' Bigger, burlier, and prettier than before. But does it give you more mech for your buck?
Looking back at the reviews of the original Xbox Live launch title MechAssault, I realized something long-past forgotten: Day 1's mech series has a large, loyal fan-base that loves to blow stuff up. Honestly, it's hard to be a guy and not like watching something explode, and so it's a natural that the heavy sports, action and FPS Xbox crowd would instantly embrace Day 1's simplified mechanized action-fest.
It's the same exact reason why players will adore MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf. Day's 1 sequel is, in almost every way, superior to its predecessor. The vehicle count reaches 35 units this time around, and the wide diversity of units enables players to play more distinct roles and diversity their play styles online like never before. The improved camera perspective and scale of the larger mechs against more detailed, more volumetric landscapes creates a better overall feel, and while the single-player campaign is uncomplicated and formulaic, it provides the perfect training ground for the game's real meat and potatoes, the Xbox Live component.
Day 1 has spent an enormous amount of time customizing and tuning the game around Xbox Live play, especially for clans. Online fans of the game are certain to have a blast. This progression toward a bigger, deeper online game is the perfect evolution for the series, with a greater cast of mech types, the inclusion of VTOLs, BattleArmor jackings, and tanks to spruce things up. But it does leave offline players with a short, simple game. So, when you walk into that EB with $49.99 in hand, ask yourself what you really want -- a short, simple offline mech-action game, or a deep, clan-friendly powerhouse of an online game?
The game's initial appear is tremendous. MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf is a super looking game, with an excellent litany of special visual effects, terrific sound, and a diversity of mechs, mission types and bosses that will put a fat dopey grin on anyone's face. Day 1's second iteration offers an evolution in mech design focused on animalistic and anthropomorphic builds that are cool looking but are nowhere near the imaginative cutting edge of other weirder mech games (see GunGriffon: Allied Strike). Of the 35-plus units, there are six new mechs (Raptor, Stiletto, Wendigo, NovaCat, Blood Asp and Star Adder), three new vehicles (BattleArmor, Tank and VTOL), plus the use of POV turrets.
In the single-player game, you'll become aware of the new mechs' powers as your team collects Data Cores and then synthesizes them for incredible new heights in power and destruction. You'll gain new tools such as stealth, shields, purple-black plasma, and the Alpha Strike, a powerful culmination of existing powers fired in one blazing shot. All of these create new wrinkles that diversify the often numbingly straightforward strategies of the first title. Players of the first iteration will also notice the mechs are even better balanced this time around, with support from a variety of shields, cloaking devices, and fire cannons. Also, using a combination of all your weapons at the right time and against the right mech type becomes a major factor now that you and your enemies have shields and cloaking devices.
The wider variety of mechs and vehicles means learning their strengths and weaknesses, and recognizing the litany of cool weapons, ammo, and special and defensive weapons that have been added. In tanks, players can use a zoom lens to pulverize enemies otherwise unseen. With turrets, players can use a defense shield and more importantly lead a first-person perspective missile into the lap of an unsuspecting enemy, bridge or compound. Flying the VTOL takes some time to adjust to its rather wily controls, but it's damn fun and highly utilitarian, as you can pick up and drop salvage, BattleArmors and the like, and you can simply fly away if everything goes badly.