Override: Mech City Brawl is a chance for adults to live out their childhood playground fantasies of fighting inside a giant robot. While this might well seem enticing on the surface, there are sadly more than a few gripes with this little fighter.
Let’s be honest. We’re all here to know how it feels to be giant robot beating the living snot out of another giant robot while saying a big “fuck you” to the surrounding city skyline. Sending a robot flying through a building is as fun as you’d expect, I can officially report. The spectacle of the experience is the best thing on offer in Override: Mech City Brawl, and strangely, that’s rather concerning to say.
You see while watching 30 stories of metal mech fly through a building is great, the act of doing so really leaves little to be desired. The game does nicely put attacks onto triggers and bumpers, with the triggers controlling each corresponding leg and the bumpers working as such with the arms, however, it’s the feedback of such attacks that just leaves little to be desired. A slight metallic clink and flash are often all you get, and when you charge and attack and put your enemy on their ass, they’re usually far too far away for you to properly capitalize outside of a select few mechs.
These attacks can be amplified as special attacks, Brought down from the sky as jumping attacks, and even be blocked and dodged just as any good fighter should. Get down to low health and maintain enough charge and you’ll be able to unleash a devastating ultimate attack. Providing you’re close enough to actually hit anything. The controls for the mechs are simple, accessible, and clearly designed for gameplay on a gamepad, even if they are a little forgettable. This really comes from the fact that nothing is really defined outside of the basics.
What I mean by this is that nothing about each mech is defined. One thing that I’ve always despised is titles that force you to get hands-on and attempt to figure out what a character does. Quite why it’s so hard to offer a brief outline in an attempt to sell a mech to me on grounds other than aesthetics I’ll never know. Entitled? Probably, but I stand by the point regardless.
This goes on to highlight the problem with Override: Mech City Brawl’s Arcade mode, which is also the title’s story mode. Bare with me here. The whole thing feels like a missed opportunity. In the story, you pick your mech (purely on aesthetics, because what does it do? Not a clue) and that’s it. You’re locked in for the long run. Yes, there are subtle differences in how the main storyline plays out from mech to mech. but none of these impact the core gameplay. Instead, the impact is shown through the rather thrown together news reports you’ll see between missions. You might well find yourself invested enough to see what every mech and pilot thinks, but I struggle to see any appeal.
What would fix two issues would be the inclusion of a storyline that includes all of the mechs in the title, putting them in situations that require their individual talents and specialties to introduce them to the player in a digestible, engaging fashion. Instead, it’s all too possible to pick a mech you very quickly grow to despise and have to replay the first few levels an agonizing amount of times. The mode does offer you the chance to upgrade your mech as you go, giving some variety, but aside from changing enemies that all really have the same sort of offense, there’s little here to break up the ‘kill everything on the map’ mentality.
Speaking of the maps, it’s a shame that they really do not impact the gameplay all that much, if at all. While looking great when you smash your way through them, a common trait for such destructible levels is that they quickly become flatter than Kansas, thus removing anything remotely tactical about them. The occasional immovable mountain or bridge does not make a good map, my friend. One roll through the map pool is honestly enough, with none of the maps offering anything in the way of memorability.
as you can probably imagine, multiplayer is where the real bread and butter is with Override: Mech City Brawl. Thankfully, there are a few options available to players, although, like all titles within the genre, the best fun is had with friends. Be it going all out against each other or going against some bots together, there is genuine fun to be had here, even if it is much like the rest of the game and gets stale frustratingly quickly.
Split-screen play is solid and offers a small variety of options to give you some form of replayability aside from rolling your way through the map pool. Hopping into the same mech and sharing the controls is a hilarious little time waster, but it’s one of those things that will be nothing but infuriating outside of playing with close friends. Couch co-op play is a lot of fun, but perhaps it’s best to leave the one-on-one battles to online play, to avoid any broken friendships and noses.
Speaking of online, you’ll want some friends to play with because sadly, online matches are few and far between. There’s no cross-platform play, which would definitely help the player base situation, and with this being a title designed for party play you’ll find more people owning this on the living room console than the office PC. Thank god for Steam Machines to at least bring this to a few living rooms on PC. Once you do find a game, matchmaking is solid and maintains a stable connection, but is sadly let down by the performance of the game itself.
Override: Mech City Brawl isn’t an awful looking game by any standard, it’s got some nice bright colors and the mechs all look fantastic. Unfortunately, the performance just doesn’t live up to the appearance. On both my modest PC and my testing partners workhorse, we faced frame drops with a worrying frequency. Smashing through buildings is fun and all, but it doesn’t half play havoc with your frame rate. It can honestly be disorientating at times, it gets that bad.
Before I rip one final wound into Override: Mech City Brawl, I must commend it for its progression of unlocks, adopting a model very similar to that of Rocket League. Finish a match, get a cosmetic. No questions asked. There are both skins and accessories, with skins being Mech specific, and accessories universal. It’s definitely a nice little system that rewards players frequently and avoids the addition of microtransactions. Always a plus point for any title in this day and age.
The final nail in the coffin is just how insignificant the title feels. Actions in fights feel insignificant, the world is so easily destructible that the entire setting of the game feels insignificant. Fighting inside a little blue box that basically says “fuck this bit of the city in particular” doesn’t create the most meaningful experience. It’s a damn shame because from the outside, Override: Mech City Brawl looked like a complete hoot. Sadly, what lies within is simply forgettable.
Override: Mech City Brawl is a real missed opportunity of a title that doesn’t really feel finished. The destructible maps selling points is actually the gameplay’s biggest downfall, with the lack of weight behind actions definitely not helping the case. Throwing metal 200ft through a city should be fun, but ultimately I love the concept far more than I do the execution.