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Platform: PlayStation 2 / GameCube
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Genre: Turn-Based RPG
Format: DVD-ROM
Release: US 08/16/04 - Japan 2004

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"The boy in blue himself."
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"Final Strike!"
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"Smoke or Ice missle?"
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"Bright environments."
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Mike Salbato
Hands-on Impressions
Mike Salbato

Due for release in both Japan and North America before this fall, it was no surprise that Capcom had multiple copies of Mega Man X Command Mission available for play. Nintendo also had a couple TVs running the GameCube version of the game in their own booth. Visually, the two versions appeared identical, although it is difficult to directly compare them; being run on vastly different televisions and setups.

The similarities are not limited to visuals however, with the obvious changes in buttons (confirm is X on PS2, A on the GameCube), both versions play the same. Command Mission is actually the second Mega Man title to make use of cel-shading for its graphics, following Mega Man X7. Unlike X7 though, CM features nicely-modeled and detailed characters and environments; a vast improvement in quality over its predecessor. Animations are also well executed, from Zero's saber attack animations to X's dash outside of battle.

Being an RPG, one can expect to spend a lot of time in the battle system. For a series centered on fast-paced action, many worried a turn-based system would be too slow for this series and just not work. The system being used is anything but slow, and works quite well, keeping true to the spirit of the series. Each character (8 total: 3 in your active party at one time) can perform multiple actions per turn. The standard "attack" option is available for each character with slight variations on each: X will shoot an enemy once with a strong shot, Axl uses his pistols to fire two - admittedly weaker - shots, and Zero will slash a foe twice with his saber. One or two peripheral weapons/abilities can also be used before ending a turn. The demo had most of the 6 slots (2 for each character) outfitted with different types of missiles which are not as strong as a regular attack but adds damage when used along with one. Zero also had something called "Heat Wave" which seemed to boost his attack power or number of attacks per turn.

Besides primary and secondary weapons, special attacks are available as well, making use of WE (Weapon Energy; standard Mega man fare, but used differently here). Once a character's WE reaches at least at 50%, they're able to make use of it. Since WE gradually rises as turns pass, it doesn't typically take long to accumulate enough to let loose another attack. Each character has a totally unique special and unique method of using it after being triggered by the R/R2 button. X's charge shot requires the player to hold A until an on-screen meter hits 100, after which a massive burst of energy (oddly resembling the same charge shot in the original MMX) hits the enemy. Taking a cue from the last few MMX titles, Zero's special requires fighting-game style input. A handful of moves and how to execute them are displayed on-screen (such as Right, Down-Right, Down, A, etc.), with the number of attacks performed controlled by a time limit. If done quickly, Zero can deal incredible damage in a single turn. Semi-newcomer Axl is presented with a DNA-like grid, each node of which has a different symbol to correlate to a button on the controller. As players press different buttons, they highlight nodes on the widening grid, with nearly 10 different outcomes depending on the "path" taken through it. Getting a complete sequence within the time limit will cause Axl to summon various large robots, dishing out heavy damage to the enemies.

The last noteworthy attack feature doesn't become available until an enemy's Life Energy is nearly depleted. The group can perform a "Final Strike" at this time, which basically involves hitting 1-3 buttons - one for each party member - as fast as you can within a few seconds. Each successful button press will result in the corresponding character letting loose an attack. To give an idea of the kinds of damage this can do, the average damage from regular attacks in the demo was 150-300 or so. The total damage from one of the Final Strikes well exceeded 6000, and could do even more if your fingers are fast enough.

There are things in battle besides attacking; a menu can be brought up for other commands and options. Sub Tanks, as per tradition, will restore a character's life (or LE) by certain percentages depending on the type. "Super" versions of the tanks are also available, granting the same healing ability to the entire party. Separate from Sub Tanks is the Item command, for using items such as a vaccine program to combat viruses, or a backup when a character's LE drops to zero. Grayed-out options in the menu included Defend and Hyper-Mode, which were not available in the demo. Defend seems is obvious, though it's a mystery for now what the latter does.

When the battle is over, players explore a completely 3D world, with different buildings and areas to visit and characters to talk to. Very strangely for a Mega Man title, there seemed to be no way to jump in the show version, which hopefully will be included in the final release. Not much else can be said about the field areas yet, as there were few to explore at the show.

All in all, Mega Man X Command Mission looks promising. Converting an action-based series to turn-based RPG could have been catastrophic, but Capcom seems to have pulled it off. Not to mention, since it doesn't appear Mega Man Legends 3 is coming anytime soon, Command Mission can easily fill the void of RPG-like games in the series. If successful perhaps a continuation of the CM games will be seen in the future.


© CAPCOM CO.,LTD. 2004
All Rights Reserved.

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