The fighting game genre is a very difficult segment for a new game to break into, even more so for an indie game. So what did Modus Games lean on to sell Override: Mech City Brawl? As you may have guessed, it’s giant mechs which players can pilot. Oh, and also Voltron. Kinda.
At this point it may be worth revealing our love for everything mech, which is why we’ve been following this game ever since it was announced back in July of this year.
That being said the game can more than stand up for itself, offering up 3D fighting combat together with a variety of mechs to pilot, locations to crumble under giant robot feet, and co-op which lets multiple players each control a segment of one mech which instantly reminded us (and others) of Voltron.
While this short descriptor and some of the visuals on this page may have already sold you on the title, don’t whip out the credit card just yet because this is a deeply flawed game that warrants some investigation beforehand.
Jumping into the tutorial we’re presented with a novel control system here. Instead of regular attacks being bound to the four face buttons as with most fighters, here they’re set (by default) to the shoulder buttons and triggers, and for good reason.
The shoulder buttons are used for punching, and the triggers for kicking. These line up to the right and left appendages of the mech, so it feels quit natural controlling these large combatants in battle.
These attacks can be charged for extra damage and knock back, powered up by using some of your meter gauge and built into combos. Adding to this are ranged and melee weapons which spawn randomly in the map which can turn the tide of any fight.
All of this is pretty standard but it feels quite good here as the mechs all have a heft to them owing to their huge sizes and even the smallest and fastest choices in the roster are fun to control with this sense of weight.
With that initial good impression in the tutorial over we hopped into the singleplayer where we’ve been promised to fight giant alien kaiju, which is a perfect fit for this game but is, unfortunately, the start of its many problems.
The story is not worth any mention and every level is the same: you’re locked into an arena with randomly spawning enemies, kill them and you win, die and you lose. Rinse and repeat.
There is some variety as you can choose which rewards you’d like to claim: research missions give you points to upgrade your mech (this is usually the best route), mod missions give you modifiers, and weapon pack missions give you tools to fight with when robot fists aren’t good enough.
The singleplayer campaign will only take a couple of hours to complete and can be done in one sitting, even though it’s very frustrating to do so. The difficulty ramps up and the game’s idea of cranking up the challenge is just to swarm you with enemies and stun lock you to death.
If you’re surrounded by enemies any given mech will turn into your mother on a Saturday night – flat on its back being mercilessly pounded.
You’ll quickly learn how to exploit the systems to win, and you’ll brush off the campaign and not give it much though, unless you like skins. More on that later.
Yes each playable mech in this game has around 20 skins that are randomly unlocked when a singleplayer mission is completed or with the win of an online game.
This is frustrating enough until the game was updated. We held off on our review for the first big update hit the game – to see what support the devs would provide to the game – and they made this skin situation a bit worse.
Now skins can be bought with in-game currency (don’t worry, you can’t buy it with real money) that are only awarded when you beat the campaign, or when you are awarded a duplicate skin.
We won’t get into exact numbers here, but buying skins is really expensive and you’ll need to complete the campaign more than twice to unlock a rarer skin.
Less grindy is that Voltron mode which can be done in the singleplayer and it’s where we recommend you experiment with it. As you bump up the player numbers each person controls a more isolated part of the mech.
While this is fun for a while, in practice it’s nothing we haven’t seen before in other titles with similar concepts and the giant mech spin on it just isn’t enough to make it a go-to party game or something you’d think of first when a group of people are over.
For the online play we can’t speak to how this game is at a higher level compared to other fighting games, but we can say that wait times are long even in overseas servers.
Once you’re in a game it can be a lot of fun as people haven’t yet mastered this game and you can get that adrenaline rush of beating a similarly green player. The random weapon drops add a lot of variety into the mix and they don’t feel overpowered as most can be countered once you learn a bit about them.
After replaying the singleplayer many times over, grinding out online matches and having some people over for co-op, we feel tired of Override after a few hours.
The core mechanics here are fantastic, but there’s a host of design decisions that really kill its longevity. The singleplayer especially could have been have been fleshed out with more variety in the upgrades, better RPG elements, and maybe even a tighter story.
This all seems high for a fighting game with a small community where you may be stuck playing singleplayer and co-op only in a few months.