Override: Mech City Brawl – Xbox One Review
There Goes The Neighbourhood!
Giant robots bigger than office blocks, battling it out in the middle of cities, hell bent on destroying their enemies. If the city is completely flattened in process, who cares? The scenarios in Override: Mech City Brawl remind me of a cross between Godzilla and the giant monsters in Power Rangers. Therein lies a problem, as instead of the developer wanting you to think a giant robot towering over a city, you’re left more with the feeling of a bloke in a suit tramping through a model town. Once the action gets going the excitement picks up a bit thankfully, not quite the adrenaline fuelled battles of the Transformers films, but it at least has a go.
Open up the game and you’re straight to the main menu, nice clear options that let you get stuck into the Versus mode for some online fighting, or you can tackle the story mode in Arcade. My advice is to get straight off to the tutorial mode, where some brief levels will guide you through the moves and attacks one by one. All are simple to pull off on their own, but where your skill as a player comes in of course is sticking them all together into a coherent set of moves that will knock the crap out of your opponent. There’s also a decent amount of customisation where you can change the colours, outfits and accessories of your robot. Well maybe not at the start, its more the colours you can change, but the more you play in Arcade mode, the more weird and wonderful cosmetic items you can unlock.
There are twelve different giant mechs to choose from in the game and are quite diverse in style and appearance so you can spend time checking each of them out to find a good match for the fighting style you want to go with. I ended up plumping for Rocca for the story mode, a lumbering mech of what looks like Inca origin. He’s quite slow and can take a hit, so I didn’t have to rely on having quick reflexes, and for that extra punch he can fire his fists at an opponent, dealing a powerful blow before springing back to their rightful place on the end of his arms. The strengths and weaknesses are well balanced in nearly all of the mechs, so fights are usually well balanced. The exception to the rule is probably Vintage, a retro looking robot that was always weaker and seemed to be there more for comedy effect whenever I used him.
The behind and slightly to the side third person view seemed to work well most of the time as it gives a decent view of your character and the enemy your battling, but this effect is ruined when you got stuck in close quarters brawling at the edge of the map. When that happens the camera gets right in close and you cant see if blows are landing or where your opponent actually is half the time. Swinging to a more overhead view would’ve been more efficient in this case. A bit more movement in camera angle might also help reinforce the scale of your character in relation to the surroundings.
Speaking of the surroundings, the game does well to distinguish between the different parts of the work that you’re fighting in, using the stereotypical architecture of each region to quickly reinforce the location. It might not be factually accurate, but you instantly know what you’re going to get when you travel to New York for one fight, then have a complete change of look for the Himalayan landscape of Bhutan.
The mechanics of the combat work pretty well , with moves not being too difficult so theres less likelihood you’ll descend into a frenzy of button mashing out of frustration. The four trigger and shoulder buttons on the controller each correspond to a limb so once you get your co-ordination right its fairly instinctive. On top of that theres just the blocks and counters to remember, then the special finishing moves that give you a cool animation before unleashing its devastation. The lock on feature works when facing a single opponent and helps keep you focused on the action, but does become a little confusing when you’re up against three or four foes. Things ran smoothly on the whole although I found a few minor frame rate issues at times, but other than that the battles were of a decent pace without being uncontrollable frantic.
Searching for an online game were a bit of a tedious exercise, but this is often the case when there isn’t a massive base of players looking for a game at the same time as you. When you were lucky enough to find a game it proves to be quite a bit of fun as you get to find out the difference approaches people have to the combat, and a lot of it is to do with what extras you decide to pick up. Additional items will appear at points around the map, marked by a beam of light, and if you get to it first, you can grab a cool machine gun, rocket launcher or a huge sword amongst other items. I found the act of arming them was a little fiddly as you have to be standing in precisely the right spot when you press the direction button to decide while arm you will wield it with. A fraction out of position and nothing will happen, so you can waste a few seconds trying to get in the right spot to pick up your weapon, all the time taking damage from an opponent. The weapons , and indeed the shields and grenades, add an extra dimension to the combat, even if they only have a short active life. What I would like to have seen is the mech dropping the weapon as soon as its spent, so I didn’t have to carry one around without realising I’d run out of ammo.
As well as the PvP offline mode which you play in split-screen there is a co-op mode for up to 4 players controlling a single bot, with each player controlling a different limb. You could maybe call this a gimmick as its not a great mode to play in, you really have to be well coordinated as a team otherwise you leave your mech a sitting duck as everyone presses the buttons at the same time.
As I mentioned earlier, the campaign mode will reward you with unlocks of skins for your mech, but will also give you rewards that will benefit you in the next stages. You can improve the stats of your mech with Research Points, or add some mods such as auto health regeneration. There is also the Armoury that can be used to call up weapons you’ve previously unlocked. The campaign mode was a little brief but good fun, with a range of different bots and monsters to fight, all of different levels from the weak grunts to the might bosses.
Overall, Override: Mech City Brawl gives you a good amount of content to have fun with, providing a lot of variety in the gameplay, so you can switch in and out with different bots to prevent it becoming a grind. Its far from cutting edge, but the game delivers well in terms of graphics and sound, along with some solid gameplay that will no doubt gain a decent sized fan base for anything to come in the future. Single player, online or as a family couch play brawler, this game packs enough of a punch to give decent value for money.
Developer: The Balance Inc
Huge thanks to Dead Good Media for the review copy.