The Battletech and MechWarrior series has always had a good following. With over six instalments on the PC, Microsoft has finally brought the game to the X-Box. Taking all the craft and simplifying it somehow, the conversion overall is a very good one.
But how on earth have they managed to simplify what normally amounted into a whole array of keys to control the Mech, into being able to control it on a gamepad? The truthful answer is that they haven’t and die hard fans may well be disappointed that you can’t change everything and anything on the fly. But then this is a new breed of the Mech Warrior series and one quite frankly, that will probably appeal to a greater audience. You want all the finer details- bugger off and play the PC version, and anyway what are you doing playing on a console in the first place.
Now that the rant is over, what of the game? You play a MechWarrior captain, about to embark on a new campaign that sees you going in hard and fast with your command of other Mechs. As you can guess, the rest of your unit doesn’t make it and you're left to fend for yourself on a number of missions before command remobilizes the fleet. Mechs are chosen for you and weapons come pre-assigned. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as at least you get the right Mech for the job.
Controls are simple and certainly use all the buttons and sticks on the game pad. Be prepared for plenty of action and the first level is no exception with the killing and destroying of bad guys and building starting start away.
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Once you get bored of the campaign mode there is always the multiplayer modes. Using a single X-box you can have a head to head with a mate. Connect eight X-boxes together via a LAN or system link cable and you can boost that up to 8 players. If you’re a bit short on eight X-boxes, and lets face it most of us are even if they are now dirt cheap, then you can always chose to connect up to Microsoft's X-Box Live service. Plugging into the service will not only allow you the chance to play other players across Europe, but will also allow you download additional Mechs, Maps and other such goodies.
Graphics are very good and are in keeping with not only the series but also what Microsoft is capable with on the X-Box and at times you might think you are even watching Halo and some of the backgrounds are very similar. Even when there is plenty of action of screen the system seems happy to cope as you blast your way through the bad guys amongst a hail of missiles, guns and lasers.
All of the elements of the PC game that should be here are present. Gone are the sometimes impossible controls, and they have been replaced by lots more action.
For those who have never played MechWarrior on the PC in all honesty it doesn't matter. The only thing you are missing is the heritage of the clans but this doesn't and won't spoil the gameplay. MechAssault has the right balance of intelligence, hardness and fun with great eye-candy to take in at the same time.