MechAssault (Xbox) review
When I hear ''MechWarrior'' I think of a slow, clunky, complex mech sim for the PC. Mechassault for the Xbox takes place in the same world as the MechWarrior series, but is quite different than it's big brother.
In Mechassault you play as a member of an organization called the Wolf Dragoons. A violent religious cult called has taken over a planet and it's your duty to stop them. You're part of the advance team to the planet, your mission is to destroy it's orbital guns and clear the path for the main invasion force. On your landing approach your ship is shot down. It was supposed to be a stealth mission but now the bad guys know you're here, and you have to fight your way across half a world to knock out the orbital guns (among other things).
The first thing that struck me was the speed of the game. The mechs don't trudge slowly along accompanied by the slow ''chung...chung...chung..'' of their feet hitting the ground, as in quite a few other mech games. All of the mechs move at a relatively fast pace, the light mechs especially. While the heavy mechs aren't as quick, you won't find their pace bothersome. For massive chunks of metal the mechs are all pretty maneuverable. You can move in all directions at a pretty good speed.
It's you versus a planet full of religious fanatics, and everybody knows how crazy religious fanatics can be, but thankfully you'll have considerable hardware at your disposal to deal with them. As far as I know there are 11 mechs to choose from (I haven‘t been the game in every m ode yet) ranging from light to heavy. Of the 11 you only start out with 1 light scout mech. The rest become available over the course of the game. Each mech has it's own weapons configuration which consists of a few weapons, including machine guns, gauss rifles, various missiles and cannons. Some mechs have special abilities like invisibility or the ability to drop flares to misdirect heat seeking missiles, which will be very useful in your campaign against the freaky religious people.
The fighting takes place across 20 levels. Most of the missions consist of ''destroy X object'', there are a few others, but most of the time you'll be out to blow something up. It sounds simple, but there will be alot of stuff in your way. You'll be up against infantry, helicopters, planes, tanks, and other mechs. The gameplay is fast and fun. You'll never be without something to blow up. Tanks and gun emplacements make good missile fodder, but the real challenge comes when you meet up with enemy mechs. If you just stand and try to blast these guys down, you'll more than likely die. You've got to move around, strategize a bit, and use the surrounding scenery as cover. The controls are solid, simple, and easy to pick up. They'll be pretty familiar to anybody who has played Halo. You move in all directions with the left stick, and look/turn with the right. Your weapons can be cycled through with the left trigger, or quickly jumped to with any of the main buttons.
The graphical presentation of Mechassault is pretty nice. Not only do the mechs look great, they also move really fluently- when the light mechs are running they almost look more like living animals than machines. The environments are smooth and vary from winter to urban to volcanic. The thing they all have in common is buildings. When you hit a building with a missile, you'll knock a hole in it and actually be able to see inside the building a little bit. Hit the building with a few more missiles and it'll crumble down on itself in a shower of glass and debris. If seeing tall buildings crumble and crash to the ground is going to make you have some terrible 9/11 flashback, steer clear of this game. The explosions look great, the mech explosions in particular are awesome. Some of the cooler explosions I've seen in a game.
Thankfully the game also has good audio to go along with the sharp graphics. From the movement of the mechs, to the explosions, to buildings crashing down, everything sounds great. The only thing that bugged me was the guitar music that comes on when you face enemy mechs, it sounds a bit cheeseball. It could've been better, but it's not a huge deal.
Mechassault is a rather different game than all of it's other mech-game cousins. The gameplay is fast, action packed, and easy to pick up. It's mech warfare made accessible for the masses, not mech warfare for hardcore mech nerds. If you're in the latter category you might not appreciate it too much, but a simpleton like me enjoyed it quite a bit. The only real problem is that the game isn't as long as I would‘ve liked. I rented it for five days and beat it without playing very much everyday. Granted, I haven't gone through it on hard mode yet, but it still seemed a bit short. While on it's own Mechassault is a great rental, my extra sensory abilities tell me that it was created with Xbox Live in mind. This review might not be fair, on account of me not having Xbox Live. This is simply a judgment of the single player game. Mechassault does seem ideal for Xbox Live. The idea of stomping through cities in online teamplay is tantalizing, and makes me wish I could afford broadband. If you've got Live, add another point or so to the score I've given it, I'm sure it'd make Mechassault last much, much longer.
Community review by goatx3 (December 13, 2002)
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