I’m going to get straight into it here. Godzilla meets Transformers with a hint of Tekken.
That’s what I was hoping for when I first saw, and then got hands on with, Override: Mech City Brawl. I expected something that could scratch the itch and reinvent the fun I used to have with the iconic brawler War of the Monsters back in the days of PS2.
But replicating something that’s already been done so well before, all whilst keeping a fresh level of originality isn’t easy though, so with my fingers crossed I took to the seat of some of the largest Mechs around to see if Override: Mech City Brawl on Xbox One has what it takes to bring a similar level of enjoyment to the brawler genre. Or if it is simply nothing more than a hunk of junk that deserves a place amongst the scrap.
The idea of Override: Mech City Brawl is quite simple – fight to the death. It’s not quite that simplistic when you when you look to the story, but the narrative behind it all is hardly something you’ll remember when the game is all finished with, even if it does bring an alien invasion to the scene. You’re better off focusing on the immediate goal of each battle… to simply beat your opponent to a pulp, before they beat you.
There are a few different game modes for players to get stuck into to achieve this, the first of which is a single-player story mode – Arcade. This takes the fight to the Xenotype invasion, whilst a couple of multiplayer modes of both the online and offline variety make up the remainder.
After you’ve chosen your game mode of choice, you’re then able to choose from the 10 ‘unique’ arenas, all of which are based on a specific country. Disappointingly, none of the locations particularly stand out and besides being rather bright and completely destructible, are very samey. In fact, if it wasn’t for the different aesthetic bringing a level of recognition to the location such as the Golden Gate Bridge for the USA and the pyramids for Egypt, it would be easy to mistake each level for being the same thing just with a different skin. None of the stages offer any real interaction or unique features other than the visual layout and a few weapon pickups, which is a grave mistake when it comes to making memorable arenas.
Sadly, the combat is just as disappointing and fails to allow any real excitement to take hold in any of the stages. The initial thought of titanic machines crunching steel with one another may sound like a fight worth watching from the outset, however there’s very little to be excited about when you actually get down to the nitty and gritty of Override: Mech City Brawl. Sadly it is little more than a basic brawler that fails to make the most of the modern platforms.
In each fight, players take control of one of 12 available Mechs. Unlike the stages, these Mechs are at least unique and have a variety of looks, move sets and special ability options. As the battle commences, players are taken to a third person perspective and the odd mix of complexity and simplicity sets in. See, to fight effectively, the idea is to control each of the different limbs of your machine, with the attacks performed by each limb used together to create a move set that knocks the stuffing out of your opponents. So far so good right? Wrong!
That’s because when you actually start smashing away at your opponents, it doesn’t take long to realise that spamming a single attack over and over is a much more effective way to win than bothering to learn the complex nature of stringing together different moves. Yes, it’s certainly mind numbing to rinse and repeat the same move over and over, but going about things the ‘lazy way’ sees any fight done and dusted easier. Simply hitting one button really breaks up any engagement you may find with Mech City Brawl.
The attacks themselves are fairly simple to pull off and it’s good to see each limb can also be used in a charged attack, allowing something even more devastating, but should you find yourself dominating through the single push of one button over and over, you’ll find even the special abilities of the different Mechs quickly become redundant. To remain exciting as a fighting game in a world that already contains the likes of Mortal Kombat and Tekken, you need to bring challenge and variation, something which is broken when basic actions are too overpowering.
It’s not just the combat which is disappointing though, and even the Arcade mode struggles to enthuse. I’m going to sound like a real humbug, but this is just another disappointment that comes about via Override: Mech City Brawl. It all starts off well enough though, and in story mode players take the battle to interplanetary opponents as an alien invasion is inbound; it’s up to you to save the world. On paper, that’s the sort of thing I would have usually lapped up, but when it comes down to it, things are pretty lacklustre. The story mode isn’t exactly the biggest feature within the game and it’s not one that takes itself too seriously, but if it’s going to be included it would be nice to see it done wholeheartedly. Instead, with poor dialogue and a plot that makes very little to no sense at all, it makes you question why it wasn’t simply turned into a separate game mode or at least given a bigger focus in development.
Away from the Arcade option though and players can indulge in either the Versus Mode or Matchmaking, both of which offer gameplay against others; local play and online respectively. It’s decent to see that the options are slightly different for each, with Versus bringing the option of Free For All or Team play, whilst Matchmaking delivers some 1v1 bouts within both a casual and ranked option as well as a four-player Free For All once more. As is the running theme for this game though, none of the available options are particularly exciting and with gameplay in each just as simplistic and dull as the single player offering, you can’t expect to find much to keep players interested for long. It doesn’t help that you’ll need to endure a lengthy wait to find a multiplayer game either.
Besides all the fighting and disappointment however, there is one area that offers a glimmer of hope and that’s within the customisation options of each of the gigantic Mechs that are available. As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock new customisations for each of the different machines and with multiple colour options and wacky cosmetics to unlock, there is at least a way of making each Mech feel tailored to you. Again though – and without wishing to repeat myself – with the disappointment found in everything else on offer, there won’t be many staying around to unlock anything even marginally exciting and it’s hard to see how this game will remain relevant in the coming months.
All that said, if you’re a fan of Power Rangers, the old-school Transformers or have children with which they are all the rage, then there is a hint of potential within Override: Mech City Brawl on Xbox One to at least keep them quiet for a few hours. However, if you’re looking to jump in as a fan of the brawler scene, there are many other options out there that already do the job much better. Unfortunately, with little to keep players interested and overly simplistic options dominating the more complex potential of the game, Override: Mech City Brawl is one fight we’ve already forgotten about.