ADVANCED STRATEGY GUIDE FOR FRONT MISSION 3: Platinum Edition By Cancerst1ck April 26, 2000 Updated May 8, 2000 Final Update May 26, 2000 INTRODUTION I have written this FAQ to suppliment some of the details that I thought other FAQ's did not cover. So if your looking for a battle skill list or walk- through check out other FAQs. I have written the FAQ with players that have either finished or almost finished the game in mind so I will assume the readers already know the basics and on the process of getting all platinum medals. **Notes for the Gold Edition With the Gold Edition, I decided to add a small section for the beginners and clarify somethings that I thought was a bit unclear. All but the network section was expanded so if you have read this FAQ before you can skip that section all together. If I get enough people requesting for clues on the network section I will expand it on the "Platinum Edition". Also new sections "Bronze and Silver" for the beginners, and "Common Solutions to Penalties" and "Weapon Combinations" were added for advanced players. To all you beginners out there, "DON'T E-MAIL ME ABOUT THINGS I'VE ALREADY COVERED!!". I would also like to recommend people to finish the game first before going for all platinum medals. Without proper set of battle skills things will be extra hard. ***Platinum Edition notes I am officially bored with the game and I will no longer answer any more E- mails regarding this game. After seeing so many basic questions(which I did mention in my faq not to E-mail them to me) I am surprised to find that so many people, with less than elementry reading level, have access to the internet. I have promised to cover, in Platinum Edition, battle skills in detail but I've decided to generalize them instead because I have recieved numerous messages where people have asked about subjects I have covered already. To me, it's a waste of time for me to cover subjects in detail just to have people ignore them. So if you find this faq to be less than helpful don't blame me, blame should go directly to those people that sent me novice questions before completly reading the faq. Copyright Notice!? I thought of reserving this section for the copy right but I decided not to. My first reason being that the advertisement for FM3 Strategy Guide is in the manual of the game(I'm guessing that the guide is on the market) and the second is because I think the game has been around long enough where no videogame magazine company would pay for whatever some no talent lazy thief might steal from this FAQ. Just to make sure, I waited until I finished the game with all platinums medals to delay further the release of this FAQ. So if you find this FAQ to be helpful and if you know some plagiarizing no talents HUNT THEM DOWN LIKE THE DOGS THEY ARE because I would have released this faq two weeks sooner if it wasn't for those idiots. BRONZE AND SILVER(The section for beginners) Before you read the entire faq, if you are a beginner to Front Mission 3, you must realize that this FAQ was written for people who decided to go that extra mile and win the game with all platinum medals. Trying to get all platinum makes the game strangely hard and quite frustrating so have fun with the game first. The following tips will help you in building up levels only. Having higher weapon levels will raise your base damage and help you blow through the game although you will be penalized at the end of battle report. To conlude, you need to get to the last save point quick as possible so that you'll have easier time discovering battle skills and find out what parts are best suited for your battle strategy. Once you've done that you are ready to read rest of the FAQ. TUTORIAL The tutorial of Front Mission 3 is very well done. I'm specifically refering to the battle tutorials of the game such as weapons tutorial. This is a good way to level up at the very start of the game. When you break wanzer parts and gain experiance in weapons tutorial the APs and experiance are for real. It may be time consuming but it will certainly come in handy until you have access to the battle simulation. BATTLE SIMULATION you have access to the battle simulation you MUST download FUKUSHIMA battle grounds. The battle ground for the battle simulation is from NTJ/GOVERNMENT/JAPAN. There are two battles grounds that can be downloaded but you need to download Koriyama with the password "SINTJ". You won't live long in FUKUSHIMA but you're weapon level will increase a lot faster. However, if don't have enough APs try the JDF test site instead. For easier battles, select ALISA's scenario by refusing to go with RYOGO at the start. Compared to EMMA's version, ALISA's scenario has less monster sized(4 squares wide) wanzers and vehicles. DO NOT READ FURTHER UNLESS YOU HAVE FINISHED THE GAME!!! 1) THE NETWORK The network is a section that I decided not to cover in detail since it was poorly done. This part of the game is the worst feature of the game that I have ever seen. I'm referring to the Internet part of the game. While some may disagree I stand firmly by my opinion. While the Network provides large amount of data about 95% of it isn't worth a squat. If you're playing the game for the first time I suppose the historical account found on all the newspaper sites add histroy to the game but if people at Squaresoft think putting large amount text reading will get people excited they should think again. Instead they should have released the first two Front Mission games in the US. To make things even worse, the way you get passwords is just out right lame. Most of the time you are stuck while hacking into many sites because you have to wait until someone just hands you the passwords, this could have been justified if the data helped the gameplay by releasing cool items like a computer with 8 slots. Only exception would be figuring out the password for Twin Tigers site. If getting the passwords were like that for all the sites Front Mission 3 would have been a lot better. Just so this section won't be totally about my bitching and moaning I will tell you at least one password since finding this password was so annoying that I thought no one deserves to suffer like that. The password is for the MIDAS CONTROLLER, at INTSTU/OTHERS/USN which is "ALICIANA". Strange enough, this password doesn't have much of a clue and it's not handed out like most of the passwords and as usual the contents weren't that great. **Gold Edition Note I haven't confirmed it yet but entering passwords before you are given the passwords seems to hinder your progress in the network. In the last two scenarios I've played I was forced to steal the secret wanzer because INFERNO DIALER never showed up. This may have happened because I had all platinum medals but as I have stated before I have not confirmed this yet. This further shows how crap-tastic the network part of the game is!! 2) CUSTOMIZING WANZERS No more whining, I promise! This is the core of the FM3 that makes it a great game. I will cover all categories of parts starting with weapons and their proper usage. Key to building a good wanzer is dependant upon your combat strategy. Having finished the game with 36 platinum on my first play without the benefit of strategy guide or a faq, I believe it to be true. I will not comment on which strategy is better because if you have fun playing all melee orianted wanzers you should go with it. You will have some trouble here and there and never be able to get a platinum medals but you'll have fun and that's what it's all about. Hopefully this faq will help you to create or improve your butt kicking wanzers. WEAPONS MELEE WEAPONS: Offers most damage and the lowest AP cost. It's a good weapon for a counter attack since opponent will usually go first when they are attacking anyway but try not to compensate it by using Initiative I and II, instead use Initiative III or better yet use Fast Attack which costs only two slots. I can't stress enough the fact that melee weapon should be used mostly for counter attacks since trying to punch the nearest enemy in the first round will most likely result in getting shot first with a status effect or early gang bang. Normally, this would be a small tradeoff factor for melee weapons but since you get points deducted for taking a lot of damage and taking extra turns for repairs you should think carefully before you try to start things off with Melee III. FLAMETHROWER: Offers ability to control AP cost. This weapon has a potential but lack of range makes it bit awkward to use and low hit rate makes it even harder to use. You have to treat this weapon like a melee weapon to use it properly, needless to say you need a wanzer with a lot of HP to even think about using it. Don't use it full force unless you are 100 percent sure that you can kill the opponent or break their weapon arm. This weapon cannot be seriouly used without AP reduction skills or ROF's but the massive damage it can deal out is often greater than the Heavy-Particle gun. SHOTGUN: Rather short ranged but very effective weapon. Fact that it hits all parts makes it a choice weapon for finishing off a damaged part and at least one ally should equip one. This weapon is a must for any ally that is in simulation for lack of AP's. Another useful factor of the shotgun is how it distributes the damage quite evenly among all parts unlike machinegun which sometimes betrays you by avoid hitting the part that's about to fall off. Works very well with most battle skills but stick with ROF's for over all better performance. MACHINEGUN: Good all around and reliable weapon offering a decent range and average damage. You should have at least 2 allies equipped with it. Just like shotgun, ROF's are better suited skills for it. While any "Aim" type battle skills offer interesting twist they should not be used unless you have absolutely no other skills to choose from. Concentrating all the damage to one part may sound good but it will likely result in shooting off a part that is practically hanging on by crazy glue and duct tape. RIFLE: Difficult to handle but has very good range. In the beginning it's almost useless since single shot it delivers misses often and towards the end it doesn't do enough damage. Only reason people even use them is because of the fact that you can use <PART>SMASH skill with it. However, the true strength of the rifle lies in it's range and mere 2 percentloss of accuracy per square which can be easily compensated by finding a high ground. Rifle should be used to soften up a enemy wanzer part when missiles or grenades aren't available at the moment, or if you need to conserve AP or ammo. In the early games stick with Zoom's instead of <PART>SMASH since watching the bullet with BODYSMASH written on it fly into the sunset is very heartbreaking. MISSILE: Fact that this weapon does not cause counter(besides the fact that built in status effect is pilot ejection) makes it a best choice weapon for your allies to equip. Offering the best range it can dish out melee weapon sized damage practically from the comfort of your living room so the AP cost of 10 is well worth it. It's weakness is limited ammo so don't use SALVO unless your wanzer has a gun or a lot of additional ammo since wanzers made to carry shoulder weapons have low HP and will be killed easily in upclose battles. Skills used with rifles will work just as well with missiles. GRENADE: The other weapon that does not cause counter attack. While it's actual targeting range is 3-6, it covers wide area that increases the damage distance to the 9th square. Often this weapon is shunned by many players since it has very poor accuracy and costs too much AP. However, grenages is like a shotgun version of a missile with poor accuracy but grenade is the only weapon that cannot be blocked by a shield. Once grenade level is up to par with your current average weapon level you will realize why grenades have even less ammo than the missiles. It's additional use is that you can use the edge of the blast to make a flag waving foe to surrender completely while damaging a fresh one. Also inspite, of low accuracy, grenade is good at damaging ground troops. Before you start raining death from above you need to know the hidden downside of the grenade. One attack with the grenade will count as a multiple attack if more than one enemy is caught in the blast radius. Often this is not a problem but if you have too much deduction for number of attacks you need to tone down on how many enemies you target with the grenade. Also it's major draw back is that absolutely no battle skill works with grenade but this should not stop you from using them because two grenade blasts in a row can reduce a group of wanzers into a lanky scarecrow. HEAVY-P GUN: This weapon combines the steady accuracy of the shoulder weapons with unlimited ammo of guns and delicious damgage of melee weapons in single package. As the last weapon heavy particle gun delivers massive damage at a massive AP cost of 15. Once leveled up, this weapon will destroy a wanzer part without having to worry about counter attacks. That makes it hard to pass it up inspite of the AP cost. This weapon is offered when your total AP drops back to 18 due to upgrades so you need skills like AP-0 and DOUBLE FIRE II" skills to lessen the AP usage. Normally this weapon should only be used when there is no chance of enemy attack or counter attack while you recover from the AP drain. If you keep this weapon on the wanzer it came in you can attack more aggresively since the leg of the Hoshun Mk112 offers the best dodge rate. When it comes to picking skills for this weapon just follow the suggestion for the rifle. However, it wouldn't be a bad idea to fill your computer with 1-slot battle skills like Pilot Damage I and Zoom I and hope for a combo since the damage is far greater than that of a rifle or a missile. *Shield: Not a weapon but it becomes necessary as the levels become tougher. Try to keep a shield with high durablity instead of using shield repair items. If you plan your battles for platinum medals shields will run out just as your missile and grenade ammos are gone when the battle is over. Anytime that you feel that you are taking too much damage just equip a shield. As long as you don't dash into a group of enemies you'll see the increased life span of a wanzer immediately. General Tips on Weapons *Make sure you cover all three damage types when choosing weapons. Using correct type of attack doesn't matter until the enemy units start using Def-C upgrade level 2 or above but it helps. *Know what and when to use shield. If you expect a missile or big attack from special wanzer or pilot just save your shield or AP to cover that attack. Which would you rather block? A regular machine gun from a Changli soldier or ROF III from a special pilot with a flamethrower at 11 AP. Wanzers with strong attacks tends to go last so think before you block. *Always equip the best weapons available! This will allow you to increase your damage without any deductions at the end of the battle. Don't be afraid to equip parts with weaker HP. A dead wanzer has no chance of hurting you so kill them faster with a stronger weapon! *Equip at least 2 different damage type weapons. As the enemy wanzer upgrade for Def-C becomes higher bypassing the Def-C becomes crucial for quicker kills. This also frees up the slots used for battle skills that lowers enemy Def-C upgrade in your computer. *Enhance your weapons by equiping arms with the higest accuracy. High accuracy will enable more rounds from the shotgun and machine gun hit their mark, and increase damage for even single shot weapons. WEAPON COMBINATIONS At first, I believed that most people would be happier experimenting with different weapon combinations. Unfortunately, I have recieved some E-mails that proved to me otherwise. So here are my commentary on various weapon combinations. While some combination may be more effective just remember that the major factor here is "Fun". Some weapon combination just looks too damn cool with the right battle skills so just mess around with different weapons until you find the one you like. Four weapon combinations It's the dream of wanzer pilots everywhere. Being able to use just about all the arsenals in the game would be a fantastic, but unfortunatly the folks at Squaresoft decided to make this combination impossible. It can be done but you will end up with lighter(and considerably weaker) weapons. This wouldn't be that bad if there was a COM with activation rate of 100% but of course the folks at Squaresoft just couldn't have that. In other words, "Don't even think about it!" Three weapon combination Next best thing to previous combination. This can be achieved with a extremely fine tuned wanzer. This combination should not be attempted with two shoulder weapons, this will result in a wanzer that will be constantly running out of AP and unable to counter most of the time. My recommendation would be to equip shield instead of the third weapon. This will allow you to equip better weapons and keep the wanzers alive longer through toughest battles. Two weapon combinaton This is section will be quite lengthy so pick the combination you are interested in unless you have a lot of time on your hands. This is the foundation of the addictive wanzer construction. Think carefully and make sure you select parts that will make the most of your weapons. Melee Only Having two melee weapon is somewhat redundant even with DOUBLE PUNCH I & II. The advantage is that you still have a weapon even if you lose an arm but that's as far as the advantages go. The damage is very good but you will end up taking a lot of damage making it necessary for item packs. Technically, using an energy pack will give you additional power which increases melee damage percentile but this is very dangerous because you can't help taking damage with this combination. For this combination AVOID 80 would be recommended to lessen the damage and REVENGE I, II, and III to return the favor or AUTO-COUNTER if you don't have any good alternatives. Don't use garbage battle skills like PREVENT LOSS, PILOT EJECT, ESCAPE, and GUARD-B since these skills aren't effective against preventing damage. Even if these skills kick in you're situation won't improve at all. TOPPLEPUNCH, EJECT PUNCH, and <PART>SMASH are other good battle skills that works very well with all melee weapon setup but FAST ATTACK should have priority over any battle skills you may want to add in you COM. Melee and Shield This would be the combination I would use if I had to use melee weapons. By their very nature, melee weapons forces you to charge into the frontlines where you are within attacking range of almost all of your enemies. Shield will lessen the impacts of iminent barrage of attacks and give you chance to activate REVENGE battle skills while you are blocking. With shields, you can use SHIELD ATTACK battle skills but you don't need them if you already have TACKLE or MELEE battle skills. If you were using AVOID battle skills you can choose 20 or 40 instead of 80 to save slots for other battle skills, but with the Def-C upgrades and shield in conjuction with AVOID 80 can help you take "0" damage from a missile attack. Melee and Guns This is the standard weapon setup when you first start the game. This is a good setup up that offers good strategic choices and the biggest battle skill choices. Now you have greater counter attack range, which is a key factor when you have to finish your battles quickly. DOUBLE ASSUALT is a decent battle skill that can only be used with this setup but for best results try to pick battle skills for weapon that you use the most. If you are like most people you'll end up picking mostly gun battle skills but if you insist on using melee as main form of attack you MUST add FAST ATTACK to your COM. Certain guns are bit more difficult to use in this combination, mainly Flamethrower and Heavy-parcticle gun will give you the most trouble. AP drain from the these guns will usually leave you open against incoming attacks so try to avoid these guns in this type of setup. With the flamethrower you should try to avoid using 11 AP if you can, while with the Heavy-P Gun you want to watch the distance between you and your enemy. Melee and Shoulder Weapons In my opinion, this is one of the most difficult combination to pull off. The obvious advantage is the damage you can inflict and access to <PART>SMASH skills. The weakness is inability to counter attack effectively since you cannot counter with shoulder weapons and melee weapons have a laughable counter attack range. In the beginning of the battles you won't have much of a problem since you can just sit back and nail enemy wanzers from distance unless the battle ground is small and flat. Once you are out of ammo and have to fight upclose things tend to go down hill. Contructing a wanzer for this setup is a headache because if you favor melee weapons you will drop the accuracy of the shoulder weapons, and of course, equipping shoulder weapons will lower the melee damage. On the other hand, favoring shoulder weapons will give you low movement rate and very low HPs on most of your wanzer parts. I would strongly recommend adding a shield to this setup so that you can stay alive a little longer once you are out of ammo since some of the best melee skills cannot be used with shoulder weapons(like FAST ATTACK). Guns only Besides making your wanzer look like a poster boy for the NRA or something out of some action movie, this setup is powerful. The strength of this setup is the flexiblity which must be backed up by a careful selection of battle skills. Try not to use two weapons of the same type even if you have DOUBLE FIRE I because you need variety to manage your APs and bypass Def-C upgrades. Guns are the only weapon category that covers all three damage type so don't have your pilots use exact same guns. For example, having all your pilots equip shotgun and machine gun is a very bad idea because you only covered two of the three damage types and you have limited yourself from other good battle skills. This setup requires good understanding of battle skills but you are compensated with easier part selection because guns are lighter compared to shoulder weapons. One of the things you shouldn't do in this setup is equip Heavy-p gun and Flamethrower. Only thing these weapons have in common is hugh AP drainage so you will be open for counter attacks. There are so many good battle skills for all guns combination so it's really hard to choose. FAST ATTACK, TOPPLESHOT, and <PART>SMASH are cream of the crop battle skills that will send melee wanzers crying home. Just use your imagination and pick the ones that you want. If you don't have access to good battle skills then use SKILL+ battle skills since they can be activated by all weapons. Gun and Shield This is a setup with "Safety First" as a motto. Doesn't offer much fire power but you don't have to deal with undue stress from having to choose the right parts and battle skills. This is a "Worry Free" combination that's better suited for beginners or early games when you have limited access to weapons and parts. Because this combination lacks fire power you want to emphasize "Damage" by selecting battle skills that increase damage rather than effect, otherwise you should setup your COM for a big combo. Just remember, you are not invincible becuase you have a shield so don't charge into the enemy unless you have to. Gun and Shoulder Weapon The best combination in the game in my opinion. This setup focuses on AI's flaw of the "7th Square Blindness" which causes wanzers in the back to just sit and do nothing until you move in closer. By using a gun and shoulder weapon you can attack with minimum counter attacks possible against you. This combination requires deep understanding of wanzer contruction and battle skill selection with good sense of AP management to achieve maximum results. To put it simply, just sit back and shoot before you can see the whites of their eyes. The battle skills you need to select will depend on what your shoulder weapon is. For grenades this is very simple because absolutely no battle skills will work with it. Just make sure you don't pick battle skills that won't be cancelled by grenade. With missiles things are a bit complex depending on your equipped gun. Rifles will work perfectly fine with battle skills picked for missiles(except for crap-tastic SALVO) but with other guns you have to pick a favorite weapon and select battle skills for that weapon. An interesting combination would be a "Firemoth" type that uses flamethrower and a shoulder weapon. This setup is very limited in terms of damage type and battle skills but delivers excellent damage if you use caution. If you decide to go with Heavy-p gun instead then you must keep a long distance at all times to minimize your damage. Shoulder Weapons only Combination that's more of a headache. The weight on shoulder weapons limits you from using better wanzer parts which is a very big problem once you run out of ammo, and you will because you won't be able to use item pack. As you are forced to use lighter parts you will have less HP and lowered accuracy as the shoulder weapons become heavier and heavier. You can do this with Hoshun Mk112 but why? Don't even try this unless you just like watching SALVO and don't mind taking extra turns to reload. PARTS Generally parts with high HP is desireable to create a good wanzer but it's important to keep in mind what you want the wanzer for. As you begin to upgrade and mix match parts you need to pay attention to performance boost of different parts. For example, if you are building a melee wanzer all you have to do is pick parts that has high melee percentage and you should end up with a powerful melee wanzer but the defense and dodge percentile may be too low. The difficult part of making your own wanzer is that weight allowance becomes a huge factor everytime there is a better weapon which is always heavier. Don't be afraid to use weaker but lighter parts as long as HP drop isn't too great. It's better to equip best weapons available than keep on using weak weapons just to keep your HP high. Just keep in mind that you want parts that have the highest upgrade percentile with a lots of HP. *Body: This part affects how much weight allowance you will have. Being the core part of the wanzer HP also cannot be ignored when comparing parts. If you want a wanzer that uses melee weapons only then you can maintain high HP but if you want multiple weapons you need to stick with the body that gives you the maximum weight allowance. If you use shield you can almost ignore Def-C percentile as long as you don't expect grenade attacks. *Backpack: Sadly there are only power and item packs in the game. I would recommend just using the power packs since it gives you a wider choice of parts and weapons you can equip. For an upclose and personal wanzers you need item packs to keep away from losing parts. For melee lovers, if your wanzer has less than 110 percent for melee damage equip energy pack to boost it higher. If the melee damage prcentage reaches above 120 percent increasing the power output with a energy pack won't make much of a difference. *Arms: An essential part needed for openning the can-of-wupass on your enemies. If you want to hold melee weapons or shields use melee type arms. This type of arms have very low accuracy rate but that's no problem for a melee weapon since they have extremely high accuracy rate. As for the shield you need the high HP because what would be the point of having a shield if your arm breaks before the shield runs out. If the shield breaks first the useless arm will soak up part of the damage that could have gone to the body or the weapon arm. For the guns and shoulder weapon you want the highest accuracy possible to do more damage, like Rekson 4MF. You will notice the diffrence with each upgrade as your accuracy out performes others by a mile. Remember that as the enemy begins to use wanzers with dodge upgrade you need accuracy far greater than 100% to hit them. Key thing to remember about arms you should know is that you can increase accuracy as soon as fourth pilot joins you. In both scenarios, fourth pilot will be a sniper type wanzer with arms with highest accuracy possible. To help the accuracy of the missile using wanzer take the left arm off of the fourth wanzer and move the rifle to the right arm. Now you have two wanzers with highest accuracy possible. Later on, when you capture Shangdi 1 or Rekson 4MF all you need is to capture just one of them to install all four wanzers with arms with highest accuracy. *Legs: Being able to out manuver your opponet is always an advantage but once again weight allowance will screw you from using the legs you want. For a melee wanzer high movement and boost rate is a must to reach that annoying sniper at the top of the hill. For other types of wanzers it would help but not necessary at all so go with lightest legs with most HP. If you're worried about low dodge rate just use a shield. As for hover legs, stay away from them since not many battlefields have water and the skill from it just reeks. Even on the stage where the giant pistons move up and down impeding your movement all you need is 1 wanzer with high movement to hold the road open while the 2 step wanzers catch up. The critical aspect of the leg you should keep in mind is the dodge rate. If you like missiles missing your wanzers as much as I do HP and movement rate shouldn't matter as much as dodge rates. However, weight should be more of a factor when you look at your wanzer as a whole. Here's a sample of one my hybrid wanzer to give you an idea of what I was talking about. This setup was orignaly designed to be a kill-now-and-bleed- later assult type of wanzer. Body: Mingtian 1 (Can be replaced with any parts that offer 344 output) Right Arm: Lenghe 1 (Replaceable with any arms that weight 15) Left Arm: Shangdi 1 (Has best accuracy, Rekson 4MF is the only replacement) Legs: Genie (Light weight and good dodge rate) Backpack: Energy Pack (Increase weight allowance) Idea begans as creating a wanzer that could use 4 weapons but as I began equiping more powerful weapons it became just impossible, even for the secret wanzer(without using some gameshark code to increase weight allowance). If you really want to you can use 4 weapons with that set up but you'll have to use very weak weapons since shoulder weapons weight too much. But I had good performance from this wanzer just using best missile and gun available. Shield became necessary as average damage from attacks increased to prevent the loss of HP. Of course, using the light arms like Tiandong 3 and shield combined with energy pack helped me to equip better missile and gun as they became available usually leaving about 10 or less weight allowance points left. General Tips on Customizing *Be sure to check the captured wanzers carefully for any usable parts. For Example, when you capture Qibing 0's in the Futai Tunnel Qibing 0 piloted by Griffin has higher upgrade than others. *Upgrade stock parts for easier comparison if you can afford it. If you haven't downloaded parts list already from somewhere that is. *Browse the shop at the end of every battle to see what new parts(don't forget about computers)are accessible. *Don't forget that you can mix different arms. Accuracy bonus on the weapons are add from the arm it's currently on only. Accuracy bonus will not drop because you have arm with lower accuracy on the other side. *Check your enemy's backpack. Sometime enemy wanzer will have better energy pack then you. Capturing that wanzer will let you use better weapons and parts before you get to the next shop. 3)COMBAT Here is the meat of the game. Instead of taking the fun out of it by covering strategy for each level I will just list strategies that can be used in most of levels. Before I start, I would like to cover the Battle Skills since it puts interesting flavor to the game. First of all, you should not plan on your battles based on any skill. The chance of skill activition is random even if the conditions are met with proper computer equipped. Although it is a significant factor of the game they're not dependable enough to kick in everytime you really need them. AQUIRING BATTLE SKILLS First you need two things before you even think about seriously learning battle skills. One is battle skills list and the other is last save file(No I'm not talking about Last Save Point. You need a save file that was made right after very last battle). The following tips are design to help you learn more battle skills in shortest amount of time which cannot be done without perviously metioned. Second thing you need is 2 sets of battle skills. If you can, try to learn 6 PREVENT LOSS(from Enyo Mk 109) and 6 AUTO COUNTER(from Genie) then fill COM10 with either one of them. For most battle skills you need PREVENT LOSS to stay in the battle until you learn your battle skills, but for battle skills that require you to lose a part use AUTO COUNTER to get a second chance at discovering the skill. As long as you don't do anything stupid like mix AUTO COUNTER with PREVENT LOSS or try to substitute PREVENT LOSS with ESCAPE then you are ready. The next step is to create Highlander style wanzer where there can be only one part from each wanzer model, to increase the number of battle skills you can learn in a battle. Upgrade only HP(To save time from having to upgrade everything everytime you equip a new part) for most battle skills since staying longer in a battle helps but for skills that require part loss don't buy upgrades at all. Following is the list of Battle skills that are useless and should be avoided. AUTO I&II :I just can't believe someone was actually PAID to come up with this garbage. This is the worst and hardest battle skill to learn. ESCAPE :This skill never combos with any other skills and also prevent your counter attack if your enemy attacked first PILOT EJECT :What can you possibly to without your wanzer besides getting killed HARD KNOCKS :Knocking on death's door for TEMPORARY level up, why? GUARD-B :Hmm... might as well give all your oppenents AIM-ARM BLACKOUT :Sounds nice but enemies rarely use battle skills, hence useless HIT OR MISS :This battle skill would be good if you have a GameShark code that lowers your accuracy below 50 percent ***Discover battle skills that will actually do something in the battle. A novice player once told me battle skills like AUTO and ESCAPE had their uses. Needless to say he is a fool. Common sense should tell you those skills will not work if you are busy kicking everyone's butt. This goes for any defensive battle skills in general. Defensive skills have almost no chance of activating if you are winning. General Tips on Battle Skills *Try to learn as much skills as you can. If this raises your weapon level too high use a weapon that you won't be using during actual combat. Weapon levels are calculated only on the weapons you have actually used during the combat. *Select skills that take up fewer slots. Powerful skills like <PART>SMASH sounds awsome but it takes up most of your slots. At best you will destroy that part but with a group of skills you may be able to achieve multiple attacks that can destroy more parts with additional effects of your choosing such as stun, pilot damage, and pilot ejection. Reverse is true towrads the end since you end up facing monster class wanzers with monster size HP and random status effect almost never occurs, therefore one shot kill with a BODYSMASH will greatly improve your rating if it works twice in a battle on undamaged wanzers. *Try to use skills that prevent counter attacks. Skills like Fast Attack and Toppleshot will keep you alive longer and healthier. As a counter attack it stops melee attacks dead on it's track. *Toppleshot looks cool and it's power is almost as good as a <PART>SMASH skills. This skill does not increase damage but it halves the AP usually leaving the enemy with barely enough AP for one counter attack which opens him up for free attacks with machine guns at upclose range. So anyone that uses a gun should learn this skill. Try not to enter more than one Toppleshot in the computer since you can't combo multiple Toppleshots. *If you use different types of weapon select skills that can be activated by all of them. For exmaple, if you have a wanzer that has a missile, machine gun, and a hard blow PILOT DAMAGE and SKILL+2 can be activated by all of them. *If you plan to hijack a wanzer with EJECT PUNCH, make sure one of your allies can enter empty wanzer or kill the ejected pilot. Also keep in mind that if there is a vacant wanzer next to the enemy the pilot will eject into the empty wanzer. *Avoid using defensive battle skills. If you're going for platinum medals you need to make most of your attack/counter attack. Skills like AUTO COUNTER, PREVENT LOSS, and ESCAPE will never occur in a battle with a platinum medal result. COMBAT STRATEGY Not all battles have kill'em all as the victory condition so don't forget to check the victory condition. The game becomes really frustrating as you try for the platinum medals not to mention all the deductions that seems to come out of nowhere. The early battles will give you as much trouble as the last few battles, since you start with jack sh*t and jack just left town. Here are some tips to help you along before you go trigger happy with platinum medals in your sight. BASIC STRATEGY(ones you should already know) *As you have seen in many faqs already always draw the enemies to you rather than go after them. AI has an interesting flaw which gives enemy wanzers "7th square blindness". As long as you keep more than 6 squares of distance from the enemy they will just sit there in most battles unless they are special wanzers or wanzers with certain task(like opening door or destroying obstacle). This is okay since it's easier to take them out from the distance but make sure you activate them in time so they will close in saving you a precious turn to go after them. *Focus your attacks on one opponent. This also means that you should focus on the weakest wanzer even if you have to take some missile damage because even a ejected pilot can cause status effect. Attack them until either they die, surrender(not waving flag), or lost both arms. *Attack with your strongest weapons first. As I have metioned earlier, any attack, no matter the damage, can cause status effect. Even if there is a special wanzer don't be afraid to use missiles or grenades on weaker wanzers to finish them off. Just don't go missile happy when you could have killed the wanzer with a shotgun. Exception to this rule is when you are low on AP. You'll be fine as long as you have enough AP for at least one counter attack or shield. *Keep your weapon levels just high enough to earn the platinum medals. You may have some walk through that tells you what the required average weapon level for each battle is but becareful not to over pump yourself. If a single pilots gets lucky and deals out a lot of death blows he/she may level up high enough to cost you a unnecessary deductions. As a general rule, do not have your average weapon level higher than 5 percent deduction. In any battle where you battle against a monster sized wanzers you will recieve a sudden surge of experiance so plan for these battles extra carefully. *Try not to waste time repairing or looking for hidden items on battle field. If you have to repair make sure you move closer to the enemy. When going for the platinum you need to make every attack and counter attack count. You can't afford to lose any attacks just because your ally was out of range. *If you are stuck on a stage try out different tactics before you decide to raise your weapon levels. It takes several battles before your deduction from average weapon level will start going down again. *Always take the hill. Height will improve both your offense and defense. **LAST MINUTE NOTES FOR THE GOLD EDITION I made a mistake of sending this faq before I checked for spelling and other mistakes so I decided to correct them but I thought I might as well add something while I was working on it. Here is some helpful tidbit that should help you make effective battle plans KNOWN AI FLAWS <<7th Square Blindness>> Basically, if an enemy wanzer cannot reach you by taking six steps they tend to ignore you completely. This makes missiles and Heavy-P gun awfully powerful, as a matter of fact you can destroy all enemies with just one wanzer on Fukushima battle simulation if you equip Heavy-P gun. <<Items>> AI of FM3 will not use items. This doesn't really help unless you want to use the items in enemy's backpack. If AI did use items that would only make grenades more powerful since several wanzers would be busy repairing themselves and create sort of a technical stun. <<Upgrades>> Enemy pilot that was ejected will not reactivate any of the upgrades upon reboarding the wanzer. This is a double strike against that wanzer because with no Def-C and dodge upgrade equals sitting duck. Apparently ejecting a computer pilot also causes their brains to eject at the same time. <<Obstacles>> In some battles, few wanzers are programmed to destroy obstacles. For couple of stages this makes sense because obstacles are really blocking their path. A prime example would be the battle in Futai Tunnel from Emma's scenario where the "Elite" Imaginary Number squad attacks the guard rails in first few rounds of the battle. <<Empty Wanzers>> For some unexplained reason, ejected pilots will only enter a empty wanzer only if there is one right next to them when they were ejected. Like I said before, ejecting a computer pilot seems to eject their brains at the same time. <<Preprogrammed Actions>> This flaw is similar to that of wanzers destroying obstacles but slightly different and harder to recognize until you replay the same battle several times. The best example would be, from Alisa's scenario, where everyone is trying to escape Japan by using hover legs on their wanzers. On this stage, the two melee wanzers are programmed to rush and block the path of your pilots. So if you stay in your starting position you would be cornered. However, if you decided to make a run for the water, two melee wanzers will run into the ally as if to close off your retreat. This mistake allows you to reach the water where melee wanzers can only stare at you occurs everytime. If you advance all your wanzers toward the water everytime the same wanzers will always take the same action where only one of the melee wanzers actually attack you on the first round. Look for this type of flaws if you have trouble with a particular stage. Things like knowing where the enemy is goint to move can help you avoid them until you are ready. <<No Shoulder Weapon?>> To activate battle skills you must meet the required condition. However, for some odd reason you are able to "learn" battle skills with "No Shoulder Weapon" as part of the battle condition while using shoulder weapons. EARLY BATTLES The battles are strangely tough after the first few battles before you are able to purchase parts, upgrades, and use much needed simulation. Be prepared to press the reset button! *Battles are simplified into exchange of blows and there are no means to reduce the damage so focus on one unit and always attack from distance except to finish him off. *Average weapon level is very low so make sure everyone gets a even share of death blows to slow down the level progression. Also, do not use battle simulation too early since difference of 1 level can actually cost you 15 percent deduction. *Since damage cannot be reduced, heal everyone up before you deal the final death blow on the last wanzer to reduce average damage. During the battle, try to hold off on using repair items until the last minute. MID BATTLES Once you're done with tutorials and have shops accessable in the network things are a breeze. There shouldn't be too much problem as long as you are able to equip your wanzer with best parts and weapons money can buy. As you start gaining additional characters make sure they have enough AP to activate the upgrades for the battles where you are forced to use them. *Use Fukushima at the hardest setting on your simulation to save time on keeping the levels just high enough. *Now that you have access to upgrades and shields try not to use any items during battles. If the battle result shows deduction for number of attacks and turns only just level up. *If you see absolutely no deductions use the simulations to keep the average weapon level deduction at 1-3 percent if possible. This will save time at the end when you need to spend hours in the simulation. FINAL BATTLES Now you should have your best wanzer setup and have the secrect wanzer. If you somehow screwed up on the network or just forgot to dial for the secret wanzer parts don't worry. In your first few battle in Japan(like the observation tower in Emma's version) after coming from DHZ, the secret will be piloted by one of the JDF pilots. Stealing this wanzer will also give you the Heavy-particle Gun. Towards the end, be careful about raising levels because you'll be facing multiple giant sized wanzers that can raise your average weapon level too high. *Make sure the weapons levels of ALL your extra characters are up to par with your main characters. Weak attack will definately screw things up when you are forced to use extra characters again. *To make things easier, have the extra pilots assigned as a replacement for the each of your primary pilots if you haven't done so already. For example, have Yun gain levels in Kazuki's wanzer to replace him when the group splits up, and so forth with other pilots. *Try to have at least one <PART>SMASH skills learned by all of the pilots to save time and much frustration. When wanzers start having parts with HP greater than 1K battles become longer causing number of turns deduction. *Before using missiles check the enemy status to see if they are using shields. Blast these units with grenades and other weapons to weaken their shield arm then use guns or missiles to finish off the shield arm. Common Answers to Penalties Penalties doesn't even seem to exist when you first play the game but its annoying presence will hound you on you way to platinum medals. As you play for the platinum it seems like you get deductions for anything and everything and makes you wander why there was no penalties for buying the game. Before you get more frustrated here are somethings you can do to get rid of those annoying penalties. 1. Always check the victory condition. When there is another way to win try to win with that condition such as reaching the target area or killing a certain target. 2. Choose which weapon you will use when you are trying to finish off a wanzer. If a wanzer has 75 HP for the body with other parts still intact use a burst weapon rather than single shot weapon that can hit other body part instead. This will cut down on unnecessary number of attacks and turns. 3. If an enemy wanzer has a shield use a grenade but if you don't have one you must take drastic measures to damage the shield arm. Attack that wanzer close enough so that the enemy will counter attack you. This will drain that pilots' AP up and leave him/her open for rest of your pilots to kill or damage the shield arm. Do this only if you are deducted for taking too many turns. 4. Use all your weapons. If you have deductions for average weapon level don't finish the battle just using your best weapons. If you a weapon that is at a very low level use that weapon to drop the average weapon level. 5. Increase your weapon levels to increase your damage. This will lower the number of attacks and turns used. However, don't increase your weapon level at all in the early battles because when allowed weapon level is "2" average weapon level at 3 will give you 15% deduction. 6. Equip the best weapon available. Forgetting to equip and udgrade will land you in a rock and a hard place where you will be penalized for having high average weapon level and attacking too many times. This may happen if you forget to shop before the battles. 7. In stages where you can lose by having your NPCs killed, protect them when there is only 1 NPC to protect. If there are more than 1 NPC fight as normal. 8. Consider using RANDOM or BODY SMASH if you are deducted for taking too many attacks and turns. During the final battles, if you are faced with too many different kinds of deductions single attack kill will reduce deductions tremendously. This tactic is needed when you are facing multiple monster sized wanzers and vehicles and you have deductions for average weapon level. 9. If you have accidently raised the weapon levels too high try switching pilots to lower the average weapon level. 10. Keep at least two save files. You need a separate save file for before and after you used battle simulation. If you couldn't balance out the weapon levels or if it is just too high then simply reload. Happy hunting!!
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