RetroWarrior: MechAssault

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I remember having mixed feelings about this game when it came out. I never owned an Xbox, and only played it when over a friend’s house, so it was actually to my benefit that the game was more of an episodic arcade style action shooter. I could leave off practically anywhere. I also remember quite a few MechWarrior and MechCommander purists complaining about the powerups and other unrealistic aspects of the game (including a very non-canon super heavyweight ‘Mech or two in there as well). My main beef with the game is that you can only select one kind of weapon at a time; be it missiles, lasers, etc. They really streamlined the weapons inventory, and with none of that mechlab business fans love so much.

The Cougar, for when you want be able to haul ass yet still be able  to kick some too.

The Cougar, for when you want be able to haul ass yet still be able to kick some too.

I thought a bit differently than some of my purist friends though. To those of you who have played some of the earlier editions of Shadowrun, FASA made a number of references to BattleTech, one I remember off the top of my head was “Heroes of the Federated Commonwealth”: a Virtual Reality holo game offered in a VR arcade advertised in one of the Shadowrun source books. I thought of that when first playing the game and just thought of MechAssault as the kind of thing gamers of the Inner Sphere might play- and kept it in that context. But regardless, there seemed to have been quite a backlash among traditionalists.

There were some similarities to MechWarrior, however. Starting off with a light chassis and moving on to larger ‘Mechs and weapons seems pretty universal. As does the limited support of the first person games. MechAssault doesn’t feature any lance-mates; which along with the power ups kind of reminds me of BattleTech 3050 for the SNES and Sega Saturn. Only with immersive banter from your commander on your radio to add to plot development.

The player is a nameless rookie member of the Wolf’s Dragoons merc company. The Dragoon dropship is dispatched to the planet Helios to investigate an HPG outage and subsequently shot down in a sequence that reminded me a lot of when the dropship Black Hammer was shot down by Orbital Defense Lasers in MechWarrior 3. The player; as the only uninjured mechwarrior available, is initially tasked with providing security for the downed dropship; naturally leading to plot development and larger and more difficult missions.

A Madcat at range against some sort of homebrew spheroid battlearmor. Oh the suspense is killing me.

Madcat at range against some light battlearmor. Oh The suspense is killing me.

MechAssault featured eighteen ‘Mechs, including two only available in multiplayer. Unfortunately there’s really only ten, with each having a variant that uses the same 3D model. As usual, mainly Clan ‘mechs, though with Wolf’s Dragoons, who could also manufacture their own Clantech, I have no issue with this compared to everyone and their brother having a Clan ‘Mech in MechWarrior IV.

Overall, MechAssault is a watered down third-person arcade shooter set in the BattleTech universe. It plays well, has decent graphics for the time, rockin’ soundtrack and I give it a pass.
If you still own an Xbox and can find it, give it a try.

Just try not to rage when you start fighting non-canon superheavy “boss” ‘Mechs.

Well bargained, and done.

8 thoughts on “RetroWarrior: MechAssault

  1. Pht

    I was really amped to pick up mechassalt; and than I saw the demo in a local store; picked it up, and started playing.

    After seeing and getting some powerups on the field and realizing that apparently all ‘mechs were given 360 torso twist …

    My plans of buying an xbox just for MA went down the toilet.

    I guess my real gripe is that they called it a mechwarrior game – it isn’t and wasn’t.

    If they had have billed it as a video game people in the BT universe played, that probably would have reeled me in; I gather it wasn’t too bad gameplay wise, but I was just too annoyed by it to bother with the investment.

    That it was apparently built off of the mechwarrior 5 game engine that fasa studios had recently canceled just added more insult to injury.

    Reply
    1. Ron Post author

      I can see why you felt let down. Its a VERY different animal. Saying that MechAssault is like MechWarrior is like saying Ace Combat is like Microsoft Flight Simulator. Its not the fault of the game that it was misrepresented in attempt to bank on MWs successes. But if you can get past that, its still pretty fun.

      There’s a scene in one of Blaine Pardoes’s novels that depicted Subhash Indrahar a certain way, and then a bastardized Dr No version for some FedCom tv show. Thats how I think of MechAssault. The garish, James Bond comic parody of what is very different in real life. Well you know what I mean.

      Reply
  2. Samuel

    Many people complain how MA ruins battletech. HOW????? MA brought a lot more people into the battletech community. Hell it got me into battletech.

    BT fans complain about the game having no customization, yah I admit customization or some kind of upgrade system would of been useful in grinder, but it doesn’t ruin the game at all.

    Many BT fans seemed to forget that MA is a SPINOFF of MechWarrior not a sequel. Plus the game was made for newcomers for battletech, I also don’t understand why everyone says there is no story. Not to mention MA had online multiplayer and destructible environments, WAYYY ahead of its time for 2002. Besides why does it matter anyway, All that matters is the 2 games have giant mechs and explosions, that’s what all counts in my eyes :)

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  3. Samuel

    I can see why battletech fans dislike the game, but MA introduced me to battletech, and I did enjoy the game a lit.

    Reply
    1. Ron Post author

      Yeah, when a franchise is around as long as BattleTech, fans can get set in their ways. The setting and the tech has been established. It’s kind of like suddenly dropping Far Country on the novel library.

      Reply

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