Hello everyone, and welcome back to the Retro Corner of our website. The game that we’re highlighting this week is MechAssault. This one’s an early title on the original Xbox, and despite being one of the first titles on it, it was surprisingly fun. It premiered on the Xbox original back in 2002, though it wouldn’t see a Japanese release until June of 2003.
MechAssault takes place in the BattleTech universe, which centers itself on pitched battles between human-piloted, walking, heavily-armored war-machines, known as BattleMechs. The plot of this entry in the series is on the planet of Helios, where a powerful coalition of feuding forces are fighting for control of large areas of land. You play a captain in employment to an elite mercenary group called Wolf’s Dragoon, and have been hired to discover why there is no longer any communications coming from the planet of Helios. Upon arrival on Helios, the ship with the protagonist aboard is shot down by a rogue technology worshiping cult known as the Word of Blake. This cult is run by an iron-fisted man known as Commander Strader, and it’s up to the player to defeat the cult, aid the former inhabitants and assassinate Commander Strader.
As for how MechAssault actually plays, it plays from a third person perspective, with the player having full control of many different BattleMechs. You’ll be fighting everything from infantry, to tanks, to enemy BattleMechs. As for the infantry and the tanks, they’re more of an annoyance than anything, as simply stepping on them with your massive BattleMech is more than enough to wipe them out. Though the real meat of the game is the mech vs. mech fights, as they’re the main threat to your protagonist.
Now, praise aside, the game wasn’t perfect. The plot was a cookie cutter story of a rogue military force having taken over a civilization and you, a sole elite warrior, have to defeat the army and the commander to free the people.
Now, whilst the campaign itself was more than enough for the game to be worth it, as the gameplay alone was amazing, the shining star of this game was the multi-player. Being one of the first titles on the Xbox original to utilize Xbox Live to play against people across the world, it was revolutionary in its own way. It played exactly like the campaign, with players able to choose between light, medium, and heavy mechs to battle each other, with pro’s and con’s to choosing each model.
Overall, MechAssault scored highly among players and critics, receiving reviews in the 8/10 and upwards. It was also highly recommended as the game to go along with an Xbox Live Starter Kit, stating it’s multiplayer was a perfect first go at online gaming. Whilst the series itself is no longer around, and the mech game industry might be a little over-saturated at the moment, this is still a game that I personally hope returns at some point.