This week I paid a trip to Gecko’z to have a look at the recent Xbox release, Mech Assault 2: Lone Wolf. I last played a Mech title years ago (at the risk of dating myself) on the C-64 and thought this game would be along the same lines: turn-based strategy. I was agreeably surprised to discover that the latest, and greatest, in this series is a fast paced action/shooter.

When I set out to review any game, I make it a point not to read any of the instructions to see how easy it is to pick up. With Mech Assault 2, this was a mistake, but not because the game was too difficult to master. The single impediment to my learning curve was my unfamiliarity with the Xbox controller. Of all the gaming platforms, it is the Xbox I have had the least contact with, and it sorely limited my initial game play.

Ian Duncan, who works at Gecko’z, told me some gamers do have a hard time getting into Mech Assault 2, but once they reach a certain level of mastery, they are hooked. He kindly advised me to keep at it and try a few different tactics in battle. Before long, I was blasting away to my heart’s content.

Mech Assault 2: Lone Wolf offers players a fun, new and risky mode of exploring by allowing them to have the pilot exit the Mech and race around on foot. Navigating on foot is often required to satisfy mission objectives. It can also be used for tactical advantage by abandoning a severely damaged Mech and stealing an unmanned vehicle nearby.

I was initially surprised at what seemed to be low quality graphics in the opening sequence and cut scenes, until I realized the style was cartoon oriented. With so many developers creating games that have CGI cut scenes, I found the cartoon approach to be a welcome change.

The 3D-rendered game play graphics were great, and the environment had many interactive pieces. In between waves of attackers, I found myself blasting away at trees, rocks and buildings just to see how much destruction I could manage.

The only flaw I found with this title was the ability to cheat by taking advantage of frame clipping. The best example of this was encountered when I manoeuvred my pilot up to a large cluster of rocks. By moving slightly from side to side, I found I could see through the rocks at certain angles. Since I was only able to manage this on foot, I can not chastise the developer’s too severely as most of my game time was spent in the Mechs.

Sound is a huge part of Mech Assault 2; to properly enjoy it, I suggest gamers crank up the volume. The fire fights are intense as any Hollywood action sequence and the explosions and gunfire all around complete the experience.

The last thing to mention is the fiction behind the action. From the amount I was able to play, it looked like an intriguing plot was being developed. I played for a few hours to see how much more I could discover of the story, right up until Duncan told me I had to go home since he was closing up for the night.

All in all, I have to say Mech Assault 2: Lone Wolf is a winner in my books.