Review by Dark Vortex
50 feet tall and 100 tons of armor, hydraulics, and nearly every conceivable weapon known to man, the mech is the peak of human warfare. Whether it be rocket pods, pulse lasers, or gauss cannons bringing about the collapse of skyscrapers and even mountains, nothing can stand in a mech's way without being crushed into fine powder under its 20-ton foot... in the hands of a good pilot.
You are a mercenary of the Wolf Dragoons; a group of planetary fighters who go wherever the money's at. Blowing stuff up and eradicating armies is all in a day's work. Today's mission is nothing special. Land on a planet without being noticed and take it over. Easy money...
Until your command ship runs into a small problem. As your team descends onto the planet, enemy fire tears through the sky and the Icarus falls pell-mell into the surface. With the ship in drastic need of repair, the element of surprise is gone and the blunts will be coming for you any minute now. Luckily, a mech onboard was fixed for your usage. Well, at least now they aren't going to take you without a fight.
As the game begins, you'll be running in a Cougar mech through a lushly detailed environment without much combat. The first few bits of opposition come in the form of soldiers. Squishing them will cause them to explode (?) in red clouds. Of course, these won't be the hardest thing you'll fight. After obliterating an infantry base along with a few more soldiers on the ground, tanks will come rolling in. They too, are easily destroyed with a volley of missiles or some extended pulse laser fire. However, their fire will deal a bit more damage to your mech. It won't be until the second mission that you actually come across true mech warfare.
And as the combat music kicks in, the fight commences as you are pushed head-to-head against a light mech. With grit and your treasured weapon system, your first mech victory will be scored. However, this is not even close to the worst of the worst.
The competition will get thicker and tougher. Enemy mechs will begin to appear in groups to double or triple the opposition. Luckily for you, new mechs will become available as your team repairs them one-by-one. Instead of the light Cougar mech you played with in the beginning, new names will appear. These heavier mechs will bear better weapons and more armor. However, they sacrifice power for speed. Even so, blasting an enemy machine with dual PPC cannons or a pair of gauss rifles can easily make up for that little speed margin. As the game progresses, you'll learn new strategies with these new mechs and become capable of taking on more healthy competition.
Mission objectives can range anything from destroying selected buildings or demolishing bases to defending certain targets and even stealing a mech from the enemy. Over the course of 20 gigantic levels, you'll move through detailed environments of flora, snow-covered lands in which snow actually falls and sticks to your mech (this is way, way cool), and even an actively volcanic area in which shooting a crater of cooled lava will result in a explosion of molten rock. Within these levels are many threats to your health. Collapsing buildings can ravage debris all over the place. Standing under some of this debris can be dangerous enough to take out giant portions of your health. Snow bridges can break apart and fall right on top of you while lava fields will burn apart your mech. With all the dangers around along with those tanks and mechs that want you dead, MechAssault can become a difficult game at certain points. Luckily, your mech's expendable ammunition can keep you alive long enough to watch your adversaries burn under the fires and explosions of mechs and buildings.
MechAssault's audio works well for a game of this type. The music that kicks in with big battles is a change from a lot of other game music. Appealing to the wilder side of gamers, electric guitar thrashing racks the scene. The enormous explosions from fallen mechs is accompanied by an equally awe-inspiring effect of sounds. Clatters and clangs of machinery radiate from walking mechs while lasers zip through the air with deadly consistency. It's hard forgetting the sound of battle especially when it's presented like this.
Bring It On!
Where MechAssault wins out in being one of the most explosive games I've ever played, it fails to provide a plotline that's actually worth following. An attempted military offensive fails and you're the only hope of the billions of people living on this rock. Being both cliche and boring, it doesn't exactly put players into awe. But wait, there's more. Like countless other games, movies, and TV shows, MechAssault's Darth Vader/Wily/Kefka/Bowser/Lavos/Ganon/etc. is a man by the name of Adept Strader and you guessed it! You'll be fighting him in the end.
But even so, MechAssault provides a great experience for any gamer. Without being overly complicated, it has the explosive power and the thick combat to make a playthrough very enjoyable.
With all the Xbox has to offer, MechAssault truly shines.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 05/09/05
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