Robots are undeniably cool, at least until they rise up and kill us all while we’re having a brew. However, it’s a proven fact that giant robot suits carry almost none of the same problems and will be humanity’s trouble-free answer to large alien incursions in the not-too-distant future. Probably.
Whether it’s Gundam, Voltron, or Power Rangers, giant mechs are firmly embedded in TV and cinema, and gaming has seen plenty of visits from the metal monsters and their pilots over the years as well. Override: Mech City Brawl is the latest addition to the genre, packing in an array of colourful mechanical behemoths and setting them up to fight each other. Oh, and an equally huge alien menace.
This is an arena battler where your chosen character and their ride tower above the city. Just stomping around will see the city start to crumble into pieces, but thankfully the creatures you’ll be facing off against are a good bit tougher. To grapple with them, you’ve got four basic attacks – one for each limb – and then a few special abilities on top of that. If your health drops to a worryingly low point you then gain access to your Ultimate Attack, which you can unleash as long as you’ve got at least one bar left on your Specials Meter. As you’d expect, it can really turn the tide of battle back in your favour.
The single player story mode has you trying to save the world from the Xenotype invasion, which sees you going full Pacific Rim on some huge, ugly, alien monster types. It’s not the most refined mode by any stretch, but it is fun pummelling your way through wave after wave of well-designed baddies. This mode also means you unlock mods for your mech, as well as alternate mech colours to use in multiplayer. It might only be a small thing, but so many modern fighting games have done away with providing any reward for playing the solo mode and it’s nice to see it return here.
Missions are doled out in a cool way, with major encounters appearing with a countdown before you have to take them on. With that time you can take on smaller side missions, each of which has a cost measured in days, so you can pick and choose what to tackle in the remaining amount of time. You’re also given an indication of difficulty and what you might unlock to help you make your decision. Besides mods you can also gain research credits that you can turn in for upgrades to all of your mechs major systems. Eventually you’ll have a machine that’s capable of taking down any alien foe, no matter how grim they might be.
The single player is surprisingly sturdy, with some nice character art and good quality presentation to keep you engaged. While this mode might as well be labelled Pacific Rim: The Game, that’s not a negative if you love giant robots and seeing them smash things to smithereens. It’s not the deepest experience, and probably a bit on the easy side, but it gives you a real feel for the game and its characters.
The main body of content though is set to be the multiplayer, and you’ve got the option of local splitscreen, a very silly local co-op mode where each player controls a different limb, and online modes. The splitscreen is brilliant, and you can grab up to four players for some chaotic mech battling. There are shades of Sega’s classic Power Stone franchise crossed with Virtual On to the way encounters feel, with weaponry appearing in the arenas that adds to that, and thanks to its bright and chunky art-style Override could easily be a forgotten title from the Japanese giant’s heyday. Just to be clear, that’s a huge compliment.
The biggest problem with the online multiplayer is the number of people playing it. Sadly the player count doesn’t seem to be very high at this moment, which is a crying shame, and given its budget pricing you’d hope that more people will get onboard. Override definitely deserves better, as there’s a great bunch of characters to pick from – my personal favourite is the MechaGodzilla-esque MetaGeckon that rolls up into a ball to careen around the arena. They all look fantastic and there’s clearly been a lot of effort put into their design.
Override: Mech City Brawl is an indie mech arena brawler that gets a lot of things right. The single player is often a little on the easy side, but the great character designs and weighty combat help to make up for it, with local multiplayer proving to be a hell of a lot of fun. It’s perfect for fans of giant mechs and kaiju brawling, and easily one of the best additions to the genre in a while.
Version Tested: PC – also available for PS4 and Xbox One