Let’s face it, giant robots smacking seven shades of scrap out of each other is just straight up fun. It’s so fun that Modus Studios have jettisoned Override: Mech City Brawl’s pretensions of defending the world from an alien threat and have focused on the simple delights of massive mechs beating the living oil out of each other for the sequel.
Override 2: Mech Super League plonks up to four mechs into a smallish arena and tasks them with a simple objective; take out their rivals with any means necessary. Having been a fan of the original game I was eager to get my mech on when the open beta ran toward the end of November, and while I had fun with the demo, there’s no doubt this promising sequel has some issues to resolve before launch day.
First thing to notice is that the visual fidelity of Override 2 has been significantly improved over the original game; there’s much more graphical detail to be enjoyed in nearly every area. The hulking mechs are brimming with character and visual nuance, feeling aesthetically unique and distinctive. The same can be said of the arenas they inhabit; there’s much more going on in the environments this time out with levels that move and transform as the battle rages.
Take the Park level as an example, which is basically an enormous gateaux – giant robots fighting on a sponge cake is the one thing I never knew I always wanted. Various sections of the sugar filled sweet treat rise and fall, separating players and encouraging new avenues of attack at a moments notice. There’s even giant strawberries strewn around the arena for players to pick-up and lob at an unwitting mech to hilarious effect.
One of the most noticeable aspects of Override 2 is how the game has embraced its inherent silliness. This can be seen most obviously in the collectable weapons littered around each arena. There’s electric spears, light swords, and grenade launchers, but also some wonderful oddities, with a comedy mallet and a humungous frying pan being clear highlights. Smacking an unwitting mech through a building with a mighty frying pan of doom was one of my favourite moments of the beta.
Combat itself remains chunky, weighty and satisfying, though many aspects have been streamlined from the original game. No longer do you attack using the individual limbs of the bot, you instead have a more traditional light and heavy attack structure. Combos are available by combining light and heavy moves, whilst bombastic specials can be easily activated with minimal inputs. It all adds up to a very accessible experience, allowing even a novice to get stuck in and do some cool stuff, whilst there’s plenty of dashes, blocks, throws and counters for those who like a more refined fighting experience.
There’s an impressive roster of twenty mechs promised for the final game, though the beta was restricted to eight. Old favourites such as Watchbot, Vintage and Setesh have returned, looking even more mechtacular than ever, while Sprinkles is one of the standout additions, armed with a deadly selection of sparkles and bubblegum themed attacks. Having the ability to trap my rival in a giant florescent pink bubble was not an attack I expected to have, but it’s one I repeatedly used to confound my opponents. Well, until they proceeded to wipe the floor with me, at least!
The biggest challenge a player will face isn’t a rival mech, but the challenge of getting their head around an extremely unwieldy camera and lock-on function. It’s one that insists on giving the player the most unhelpful view possible. Part of the problem is that your mech is often too large on the screen, blocking the view of the opponent and making it unnecessarily difficult to assess and respond to their attacks. The other issue is that the camera is very unclear about which enemy it’s locked-on to – not a problem in one on one matches but in bigger battles I often find myself incapable of focusing on who I wanted to hit. A much clearer HUD with a more obvious lock-on icon will be necessary to avoid frustrations when the full game is launched.
Issues with control don’t stop there, however. Double jumping is impossibly finicky, and your mech is unable to clamber up a ledge even though they have clearly leapt high enough to do so. Though this problem could be down to the god-awful lag that dogged online proceedings.
Sadly, my time playing online with Override 2 was dogged by lag. One on one matches were fine, but as soon as more players joined the fray, things really started to grind to a halt. It was rare that a match that started with four players managed to end with four. Instead, players would end up being forced to drop out and be replaced by bots, letting things stabilise once only two remained. Local play is where it was at, and here, with smashtastic and cathartic combat, the qualities of Override 2 revealed themselves.
This is a fast and frenetic game, and thanks to the accessibility of its controls it proves a great equaliser between the skill levels of players. I was able to have some competitive battles with various members of my family – even those with little to no fighting game experience were able to pick up wins and enjoy themselves. Combo strings are very generous in their timings and even simple attacks result in over-the-top Marvel VS Capcom style moves. This is a game that allows every player to feel awesome. Four player split screen was impressively smooth and responsive throughout.
So, there’s clearly still some work to be done for Modus Games in the final month of development, but with a more stable online experience and refinements made to the camera, Override 2 could offer a fun fighting game for all the family when it launches on 22nd December. Just in time for a mech-tastic Christmas.