Override: Mech City Brawl is arguably one of the most distinct games to arrive on Xbox One in the midst of this fairly packed week. The game largely centers around fast paced, explosive mech-themed brawls. That alone evoked a sense of excitement, and oftentimes had me thinking of the action-packed sequences from Transformers – the cartoon, not Michael Bay’s crappy flicks. Though, through all of that carnage and through every fight that I’ve endured in the game so far, I’ve witnessed a number of issues that sadly hold it back.
Booting up the game will take you to a nice clean menu. Here, you can either dive straight into some PvP via the Versus Mode and Matchmaking, or enjoy the game’s story through Arcade. There’s a brief yet informative tutorial that will feed you into the basics of play, as well as a training section that enables you to practice your skills in a controlled arena. Outside of that, players can tweak the options or browse the rewards that they’ve unlocked for each mech within. It’s a friendly system that proves to be accessible from the get-go.
Speaking firstly about the rewards here, players will unlock a range of unique cosmetic items through various actions in-game. This collectively amounts to both skins and accessories for each and every mech. Whilst skins are pretty self explanatory, accessories range the likes of fun hats, ties, headbands and more. Rarity also plays a role here, being that you’re able to unlock rewards that are highly sought after; legendary skins, epic skins and so forth. Nevertheless, it’s a process that never becomes complex, which is nice to see.
Each of the twelve mechs that are included in the game remain unique in comparison to one another. The majority of them play exceptionally well, save a one or two that stand out for all the wrong reasons. I quite enjoyed the balance here, too. Despite how various each mech is in regards to their capabilities, there isn’t a single one that trumps the other, making for a game that largely consists of skill, precision and execution. I particularity enjoyed using Vidar, a sphynx-like mech that has a decent melee reach and some powerful damage output.
Regardless as to which mech you choose to take to, their pros and cons are typically in contrast to their peers. This means that any match is a match of consideration and tact. For instance, Vidar has greater leg reach than star-nipple Pescado, however, Pescado’s bulking arms can cause devastating damage if Vidar dares to get too close. This isn’t a scenario that’s exclusive to these two mechs. Like I said, the balance is well struck here – every mech excelling over the other in one way or another. It’s truly exhilarating at the best of times.
Unfortunately, there’s some glaring issues with a couple of the game’s mechs, Pescado being one of them. Pescado can grasp his opposition and pound them into ground via a backwards throw. On not one, but two occasions, this pushed my online opponent through the map and underneath it. My opposition, on both occasions, was unable to get back to the surface and continue the fight. It’s frustrating to say the least, and something I hope that the developer can remedy in a swift post-launch patch to prevent unfair discredit to player rank.
Outside of that technical issue, Pescado is easily the most clunkiest mech in the game. Not only does Pescado move in an awkward fashion, but his attacks don’t seem to register as fluidly as his counterparts. The other mech that I found and issue with is Vintage, a cheerful television-headed mech that seems well out of place alongside the rest. Much like Pescado, Vintage’s attacks seem to fluctuate as far as efficiency goes. Several times did I find myself button mashing my way through, rather than playing the game as intended by design.
Again, some fine tuning in a patch can alleviate these problems and bring more balance and refinement to these mechs. With that to the side, the game’s more direct issues include lengthy waiting times when searching for an online match – specifically in online Brawl. There’s also some minor framerate problems too, but thankfully, this tends to be quite infrequent and mild. That, by and large, is the majority of Override’s downside. If you can forgive those aspects of play, you’re likely to have quite a blast with what’s on offer here.
The game is relatively straightforward to understand. You’ll select your mech from the character screen and then near instantly dive into the fields of play. Each map is themed on a real world location; Egypt, Mexico, Japan and so on. I quite enjoyed the design of each map, with buildings and skyscrapers rarely ever exceeding a mech’s chest height, further adding to the chaos that ensues. Environmental objects such as buildings are destructible, meaning that as you battle with your foe, the map will literally crumble around you.
The game’s combat system is not at all complex, lending it even more accessibility as a result. Using a mixture of the triggers and the bumper buttons, you’ll punch and kick your way through any nearby mech. There’s a decent guard and counterattack system to lean on that, if timed correctly, can turn the tides of a battle in a pinch. Throughout each fight, you’ll slowly fill up your special meter, which can be used via holding X and tapping a trigger or bumper button – each coming with a distinct output. This also feeds your ultimate attack.
When you fall too low on health, your mech is able to perform an ultimate attack – providing your mech has enough of its special meter filled. This, as with anything else in the game, varies from mech to mech. They can indeed be avoided, so it pays off to use these devastating attacks at just the right moment to capitalize on the advantage. There’s a decent lock-on system that will track your enemy religiously, which is something I found massively useful throughout. Then, there’s the game’s many weapons and items to be had.
Weapons and useful items such as shields and grenades, will frequently be thrown into the map. Huge swords, rocket launchers, machine guns and several other additions are your for the taking. This can be achieved via tapping on the D-Pad, to which your mech will wield the weapon until it’s no longer useful. Swords seem to be the flavor of the month from my experience, and although the weapons themselves don’t equate to mass damage, it’s fun to observe how players will adapt to your behavior when you pick up a towering thick bar.
That, for the most part, is the crux of play. Whilst that may sound basic on paper, in practice, it makes for a pretty robust affair. I’ve had a blast as I’ve moved from mech to mech, fighting a range of different players online and sussing out the pros and cons of each opponent. Now, as alluded to above, the game caters for offline and online play, as well as housing a decent, if short-lived, story mode. Starting with the game’s story, you’ll dive into the campaign and will be given an introduction to the plot via character dialogue exchange.
You’re then presented with a number of different missions, each of which will relay how many in-game days they take to complete, as well as what sort of reward you will get for your effort. The way this works is that missions will reward you with unique benefits that will further aid you through the story. Research points, for example, will allow you to improve your mech’s stats, whereas mods will afford you some passive abilities, such as auto health regeneration. The armory, on the other hand, allows you to call on weaponry.
Should you, let’s say, unlock and equip a beam sword and a shield, you’re able to summon them during combat. Each mission will take a specific amount of in-game days to complete. This helps to keep the campaign flowing at a dedicated pace, whilst giving you the freedom to focus your efforts on the rewards that you want to chase. It’s a short story, granted, but one that I had quite a bit of fun in, nonetheless. You’ll take on a range of beasts and enemies here, with the occasional mech showing up to put your skills to the test throughout.
When you’re done here, the game’s PvP elements await. In Versus, you can play with or against your friends via local and online play. It’s a fluid process that takes mere minutes to setup. If, however, you’re looking for a wider pool of players, Matchmaking is where you want to be. Here, you’re given the option to play Ranked, 1v1, and Brawl. Brawl allows you to take part in four player matches with custom settings. 1v1 is a nice way of saying casual mode, and well, Ranked is exactly that, ranked matches that see you fighting for leader-board dominance.
When all is said and done, there’s plenty of content here to keep players engaged for a good while yet to come. Some issues still need ironing out, and post-launch support is a must to ensure that playing rate is maintained. Touching up on the game’s audio and visual design, I was quite impressed with the game’s designs and effects, constantly popping the screen with loud, thunderous cues and excitable animations. Override wont be winning any awards anytime time soon, but you cant knock it for its accessible approach to the genre it adopts.
Override: Mech City Brawl suffers from some minor framerate issues and the occasional character-specific bug that, once present, quite literally puts a stopper on your game. Despite those problems, Override is pleasantly accessible and goes on to provide structural depth, combat diversity, and heaps of action-packed, fun, and exhilarating moments from the get-go. This is one brawler that’s fit for the whole family.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.