Mech Assault

Review

posted 11/8/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: Xbox
Take everything you’ve ever learned about mechs and throw it out the window because Microsoft’s Mech Assault has taken the ‘sim’ out of Mech Simulator and in its place, has injected a heavy dosage of arcade-style gameplay. Thus we have Mech Assault, the heavily trimmed down take on FASA’s BattleTech series that looks to change the way that we think about action games.

Forget about power management, weapons outfitting and mech building because you’ll be sorely disappointed. This is all about action in the highest regard. Not one piece of the environment is safe from the dangerous clutches of your lumbering mechs. Trees, buildings, boats, vehicles and infantry act as mere fodder in this ultimate power trip. The sense of power and size is just amazing, you don’t just look like you’re the size of a giant, you’ll often feel like it as well.

The main attraction of the game is the campaign mode in which you assume the role of a mech commander aboard the dropship Icarus. After your ship crash-lands you’ll be placed into the field to investigate a band of rogues who are terrorizing the locals. As you delve deeper into the game’s plot you’ll uncover a hidden agenda that leads to a storyline that is much deeper than one would initially expect. Now I would have been content had the game just thrust me into the midst of battlefield and ordered me to unleash hell upon anything and everything that happened to be moving, but the addition of an excellent campaign mode really fleshes this game out quite nicely. There are about 20 missions that encompass quite a wide variety of objectives and goals. One moment you may be razing an entire city while the next moment you’ll have to defend some friendly units. No matter the objective, you’ll often find yourself having quite a great time. The campaign mode is pretty intriguing and will take quite a large chunk of time to complete.

In order to add more replay value to the game the designers added some excellent multiplayer modes. Among there grinder, are a mode where you and your human opponents fight against an endless onslaught of AI mechs in a battle to see who can survive for the longest amount of time, destruction and team destruction, the game’s take on death match and team death match, last man standing, a mode where you are given only one life, and not it, a variation on the king of the hill mode. There is some excellent variety to be had here and although the game only supports two players per Xbox, you’ll be able to play against your friends via system link as well as Xbox Live. Currently, the two-player multiplayer is extremely addictive, at the time there aren't too many people to play against on the Xbox Live Network. I can’t imagine how amazing it will be when the Xbox Live gets up and running.

At the onset of every mission you’ll be greeted by an excellent briefing session. During this time, you’ll receive an outline of your general mission goals as well as a description of exactly what it is you need to do. Though I wish that the designers would have included a map of the mission area so that I could get a heads up on things. You’ll get a nice voice over that shows you images of your targets instead and although these do a good job of getting the point across it really caters to the arcade-ish nature of the game.
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