15 February 2010
Mechassault – Xbox
`"It's like the best arcade game you've ever played."
Those words of praise came from the man who would one day marry my oldest niece. He's a photographer, a gamer, and a hell of good guy all around. He's the kind of guy whose recommendations you take to heart.
And his last name is Champion. So he's got that going for him. Which is nice.
Without his recommendation I may have never picked up Mechassault. I had been burned by bad mech games before. I've found them either too complicated or almost unplayable.
Mechassault is simple, to be sure, but it's one of those games that is nearly impossible to put down once you get into it. I found myself thinking about this game all the time, planning my strategy for my return to the planet where me and my colleagues crash landed and encountered the Word of Blake cult.
Mechassault boils down the awesome power of huge mechs to a twitchy shooter that is like Halo in its simplicity. Smooth controls make it so your mech always does what you want it to do. Changing weapons is easier than blinking your eyes. Defensive maneuvers – such as jumpjets and cloaking – are useful and intuitive. And finding your way around the world is easy.
All this would mean nothing if you didn't have a cool world to tool around in and some decent enemies.
No problems there.
Everything in this world is destructible. A lot of games make that claim, but Mech Assault does it so well that you'll find yourself hanging back in some stages just so you can level entire cities. The enemies – from lowly grunts and tanks to towering mechs – are just challenging enough to keep you coming back. (And when you manage to kill those mechs, the explosion and sound effects that accompany the accomplishment are fantastic.) Being an original Xbox game means the graphics are excellent - they still hold up well.
When the game came out I didn't have Xbox Live, so I missed out on the thrills of playing this game online. With those servers shutting down any day now, I know it was not meant to be.
Maybe I'll get lucky in the future, because there are two games from the original Xbox that absolutely demand sequels. Crimson Skies is one of them – this is the other.
By Victor Paul Alvarez