Review by zyxomma100
Shoot First, Strategy Later
While I am pretty ignorant when it comes to video games, I know enough that the Mech series has been around for a long time. Although I am not new to the Mech series, I might as well be; I never played any of the MechWarrior games... My only experience thus far has been the original MechCommander game I picked up in the bargain box some years ago, which I found rather enjoying.
Due to my dialup connection, I can't get Xbox Live, so my review will be based solely on single player play: split screen and the campaign. As I type, MechAssault 2: LoneWolf is already released, but that will not affect this review at all, me being in my blissfully ignorant state of video games.
Finally, I admit that I bought this game with rather high expectations. If commanding a lance of Mechs was fun, actually getting into one and fighting at ground level had to be 10 times better, right? Let me continue...
The story is bad. Very bad. For some reason (it's never mentioned why), you are trying to liberate a planet that's been overrun by militant extremists called the Word of Blake. While landing on the planet, you are nearly shot down... and end up stuck, isolated from support, with only two other people and a dropship. After that less-than stellar introduction cutscene, you must scout out your surroundings, because your long range sensors and dropship guns have been so conveniently disabled.
After that, however, there is almost no coherent story. It seems as though you get sent into random missions, where "destroying x will cripple them by y, and destroying z will cripple them by n." You could almost play the missions in any order and not notice a difference. The dialogue will put you to sleep, and it contained an annoying amount of cliched "Next time I shall get you" Parthian Shot quips by the enemy commander.
Plot twists are also bad, and mostly consist of a surprise boss coming in to fight you at the end of a mission. I won't spoil the major twist about the enemy commander's meeting, but I will say it is poorly built up to, and is more of an annoyance than a surprise.
A special note goes out to a particular piece of dialogue before a mission, what I consider to be the worst in the game: "This mission is going to be hard... but you're tough enough, right? Weren't you just telling me that last night, cowboy?" First of all, lame and cliched. Second, horrible timing... no build up to the joke, nothing. Third: She's ugly. But I digress.
Horrible plot, no story cohesion, and multiple bad jokes and plot twists give this a 3 for story.
The high point of the game. The Mechs were well done, and I was impressed with the way your Mech changed appearance as the missions progressed... They would glow when overheating, limp and spark when critically damaged, and would collapse to the ground after taking a major hit. Explosions weren't underwhelming, as many games have a tendency to do, although there was some slowdown at several points in the game, namely every time you destroyed a Mech.
Interactivity with the world was adequate, although most rocks had a strange tendency to disintegrate into nothing when you destroyed them (hehe). Personally, I thought sound effects were under par... I can't put a finger on it, but it got a bit repetitive. The music suffers a bit from the same problem that I faced when playing MechCommander... you listened to the same 2-3 tracks that suddenly started up when you entered a battle, only to have it stop 5 seconds later when you destroy the lone tank that had decided to attack you... The difference is that MechAssault doesn't have any background music that plays in between battles... so at times the game feels a bit empty.
Still, however, intricate attention to Mech detail and visually pleasing worlds give this category a 7.
Quite simply, the game was missing something big. The whole time I was playing, MechAssault seemed like it was the kind of game for people who just like to shoot randomly and hope you hit stuff. There were absolutely no ways to customize your Mech, and there were no incentives to conserving your ammo... even ballistic and and missile weapons have unlimited ammo. Targeting seemed highly dumbed down, too, as all you had to do was point your reticle and fire and your projectile would automatically track the target.
The controls didn't seem right, although with the gameplay options available I really can't think of a better way to set it up. X readies your energy weapon, Y readies your missile weapon, and B readies your ballistic weapon, and Right trigger fires. If your aim is decent, I really see no reason not to simply use your most powerful weapon and keep firing, even on the hardest difficulty setting. The PPC, or if your Mech doesn't have that, the Autocannon, reigns supreme.
Defense is really easy, too; it consists of on of a few special abilities a Mech can have, ranging from Chaff to Null Signature. There doesn't really seem to be much strategy in using it, however, just keep clicking the right thumbstick so that you'll use it again once it powers up.
Multiplayer is sorta bland... just use the same boring tactics you used in the campaign, and see who can mash buttons the fastest.
Horrible controls, a combat system that favors button mashing, and complete inability to make any choices at all with your Mechs give playability a bare 5.
My Tilt 5
MechAssault really is not a bad game. For all its faults, it was somewhat enjoyable to leave a tank division smouldering behind you. But I never truly got into the game... it was too easy, and I missed being able to make a choice every now and then. I'll stick with MechCommander.
If you are the kind of person who likes to destroy things now, find out what you were doing later, then this is the game for you. However, for those who like a game that's a bit more in depth, I suggest you take your money elsewhere. The game seems tailored for young kids who like to see the pretty explosions, and would rather not have to put thought as to their next moves. Definitely a rent first, if that.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
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