Review by northernlion
"I was expecting more, but it still delivers a fun experience Mech fans are sure to enjoy."
Perhaps it's unfair, but I had very high expectations for MechAssault. Being the first Mech game I had ever played, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. In my opinion, it delivers an exciting experience, that falls just short of what I was expecting. Nevertheless, it delivers a fun and worthwhile experience and is sure to please fans of the series/genre.
The graphics in MechAssault are quite good. Mechs all look realistic (in context) and weapon attacks are colourful, varied, and enjoyable to watch. Environments are beautiful, ranging from sloping green hills to snowing, icy tundra. All are a joy to watch (and play in). However, infantry models look like the sprites from Command & Conquer: Red Alert (a good thing 5 years ago, not a good thing now).
The most impressive graphical feature in my opinion is the damage modeling on buildings. Depending on where you hit a building, certain chunks of it will fall off. Fire spouts from the openings, and eventually the building collapses. This looks like something out of a TLC special, and is quite extraordinary.
In conclusion, the graphics in MechAssault are quite good. They aren't revolutionary or mind-blowing, but they serve their purpose and are quite fun to look at. The explosions and action are coupled with great mech designs, making this a graphical extravaganza.
MechAssault plays rather well. Mech to Mech combat is extremely fun and challenging, but I did have a problem with attacking other units (I'll discuss this later). The single-player mode is well done for a game that is primarily known for being one of the killer apps for Xbox Live, however some goals can become repetitive and travelling from one place to another (especially in the heavier, stronger mechs) can be slow and boring. Overall, the action sections make up for these short comings, but in the next game these problems should be addressed. Finally, the game runs at a solid 60fps, and in many hours of gameplay I have yet to see a skip in the frame speed.
As I said earlier, Mech to Mech combat is very enjoyable. Nothing compares to two (or three, or four) giant robots duking it out. A great amount of strategy is involved, as these battles can become quite challenging. I had to lower the difficulty to the easy setting to progress very far in the game. Unfortunately, fighting other units isn't quite as enjoyable. It feels as if it's only a nuisance firing your weapons on small tanks and turrets. I realize they couldn't simply make the game with only mechs to fight, but they do need to do something about this.
The single-player mode is pretty good. It doesn't have a very strong story, but it does give you ample reason to go from one place to another. I did however, find the mission select screen very confusing. It lists every cutscene, level, mini-cutscene, etc. without having any categories! By the time you finish the second level, you could have upwards of 10 objects in your mission select screen. Mission goals range from: destroy the convoy, destroy this building, destroy this mech, etc. In this game, that is definitely a good thing. Unfortunately I have one thing to ask the developers. Next time, when you have multiple goals in a level that span a wide range, either make the mech travel faster or make the goals closer together. I got tired of making my mech walk in one direction for upwards of 3 minutes with no combat.
Once again, I haven't played this on Xbox Live, so I can't comment on the quality of this game online. However, offline it is a solid game, with some sections that need to be ironed out, but still delivering a fun experience. If the developers can iron out the problems, the next game could really be a force to be reckoned with.
The sound in this game is really well done. The booming sound of a robotic foot hitting the ground (which sounds remarkably like gunfire), the smashing of broken glass, and the sonic boom when a mech is destroyed, all give the illusion that you are actually in a war. I especially enjoyed the tortured screams of infantry you are stepping on (call me twisted). No glitches in sound make this quite a feat. Unfortunately the voice-acting isn't up to par, with great lines such as ''WooHoo! This feels like playing a game!'' my how I loathe that line. Fortunately the music is fairly good, which makes up for the voice acting. No real problems here.
Once again, I'm ranking this game on the single player experience, as I have never played it over Xbox Live. Fans of mech games will easily find the time to play through the Campaign mode more than once, and even non-mech fans will enjoy it the first time through. Multiplayer is also well done, and battling your friend can be quite an exciting and enjoyable experience. With the ability to play over a system link cable, this could easily become a party favourite. A small complaint I have, is that I would've liked bots. Perhaps it may have been hard to do, but I feel it would've added loads to the replay value. Fortunately, I've heard good things about Xbox Live (didn't incorporate this into the score), so if you're a fan of online gaming, this should definitely be a game you should pick up.
I didn't enjoy the game as much as I thought I would, but nonetheless it's still an enjoyable experienced. Great graphics and sound are the definite high points of this game. Gameplay is enjoyable, but with a few minor problems, and replay value is extremely high (especially if you own Xbox Live). Any fans of mech games should pick this up. Those who are casual fans of the genre could probably get by with a rental, I know I did. A great, but slightly unpolished experience, I look forward to seeing what the next game in the series has to offer.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 05/07/03, Updated 05/07/03
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