MechAssault
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9  |  Mech Assault Review
larsoncc , 12/11/2002 4:37:58 AM

Who's your daddy? (pic)
I was just wondering:  Who's yo daddy?!?

I'm your daddy! (pic)
Oh yeah, that's right...  I'm your daddy!

MechAssault (XBox) is two, two, two games in one!  Well, not really, but I got a lot more than I bargained for with MechAssault.  On one hand, you've got a deep single player experience, with intuitive controls and varied missions.  On the other hand, you have the on-line mode, which can only be described thusly:

"Sunday, Sunday, Sunday, AT THE DELTAPLEXTM, battling robots FIGHT to the DEATH with SUuuupper weaponry!  It's iron crushing mayhem as Fatman Games takes on the WORLDBE THERE!!!!!" (explosion, echo,  fade out)

It's really an odd juxtaposition when you think about it: a zen-like, time-consuming mission based game, existing side-by-side with manic button-mashing, getting attacked from every direction, I've-got-two-seconds-to-live mayhem.  Obviously, this game will be different things to different people.  But all told, I think that it's plain to see that it'll make a lot of people happy.

In the single-player mode, your first objective is mostly to get you used to the control scheme.  For the love of all that's holy, don't go on-line without at least playing your way through the first mission.  You'll get spanked - trust me, I know.  You control the Mech (that, of course, is your battle robot) with two joysticks.  One joystick for torso movement/aiming, and the other for walking.  It can be difficult to get used to, but once you're used to it, it's as if the Mech controls itself.  Each mission in the game is a slightly lengthy affair, with specific objectives.  These objectives vary from "destroy everything" to "destroy most everything, except the good guys".  And here's where MechAssault is unique.  You can destroy everything.  It's amazing what can be destroyed in this game.  Buildings can be crushed with missiles, light poles can be knocked over, heck, even the trees burn when you shoot them.  It's satisfying, really.  You spend a few minutes shooting, and the entire environment is a smoking mess when you're done.  Of course, you want to take out the bad guys...  And they aren't stupid.  They know when to run, they use buildings to hide, they team up against you - the A.I. is fantastic.  It takes a bit of time to get into the swing of things with this game because of the excellent A.I.  As you advance in the game, you receive more powerful (but oftentimes slower) Mechs to play with.  Now, this is MAYBE the second Mech game that I've played, so I didn't know what to expect.  One thing that surprised me was how much heat played a part in the game.  The more you shoot, the more the heat builds up in your Mech, until you simply can't shoot any more.  You need to take your time, and aim all of your shots, or you'll just be standing there while your Mech cools down.

This is the most important play mechanic when fighting on-line.  Everyone seems to pick the heavy Mechs - they have a high amount of armor, so they move more slowly.  Since they move more slowly, it's important to get off more shots than your enemy.  You have to pick a Mech that can fire more than two shots before shutting down, or you'll be a sitting duck.  A lot of people have been choosing the Mad Cat.  It seems to be a fairly good choice - two big cannons that don't generate a lot of heat, and the Mech is more maneuverable than some of the other high armor choices.  I like the Thor, even though it's slow, and tends to heat up FAST.  It's good for those just trying out the on-line scene, because you don't have to charge up the cannons, and the heavy armor means you'll be around more than a few seconds.  The on-line features of MechAssault really set it apart from any other XBox game, let alone the other XBox Live games I've played.  You'll be able to download new Mechs (not available quite yet, I think by Christmas), there is multiple play modes, and the connections that I had never dropped. 

There could be more balance with the Mechs on-line, and that's the game's one weak point.  I really don't have any complaints about the single-player experience.  It satisfies the strategy side of me, and the action side of me.  All told, I give MechAssault a 9/10 (an A). 

Not a chance, jetpack boy (pic)
Note the destruction of the buildings

I don't care for helicopters (pic)
Enemies on the ground and in the air

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