Review by RyuGB

Reviewed: 10/14/03

Massive mechanical destruction with the power of X!

Loosely based on the BattleTech universe; MechAssault places you into the cockpit of a massive 100-ton Battle-mech, and merely asks you to blow up some fanatical Word of Blake scum in return. However, the battle against The Word of Blake isn't the only conflict at hand. As we speak, players all over the world are waging war with each other over the lines on Xbox Live. You want a title to show off Xbox Live to your friends? Well, you aren't going to find anymore explosive action then right here!

GamePlay: I can already hear the cries of anguish from Mech Warrior veterans
The story for MechAssualt goes like this: You are part of an elite band of mercenary's known as the Wolf's Dragoons. You've been assigned to the planet Helios, to take care of a radical's group known as The Word of Blake, who more or less, have gained control of this planet. The game opens with you entering Helios orbit, only your ship is attacked and forced to make an emergency landing. It is here, that you assume the role of a Wolf Dragoon.

While the story certainly isn't the most exciting I've heard; it sets the tone for an action-heavy experience, so I'm fine with that. To put MechAssualt's gameplay into perspective to all the Mech Warrior players out there, MechAssault can be best described as a break-neck twitchy trigger finger experience, with a heavy dose of destruction craved gratification. I'm sure Mech Warrior fans will simply have a heart-attack when they see what Day 1: Studios has done with the Mech combat genre (In fact, some of the reviews here already reflect that statement). However, I personally have found it very refreshing to see the slow plodding pace, the numerous functions (Too much keyboard is used in Mech Warrior in my opinion), and the utterly exhaustive configuration options to be conveniently removed; to make way for a more enjoyable experience for the player. This is a game after all. Besides, how can you call games like Mech Warrior a mech simulator when the damn things don't exist? (Note: I have one bone to throw to all the Mech Warrior players out there. MechAssault still maintains the ''heat factor''. You still have to keep an eye on your mech's heat, since weaponry functions can literally go off-line if you allow things to get too hot. You then have to wait for things to cool down again before resuming battle status.)

The speed of MechAssault might as well be light-speed for players weaned on the slow plodding pace of the Mech Warrior series. Needless to say, the mechs move much much faster, and turn with a great deal more swiftness as well. Destruction, is another example of this titles change of focus for the Mech Combat genre. There is a ton of real-estate populating these virtual battlegrounds, and all of it is interactive. Buildings will come crashing down from your swift and brutal display of wrath, along with a great deal of shattering glass suspending your sense of disbelief. The main single-player mode is a bit short with around twenty levels; yet, it's one of the harder titles I've played recently. This is not a Xbox title you will finish in a mere rental, that much is for sure. There is around twenty or so mech's to climb into over the course of the game, with a variety of strengths and weaknesses making each one quite unique. So, there is quite a bit of variety to be had. I also really love the radio chatter from the Word of Blake forces, the chick in charge, and ''briefing boy''. The variety of speech samples are varied, and actually quite funny to listen to at times. It's little things like these that give MechAssault's skirmishes so much more atmosphere then the usual shooting experience.

However, with all that single-player does well; multi-player does even better. (Especially on Xbox Live) First, we have standard multi-player, which allows two players on a single Xbox console or up to sixteen players by linking additional Xbox units. There is a nice amount of modes to choose from, and all the twenty or so mech's from single-player are of course made available here as well. However, plain-old multi-player pales in comparison to the intense wars held over the lines of Xbox Live. There is really nothing quite better then proving you are the greatest mech warrior in the world. Plus, you get to mock the defeated via the handy Xbox communicator. What could be sweeter?

Graphics: In the future, no structure is sacred.
If you want a title to dazzle the eyes with a massive display of pyrotechnics; MechAssault is your game. Explosions are very gracious; and when you blow up an enemy mech, you better watch out! The screen is literally filled with a massive fireball! Get too close, and you'll be the recipient of a very large amount of damage.
Buildings don't respond very well to the rigors of war; dropping chunks of concrete, brilliant shows of shattering glass, and eventually collapsing in a great heap (sometimes in a shower of fallen concrete). Sometimes, Word of Blake troops come at you on foot (Now are you starting to see how fanatical they are?), which always results in a bloody cloud as you trample them under-foot. Weather effects like snow and rain also come into play; in fact, the latter is most impressive, since steam rises up off your mech where the droplets have fallen. The environments are well textured throughout, and are made even more impressive due to the large amount of detailed structures within their confines. The mechs are very well modeled, and are animated with the utmost of fluidity. The mechs are also subject to damage, starting with a modest amount of smoke, graduating to a little sparks now and then, and finally, (when nearing critical) the mechs are practically bursting at the seams. The game also runs at a very high frame-rate, while maintaining the highest of quality anti-aliasing. Point is, MechAssault very much looks like a Xbox title through and through.

Sound: What did you expect this to be; a quite picnic?
MechAssault is a very loud game; and suitably so. Explosions will rock your speakers; not to mention your senses as well. The ''commentary'' from the likes of The Word of Blake, the gal that runs the show, and ''briefing boy'' again adds a lot to the experience. ( I especially
enjoyed ''briefing boy's'' burst of excitement; elicited from taking the reins of a battle-mech himself during one mission.) The music is usually subtle; functioning little more then to serve as background noise. However, once a real threat becomes present (such as an enemy mech), the music switches to a high intensity lyrics less rock track; which was a really nice touch. Lastly, just like any Microsoft Game Studios title, MechAssault makes great use of the console's Dolby 5.1 support to create some truly incredible in-game sound.

Control: Halo: Giant Robot Battle Edition
The control scheme is very simple to learn; and highly reminiscent of Halo. The left analog stick is used for movement, while the right is used to aim. Each mech has three individual weapons to play around with, and have two options for making use of them. You can either cycle through them manually with the triggers, or by pressing the correct face button. Some mechs have special functions in addition as well, such as jets or cloaking. There is also subtle nuances to be had in the controls, since lighter mechs behave very different then their larger brethren.
Simply put: The controls are very tight, and free of annoying problems.

First we got Halo, and now this? I'm really beginning to love what Microsoft Game Studios is bringing to the table. I really enjoy how Day 1: Studios has lightened up on the sim aspect of so many other mech titles on the market, in favor of a much more action intensive arcade-style experience. It's like a shot of adrenaline straight into the arm of the Xbox lineup. Even better, it's one of the absolute flat-out amazing Xbox Live experiences out there. By all means, run over to the store and buy this epic Xbox release. You will not be disappointed.

Score: 9/10

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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