reviews\ Dec 25, 2004 at 7:00 pm

MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf - XB - Review

When Microsoft came out with Mechassault as one of its Xbox Live flagship titles, gamers were treated to one of the best multiplayer mech games in a long while and the game quickly became a huge hit online.  Now, the long awaited sequel has finally showed up, and it manages to create a compelling quest with some nice improvements over the original.  While the single player campaign may be a bit on the short side and may disappoint players looking for an engaging solo game, the deep multiplayer aspect makes up for this shortcoming.


Mechassault 2’s storyline isn’t necessarily a driving force in the game, putting your nameless character in the middle of the war set up in the original Mechassault.  The story elements are told through cutscenes and narration by your somewhat rough Major, Natalia, but be aware that concepts such as character development and story arcs are nil, meaning that the main focus of the game is running around in a mech and destroying buildings and enemies.



However, there is nothing wrong with Mechassault 2’s approach to gameplay.   The action is extremely intense from the get-go, pitting you against hordes of enemy mechs in huge battle zones.  Nearly every building in the environment is destructible, giving you the ability to fire off your rockets and destroy all in your path.  In a brilliant touch, you now have the ability to run around outside of your mech and even take control of enemy mechs, but more on that a little later.


You have a huge variety of mechs to choose from, with crafts like BattleArmor, VTOLs, Raptors, and many more lining your roster.  Each craft has its own strengths and weaknesses.  For example, the BattleArmor may not look like much and has the potential to get seriously spanked in online matches against larger more powerful mechs, but you have the ability to cling to walls using your claw, and even jack enemy mechs.  How this works is pretty basic, but very cool: you latch onto a larger enemy craft, and complete a series of buttons that line up on the screen.  By doing this, you gain control of the enemy craft and cause the pilot to eject, thus gaining the ability to take control of the enemy ship and lay waste to your surroundings.



The main problem with the single-player game aside from the lackluster story elements is the ease of the solo campaign.  The game can be completed in well under ten hours, meaning that players without Xbox Live looking for a deep and engaging single player experience would do well to look elsewhere.


However, the game rectifies itself by adding some of the deepest and most complex multiplayer gameplay elements to hit Xbox Live yet.  The game offers a veritable myriad of online modes, ranging from standard deathmatch modes, to capture the flag, team capture the flag and many variations on team based online modes.  Certainly the coolest online mode is the Conquest mode, which puts players in organized clans fighting over control of a persistent online world and gaining superiority and domination over other players’ clans.




The graphics are bar none incredible in Mechassault 2.  The game features more special effects than you can shake a stick at, with excellent bloom lighting effects and fantastic explosions.  The mech models are also very impressive and extremely detailed, and the game trucks along at a great framerate.


The musical presentation is also superb.  The sound effects are crisp and clear, with booming explosions and weapon fire in glorious Dolby 5.1. The music, intense industrial metal, does a phenomenal job of setting the intense atmosphere and mood of the gameplay.



Mechassault does what it sets out to do; it expands on the gameplay of the original and improves upon it, offering one of the most complete XBox Live packages this year.  However, the single player campaign is over too quickly, leaving offline gamers in the dark.  Anyone looking for a deep solo campaign may be a bit disappointed in Mechassault 2, but online players would do very well to check it out. 


Review Scoring Details for Mechassault 2

Gameplay: 8.9
Mechassault 2’s gameplay is a blast.  The environments are almost completely destructible, and the new ability to get out of your mech and hijack someone else’s is an excellent touch.  The only real problem with the gameplay is the very short and easy single player campaign.

Graphics: 9.5
Mechassault 2 has some truly beautiful graphical effects.  The mech models are very realistic with very intricate movements and a superb amount of detail.  The game also boasts some excellent bloom lighting effects and great explosions, all moving along at a solid framerate.

Sound: 9.3
The sound is extremely well done, featuring very intense and booming sound effects in fantastic Dolby 5.1.  The music is also very cool, an industrial metal soundtrack featuring the likes of Korn and Papa Roach lending a few tracks.

Difficulty: Easy 
While the game is a very intense experience, the single player mode is actually quite easy and can be completed in less than a weekend by hardcore gamers.

Concept: 8.0 
Mechassault 2 offers some cool gameplay improvements over its predecessor, but the single player storyline is short and uneven, leaving much to be desired.

Multiplayer: 9.3
The multiplayer aspect of Mechassault 2 is pretty much the meat and potatoes of the game, giving players a very rich and deep online experience.  There are a plethora of online modes, the coolest of which is the Conquest mode, which gives gamers the ability to form clans and take over territories from other player clans.

Overall: 9.2

While the single player campaign and storyline feel a bit lacking, the deep multiplayer aspects of Mechassault 2 and the amazing graphical effects push the game to greatness.  While solo gamers may feel a little disappointed, anyone with Xbox Live would be doing themselves a disservice by not playing this game.


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