reviews\ Nov 17, 2002 at 7:00 pm

MechAssault - XB - Review

For a very long time, men have dreamed about robots and piloting them. Over the decades, there have been many comics, anime, and even games made on this fascination. Some of these games take the route of being more of a simulation game, getting each part right making sure their mech is not too heavy, while others have more action elements to them. MechWarrior is similar to the first description. Players can build their own mech to their hearts desire. Microsoft wanted to make a game for their Xbox console, but they wanted it to be similar to MechWarrior but have it more action based; thus MechAssault was born. MechAssault takes all the action of MechWarrior, and expounds upon it.  This game does just that and proves to be a blast to play!

Players take on the role of an elite member of the Wolf Dragoons. The mission that they have to take under is going to the planet Helios to be a part of the strike force. The reason for this contract is that Helios has been taken over by the group known as the Word of Blake, who are super technologically inclined. The player's job is to create mass confusion and attempt to destroy any defense they might have. Before each mission players will get briefed on what they need to accomplish, as well as what Mech they will have to use to get this job accomplished. It rests upon the player's shoulders to solve this turmoil on this planet, let’s hope that they are up to it.

There are many mechs for players to choose from. They each offer different weapons, speed, and weight, they are: Uller, Owens, Cougar, Uziel, Vulture, Catapult, Thor, Mad Cat, and Atlas. The Uller is the fastest Mech out there, as well as on of the lightest. The downside is that it can only carry two offensive weapons: pulse lasers and crossbow missiles. Owens is a very fast mech, and offers a Null signature so other mechs can't detect it. It carries a machine guns and crossbow missiles. The Cougar is an all around mech; it has jump jets, pulse lasers, auto cannon, and javelin missiles. It is the best mech to start off with. Uziel is a mech that is for hit and run tactics with machine guns, crossbow missiles, and target jamming. The Vulture can carry a ton of missiles, and is ideal mech to provide support for others. Catapult is a very slow mech but it packs a big punch. Thor is an all around good mech, it has good firepower with nice maneuverability. The next two are heavy mechs and do not have jump jets, but to make up for that, it carries a ton of firepower. The Mad Cats has a variety of weapons, but it is known for its huge missile packs on each shoulder. Atlas is the most feared mech out there. It is build with the idea of pure mayhem, and it delivers.

There are many settings for multiplayer: local, system link, and Xbox live. Local means that you and a friend can go at it head to head. On a system link, players can link up eight Xboxes for a total game of sixteen players. Xbox live offers the ability to player with people from all over the country. To use this option, players must have an Xbox live account. While playing online player have several options: quick match, optimatch, host game, friends, stats, and download content. Quick match will get players into a game immediately for multiplayer havoc. Optimatch is when players want to join a specific game hosted by a specific player. Friends show you all the people on your friend list. The stats will show you the top 100 people in each category. Download content is very interesting; later on Microsoft might release more mechs, maps, and many other things in the future.

The controls for the game are really simple. Using the left analog button players will move their mech around. Pressing the analog button will activate the jump jets, if the mech has those equipped. The right analog stick will rotate the torso, and pressing it will activate a defensive weapon. The left trigger button will cycle though all of the players weapons, while the right one fires the weapons. A will fire a weapon; B will select missiles; Y selects different ballistics; and pressing the X button selects the energy. The black button is for selecting whom to chat in multiplayer, and the white button brings up the scoreboard in multiplayer.

MechAssault is rated T for Teen for blood and violence. To play online you must have an Xbox Live account.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 9.5
Do you remember a little game called Halo? If you do than you will be pleased to hear that the controls are as easy to understand and execute while in the heat of battle! The game is all about simplicity in controlling, while giving the player a lot of depth. Players will only need to be concerned about a few buttons, and mowing down the hordes of enemies they must face. Anyone can pick up a controller and be playing like a pro shortly.

If any of you have played MechWarrior, this is not like it in any sense. MechWarrior is more about outfitting your mechs with the perfect weapons, getting its weight just right, and a lot of other stuff. MechAssault gives players a selection of mechs, and tell them to go at it. The game is all action, and all fun. Players can use anything to their advantage while playing the game, from the different terrain, to the type of mech they are using. This is an all out action game, with strategy elements. Players will have to determine when to be more defensive, and when to go in, guns blazing. The number one thing about this game, which players will agree with me, is that it is extremely fun to play, and that is all that matters at the end of the day. 

Graphics: 9.6
The graphics are magnificent, it will suck you into the game and not let you go!  Everything is highly detailed, from the mechs, infantry, tanks, to the environments that will be fought in. The mechs are extremely detailed, when a player starts the game, their mech will be shiny and new looking, but as battles get extremely tense, the damage will take a toll on the mech. Certain parts will start to spark, discharge smoke, to even catching on fire when near destruction. What is also just mind-boggling is that the developers went the extra mile when modeling the mechs from weight to uneven terrain. The heavier the mech is the slower it will be when moving around the world, while lighter mechs will run circles around these monstrosities, with less firepower. When the mech is on a mountain, and one leg is higher then the other, the mech will shift its weight so it will keep its balance.

Players will be able to tell that this game was made for the Xbox with all the neat little graphical touches. When a building is destroyed, the dust and the collapse of the building look really realistic, and after it falls, a cloud of dust or smoke will cover the place for a certain amount of time. Fires on the building and mechs look extremely realistic. The best effect award for the game has to go to the explosions. All of the explosions look extremely realistic; from the time an object hits it, to the bits of whatever players hit flying everywhere, and finally the fire bellowing out of the object. It is all very surreal, and the players will enjoy every minute of it.

Sound: 9.6
If you have a system that supports Dolby Digital 5.1, you must use it for this game! The explosions in this set up sounds fantastic, and your sub woofer will be getting a real workout. Hearing all the missiles, gunfire, and hearing your mech move about will make players feel that they are really in the cockpit of the mech they are running. The soundtrack used for this game is also great, but there could have been more done to this. The music will pump players up in the heat of battle, but it would have been awesome to include the custom soundtrack option. Image this: you are a in your mech fighting, and jamming to your own music while taking out the enemies, that would have been astounding!  Even though this feature is not included, the game is still really good.

Difficulty: Medium
When players start the game they are thrust into a mech all by themselves with a mission to do. Not knowing how to pilot the mech and having players shoot a barrage of missiles at you for the first mission, it sounds harder than it really is. Even though players are put into a somewhat bleak situation at the onset of the game, it is fundamental, because players can use their few missions to learn how to pilot the mech, use the terrain to their advantage, and how to use their brain when going into a situation, instead of going in with out a plan. The games difficulty will ramp up through out the game, and be really hard while fighting other humans online, but there is one thing that always remains a constant: it is fun and never feels like it is being cheap!

Concept: 9.4
There are many mech games released on multiple systems, from Z.O.E. to Steel Battalion. Each of these games focuses on a certain aspect and clings to it, and in turn has a faithful following. MechAssault is all about getting into the game and completing your missions, not spending an hour trying to create the perfect mech, only to find out it is too heavy and will not move. This game will appease many people who love third person action games. The ability to play online is also a very nice feature. It gives players a chance to see who the best in the world at MechAssault is.

Multiplayer: 9.8
WOW! Microsoft has truly outdone themselves when creating this game. Playing MechAssault over the Xbox Live is just amazing. You can get in a game and start fighting against or with different people within minutes. Once you make friends you can add them to your friends list and play games with them for as long as you desire.

This is one of the launch titles for the Xbox Live service and it really shines! Players will be drawn in with the ability to play against people from around the world. What is really wonderful, is the fact that Xbox Live will only run with broadband, so it feels like every game is played with people that are sitting in the same room as you, because there is no lag at all. Microsoft and Day 1 deserve a round of applause for this game, because it shows the potential for their new online gaming service!

Overall: 9.6
I cannot stress to how awesome this game is. The only way will be for you to go out to your nearest store, buy it, and then play it. It is just breath taking, and a great game to demonstrate the power of Microsoft's console, and their new online service. Once players are thrown into the heat of battle, time will fly by as if they have only been playing for a few brief moments. It is one of those games that will remain in your Xbox for a very long time. If you own an Xbox go buy it now, but if you own an Xbox and have an Xbox Live account, stop reading and pick it up immediately! See you online! 


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