Console: PS2 Company: Capcom Release Date: September 2004 Genre: RPG Number of Players: 1 Save Feature? It's an RPG right?
The Mega Man series has always been known by its excellence and superior gameplay, but this one really surprised me. Just when you thought you had seen every Mega Man game imaginable, the Blue Bomber shocked us once more with his first ever RPG! And the game didn't disappoint either. With its addictive gameplay and incredible replay value, Mega Man X: Command Mission is a feast for Mega Man and RPG fans alike!
Overview: As far as I am concerned, the fall of 2004 was absolutely huge for the Mega Man series. In my opinion, it was the best time to be a Mega Man fan since the Blue Bomber's 10th anniversary back in 1997 (celebrated by the release of both Mega Man 8 and Mega Man X4. I mean, not only was Mega Man X8 probably the best X game since X4, but the real surprise was in the second game of the duo: Mega Man X: Command Mission. I mean, this was supposed to be the game where Mega Man fell; where his streak of brilliance disappeared like a sunset fading into the night. I mean c'mon! A Mega Man RPG?! You can't be serious! The Blue Bomber trying the Final Fantasy thing? No way Jose! Super Mario RPG was one in a million! It surely can't happen again can it?
Well my friend; it can happen, and it did happen. Somehow, someway, Capcom did their best Super Mario RPG impression and put together a success RPG with an action hero. Don't get me wrong...it's no Final Fantasy X or anything like that but it's still pretty dang good.
So what exactly is Mega Man X: Command Mission like you ask? Well, suffice it to say that the game looks and feels like a Mega Man game even with the dramatic genre switch. Balance and consistency have been Capcom's forte over the years and I felt that they did a nice job of keeping just enough of the Mega Man formula to keep diehard fans happy without sacrificing the game's own uniqueness. In fact, this has to be the most original Mega Man game in years.
In terms of gameplay and feel, I honestly don't know what to compare MMX:CM to. The perspective is a lot like Mega Man Legends and Spyro the Dragon for the PS1 (typical 3D layout with X directly in front of you), the battle system is something like "Final Fantasy meets Super Mario RPG," and some of the bonuses like the Sky Room and Deployment features are somewhat similar to those found in Final Fantasy X and X-2. Confused yet? Good...let's continue. :)
Although it's an original game, Mega Man X: Command Mission definitely has your typical RPG formula. Build up experience by fighting enemies, buy new weapons/armor/force metal to increase your character's stats, solve various puzzles that impede your progress, fight bosses with different strategies to advance, and so on and so forth. However, the real meat of this game is not found in the traditional RPG formulas that are present but in the remarkable amount of secret areas and items and armors that give the game its incredible replay value. Not to be forgotten is the great gameplay as well. It's that extra effort that pushes this game over the top. The battle engine is a lot of fun with its Action Triggers and whatnot and the amount of secrets is truly stunning. I don't know; Command Mission is just one of those rare gems that you can pick up and play time and time again.
Graphics: I don't know why but I really like the graphics in this game! I can't describe them as well as all of those PS2 geeks out there but let me just say that the whole cell-shading effect is wonderful! It gives the game a nice polished look without trying to be overly fancy. Granted, the lighting isn't always the best (some areas like the Lagrano Ruins seem too dark) and the blocky appearance of some characters may not appeal to everyone, but it's all fine by me!
For some reason, I absolutely adore the graphics in the Sky Room! It just has a neat feel and will definitely appeal to all you artsy types out there. The graphics in the figure and gallery sections are superb if you ask me! I really enjoy looking at all of the figures and being able to rotate/zoom in. You'll never hear me complain about gallery art either. I wish that all Mega Man games had something like this!
The fifty or so cut scenes throughout the game were nicely done as well. They advanced the game's story nicely and gave Command Mission so much personality! How can anyone not get a kick out of Botos or the maniacal laughter of Mach Jentra? The color scheme, shading, and character animation/expressions are all wonderfully done.
Music: This is easily the hardest area to critique in Mega Man X: Command Mission. It's not so much the quality of the music as it is the style. On the surface, the soundtrack sounds pretty average and most of the tunes are simply lousy stand-alone tracks. The main reason for this is that, while a lot of the tunes are your typical catchy stuff, there is a lot of ambient music in the game. More than the norm really. The music doesn't really jump out at you with melody and feeling and yet it's somehow enough to keep you interested. Just play through some of the early chapters in the game and you'll understand what I mean.
That's not to discount the soundtrack completely, however. I felt that the intro theme had a nice feel and Zero's theme was as catchy and adrenaline-pumping as ever. I liked the whole mischievous feel of Marino's theme as well. And like any great Mega Man game, there was plenty of upbeat, heroic music to go around. However, it wasn't always happy and Capcom did a nice job with the game's more sad/emotional tracks as well.
I also felt that, overall, the voice acting was actually quite good in this installment. Granted, hearing the same celebration phrases over and over (e.g. "I did it!") as well as some of the evil laughter of several bosses for half a minute gets kind of old after a while but, considering where the Mega Man series has been in terms of voice acting (Mega Man 8), it really has come a long way. And once more, how can anyone not get a kick out of Botos with that country accent? Man, I was actually in tears when I heard him for the first time! (even hearing him move is hilarious!) X, Zero, and Axl all sound exactly like they do in Mega Man X8 which is a great thing and there are a lot of other good voices in this game. Of course, there's always that one cutesy voice that drives you mad after a while (Cinnamon) but still, overall, the effort was terrific.
Play Control: Even though this is an RPG, I have to admit that I was a little scared when I heard that this game was analog only. I mean, I've only used digital controls for the past 20 or so Mega Man games so why should I be on edge right? Well, thankfully, my concern was all for naught become Mega Man X: Command Mission features great play control. The only question I have is why Capcom had the bright idea of making the circle button accept functions with the triangle button cancelling them. Since just about every other Playstation RPG allows you to cancel with the circle button, this might throw you for a loop at first.
Aside from that minor quirk, the learning curve is very short even for the average gamer. Like usual, Capcom tried to make the game easy to learn yet tough to master. In my opinion, it's in some of the battle functions like the Action Triggers where the controls get really enjoyable. They involve entering directions or buttons in a certain sequence, holding down X for power, mashing between one and four buttons for different effects, or playing cards/slots. Heck, one Action Trigger even involves twirling the right analog stick! It may not sound like much on paper, but the controls really feel intuitive and make the game more fun to play. Besides, it's a blast seeing the rewards for successful timing! Overall, it's this whole interactive nature of the battle system that really helps Command Mission succeed in this area.
Challenge: For what appears on the surface to be your typical intro-level RPG, this game really cooks in terms of difficulty! I couldn't believe how tough some of the main villains were during my first playthrough. And if that wasn't enough to get the juices flowing, some of the optional bosses such as Rafflesian and Ninetails are completely insane if you're not careful!
But that's what makes Command Mission such a fun experience. Strategy is important! Which weapons/subweapons and force metals should you equip? And what team should you use? Do you go with power (X, Zero, and Massimo) or rely more on speed and stealth (Axl and Marino) to survive? It's not terribly complex but you'll probably end up using your brain a lot more than you expected in Command Mission.
Even with the great battle engine and difficult bosses and all, the most enjoyable aspect of the game's difficulty for me was simply finding everything!! I just can't emphasize enough how large this game really is and how there are literally hundreds of secrets to be found! I'm telling you; even some of the Final Fantasy megahits don't seem to have this many secrets! Deploying mechaniloids, using keys to unlock secret passageways in literally every chapter of the game, and even a New Game+ of sorts that allows you to venture deep into the Central Tower; this game has it all! It even has its own "metal slime" if you will (the rare Mettaur Gigant).
Which brings me to possibly the greatest aspect of Command Mission. In my opinion, the replay value of this game is simply off the charts! With the exception of maybe the Chrono series, I can't recall ever playing an RPG so much after beating it! I mean, I clocked around 50 hours or so during my first playthrough and am currently sitting on 70 hours. That's 20 hours of side quests and the scary thing is that I was very thorough before beating it!
Storyline: Several critics out there whom I really respect despise the story in Command Mission and I don't know why! It's not an incredibly exciting or engaging story mind you but I still felt like it was a new high for the Mega Man series. If nothing else, all the new faces and cutscenes should please most people. At least Sigma's not in this game for once!
Simply put, the main story involves a conflict on the manmade island of Giga City between the Rebellion and Resistance armies. The Rebellion is led by the Sigmalike Epsilion (okay, so maybe Sigma is here in spirit) and it's the job of the Maverick Hunters/Resistance to defeat this rebellion before it overpowers Giga City. As the game progresses, X and company meet up with new friends and foes and begin to hear whispers of the mysterious Supra-Force Metal that the Rebellion army is conjuring up. There is also a figure in the shadows to consider.
I'll admit that the main story is average at best but what appealed to me most were the relationships between the characters and just the overall development that takes place throughout the game. It's cool to see Spider's change of heart early on and Massimo's confidence grow after his conversation with the real Massimo. I found a lot of humor in some of the conversations as well like when Marino the thief encounters Cinnamon for the first time ("I guess I'll just have to steal you!") Spider was one of my favorite characters as well ("Good card eh?") There was just a real charisma about him.
Although the main story never really gets all that exciting, there is one huge shocker that takes place right at the end of the game. I won't give it away but let me just say that the final boss is someone that you would never expect! Capcom was able to pull off this surprise brilliantly if you ask me. Man, they have definitely gotten better at the whole surprise thing over the years (Remember "Mr. X" in Mega Man 6? He looked like Dr. Wily with shades on!)
Funfactor: This game is like the little engine that could. I have played the game from start to finish and have found just about everything there is to find and I still can't say for sure why Mega Man X: Command Mission is such a great game. Whatever the reason, I always find myself hooked to this surprisingly addictive game whenever I fire it up. I guess that it goes back to the argument that gameplay is the most important aspect of any video game. Great graphics and a superb musical score don't hurt, but it seems like the games with the best gameplay are the ones that all of us play the most. This is certainly the case with this highly underrated gem of a game. Buy it already!
Negatives: While the graphics are quite good, they still pale in comparison to some of the other RPGs like Final Fantasy X and Xenosaga. And while the game features a lot of great music, the tunes just don't develop and carry you away like in just about any Squaresoft offering. The credits track is a perfect example of this.
While the voice acting is actually impressive for once, a variety of celebration phrases that take place at the conclusion of battles would have been wonderful. Hearing the exact same thing everytime like "Yay!!" or "Need more power!" grows stale very quickly.
Lastly, the game's ending should have been longer. Just about everyone from the Hunter Base gets the shaft in terms of an appearance and I just wasn't very pleased where things left off. Still, it should be noted that the ending FMV was actually quite nice (just not long enough).
Ratings: Graphics: 4.2 Music: 4.1 Play Control: 4.3 Challenge: 4.6 Storyline: 4.3 Funfactor: 4.6 Overall Score: 26.1 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Silver Stud!
Back to Playstation PowerLast Updated: May 23, 2006