Video games have been borrowing from movies and television for as long as the medium has been around. First-person shooters like Call of Duty share similarities to blockbuster action films, horror classics like Resident Evil are cut from the same cloth as Night of the Living Dead and so on. So with this in mind, developers The Balance Inc. must have a real soft spot for giant monster flicks like Pacific Rim and Godzilla as they have clearly drawn inspiration from them with their recently released title Override: Mech City Brawl. There is some escapist joy to be had piloting monstrous mechanised monstrosities, but a bevvy of fumbled concepts bog down what could have been B-grade movie brilliance.
A mechanised frog break dancing on the moon…yep
The game has two separate modes, multiplayer and a single-player arcade campaign. The premise of the arcade campaign is a simple one – you pilot one of twelve skyscraper-sized mechs, each with their own look, stats and abilities, tasked with defeating similarly sized aliens known as the Xenotypes (zero points for originality with that name) that threaten earth’s population. The mechs are all fairly varied in the visuals department, ranging from Optimus Prime cosplayer Watchbot, to the Aztec warrior inspired Rocca, and of course my personal favourite Pescado, a Luchador mech with a fish for a head – absolute genius. All of the mechs have a number of different palette-swapping skins that can be unlocked randomly by playing any mode. Alongside skins are accessories such as hats and moustaches that admittedly do add some flare.
The campaign mode is made up of various missions and clocks in at a relatively short two hours playtime. It feels like it’s there for the player to test out each mech prior to jumping into the multiplayer aspect of the game rather than a full-fledged mode of its own. Missions are available at any given time, presented in the form of a distress call coming from one of ten different locations. Each of the real-world inspired maps has a number of destructible structures scattered around the place that will get destroyed during the robotic donnybrook. Weapons such as guns, swords and shields will appear at random times offering a slight increase in damage or defence and, while they don’t change the outcome of the battle greatly, they are quite fun to use. Sadly there isn’t a lot of variation between the maps aside from cosmetic differences, but they are all colourful and nice enough to look at.
It doesn’t matter which mission you choose as they all play out in exactly the same way; fight a few waves of enemies and then defend an item that appears on the map. All missions have a time limit, though there is no on-screen timer signifying this, only a 60-second warning that appears telling you that you that you are about to fail the assignment. Just as strange is the omission of health bars on enemies, as well as the items that require protection. Hit points appear above the head of enemies when you hit them, but these numbers are pointless as there is nothing to compare them to.
What an absolute unit
Players will battle it out against a number of different enemy types, ranging from standard bois (grunts), speedy bois (sprinters), big bois (heavies) and ahh…squirty bois (spitters). While they may look different, they generally all act the same way – run at the player with a charged attack and try to knock them down. While it is easy enough to block or dodge these attacks, it gets old extremely fast. Never fear though, despite the enemy type they are all easily dispatched by charging both punches for a few seconds and then letting them have it. This means that every mission, regardless of the difficulty, boils down to standing in one spot, waiting for the enemy to get close enough and hitting them once, rinse and repeat.
Of course that is if you can hit them at all. The hit detection on the aliens is awful; I found my mech throwing punches that went straight through an enemy standing directly in front of me without a single point of damage being dealt. It seems as though the game rolls a set of dice to decide whether your attack will hit, and nine times out of ten you will roll snake eyes. This is made even more evident when facing one of the few bosses scattered through the campaign also, as they are larger and seemingly a much easier target, yet attacks are just as randomly effective.
That isn’t where the technical mistakes end unfortunately, as I ran into a number of bugs that made getting through to the end a real pain. On numerous occasions I would hit an enemy only for them to spontaneously disappear. Regardless of the laugh I had from suplexing an enemy into infinity, the game still recognised that there was an enemy left to defeat, leaving me standing there until the timer ran out, failing the mission. Adding to the frustration is the lock-on mechanic that seemingly has a mind of its own, locking-on to the ground more often than the intended foe – controller throwing stuff right there. I found myself sighing from relief when the credits rolled and wasn’t at all enticed to play again as a different character.
Not even a mother could love that
Override is clearly designed for multiplayer chaos, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that its multiplayer offering is where the game finds its footing. Up to four player or computer controlled mechs are able to duke it out in one of two modes, two-on-two or free-for-all. A few different game modes would have been nice, but two is all that is on offer, at least for the moment. While the same issues from the single-player portion also plague the competitive mode, it is less noticeable as there is some fun to be had beating the crap out of one another in huge, ridiculous robots, though it is shallow and fleeting fun at best.
Balancing is a struggle, as it is more about who can hit first rather than who is the more skilled player. So the faster mechs have quite a significant advantage, making half of the roster fairly useless. Each mech also has a power move that can be used once their health drops below a certain point. There is no way to check what move your current mech has in its arsenal though, so your last ditch effort to win will most likely end up going to waste.
There is also a co-op option that sees players take control of different parts of a single mech. The control is divided up into movement and legs, left arm, right arm and lastly the head (moving the camera). While this is very briefly entertaining, the feeling of frustration quickly sets in. The player controlling the legs has far too much control in choosing where to go, and the player stuck with controlling the head has their job made completely redundant by using the lock-on feature. So while this is a decent enough idea, the execution leaves a lot to be desired.
Hopefully they have large robotic fist insurance
Loading times are short and the menus are simple and easy enough to navigate, though a few minor oversights do annoy. The Garage for instance, where you can view and change the look of the mechs, doesn’t allow for the character models to be turned, leaving you to guess what their rear looks like. Aside from their name, the Garage offers no information on the mechs at all. This means a lot of trial and error when it comes to moves and movement, trial and error that really isn’t worth exploring.
As standard, the option to play online is present, with games either running smoothly and without issues, or running like a legless chicken with lag being more of an enemy than your opposition. Like most kinds of fighting games, if anyone in the match has a poor connection, it ruins the experience for everyone. It is important to mention that Override isn’t a AAA title. Priced at $40, it’s touted as a party brawler and that is where its few strengths lie. Good old couch co-op games are making somewhat of a resurgence as of late and it is great to see more and more make their way onto the scene. Override might not be an award winner in its field, but for those who want to get together with some mates for an afternoon scrap they could be in for a couple hours of entertainment.
A Pharaoh and an Aztec statue, a brawl for the ages
Measuring in at five foot eight, the idea of being as tall as a high-rise is pretty damn alluring to me and although you do truly feel like a Goliath, that is not enough for me to enjoy this game long term. With the multiplayer only being a quick flash of fun and the single-player lacking personality and ultimately falling flat, I only see Override as a means to scratch the couch co-op itch.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro // Review code supplied by publisher