Battle Engine Aquila (Xbox) review
"Battle Engine Aquila is yet another game in the ever growing line of mech titles in the Xbox's library. It'd be easy to overlook it in the deluge of mech games out there, but it'd be a mistake to do so. It offers unique things the other mech games don't. "
Battle Engine Aquila is yet another game in the ever growing line of mech titles in the Xbox's library. It'd be easy to overlook it in the deluge of mech games out there, but it'd be a mistake to do so. It offers unique things the other mech games don't.
Aquila's story seems like it was written by an aspiring 11 year old science fiction writer in a period of about 3 minutes. The Blue Army (good) and the Red Army (evil) are vying for domination of a planet that has almost completely flooded. The only land left is a string of 10 or so islands, on which most of the game takes place. The Blue Army has developed a new kind of weapon: a transforming mech that can both walk and fly. The only problem is that for some reason, everybody sucks at piloting the mech. That's where you come in. You're some kid who pilots a certain kind of cargo carrying machine that also happens to be a transformer which walks AND flies, and you're damn good at it. You are hired to fight the menace of the Red Army.
Once you suffer through some excruciatingly crappy looking movies, you select your weapons.
You have a few different weapons configurations to choose from. All the good stuff is available..Laser beams, spread bombs, rockets, torpedoes, machine guns.. and you'll need every bit of it to take on the Red Army.
After you've selected your arsenal, it's off to battle - and what battles they are. Their sheer size and scope is something I haven't seen in a game outside of the RTS genre before. While you play from a first person view, the battles really seem like something out of a strategy game. There are often more than 100 units taking part - multiple types of tanks, fighter planes, bombers, artillery platforms, infantrymen, and other mechs like yours, all clashing on the field of battle at the same time. Surprisingly, even with the huge number of units on the screen, I didn't ever see any slowdown, even when the action got intense.
During the battles thereís often a lot of stuff happening that you arenít directly involved in or in control of. To get an idea of how much is really going on park your mech on a hill and watch the action unfold. The Red and Blue armies will go into pitched battle, tanks blasting each other, miniscule infantrymen charging into the frey, huge transports landing in the field and unloading mobile artillery..BEA is an impressive technical achievement. While itís cool to sit back and take everything in, it really is more fun to get involved in the action.
You can either wade into combat in the spider-ish walker form or take to the skies in the fighter form to rain death down upon your enemies. You should be able to get a hang of the game quickly - the controls are very simple and easy to pick up. The formula of the game is about as simple as the controls. The missions are very basic in nature - there's escort, defend-the-base, wipe-out-opposing-army, destroy a certain building, etc. All the missions really just boil down to straight blasting, however, the developers have managed to make room for a little strategy amidst the action. Each form of the Aquila is more useful against certain enemies. There's an energy gauge that is constantly draining when you're in flight mode - it also drops when you're taking heavy fire on the ground or shooting your energy weapons. The gauge refills when you're in walker mode. If you don't manage your forms right you'll find yourself in some sticky situations like being trapped behind enemy lines with no energy, which will most often lead to death. That's one of the main things that separates BEA from other mech shooters - you really have to assess each situation, think tactically and act accordingly, using the correct balance of mech forms to attain victory.
The graphics are colorful but not technically impressive. There seems to be a relatively low polygon count in everything, but that's understandable since there are so many moving objects on the screen. The only thing that really stuck out as being cool is the explosions. I love a good explosion.
Lost Toys even went the distance and included 3 multiplayer modes: Co-op (where you and a friend both pilot an Aquila to take on a Red Army force), Deathmatch (one-on-one Aquila combat), and Skirmish (A vs. mode in which you and a friend both command an army and must destroy each other). Sadly the multiplayer modes weren't much of a success - in split screen mode the game slows down considerably. The co-op is fun, but they only give you 3 levels to do it on (2 of which are water-based levels where you have to fly around everywhere, which sucks). The vs. modes are just flat out crap. The game doesn't really seem suited for vs. combat at all. I still give them props for at least trying to add multiplayer modes. It could've been a lot better if it just had more co-op levels.
Despite the crappy multiplayer, the single player experience is impressive enough to warrant at least a rental. There are around 20 levels in the game, and if you get a good enough rating on any level you unlock it's ''Evo'' counterpart - the same level but much harder, with much more enemies. If you actually attempt to unlock and beat every Evo level, you'll play around 40 levels and get a good amount of time out of BEA.
It's just a shooter at heart but the transforming mech and the tactical thought that comes with it brings a very engaging aspect to the game. Congratulations to Lost Toys for trying to do something a bit different than the norm. They put you into epic battles that seem straight out of a real time strategy game, and they do it well, which is quite an accomplishment. If you can get over the fact that there isnít much of a story to be seen and you like shooters, mech games, or just all out destruction, you have to check out BEA.
Community review by goatx3 (March 23, 2003)
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