The last month or so has really been good to Xbox owners who have an innate need to destroy things. In addition to the excellent Mercenaries, they’ve been given a sequel to one of the best Xbox Live debut titles, Mech Assault. The next installment, sub titled Lone Wolf, gives you more of the bone-jarring action and mass destruction that made the original such a fan favorite, yet manages to escape the typical "expansion pack syndrome" that plagues so many sequels.
I’m a big fan of this series and awaited Lone Wolf with frothing anticipation (ok, maybe I didn’t froth but you get the idea), eager to see just how much had been improved. Though not all my expectations were fulfilled, I can safely say that I wasn’t disappointed. Day1 Studios has taken an already polished engine and made it even more amazing, which says a lot given just how good the original was. They obviously know that the whole point of tearing into an enemy with a volley of missiles is to see just how big an explosion he makes when he disintegrates into a ball of flame. With 35 different units to choose from, you’ll have your hands full finding out which one blows up best. Some new vehicles are available, including tanks (bombard your foes from afar!), VTOLs, and the awesome mech-jacking Battle Armor. They add a much needed element of strategy to online sessions by allowing players to assume support roles in addition to holding the front line. The Battle Armor is especially curious. A series of button presses allows you to jack into an opposing mech’s systems, expelling the driver and giving you complete control. This is a terrific idea that’s only hampered by the agonizing amount of time it takes your mech warrior to board his new craft. You’re literally left a sitting duck until he hops inside.
The developers paid special attention to enhancing the overall look of the mechs, to great results. All of them look much better than before, doing an excellent job of driving home the imposing size these vehicles are supposed to have. The overhauled presentation of battle is beautiful and bursting with special effects; blowing things up never looked so good. On the downside, the environments haven’t really been improved all that much but you’ll be too enthralled with all the pretty particle effects and awesome animation to really notice. Who cares how good a building looks while it’s standing? It’s how well it crumbles that matters.