MechAssault 2 Lone Wolf ReviewCain Dornan
Battles between huge, towering mechanical beasts have long been a focus in a range of video games over the years. Although some gamers honoured these games, many found the games to be too difficult to control, requiring the use of numerous buttons. The launch of Day 1 Studios MechAssault finally gave gamers the ability to wage battles between giant beasts using the simplistic controls, stunning graphics and interesting storyline, as well as the instantly popular Xbox Live support. With the success of the original, it was only a matter of time before a sequel was produced. The result is Mechassault 2: Lone Wolf,
Carrying on from where the original left off, a mysterious, powerful data core is discovered. Lieutenant Foster manages to create a new battle weapon, the BattleArmour; an exoskeleton that allows you to perform a range of new abilities. Although significantly smaller than the mechs, the BattleArmour is capable of moving quickly, using a claw to get to almost-impossible locations and hacking into other mechs, essentially allowing you to boot the enemy pilot and take control of any mech. In addition to this, some six new mechs have been added to the array of powerful destruction machines, further varying the common battles that you will encounter both online and offline.
One of the most noticeable new additions to the franchise is the ability to exit your mech and explore the large, open worlds on-foot. This allows for the ability to hack computers and enter new mechs and vehicles with ease. There is also the odd mission or two that requires you to stealthily plant an explosive charge on a building or steal an enemy vehicle, as well as hacking into computer systems to gain access to buildings and walled-areas. The on-foot abilities also prove to be useful when exiting a heavily damaged mech, giving you a second chance at surviving by finding another unused mech. When entering or exiting a vehicle, your character is shown accessing the vehicle through the single access point; a feature that can often prove to be annoying during heated battles, as a single shot can mean instant death.
The VTOL, which was often seen flying throughout the stages in the original MechAssault, is now controllable. Although the aircraft is only used briefly in the offline single player campaign, the vehicle proves useful during online play, allowing you to quickly and effectively drop of BattleArmour and power-ups during battles. Tanks are also now controllable, giving you the unique ability to sniper from a distance. You also now have access to the immobile turrets that are scattered throughout the levels. Offering almost-unlimited shields, the turrets present an excellent chance to destroy a horde of enemies or buildings with ease.
Power-ups once again return to provide instant health, ammunition and weapon upgrades. The addition of active armour, which can either reflect against explosive attacks, energy attacks and BattleArmour hijackings, allows for varied fighting.
Although the online multiplayer mode through Xbox Live is the main attraction for many people, the offline single player campaign offers some twenty-odd missions, which require you to do everything from mowing down a horde of mechs to stealing a number of enemy mechs for your own personal use. Although the storyline needs some work, the enjoyable missions that always remain interesting compensates for the absence of a solid storyline.
Both the offline and online multiplayer modes offer a variety of interesting, enjoyable modes. In addition to the online mode, MechAssault 2 also allows you to connect up to twelve Xbox systems together, allowing for far more enjoyable matches than those experienced with only two players. The ten available modes, which are available both online and offline, includes;
Grinder, which pits you against an endless horde of mechs, with whoever destroying the most before dying wins.
Destruction is similar to the deathmatch mode that is found in most shooters, pitting all players in a free-for-all match, with whoever has the most points at the end of the game being the champion. Team Destruction, similar to Destruction, simply allows the allocation of players into teams.
Last Man Standing rewards the player who is still alive at the end of the game as the winner. As with the Destruction mode, Last Man Standing also includes a Team Last Man Standing counterpart.
Not It is another free-for-all deathmatch-styled mode, however only one player can score at anyone time. Upon killing this player, you become It, allowing you to score kills.
Capture the Flag, like what the mode offers in other shooters, requires two teams to retrieve the enemies flag whilst defending their own. Upon returning the enemies flag to your base, a point is rewarded to your team.
Check It requires players to capture five control points which are scattered throughout each map. Whichever team has the largest number of points once the time runs out or captures all five controls points at once wins the game. To keep it interesting, you need to be on-foot to gain control of a control point
Snatch It involves teams attempting to retrieve all data cores on the map and return them to their base.
Finally, Base Wars, possibly the most interesting and enjoyable mode available, involves players beginning the game on either side of the map in their teams base. Each base contains all of their ammunition, spawn points, vehicles and mechs. The object of this mode is to destroy the opposing teams base generator before the time runs out. An interesting mode for when more than two people are palying.
Possibly the most attractive mode in MechAssault 2 is the online multiplayer mode through Microsofts Xbox Live. With every aspect being improved upon from the original MechAssault, which offered some of the best online action available, the Xbox Live mode is quite impressive. As mentioned earlier, the VTOL has the opportunity to play a more effective role online, specifically when team or clan matches are being held. With little armour, the VTOL is most useful when be used as a supplier of powerups during battles, or as a transport vehicle for BattleArmour in modes such as Capture the Flag and Check It. When used correctly, the VTOL has the potential to be a valuable, effective weapon.
MechAssault 2 runs well on Xbox Live, with only occasional, slight slow downs that only occurs during intense battles. The support of clans has also been improved, allowing the creation of clans, organising matches and creating logos and emblems easier than ever before. Xbox Live also offers the Conquest mode, a perfect mode for the use with clans. Conquest requires clans to try and gain control of the MechAssault universe. A number of rules are set in place, making it an interesting and unique mode that is sure to attract the attention of most online gamers.
Visually, MechAssault 2 is extremely impressive, often pushing the Xboxs hardware to its limits. The special effects, including explosions, fire, smoke, dust, water effects and lighting offers for some serious eye candy, which comes complete with highly detailed mechs. Although the country environment sometimes looks rather average, the city locations offer detailed, futuristic buildings, vehicles and people. Each building offers accurate destruction effects, and will crumble to the floor after tacking heavy damage. Frame rate drops are rarely noticeable, therefore never affecting the battle-intensive gameplay.
The mechs themselves offer some of the most impressive graphical detail in the game. Mechs move more realistically than ever before, moving from side to side with every step and reacting to actions according to their size and moveability. The number of individually moving parts is amazing, with each part offering superb detail and effects, such as jolts of electricity between certain parts and the varied, coloured lights. Upon taking damage, your mech will spark, catch on fire and emit smoke and move slower (often with a limp), all in remarkable detail. It is clearly obvious that a large amount of attention and time has been put into ensuring that the vehicles, mechs and special effects look stunning.
Further improving the impressive world of MechAssault, a variety of rock and heavy metal music has been included, adding to the atmosphere of destruction frenzy. Changing appropriately depending upon the location and amount of action occurring, the music suits the game perfectly, and never invades on the gameplay. Sound effects offer accurate, futuristic sounds that generally sound fantastic. Each weapon offers a unique sound effect, from the rattle of a machine gun through to the sound of a rocket. Footsteps have also been mimicked perfectly, varying depending upon the size of the mech and the type of ground.
MechAssault 2, like its predecessor, is a near-perfect take on the world of towering mechanical beasts. Gamers who dont have access to the Xbox Live service may find the game to be rather brief and effortlessly beaten, however, many of the single player campaign levels offer some solid replay ability. The offline multiplayer mode offers some solid lifetime, especially once multiple Xboxs have been connected. If you were a fan of the original, MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf is a must-own, and even those who only have a slight interest in the series will likely find something to like with the simple, yet enjoyable destruction bash.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.