Specials: Giant robots go boom. Yea, the wit level is scraping the bottom today...
MA2 is upon us, and with it comes a slew of changes to the basic multiplayer game that proved so popular in MA1. Some gamers like the new play mechanics, while others are pretty unhappy with a variety of issues - such as no mech selection, and constant Neuro-Hacking attempts by 12 year olds in BattleArmor. This article purports to have a look at the fresh aspects of Lone Wolf's online component, how they work, and what new strategies and gameplay requirements they bring to the table?
In MechAssault, it was simplicity ? pick a mech from a variety of weight classes and weapons loadouts, and blow up the other team. It was easy to pick up and learn, but hard to master. The freedom of choice was there for you ? and for better or worse, a lot of that has been taken away in Lone Wolf. Clearly, DayOne had some ambitious plans here, and to make sure the game played as they intended the maps ? and the mechs and vehicles for each one ? force the player into a particular style that, while retaining its core element, really plays quite differently than the first. Again, it's a matter of individual opinion on whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. I do know that a lot of Live gamers question why a ?classic? Team Destruction/Destruction mode wasn't included. Just put all the mechs on all the new maps and let ?em rip. However, it's obviously a conscious design choice to not include something like that. If they did, they risk having all of the new ideas go out the window, as Mech1 vets played nothing but ?classic? style.
The biggest changes that Lone Wolf brings are the fact that each map is preloaded with a specific set of mechs, and the new vehicles ? most notably the Rommel MKII Tank, and the VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing Craft) account for completely new strategies that simply didn't exist in the first game. It's debatable just how much the tank changes things ? it can knock mechs down when powered up, and is able to cloak itself ? good stuff to be sure, but it's also extremely vulnerable, and most good pilots will take it out in a strike or two. However, there's no doubt that the VTOL changes the game dynamics drastically.
As explained in my MA2 review found here, the VTOL can carry salvage to your team. Missile, ballistic, and energy upgrades for fully powered weapons, and of course, supremely important armor replenishment. The maps vary ? some have two VTOL pads, and some have only one. Obviously, controlling the ground near the pad is extremely important tactically on these maps. But bottom line ? the ability to receive power ups in the field as you fight definitely changes how this game is played. Add to that the ability to bail from your ride, and the BattleArmor looking to jack mechs in the heat of chaotic warfare, and most everything about it changes. The VTOL can also carry BattleArmor across the field, tanks to strategic positions on the map, and can drop automatic turrets around the area. Again, big difference from the first game, where all you had to worry about was other mechs. Now you need to call out salvage needs to your VTOL pilot (and he'll need to understand what it takes to be good support for his team) be aware of cloaked tanks sniping from the distance, and always watch for BAs attempting a Neuro-Hack. All this while fighting tooth and nail with other 50 ton robots. There's a lot going on, and it makes for some exciting games, but it does also limit your style in certain ways.
The new maps are nicely varied, from rocky terrain, to swamps and towering cities, so the basic strategies remain the same ? gain ground on your opponents, concentrate your fire, make judicious use of cover, watch your back, communicate with your team, and remain powered up as much as possible. Of course, deciding how best to use your tank, sending BAs out to jack the other team's mechs, and a crack VTOL pilot bringing power ups and dropping turrets (perhaps ferrying a tank or BA out to the fight, or bombing an enemy mech) are all new ideas that you'll have to experiment with to see how they're best applied to any given situation and map. Also, let's not forget the new Alpha-Strike. Assault class mechs can drop the hammer with devastating effect when fully powered up. The AS will take out most any mech in one shot. Just don't miss...
MechAssault 2, as I stated in my review, is a great game, and a nice evolution for the series. Clearly though, many of the players who cut their teeth on the first title find the new additions a disappointment. Something as simple as including mutators to drop the VTOL, Tank and BattleArmors from any map (something along the lines of the control you have in Halo2) at any time would have been welcome. An option to change the loadout to include all mechs would also have overjoyed many Mech1 vets. Either way, there are still plenty of active clans out there to play, and I'd suggest you check out www.teamcompete.com
, both have MA2 ladders, and TeamCompete also supports pro leagues for certain games, so check ?em out if you're the clan type. Look for our upcoming interview with the TeamCompete folks coming soon here at Gaming Target. Until then, saddle up the giant robots and go check out what MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf has to offer for yourself.