Override: Mech City Brawl is a 3-D mech-brawler developed by The Balance and published by Modus Games. The player takes control of one of a dozen mech to battle it out around the world, fighting either other pilots online or taking on giant monsters in the arcade mode. Offering a great party game experience with mech designs inspired from various sources, Override provides a fun experience for those who pick it up.
Override takes place in a world beset by xenotypes, mysterious giant monsters who appear and decimate the world's cities. The only thing standing between the citizens of the world and total destruction are the pilots of the Mech Battle League. Through more used to facing one another in competition, they must now turn their attention to the ever growing danger of the xenotype scourge.
The games story is detailed in the Arcade mode, and revolves around the players chosen mechs pilots attempts to try and put an end to the xenotype threat. Said pilots all come from various backgrounds and have different motivations. For example, the pilot of the Rocca, Izma, is trying to stop a doomsday prophecy, while the the Cocada’s pilot Sonia is concerned with protecting the environment.
Joining the player are General Mavis, an official of the United Defense Force, (UDF), who is in charge of the Rapid Response Team, and research team leader Dr Fujiwara. The pilot of the Setesh mech, Malika, also plays a role in the campaign. For the most part they just provide commentary on what is going on in the story, with Mavis and Fujiwara sending you out on story missions,
The games story is fine, being simple and straightforward. That being said, there are definitely some instances were it seems like certain opportunities are missed. For example, Malika acts as a sort of rival character to the player, with the only exception being when you choose to play as the Setesh, her own mech. Having 12 different mechs to choose from, it seems like they dropped the ball on having different pairs of rivals for the individual mechs. Instead, you just get small variations of dialogue from Malika based on who you chose. That also brings me to my second issue, that being the games dialogue.
For the most part, the dialogue from the side characters are the same regardless of who the player chooses, only having small variations from pilot to pilot. By the time I was done playing I had read the line “Steel yourself, or I will” so many times that I'm pretty sure it is burned into my corneas. Another issue I had was that a lot of the comedy in the writing, which there is plenty of, falls a bit flat. While some lines, like a certain pilot talking about how the carry around a thesaurus, got a chuckle out of me, most of it failed to elicit a similar response.
The gameplay in Override can best be compared to the likes of War of the Monsters, with the player controlling giant characters and crashing them through cityscapes. Primarily aimed at being a party game, Override attempts to add a bit of extra flair to the gameplay by having fairly unique mechanics when it comes to controlling the various mechs. In this case, they did this by having the player control the mechs limbs individually.
Now before you get worried that this is giant robot version of QWAP, let me specify that attacks are controlled this way. In this case, the left and right punches are controlled with the L1 and R1 buttons, respectively, while the left and right kicks are controlled via L2 and R2. Regular movement around the stage is controlled with the left analog stick, as well as being able to dash with the circle button, and an overheating mechanic to prevent players from just spamming punches. Mechs can block attacks to nullify some damage, and also counter either a kick or punch with proper timing.
As odd as these controls may seem, the are actually fairly simple to learn. There aren’t any special combos you have to do, with special moves being used by holding the square button as you use a regular attack. Where this control shines though is in the games main draw as a part game, being that you can have individual players controlling one of the four limbs. When playing with friends at home this can be pretty fun, though the novelty is also short lived.
As far as the mechs themselves, they all fit various archetypes while also having enough variation to still seem unique. Each mech has its own special moves, ultimate abilities, and a unique L2 kick. Some, such as the Contessa, are clearly meant to be more special ability based, while others like Rocca seem based on getting in close and rocking the opponent with strikes. The only complaint I would have about the balance of the game is that it seemed, to me, that the game favored dash attacks above others.
Overall the combat feels great, with even the smallest mechs feeling appropriately heavy. The game manages to find a good balance between adding weight to attacks while also managing to stop them from feeling clunky. This, combined with a pretty easy learning curve, makes for a game just about anyone can pick up and start playing.
Another element the gameplay is the addition of weapons. The good part about these is that they don’t interfere with the players ability to do special moves. The bad part is that they rarely do anymore damage than normal attacks, and those that do are just slow enough that they do less damage overall. This, combined with the usually poor endurance of them, tends to make them more of a distraction than anything else.
The game has two different modes of play, that being the Arcade mode and a Versus mode. The latter is your standard player vs player affair, allowing for up to 4 people to play, either controlling their own mechs or individual limbs. The Arcade mode is where the main story takes place, and tries to add some RPG elements to the game as well. While these do put some variation in the game, their actual execution leaves something to be desired.
The structure of the Arcade mode campaign is based around doing side missions in between story missions. Side missions will reward the player with either a random mod, research points, or a weapon pack. Mods can be equipped to add passive effects, such as increased melee damage or health regeneration. Points can be used to upgrade parts of your mech, increasing things like damage reduction and movement speed. Weapon packs, as the name implies, gives a random selection of weapons that can be added to the characters loadout.
There are a couple of issues with these systems. For one, you have fairly limited opportunities to get these rewards, as the campaign is pretty short, (about an hour on normal difficulty). As such, you usually have to commit to either basing your character on mods, base stat increases, or weapons. This wouldn't be too huge of an issue, if it wasn’t for the fact that of this trifecta, only the second can be reliably done.
Mods rewarded are random, and as such trying to get an optimal loadout can be a crapshoot. To give an example, during one campaign I received a mod that significantly increased all my stats, but at the cost of degenerating health. There were other mods that can balance this out, but the only way for me to get them was to get lucky. As for weapons, I already mentioned above some of my issues earlier. The only way to make them really viable is with mods, and as previously stated, doing so is unreliable. As such, most players will likely just go for earning research points whenever possible and ignoring the other options.
Graphics and Sound
Sound wise, the game is solid. Sound effects for attacks are appropriately heavy, adding to the sense of impact of the regular gameplay. The game’s music is varied, having different themes for the various stages of the game. The only thing I feel that they maybe fell behind on was having no voice acting. Doing so could have made some of the weaker jokes made get across better. Otherwise, a strong showing.
Probably one of the games biggest strengths is the variety of mech designs. There are 12 different mechs in the base game, each taking inspiration from various sources. Each mech is clearly distinct from one another, having a clear theme and unique animations. In addition, the game also has a variety of different skins available for each robot, ranging from basic pallet swaps to alternate designs, as well as accessories to add a bit of flair.
The one thing I would criticise about the art of the game is the character portraits used in the arcade mode. While I wouldn’t call them poorly drawn, I also wouldn’t say I was in love with any of the character designs. My main issue with them was the fact that they seemed to clash so much with the artstyle of the rest of the game.
Override's biggest strengths would be it’s fun mech designs and low barrier of entry. While not the deepest as far as mechanics or story, the sheer fun and feel of smashing giant robots into one another is enough to keep players coming back to the game, whether it’s to play online with strangers or to pop on when you have friends over. The only thing that would sway me from recommending the game is the price point, being a bit steep for a game that relies heavily on having other people to play it with.
|+Great mech designs||– Story campaign is a bit weak|
|+Fun, easy to learn gameplay||– Character portraits clash with the main artstyle|