Mech games generally fall into 2 categories: The 100-button, bogged down, control freak type and the "blow sh*t up" kind. "Mech Assault" assuredly falls into the latter category, but has a few minor issues that keep it from absolute greatness. However, most people will still keep it around for its enthralling multi-player gameplay.
As one of the launch titles for Microsoft's flagship "X-Box Live" online service, the game certainly had a lot riding on it. The developers have ensured that this game is easily picked up by anybody quickly without getting bogged down by some complicated control scheme. Once a player fires a missile into the side of a building (watching glass shatter, metal flying, and dust settling) they're hooked. Very few buttons are required to get moving and the game controls much like a modern FPS making the game even more addicting.
The meat of the game is the multi-player experience, but the single player experience is a must as well. Playing through will unlock new mechs that are definitely necessary later in the game. The AI in this mode is brutal at times, at least until more powerful machines are unlocked. Unfortunately, the enemy also increases its supply of mechs, making numerous replays of missions the norm. The sometimes shaky controls with the analog sticks also make this more difficult than it should be, but it is possible to master them with practice.
While the mechs are meant to be the highlight of the game, they're not. The sheer destruction of major metropolises is where the entertainment comes from. The engine used to show buildings crumbling to their doom is unparalleled. Firing a few shots into buildings will set them on fire and send glass shattering everywhere, truly a sight to behold. A small amount of pop-up can occasionally hinder the experience, but the sheer amount of things happening at once makes this understandable. The sound is sparse featuring music only when mechs are attacking and it's generally the same track all the time. Of course, anyone with a 5.1 system is in for a treat, as is the usual for X-Box games.
While the game may not be remember as a classic, anyone who plays it will remember it for some time to come. Blowing up massive robotic bi-peds has never been this fun. If you can make it through the single player and see everything the game has to offer, it still deserves a place on the game shelf thanks to the excellent muti-player modes. There is no better way to kick off the online gaming experience for the mainstream. Pick it up with the Live kit.