War of the Monsters, a PS2 game released in 2003, has always held a special place in may gaming history. I recently played it again on PS4 and while the experience was immensely nostalgic, mechanically and visually the game did not quite have the same impact it did on my younger self. Thankfully Override: Mech City Brawl helps fill that void.
Mech City Brawl’s tutorial and practice modes establish your understanding of its unique control system. Akin to Octodad or Gang Beats, each limb of your chosen mech is mapped to a shoulder button, with R1 and L1 controlling the respective arm and likewise with R2 and L2 for the legs. Holding these buttons charges the attack, upping its damage output, while overuse of these moves overheats your mech, requiring a cooldown period. This control scheme takes some getting used to but soon feels natural, successfully simulating the feeling of pilot rather than simply controlling your mech. Special moves, aerial attacks, blocks, counters and ultimate moves round out your move list. Like any good fighting game combat is fun and accessible, yet deep and tactical enough for those who wish to master its nuances.
12 mechs make up the core roster, with 4 more being added via the season pass post-launch. Each has a unique aesthetic, combat style and set of special moves, from the well-rounded Gundam-esque Watchbot, to the fish-themed heavy hitting luchador Pescado or the agile, long-range focused Vidar. Every mech has something unique to offer, ensuring all skill levels and play styles are catered for, while a huge number of skins and accessories allow you to personalise your mech, incentivizing completionists to seek out every unlockable. The game’s art and visual design brings its mechs, environments and xenomorphs to life with a cohesive style, while slick UI ties its menus and upgrade systems together with bold simplicity. A neglect to fully embrace its influences; from Gundamn and Kaiju to 50s B-movies, feels like a missed opportunity to capitalise on the history of the mech genre, yet the way it crafts its own identity is to be commended.
The story-based arcade mode offers a succinct single-player experience which helps nurture your combat skills. The generic alien invasion story which provides the backdrop for this campaign is silly but enjoyable, with passable text-based dialogue giving you just enough reason to take on the Xenotype hoards. Each key story mission is broken up by a countdown, with each selectable mission deducting a certain number of days based on its difficulty level. International locations including Egypt, Norway, Japan and the USA act as your battlefield, each restrictively small in size but nevertheless charmingly realised and pleasingly destructible. The addition of an array of ranged and melee weapon pickups further diversify combat, arming you with katanas, plasma rifles and trip mines, to name but a few, which open up creative ways to fell foes.
Missions reward weapon packs, mods or research boosts all of which aid your progress and power up your mech. Research point can be spent on buffing armour, reducing cooldown times or increasing charged attack damage. Mods further customise your build, effecting cooldown times and damage stats, but with only four slots, deciding which mods to keep and which to sacrifice makes for a tactical balancing act. While clearing the level of enemies remains the objective throughout each mission, your every growing piloting skill paired with a variety of Xenotypes and boss monsters keep the challenge fresh. Taking roughly an hour to complete, the single-player campaign is the ideal testing ground to get the feel for a mech. Its concise length allows a sense of progression while preventing missions from becoming repetitive, although by your twelfth playthrough this same campaign may be bordering on arduous.
Several other game types round out the experience. Versus mode pits you in competitive mech V mech brawls with up to three other players in local or online matches, while matchmaking lets you test your skills against other players online. Perhaps its most unique feature, the game allows up to four players to cooperatively pilot one mech, each controlling a different limb. In practice this is a true test of cooperation, with communication and synchronicity essential for combining movement and attacks effectively. Whether playing through the campaign with a friend, one in charge of movement and kicks, while the other manages blocks and punches, or with friends as a hectic party game, this take on coop is original and works to great effect, for those able to work in tandem.
Override: Mech City Brawl is a thoroughly original fighting game. Its unique control system is excellently attuned, whether controlled by one or four people, accurately imitating the feeling of piloting a mech. A brief but enjoyable campaign makes up the bulk of the experience, while competitive modes and a wealth of unlockables add longevity. Whether honing your skills in single player, testing them in online battles or simply goofing around with friends as you combine efforts, Megazord style, to pilot a mech, there’s something here to please fans of fighting games and giant mechs alike.
Override: Mech Brawl Brawl PS4 Review
Override: Mech City Brawl brings giant mechs, aliens and cityscapes together in a dance as old as time. Its excellent control system successfully simulates the feeling of piloting a mech, and the game's satisfying combat strikes a perfect balance between accessibility and complexity. A diverse roster of mechs keep combat engaging through a brief campaign, competitive modes and a unique co-op experience which sees up to four players piloting one mech.
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Reviewed using PS4 Pro.