Review by Mome

"Robots and rockets that will rock your eye sockets"

Did you ever get that feeling when you start up a game for the first time that it's going to be the best thing ever? Well I haven't, but I think I came pretty close with MechAssault.

Let's talk about how the game's played. Or rather, I'll write some stuff about it and you can read it.
The default controls are designed so that anyone with two hands with a thumb on each along with a few extra fingers can pick up and play without too much difficulty. You'll look around with the right thumbpad and move around with the left one, and the 'Mechs move as you would expect them to: slow and clunky. This is BattleTech, kids, so don't expect any rainbow-colored robots who dance around in outer space and shoot rose petals out of their ass. While I do enjoy watching that kind of exhibition of fancy pants, there are times when I'd rather go for a little more realistic robot voyage--in a big, slow, impractical walking tank that would never, ever be built for any reason at all due to the fact that it's slow, extremely costly, and gets knocked over easily. Now that I've crushed any dreams you might have about piloting a giant robot one day in the future, on with the . . . whatever it is that I was doing right now.

Something unlike the other games based on the BattleTech series is that your 'Mech's torso can rotate a full three hundred and sixty degrees, making battles faster and a bit more intense. With this increased rotation and mobility, your robot loses the ability to lock on to certain parts of an enemy, so battles are no longer won by simply circling your enemy and shooting his leg until it blows off. Also unlike the other games, there's absolutely no customization available. That's not such a bad deal, since you won't ever have to wait for any so-called ''lab rats'' to finish last-minute customizations before a game gets started. Each 'Mech comes stocked with a set of default weapons (energy, ballistic, and missile), and will also have a variant which may be faster with less firepower or slower with a more powerful arsenal. Killing enemy 'Mechs can produce salvage, which is now automatically added to your current ammunition. Your guns work kind of like some sort of a side-scrolling shooter, in that picking up extra ammo will power up your attack until you run out of said ammo or die. The lasers and bullets don't look terribly interesting, but the explosions they create, oh my.

One thing that people have been praising the game for is the destructible environments. Blasting a building will cause it to fall apart since buildings are not made to withstand several missiles and laser beams, oddly enough. There are also bridges and a few walls which can crumble and kill unfortunate pilots who happen to be around them when they blow up. This feature, while very cool looking, isn't too useful because people tend to know that standing on a bridge while someone is shooting it will cause them to die, and thus stay away from bridges. Still, it's always entertaining watch someone fall to their death with the collapse of the building they were standing on. I guess I should say again that the explosions look fantastic.

While fighting enemy robots, some odd and annoying Power Ranger style gee-tar riffs come on. The music doesn't add much to the experience.

Another fun feature is that when you die in a game mode where you're only allowed one life, you return as a small man after being killed. Your man can run around and watch the action, and also get stepped on. Whee! Stepping on people is fun, and you'll be doing a lot of it in the single-player mode. It's not nearly as challenging or entertaining as an online multi-player match, but it's still quite enjoyable for the time that it lasts. It only took me a little more than ten hours to clear it, though. After the single player, you can turn up the difficulty and jump into Grinder mode, and maybe take a friend along with you. In this game mode, you'll be Mechsually Assaulted by an endless amount of enemy robots. The amount of them on screen increases as you kill, so you might get an idea about how crazy the game is over Xbox Live, where up to eight pilots can shoot the gears out of each other and enjoy a hearty laugh as some little whiner complains about how people ''steal'' his kills. Due to a lack of variety in the game types, it does get a little stale if you play for too long, but I always come back for more. It's just a lot of fun.

The single player's story isn't too strong, but really, who cares? This is a game about blowing some crap up and having fun, not some weird angst-filled, teenage romance novel-based RPG.

The ESRB rated MechAssault Teen for blood and violence, but there's nothing in there that a little kid couldn't handle. A quick splotch of red when someone gets run over and lots of guns are usually involved in every-day life.

Okay, so here's a brief review of all that crap I just said, in case you clicked on my review but didn't want to read it, even though that would have been a waste of your time:
The game's got some hot, sexy explosions and a stupendous online multi-player with some easy controls. But I wouldn't get it unless I was to go online, which I did.

gameplay: 10/10
replay value: 9/10
graphics/sound: 8/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/30/02, Updated 11/30/02

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