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War Tech Fighters

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Green Man Gaming
Developer: Drakkar Dev
Release Date: July 25, 2018


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PC Review - 'War Tech Fighters'

by Cody Medellin on Aug. 27, 2018 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

War Tech Fighters is a rapid fire, mecha-in-space, action blockbuster game.

No matter your age, giant mechs will always remain fascinating. Until we get one working in real life, playing games where you pilot these behemoths will be the next best way to live out the dream fostered by countless anime over the years. There have been a number of mech games in the past decade, but they've been so spread out that notice of a new one is still met with excitement amongst fans. War Tech Fighters is the latest mech game, and after spending almost a year in Steam Early Access, it has finally been given a full retail release.

The plot is awfully familiar, as it seems to crib from a very basic space opera template. In the far future, mankind has finally made it to the stars and is starting to colonize as much of space as possible. As the colonies go further away from home, they seek out independence while the home planet refuses. In retaliation, new robotic suits named War Techs have been created in the hopes of ending the war quickly.

The gameplay feels like a mix of your basic arcade aircraft shooter with first-person controls grafted onto it. In other words, you're using a dual analog setup if you're using a controller, but you also have the added benefit of straight vertical movement. You're equipped with both a primary weapon and a secondary heavy one, both of which use up an energy meter that refills at a rapid clip. That same energy meter also activates your thrusters, so you can chase down enemies or get to an objective more quickly. While you can simply shoot down enemies with ease thanks to the ever-present lock-on system, you can also use your sword whenever you get close to other War Techs. Finally, most enemies can be drained of their energy enough for you to execute a finishing move that usually involves you slamming or punching them, along with a stab or slash of your giant sword.

The space setting combined with miniscule number of objects in the environment almost gives you the sense that you're simply rotating in place, firing at any enemy that comes by. You know you're going forward because you can see other ships pass by, and an objective meter shrinks as you approach it, but the feeling remains once those other objects go missing. Still, you won't mind as much since the game throws out enough enemies to keep you busy in combat, and the ability to execute enemies via a cut scene happens quite often. There are only a handful of those scenes available, but it'll take a while before you're tired of seeing them. You'll rarely see your bullets come out, especially when firing the heavy weapons, but your shots rarely miss. With good AI companions, you'll wipe out foes before you know it.

At the same time, the difficulty level of War Tech Fighters can fluctuate wildly enough to give you trouble. It tends to happen early in the game, so while you may have a good run against enemies, one skirmish suddenly throws everything at you or has enemies that hit harder, so you'll die before realizing the shift occurred. The sudden enemy imbalance isn't helped by the fact that the controls for vertical movement still feel awkward because they're on the face buttons, so evasion feels like a chore. It isn't a complete hindrance when this occurs, but it is annoying nonetheless.

In between fights, you're back in the hangar spending your credits on either research for better weaponry or new parts to outfit your mech. Both of these go hand in hand, as some of the parts can't be purchased unless the appropriate research is done first. From the heads to the torsos to the legs, almost every part can be replaced and customized — but only through colors. Unlike other mech games, the only restriction to the parts is their cost, so there's no need to worry about weight or compatibility with other parts on your mech. While the cost of each part is reasonable, you can't get everything on one run in the campaign. In lieu of that, you can replay missions for cash and participate in side missions to grind out the necessary funds for the upgrade parts.

The presence of side missions and the ability to replay missions, complete with leaderboards, gives the title some staying power, since there are no other gameplay modes. On the one hand, it's disappointing that you can't get into massive mech dogfights with other players, especially since few other mech games have tried this out. On the other hand, considering the fickle nature of online game populations nowadays, it would be equally disappointing to see the mode but have no one giving it a chance.

The presentation is quite good when put into perspective. The environments feel dead due to the lack of other objects aside from enemies and objective ships, but there are a good number of enemies and allies that can occupy the screen at any time without affecting performance. The texture quality is good, but the explosions and gunfire seem lacking, almost like we're seeing stuff from generations ago. At the same time, the game can hit the highest of settings on a pretty low-spec machine, so when you take that into consideration, it looks nice overall. Meanwhile, the voice work is passable. None of the chatter you hear throughout is grating, and the '80s rock music works well for something that can be the equivalent of a popcorn action film.

War Tech Fighters is simply good enough. The gameplay seems limited since you don't get a sense of movement, and specific mech fighting is restricted to quick fights with other mechs and one-hit cut scene kills, but the constant flow of action mitigates that a bit. The side missions and grinding for cash makes up for a lack of multiplayer, and the presentation is fine but nothing feels like it's state of the art. War Tech Fighters won't be your next all-time favorite mech game, but you'll still have a good time rolling through the campaign.

Score: 7.0/10

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