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Xbox Review - 'MechAssault'

by Chris "Fozz" Breci on Jan. 17, 2003 @ 12:35 a.m. PST

“MechAssault” a futuristic sci-fi third-person shooter game, will allow gamers to command a huge walking tank known as a BattleMech. Players will battle foes and take out enemy structures while manoeuvring a huge BattleMech, or ’Mech, through a variety of environments. A dozen powerful BattleMechs are available in “MechAssault,” each with massive firepower. “MechAssault” features complete destruction on a level never seen before – everything in the world can be destroyed bit by bit. Gamers can play a variety of missions with multiple objectives that require tactics and skill. “MechAssault” on Xbox also will include online features.

Genre: Action
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Day 1 Studios
Release Date: 12-Nov-2002

You are the best of the best and the lead Mechwarrior of Wolf’s Dragoon. Since you are the lead Mechwarrior you are assigned to go down to planet Helios before the other dragoons come in and do their job. You get to do all the dirty work; things such as destroying enemy mechs and buildings would easily fall under this category. There is a major roadblock on this planet in the form of technological zealots known as the Word of Blake. The Word of Blake is on this planet for an unknown reason that they seem to try to defend to the death. After finding out about the Word of Blake, HQ has commanded that you now have to create a big enough distraction and diversion in the WoB’s defenses so that the rest of the dragoons can come in and wipe them out. While the game progresses you begin to learn more and more of the WoB’s mysterious reasoning for working harder than a ghost on Scooby-Doo to scare you pesky dragoons away. Do you think you can handle the job Mechwarrior?

Mechassault has got to be the single most fun game that has come out for the XBOX in 2002. It has so many different aspects to it that it just makes the all around playing of the game enjoyable to the point where you find yourself pondering the newest and coolest way to destroy a building while you’re in school supposedly “working”. The combination of stepping on unknowing platoons of infantry and blowing up the nearest and furthest buildings from you will cause an adrenaline rush that you will rarely experience in videogames today. Each mech has its own arsenal of weapons, however only some of the mechs have defensive capabilities. These defensive maneuvers and skills are jump jets, target jamming, chaff, and null signature; each having its own different effect on the enemies attacks. Most of the mechanical war-machines are equipped with the target jamming system, chaff and null signature, while only a few have jump jets and even less have no defenses. In the heavier mechs you will, obviously, be forfeiting your defensive maneuvering for raw power in rockets lasers and machine guns as opposed to the lighter end mechs dealing out less damage in return for lowered attacking ranges and power.

There are plenty of mechs to choose from once you have completed the game such as the Belial, Uziel, Cougar, Atlas, Prometheus, Mad Cat, and Thor, but until you beat the game or play online you will only be subjected to a select few of them. As the first mission begins, your landing craft stereotypically crash lands on a mysterious planet in the middle of hostile territory and you are immediately dropped into the midst of battle. Although your initial feeling of being cheated because you start off with a single mech, the Cougar, which is a light mech that consists of a pulse laser, Auto-cannon, and some Javelin missiles with jump jets as your only defense, you will very quickly begin to understand the first sentence of this paragraph. As soon as you take step numero uno over the big hill you see right off the bat, a platoon of infantry come into sight, and whether to blast them or stomp them is completely up to you. Might I add that the stomping is much more satisfying from the gamer perspective. I don’t know what it is about splattering their guts and watching the limbs fly out of the battlefield only to smack into a nearby rock that makes a gamer warm and tingly inside.

The majority of the game takes the form of battling off a plethora of WoB minions such as infantry, tanks, and placement guns while destroying buildings, only to hold the mech-to-mech combat for mainly boss and sub-boss battles. The main missions mostly include destroying an enemy building or plowing through mass numbers of unmatched forces and wreaking havoc on anything that stands in your way. To do this is to enjoy Mechassault for its true beauty, and it is coincidentally the same reason you and I both got our evil little paws on this game. DESTRUCTION. After many hours of experimentation, we here at WorthPlaying have found that everything that is not landscape (i.e. ground, major mountains, or a major roadblock) is destructible. That’s right; you heard me right EVERYTHING ranging from rock formations to buildings in an urban environment. To put it simply, if it’s in your way you can move it. Those who like to take the time to sit back and play demolition squad would have a heck of a lot more fun on this title than those who like to run through the mission objectives to get the ending cinema.

The urban levels that take place in the city are the most fun levels in the game; I say this because there is a pure cinematic to some of the situations that arise out of the battlefield. Situations that include a meandering enemy that are unsure if the area is clear or too quiet or in the heat of battle when a building blows up and the smoke clears it reveals an enemy that has been charging his PPC cannons and is locked on to your signal. The controls are a nice accompaniment to the gameplay in the way that they take a timed total of 20 seconds to understand and become one with. It creates the “pickup and play” aspect for Mechassault that is sorely needed by more games out on the market today.

The controls make combat a lot more fun than it could have turned out to be, with sketchy controls being one of the top reasons for dislike of games. Since the controls are so simply adjusted to, if any adjusting is at all needed, the gameplay flows a lot more smoothly in battle in a way that you do not find your self accidentally doing something you didn’t mean to do, something that could cause imminent death like a missed shot or switching to a weapon when in need of a shield. The actual feel that is created by the mechs movement and fighting is sort of an in between, I guess you could call it, and I say this because it doesn’t give the overall arcade feel that was aroused from Phantom crash, but it also does not throw in the complication and slow paced action that Steel Battalion brings to the table. It offers a reasonable paced and ultra-fun mechanized combat system that does the Mechwarrior series much justice.

Cutting edge gameplay requires cutting edge graphics and Mechassault is willing deal out its fair share of particle effects and near perfect edge smoothing to create one of the most graphically pleasing games that resides on the market. The opening sequence of the briefing before the first mission goes to show that they can do a lot more than battle situations with the age old explosion, but Day : 1 : Studios have also done a very nice job at modeling the actual people in game in not only the way of matched up talking with mouth movements, but the beauties of the female body and how they interact with gravity in the walking movement. Many people these days are starting to take graphical advancements for granted, while in the olden days developers would have to switch to a different file format to display certain images and now they are able to model 99 percent of what you see with the in-game engine. As I mentioned earlier Mechassault is capable of graphics beyond its explosions, however the game does mainly focus on booms and bangs of mechanized battle they have gone to great lengths to make the things that will happen during battle look like candy to your eye.

As you can see from the screenshots the explosions are some of the best ever done and also some of the best particle effects ever coded on any platform. There are many different ways to create said images, the first is by destroying buildings with a weapon of your choice or by simply piloting your mech smack into the side of a wall, the others would include various types of destruction of mechs, choppers, and other various enemy targets, but the most satisfying of all is to watch an enemy mech fall and start to destruct from the inside out. With the destruction of enemy targets comes smoke and after smoke our friend fire tags along, but forget not that many instances do not permit 1-on-1 battle situations so through all the smoke, destruction, and fire, there are lasers and rockets flying around a speeds that would make a 747 jealous without skipping a single beautifully rendered in-game graphical frame. I find this to be very impressive being that so many people have traded graphics for speed or vice versa that its great to see a game out there that gets the best of both worlds without having to give up a bit on either end.

The sounds and environmental feel is sometimes lost in the heat of battle and takes a bit of a shot due to the sometimes-repeating commands that can come over your intercom system from HQ. Overall the sound can be rather enthralling if you are willing to use for its potential, for instance with massive subwoofers and speakers to hear each and every little explosion in the battlefield. Some of the better battles are had and made by the sounds of them. When you hear a giant boom from behind you and spin around to find an enemy Titan breathing down your neck, your blood pumps. When you get into the most heated situations with mechs exploding and imploding while buildings collapse and laser zing by your cockpit you will appreciate the sounds of Mechassault.

The multiplayer mode can be attempted in more than just a run-and-gun fashion, however our friends at Day : 1 : would not exclude us from the sacred run-and-gun action, there is just simply more to do. All of the modes can be played on XBOX live except for Grinder. Grinder mode is a battle royal for machines, if you will, where you and a group of friends battle against an endless supply of mechs until you all fall Destruction mode would be the run-and-gun option, which was previously mentioned above, this does include team destruction as well. Last man standing is the same thing as destruction however there is no respawning and it means exactly that; the last man or machine standing is the victor. The last multiplayer mode is “Not It!” which is basically a sick and twisted version of tag where the person that is it has a hit put out and whoever kills him/her gets the points. While local XBOX multi-mech matches can be fun and system-link even more fun, the live function takes the cake not only because it offers larger scale battles, but because the Xbox Live function will enable the downloads of new levels and mechs not on the original versions of the game.

In short, if you own an Xbox and do not own Mechassault you have somehow committed a cardinal sin. With awesome gameplay, jaw dropping graphics and one of the best multi-player games on the market, Mechassault is a must by for Xbox owners. This is a title that you just can’t go wrong with. It contains replay-ability, addictive battle, and an intriguing story line to propel itself ahead of the many other games that hover the shelves and is quite possibly one of the best games of the year. Mechwarrior has definitely defended its crown as one of the best Mech games of all time, and solidifies Mechassaults status as a game that is definitely worth playing.

Overall Score 9.8 / 10

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