bought this game because I’m a total nerd for all things Mega Man; surely, there was no way a turn-based RPG about Mega Man X could be any good, right? Well, to my surprise, the game was not an absolute train-wreck. I guess that’s understandable, since the game was made by Capcom’s Production Studio 3 - the dev team behind the BoF series. That doesn’t mean, however, that the game is great by any stretch.

So, what’s the story? There’s this place called Giga City - an artificial set of islands - made for mining Force Metal (some sort of metal that enhances the power of Reploids, robots with wills of their own). Some of the reploids on the island went Maverick - a catch-all word in the MMX series for ‘reploid terrorist’ - and launched a rebellion. So, the Federation government - some unexplained, world-scale government - sends in a few recon teams, all of which go MIA after a very short time span. Finally, the Federation sends in Maverick Hunters Mega Man X, Zero, and Shadow, in a last ditch effort to quell the rebellion before having no choice to launch an indiscriminate attack on the city. X and co. find Epsilon at their landing point, Shadow defects to the Rebellion (with a name like Shadow, did you expect anything less?), and Epsilon and co. attack Zero and send him flying far off the top of the building, presumably dead. X has no choice but to escape. From that point, he meets members of the Resistance, whom he helps in fending off the Rebellion army.

You can probably level a number of complaints on this story before you even get to the meat of it. What were the rebels rebelling against? Mining? Couldn’t they have protested, or gone somewhere else? You eventually find out their motives at the end, but even then, it’s a stupid name for them. Also, isn’t it odd that the good guys are called the Resistance? Rebellion and Resistance both imply action independant from a local authority, don’t they? It sounds like they should be the exact same group! Shouldn’t the Resistance be called the Giga City Defense Force, or something? In any case, having to remember that the words “Rebellion” and “Resistance” are diametrically opposed is very hard at the beginning of the game.

Admittedly, though, picking on the story of a Mega Man X game is sort of unfair, because the stories have never set a high bar for storytelling. On the other hand, Command Mission’s story does surprisingly well in a lot of ways; it just messes up in some really bad ways, too. The most important bad plot points are the big plot twists at the end of the game. They render just about everything that happens in the game inept, false, or contradictory. The extent to which a mere two or three revelations at the end completely destroy the otherwise passable story is amazing…in a bad way.

But whatever, right? You didn’t expect the story of an RPG about Mega Man X to be riveting, anyways! The problem is that the game sort of spouts badness all over the place. For one, the cel-shaded graphics are hideous. It’s weird to see the graphics devolve compared to Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, a game released before it. Don’t get me wrong - for what they were going for (3D anime cartoon style), cel-shading was the way to go; however, it looks really muddy, and the colors bleed all over the place. The result is a distorted look - only a few notches up from Killer7, a game which used cel-shading to create a demented, distorted look on purpose.

The music, composed by Shinya Okada, Seiko Kobuchi, and Yuko Komiyama (Mega Man X7 & 8), is thoroughly mediocre techno/electronic music. Some of the tracks are really good, but almost every song in the game loops before sixty seconds even pass. Also, a lot of it feels really inappropriate for the atmosphere of Mega Man X (though admittedly, the last dungeon music caught the feel of MMX electronica very well - all 42 seconds of it).

But hey, who cares, right? It’s Mega Man X! Who cares if the graphics are a little subpar, and that the music missed the mark? The core of any Mega Man game is the gameplay - that’s the only thing that needs to be great!

…And, the verdict: It’s alright. MMX Command Mission is a turn-based dungeon-crawler RPG, in the vein of Final Fantasy 10 (that is, the game is turn-based, but turns are determined by speed, rather than selecting all your characters’ actions at once). Doing turn-based RPGs in this manner is the only way I can really stomach a turn-based RPG these days, so I’m glad they made it like this. You can switch characters in and out during battle, another neat addition. There’s also “Weapon Energy”, which is like a regenerative version of “MP”, used for character-specific attacks, and subweapons (actions additional to your attack which deal extra damage, increase parameters, etc.). One of my favorite additions is the classification of attack types: There’s shot attacks and combat (melee) attacks. Some attacks work better on certain enemies than others, and this introduces some (actually, all of the) strategy into the game. The last important gimmick of Command Mission is Final Strikes, which allow you to kill an enemy if an attack brings them to 20% of its remaining HP. Getting a Final Strike will also give bonus FME, as well as 25% WE back to whoever initiated the Final Strike. What’s FME, you say? Force Metal Energy, used for creating Force Metal (accessories) - another neat addition.

“Gee, Skankin’ Garbage, all you seem to be talking about are a bunch of cool aspects to the gameplay! Why, then, is it simply ‘alright’?” I’ll tell you why: Mega Man X: Command Mission is an outstanding example of why 3D RPGs need to have significantly lower encounter rates than 2D RPGs.

Think about it: It would take longer to traverse a landscape realized in 3D than the same one realized in 2D, right? That being said, if you get in a random battle on an average of every eight seconds of walking in an RPG, this isn’t nearly as bad if you’re playing a 2D RPG, as opposed to a 3D RPG. Do you know what the average is in Command Mission? TWO seconds! For once, I’m not even demonstrating my ability to use hyperbole; you truly get into random battles every two to three seconds on average in Command Mission. Granted, it doesn’t START so high, but it’s MORE annoying in the end!! Hell, I ran from almost every random battle after about the 60% mark through the game, cos I was so tired of it. At least this proves that there’s no need to grind to finish the game, right?

There are other problems, of course. There are no healing items in the game: There’s a unique system where you heal 25, 50, or 100% HP to either one or all party members, and it uses a certain amount of healing reserves that you have at the start of every dungeon. As a result, random battles can be more obnoxious than they need to be, because you have to be so penny ante about healing your party members, until you get the ‘healer’ of the group a ways into the game. From then on, it fely annoying to be more-or-less forced to use this character if I wanted to handle the drudge of random battles. So, I didn’t! I ran away from a lot of fights in the second half of the game, cos I was sick and tired of it.

On top of that, random battles are just plain slow. When you take into account that random battles occur every two seconds in the later parts of the game, it just seems unfair that the battles are made to last 2-4 minutes long. If you don’t run from battle, it can take five minutes to run through a damn hallway! What the fuck!?

Still, none of these points would even be an issue if the random encounter rate weren’t so intensely high. It’s nice to see that the Production Studio that usually handles Capcom RPGs are always taking steps forward as far as combat is concerned. It’s sad to see the game get wrecked by something that could have been rectified so very easily. The funny thing is, Command Mission is one of the shortest RPGs of its generation - you can finish it in about 20 hours at the MOST, likely more towards 16-17 hours. Usually, with a game that keeps things simple across the board, like Command Mission, being short keeps the game from feeling like it’s dragging on, being beneficial to the game overall. With Command Mission, however, the encounter rate is so stifling that you’ll be sick of the game long before it’s over.

What else? There are two versions of this game (PS2 and Gamecube). The differences are scant; the GCN version has allegedly better graphics and higher encounter rates (I can’t even imagine this; I played the PS2 version and it was a nightmare!), as well as giving experience penalties during random battles for taking too many turns. Otherwise, the Gamecube version has shorter loading times, as well as GBA functionality that acts as a radar for treasure. The PS2 version comes with a demo for Mega Man X8.

So far as I know, this has been the most recent attempt at an RPG by Capcom. I seriously hope they don’t wind up calling it quits, because their traditional RPGs get better every time. It’ll only be a matter of time before they can make a traditional, turn-based RPG that truly excels. Unfortunately, though, Mega Man X: Command Mission is not that game.

Who on earth can I reccomend this game to? It seems silly to reccomend it to fans of the MMX series, since turn-based RPGs are about as far away as you can get from the usual sidescrolling, platformer action of the rest of the games. Maybe people who enjoy the combat of the Breath of Fire games, since Command Mission isn’t much more than a logical evolution of those gameplay ideas. I guess if you, like me, are just a sucker for any game related to Mega Man, then give Mega Man X: Command Mission a go. I warn you, though: It’s not going to be pretty.

Hmm, you actually did a good review of the game, SG, but I played the GC version and have to tell you something, the encounter rates are LOWER then you are saying they are. I got all the way past the 50% mark(though the boss of the next dungeon made me have to stop playing because he was so fragging annoying). I encountered enemies every five-seven seconds, so I was okay with it.

Personally, I liked the game except for the healing system(at times when I ran out) and the fact that the boss difficulty is like riding the Superman, it goes up and down wildly.

Heh. I think the bosses got easier after Botos, who is such a fucking broken-ass boss.

As for random battles, to put it in a different way, I got into fights on an average of 1 1/2 - 2 dashes. Also, the 50% mark is definitely not Chapter 5, if you were thinking so; the last 3-4 chapters definitely take up the majority of the game. It’s from that point on that the random encounter rates get REALLY stupid.

Hmm, well the boss that I got really peeved on and gave up on the game(also, I had rented it and my three days were up) was this guy that changed his element alot. He was so fragging retarded, and I was out of healing energy that I just couldn’t find the energy to continue playing.

So, not sure what chapter he’s the boss of, but I know I was actually quite far in the game. XD

(On a second note, are we actually allowed to post in reviews with our own opinion?)

I know which one you’re talking about. You know you can go back to the base and refill your healing reserves, right? Also, it’s right after that point that the game starts going bonkers with encounter rates. Also, the boss following the one you got stuck on is the hardest boss.

Also, there’s no rules about these review threads, I just make them as I complete the games. :stuck_out_tongue: I welcome discussion of any kind.

Don’t forget the fact regular enemies have a crapton of HP compared to what damage they can deal - Some chapter 3 enemies required one full round + 1-2 round of hits before you could initiate FS. Well, at least it was a good reason to spam Blue ma… Axl’s R-trigger to go nuts with the button combinations.

I mentioned it indirectly when I talked about how stupidly long each random battle took.

Axl’s 8 shot guns + cannot-miss accessory = good game.

That was the best way I found to eviscerate stuff fast, and even then some enemies still take multiple rounds to deal with. Unless you go all out and burn Hyper Modes all the time, and even then…

Umm, I think I might have been overpowered then. XD But even then, yes, those annoying little robotic monsters took me 2+ turns to kill, though usually if you have Marron(I think that’s her name) you can attack multiple times in the time for them to attack. :smiley: It really helps shorten 'em battles.