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MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf
game: MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf
four star
posted by: Sarah Wichlacz
publisher: Microsoft
developer: Microsoft Game Studios
ESRB rating: T (Teen)
date posted: 12:00 AM Mon Feb 14th, 2005
last revision: 12:00 AM Mon Feb 14th, 2005

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Click to read.MechAssault was a standout title for Xbox in general, and one of the things that made Xbox Live successful from the outset. Big robots, big explosions, and plenty of circle-strafing goodness kept us working that gamertag through multiple waves of free downloads. In many ways MechAssault represented the best of what XBL had to offer, yet the online focus of the game has also kept it something of a niche attraction. This time out, MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf, works to broaden the original scope of the game, deepen the single player story, and continue to bring new elements to the online play.

Overall, it works. If you enjoyed the last MechAssault, odds are you'll find plenty to like here. The story mode has been filled out with the addition of new vehicles to drive, including helicopters and tanks. Of course, to get to new vehicles, one must get out of one's mech, which means you'll be able to run your fleshy little self around the battlefield. When out of your mech, a protective coating is useful, which makes the Battle Armor especially useful.

Battle Armor gives your mechwarrior the ability to shoot two different weapons and hijack other mechs. There is nothing more satisfying than latching onto an opponent online and jacking her mech, causing her to be ejected and allowing you to take over on the battlefield. In the story mode, this feature allows for some cool twists in the missions and keeps the play from getting so repetitive as in the last series installment.

The single player mode still suffers from pretty repetitive missions with linear gameplay, a dumb story (continuing struggle for intergalactic domination, some dudes to save, some dudes to kill, and *gasp* new mechs!), and horrible voice acting. The protagonist is a distinctly everyman known only as mechwarrior,? and it features not only the requisite sexy-voiced guide (she's not really your superior, but she tells you what to do) but also the bungling techie, both of whom are generally never seen, which makes the voice acting all the more painful to bear. But the explosions look so good this time around, and the night scenes are even cooler, so there is usually enough eyecandy to keep you moving to the next level. The game is not particularly difficult, except a couple of poorly tuned levels that are needlessly frustrating.

The online multiplayer is what MechAssault is all about, anyway, and in that regard, the game has made the typical two steps forward, one step back. There are a few new gameplay modes available, most notably Conquest mode, in which you choose a galactic faction with which to align yourself and you participate in either taking over? or defending?a planet. What would have made this truly revolutionary would have been a real MMO situation with real worlds and real battles. What Conquest actually delivers is a large, complicated king-of-the-hill tournament structure. There are many hills to dominate, and domination is determined by each faction's record on the planet. Each multiplayer round is just a typical online round on a typical map, and not much is special about one planet or faction over the other. In fact, it is possible to switch factions easily, and investment in any one faction is minimal, which prevents this mode from being as good as it could be.


Regular multiplayer (deathmatch, team games, etc.) has been ehanced greatly by the presence of other vehicles and the new system of play. Now you start at your team's base? where there are various mechs, armor, and vehicles. Knowing the strengths and abilities of each, and then working together as a team, is much more important. Getting onto the field in a suit of battle armor is exhilerating, and the difference in size and perspective between the vehicles really increases the sense of an awesome battle spectacle.


If you never got around to checking out MechAssault the first time around, definitely get your hands on MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf. If you like big robots and pretty particle effects, this game has loads of it. If you have XBL, then you owe it to yourself to check out the online action here. MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf is definitely one of the coolest online Xbox experiences so far.





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