There are several aspects of gaming that can leave such a lasting impression on players.
From the perfect gratuitous explosion in Just Cause, to an unbroken streak of combos in Devil May Cry, there are just some things that give us that giddy feeling inside and allow us to experience a real sense of being a badass. However, that being said, there are only a few features in games that can truly give a player that particular feeling. A feeling that, sometimes, not even an epic boss fight or opening cinematic can get across. Fortunately, to ease the burden that is our lives, game developers have given us the completely over-the-top ability to take control of a rocket firing, laser dicing, all powerful piece of machinery known as…the mech suit!
Honestly, what more can a game do to bring out the feeling of whimsical destruction then by putting you in a full suit of power armor to go apes**t on your enemies with? Titles such as Titanfall, Dead Rising 4, Metal Wolf Chaos, Xenoblade Chronicles, Zone of the Enders, Strike Suit Zero and many others have been giving gamers the mech experience for several years now. I should be fair though, games like Dead Rising 4 only really gave you power armor instead of the entire suit, but it’s still fun and whimsical all the same. Just not rocket-propelled/wave-of-gunfire/destroying-everything-in-your-path fun.
In actuality, the best of examples in my mind of mech suit usage would be Xenoblade Chronicles, Zone of the Enders and, of course, Titanfall. Titanfall, in my opinion, got the feeling of mech combat down right off the bat. By creating a gameplay style that combined the chaotic fury of controlling a huge hunk of metal and free flowing design from wide open maps, it made for quite the entertaining shooter. Zone of the Enders shouldn’t be overlooked though, it also got the feeling down, just in a different style. So we have the chaotic, run and gun gameplay of Titanfall. What about the fast paced, one on one combat of Zone of the Enders? There’s something about Zone of the Enders that absolutely blows my mind; perhaps it’s the music, the level design, or the controls, but every piece fits together like it was in a puzzle.
As far as mechs go though, there’s more than just 3D titles. 2D games have also played a big role in helping gamers get engulfed in the mech hype train. One such title that should definitely be mentioned is Metal Storm, an action/platformer for the NES. For those who aren’t aware, Metal Storm is notable for several unique features including the ability to switch plains. It’s true, while playing, one could go straight from the floor to the ceiling which made for some interesting platforming sections throughout. There’s also the usual features, power ups, basic weapons and password-based score saves.
It’s not all fun and games though. There are times when trying get mech combat right can go completely wrong. Front and centre, Steel Battalion- this game went so south so fast, it made heads spin. What was supposed to be the new ‘hardcore’ game for the Kinect, simply became the laughing stock of motion-control titles. It was buggy, bad and just overall brutal. This might be a low blow, but I’m shocked that I could find a walkthrough of it at all. The worst thing about it though, in my mind, is the ‘what could have been’ aspect. Steel Battalion had so much potential to be the Kinect’s killer app, the one game that people would actually buy a Kinect for. Alas, this was not to be.
So with that in mind, when it comes to mechs in video games, there’s the good, the bad and the downright amazing. Whether it’s an intense online game of Titanfall, a epic one-on-one match of Zone of the Enders, or an old classic like Metal Storm, there’s a mechsuit for all gamers.