Review by MZ

"Massive Destruction isn't always a bad thing"

I had never played any Mech games before MechAssault so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I purchased it. I needed something to play on Xbox Live as I purchased it at the same time along with a copy of Metroid Prime. Yes, I didn’t know Xbox Live includes two fee online game demos. I didn’t know at the time that I had purchased one of the best Xbox games available. Mech’s are gigantic and heavy fighting machines designed to be superior to other military weapons. In MechAssault, your mission is to land on the planet Helios that is under control of the Word of Blake and create confusion throughout the enemies’ ranks and destroy the orbital guns. Doing this will clear the way for the main Dragoon invasion which will take the planet and give you your pay.

Gameplay

Campaign
In campaign mode you go through a series of missions to accomplish your objective of taking out the orbital guns and severely crippling the Word of Blake’s defenses. You operate a certain Mech of your choice or selected for you depending on the mission and must carry out the objectives at hand. Different Mechs are equipped with different weapons for your destructive purposes such as PPC and Pulse Lasers. Your Mech may also have defensive and special weapons such as Target Jamming and Jump Jets to help you avoid enemy attacks. You can upgrade these weapons by collecting salvage found where enemy Mechs have been destroyed or in buildings. The salvage is also an excellent way to recover damage done to your Mech. Enemies vary from infantry all the way up to the most powerful Mechs and how you destroy them is up to you. There are other things in the missions that provide cover or strategic assaults such as buildings, forests, bridges, glaciers and rocks. When fighting with another Mech or other forms of enemy assault weaponry, the environment or urban setting usually gets trashed by off target missiles and lasers. You can hide behind buildings or destroy them when an opponent is standing on them increasing the fun of the game greatly. It’s mass destruction at it’s best as you’re not even trying to hit down buildings usually or destroy the landscape but it happens adding to the battle experience. The strongest Mech is not always the winner during an encounter as the light Mech can use evasive maneuvers and hit and run tactics to trash his opponent. A skilled commander can usually destroy the enemy even when he’s underpowered. The whole factor on relying on yourself rather than the Mech is what makes this game fun. Of course different people like different Mechs but in the end skill is what’s important unlike other games where if you use a certain character you’re destined to win no mater what your opponent does thus giving an unfair advantage. The Heads Up Display at the bottom of your screen provides you with information about your weapons, armor level and location of enemies. The different bars, meters and radar tell you how much ammo you have, how hot your weapons are, if the contact in front of you is a friendly or an enemy, your type of weapons and some other things. The missions’ flow together smoothly in a fairly well built story and the difficulty slowly increases letting you get familiar with the game. The campaign is well built but very repetitive at that and the player may get board of doing similar things all the time. Besides fighting the AI is never the experience that fighting a human player turns out to be.
Campaign Score: 8.4

Offline Multiplayer
You can either play this with one Xbox or use a system link for more players. You can choose a basic fight to a certain time limit or kill limit or both with teams or no teams and this can be quite fun except for the whole concept of screen watching which can get annoying. Playing competitively multiplayer is really a fun thing to do and works really well. If you want you can have a short team or no team match to 1 kill if you’re in a hurry but when you’re playing for a long time this option probably won’t be used very much. Not It is also a type of match you can play where the player who is it must kill everyone else for points and everyone tries to kill him/her to become it as it can only score points. This is a quite unique mode and it’s quite fun with friends. All of these modes are also included when playing on Xbox Live just so you know except for Grinder. Grinder unleashes a whole load of Mechs at you and you fight until you die trying to get as high of a score as you can. This is a great mode although it can get boring. Offline Multiplayer is fun but doesn’t compare to Online Multiplayer.
Offline Multiplayer Score: 8.6

Online Multiplayer
Online gameplay is where MechAssault really comes alive. If you have Xbox Live and want a great online title then this is it. If you don’t have Xbox Live, you won’t have as much fun with MechAssault so I suggest you get it. When you’re in the Xbox Live Lobby, the options you have in front of you are Quick Match, Optimatch, Host Game, Friends, Stats and Download Content. Quick Match sends you strait into a game without your specific choosing it. The only thing you select in Quick Match is the game type. I really don’t like the Quick Match option as it gives you little choice of where you’re going to end up. Optimatch is much more helpful as you get to select the match more specifically by looking at things such as the map and the number of players. It doesn’t get you strait into the action as fast but in the end I’ll usually turn out to be the better choice for getting into a match you want. Host Game allows you to host a game for other people to join and allows you to set all the settings, this is probably the best choice for people who are extremely picky. A great feature of Xbox Live is the ability to have a friends list. You can receive or send friend request and when those people are on your list you can easily play a match against anyone of them by inviting them. Stats let you see how you’re doing and it’s a great addition to MechAssault especially if you’re really competitive. MechAssault allows you to download new features for the game such as Mechs and maps. This enhances your experience sort of like an Expansion Pak. Playing with people online is always a blast, as you never know whom you’re going to meet and how hard it’s going to be. Phrases such as “You got owned!” and “Oh great, looks like I’m screwed!” will be imbedded in your brain as you play more and more. Want something unique? You could always try “Not It!” for a fun tag like game or if you like working with a team, “Team Destruction” and “Team Last Man Standing” is for you. Team battles are great as you don’t have to deal with pathetic people saying things like “I owned you all!” even when he got utterly destroyed or “Yo man, you stole my kill!” like you were supposed to let him get a point or something. Remember communication is key and if you and your team work together, your enemy will receive a one-way trip to the scrap yard. Someone getting you angry or impressing you then give feedback about that user. Although incredibly fun sadly I must say online mode is not perfect as the lack of good maps hurts it. You’ll find most people playing on River City because it soars way above the other maps. Probably the biggest problem is the ending of a match if the host leaves. Some sneaky cheating host may back off and end the game for everyone just because he’s losing. Besides that though MechAssault is great for online play and I recommend it fully to anyone who has Xbox Live.
Online Multiplayer Score: 9.4

Overall Gameplay Score: 9

Graphics
This part of the game disappoints me as the Xbox is supposed to be more powerful graphics wise then the GCN or the PS2 but this doesn’t show it at all. It seems the development team got lazy and forgot about the graphics on everything other than the Mechs. I say that because if you look at the Mechs closely you’ll see just how well designed and detailed they actually are. You can even see little lights flash on them to add to the realism. They move smoothly and fire their weapons like you’d expect. One of the only other good parts in terms of graphics in this game are the explosions. When your Mech blows up, it first turns white and releases beams of white light then fully explodes. This may sound weird but it actually looks really good. Now on to the bad and there is a lot of it. The buildings are full of bad texture along with the roads. If you cause a building to collapse it will crumble slowly like it should but then just fall and mystically the rubble disappears. All that’s left where the building used to be looks like mud and sticks compacted together. I’m sorry but I thought building were made of more than sticks and mud. Did I miss something? I can’t forget about the water, can I? When you tread through water it looks like some guy took out a paintbrush and painted it dark blue adding some white in, in a poor attempt to make it look better. Then there’s snow, sure the snow looks good when it’s falling from the sky but how big are the snowflakes? They seem the size of real snowflakes and they’re falling around a gigantic Mech. The lava is fine but not really good either. Sometimes after a Mech explodes on something like a bridge or a cliff some of the salvage from it is left floating in the air. Apparently in the future, ammunition and armor can float in mid air without support. Interesting…It caught my attention that some of the enemies look like they’re made out of paper such as the fighters and some armor. I also never knew infantry exploded when they get squished. Why can’t you step on the tanks? They’re 1/25th your height! This game could have had so much better graphics but instead the team gives you this.
Graphics Score: 4.8

Sound
I don’t really know what to say about the voice acting so I’ll state it’s high quality with really weird voices. The guy sounds like a thirteen year old while the woman sounds like a drill sergeant. The voice acting is clear and easy to hear but the voices just aren’t right for the characters as you get to see them at the beginning of the game. The look like they’d sound a lot different. The sounds of weaponry and destruction are very good for the most part with very few flaws. The explosions sound like they should and so do the energy weapons. When buildings collapse everything sounds good but when you step on infantry they make the weirdest sounds. I don’t think anyone would say “Blah!” when they’re stepped on or even have the sound to say anything when you would die almost instantly. There is hardly any music at any time at all and when there is it’s usually to quiet to hear well or even notice compared to the rest of the game. That may actually be a good thing, as you wouldn’t want to really hear the dreadful music. MechAssault has good sounds for the most part but bad music and strange voice acting.
Sound Score: 4.8

Control
Most Xbox owners are most likely used to the movement controls of Halo due to it’s massive sales and such. This is a good thing then as MechAssault’s movement controls are the same. You use both control sticks to move the Mech, the right rotates the torso to set the direction of movement while the left moves the Mech. You can invert the Y-axis for this also depending on your tastes. The right trigger fires the weapon and the left trigger cycles through weapons allowing you to do this while moving the Mech. You could also use the A button to fire but what’s the point of that as it just limits your movement and opens you up more for enemy attack. The X, Y and B buttons are also hot keyed to switch to specific weapons but I doubt that you would want to do this as it is much more efficient to just cycle quickly to the weapon you want with the left trigger. The jump jets and defensive weapons are also easy to use, as you just have to push down the right trigger for your defensive weapon and the left trigger for your jump jets. You still have good mobility while doing this so it works really well. When playing multiplayer you can use the white button to view the scoreboard or hold down the black button to talk to your team only. It does get annoying having to hold down the black button every time you want allied chat only instead of having an allied chat option or something but that’s really the only problem with the controls. Really solid controls overall.
Control Score: 9.9

Lasting Appeal
This category is the reason I believe MechAssault was the Xbox’s game of the year for 2002. You have to finish the campaign four times to fully finish the offline game. There are four modes of difficulty that’s why and if you’re like me and like to fully complete every game you own, this will take you a while. The offline multiplayer may be fun when a friend/friends are there but it fails in comparison to games such as Halo and Super Smash Bros. Melee in Lasting Appeal. Can you guess what I’m going to say next? I think you can. Online multiplayer on MechAssault is one of the best things to happen to consoles! Playing online opens up so many opportunities. You challenge other players, climb the ranks, download content and meet unique and wonderful people plus at time’s it can be quite funny. If you have Xbox Live I can almost guarantee this will be one of your most played online games. You’ll enjoy playing all the people on there as playing against humans is usually more fun then playing against the AI. So basically what I’m saying is if you don’t have Xbox Live, the lasting appeal is above average but if you have Xbox Live the lasting appeal is excellent.
Lasting Appeal Score: 9.6

Overall
MechAssault is a great game on the Xbox and anyone with a Xbox should consider it and if you have Xbox Live you should defiantly own it. The graphics and sound are quite disappointing but it shouldn’t bother you too much. A solid campaign mode, fun offline multiplayer and hours of fun on Xbox Live all comes in MechAssault. One of if not the best Xbox game of 2002. I fully recommend it to anyone with a Xbox.
Overall Score: 9.4

Score Recap

Gameplay Overall: 9

Campaign: 8.4
Offline Multiplayer: 8.6
Online Multiplayer: 9.4
Graphics: 4.8
Sound: 4.8
Control: 9.9
Lasting Appeal: 9.6
Overall Score: 9.4



Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/10/03, Updated 04/18/03


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