Mech Assault 2: Lone Wolf
For one reason or another, it remains fun to vaporise opponents in a big tin can and at the same time make sure the surrounding buildings are flattened. MechAssault from Day 1 Studio was because of this reason, next to the excellent use of Xbox Live, one of the first real online top games on Microsoft’s console.
A sequel was of course the logical next step and that’s what we get in MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf.
Like its predecessor, MA2:LW concentrates on one thing: kicking ass online with Mechs in third person view without all too much thought but so much more explosions, graphical highlights and multiplayer fun. Most of the time you’ll be strafing, jumping with your jetpacks, shooting like a madman with rockets, lasers, and so on, while in the mean time trying to keep your cool. The game is very accessible and reading a manual isn’t really necessary.
Expecting a deep storyline in the singleplayer part is a bit simple. There is of course a red line with the necessary plot and twists, but in the end it’s only a cover to send you from point A to point B and in the meantime unleash your destructive powers. At best this can be seen as a training mode for the real work, a bit like with the Battlefield series on PC. On top of that, this “training” is very short and due to its linear character it doesn’t offer much replayability. The challenge isn’t too great either due to auto-aim, lots of power-ups and health boxes and only Mechs can give you some opposition. If you don’t have internet connection and XBox Live, it’s best to let this game stay on the store shelves.
New in comparison with the previous game are a couple of new Mechs (bringing the total to about 30), the Battle Armour, the Rommel Tank and the VTOL (Vertical Take Off & Landing) airplane.
Especially the Battle Armour is a nice addition as it gives some protection and gives you the possibility to leave your Mech to go out and look for a stronger one. That will be necessary to be able to cope with the opposition, especially online. Thanks to this piece of technology, you can hook up with a bigger Mech and do a neurohack which in fact is some kind of mini-game which allows you to disable the machine and get in it yourself. Online this will result in you and your opponent trying to bash a certain combination of buttons as fast as possible and the slowest of the two will see himself parachuting out. I don’t need to tell you that a huge piece of metal is a bit stronger than you with your silky suit.
Also the VTOL, an airplane, quickly appears important in the multiplayer modes as with it you can add these BattleArmours, just like powerups. A good VTOL pilot at your side can make the difference between winning and loosing.
But let’s look a little closer at the MP. You can play with up to 12 gamers through XBox Live, throught split-screen or system link. The amount of different modes is quite extensive with deathmatch, last man standing, capture the flag, Not-it! (some kind of tag game), Check-it! (defend checkpoints), base war and Snatch-it!. The most fun mode however is Conquest. This combines all the other ones and builds an intergalactic war around it. You’ll need to hook up with a certain “House” after which you can start fighting at different planets against the other factions to gain control over these worlds. These battles can be started by yourself or you can join up in an already ongoing fight. This way you can conquer or loose planets and this guarantees exciting endeavours.
The fact that clans and downloadable content are supported makes this original part complete but there are some downpoints aswell: the interface still needs improvement and the matching system can learn a lot from Halo 2. Typical for the game – and as such dependant on your own taste – is the fact that the gameplay all in all makes this one of the slower online shooters. The fact that you need to look before finding enough players doesn’t decrease the quality of the gameplay, but it can ruin the fun of a short playing session.
Concerning the finishing, we especially have to bring forth the graphical aspects. The Mechs are truly impressive and beautifully assembled. Evenly strong are the explosions and the way building collapse by shooting them or walking against walls. Most spectacular is without a doubt the “death-animation” from the Mechs where amongst other things an implosion happens and the sucking-effect is beautifully portrayed. Less enthousiastic we are about the playing fields that look a bit flat with oldfashioned textures. Perhaps this is a sacrifice that had to be made to keep the game running smooth during the online fights.
When putting on the ears, we are greeted with strong sound effects (ex. the jetpacks, laserfire and the walking sound of the Mechs) but at the same time also a soundtrack that didn’t appeal to me. Whether it’s personal taste (songs from Papa Roach and Korn are a bit over the top for me) I’ll leave in the middle. What I will not slip is my opinion on the bad quality of voice-acting in the single-player mode which again shows how bad this part of the game got treated.
Here we come to the conclusion: MA2 is a game you don’t need to buy if you only want to play by yourself as it plays its aces in multiplayer with the Conquest mode as the cherry on the pie. Offering more depth than you would think, Mechassault 2 won’t disappoint the online gamers that are looking for arcade-like fights with Mechs and will offer quite some hours of fun.
Despite its obvious qualities, this game isn’t a must-have and stays a bit stuck in its suit of a straightforward third person shooter.