Saturday morning Super Sentai adventures have landed this month with the release of Override: Mech City Brawl. Engage your psychommu, link up with friends, and get in the dam robot as we take on The Balance Inc’s tirade of mechanized mayhem.
Announced back in July 2018, Override: Mech City Brawl brings giant metal monsters to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Taking inspiration from the same Japanese pop culture that spawned The Power Rangers, Gundam, Neo Genesis Evangelion, and a swathe of other massive mecha shows, Override: Mech City Brawl distills that genius down into the one thing your childhood loved most. This is a game about robots punching each other.
Meching Robots Great Again
Unlike other Hollywood car crashes, Override: Mech City Brawl is a reverential spin on the conceit. The robots that make up Mech City Brawl’s roster may come in an array of shapes and sizes but they are all an homage to some kitsch concept that has its roots in a number of outrageous eastern entertainment shows. Towering over the cities below, these 12 mechs are almost uniformly plastered in bright colors and shimmering chrome. From the traditional lines of the Watchbot to the polished chest-plate of Pescado, a giant wrestling fish-bot, every member of this roster feels full of character.
The wider aesthetic of Override: Mech City Brawl is a mix of blistering lasers, flashy particle effects, and cartoon cut-outs. Mech, monsters, and even the menu system are all incredibly polished. Civilian structures, on the other hand, litter the local landscape like tiny cardboard cutouts and toy train sets. Strangely enough, this is actually quite charming, possibly even a deliberate nod to the wonky fabricated backdrop of pulp Kaiju movies.
With over 30 separate locations to cause carnage in, Override: Mech City Brawl disperses destruction all over the globe. Players entering combat from an orbital drop ship might find themselves in the wastelands of Siberia, the cityscapes Tokyo, or having a dust-up among some Saharan sand dunes. While the radio towers of Tokyo are plucked straight out of a monster matinee, the sand dunes of Egypt and the rolling hills of Switzerland are just as well put together as the mechs stomping across the land. As players rattle the earth, a decent diversity of terrain and the odd hidden surprise keeps combat from becoming too much like the same clumsy dance played out on a different set.
Steering your Ray Gun(dam)
Combat success in games like Override: Mech City Brawl is largely influenced by how you handle the hulking lump of metal beneath your feet. Override: Mech City Brawl gets a grip with a good range of keyboard and controller support, making it accessible to both fighting fans and traditional mechwarriors alike. I found that as a brawler, Override: Mech City Brawl works best with a controller in hand and even manages to feel surprisingly realistic. This might be a strange thing to say about a game where giant robots can be found busting each other to bits or defending the world against alien threats. However, The Balance Inc do a fantastic job instilling a sense of mass to these motorized monsters.
While movement in Override: Mech City Brawl is generally accessible, using the analog controller sticks to stomp around, even the nimblest bots still can feel like a hulking monolith. Where games like Platinum’s Transformers Devastation are a ballet of destruction, Override’s mechs do not flow effortlessly between combos. Instead, moving these exosuits around the countryside takes time and can sometimes feel quite linear. Left kick, right kick, left punch, and right punch are also mapped to their own individual triggers, making every attack a very deliberate action. A shield, dodge, and special moves compliment this arsenal, giving each mech its own flavor of carnage. It all seems like a very deliberate design choice by The Balance Inc, and the result is a game full of mechs that move with a deliberate purpose and a particular rhythm.
For anybody interested in something fast and fluid you might be better served by Platinum’s homage to my favorite Autobots, but The Balance Inc’s approach has its own advantages. A granular control scheme like this feeds into a nuanced strategy. Every action has its own consequence. Attacking an enemy generates heat and must be appropriately managed, while more troublesome alien entities require players to master the game’s counter-attack system.
Individual limb control also feels like a natural accompaniment to the game’s co-op mode. If you have ever wondered how the Power Rangers got along inside their Mega Zord, then the option to add co-pilots probably is going give you a feel for it. It will likely leave you a little bamboozled too. Co-op is, however, incredibly fun. By splitting control of an individual mech’s limbs across several pilots, Override: Mech City Brawl creates a game mode that is unique and utterly perplexing. While players can jump into online vs, ranked matches, brawls, and local split-screen PvP, I encourage you to grab a co-pilot and find out if you are more Super Sentai or Darling in the Franxx.
This is far from the last moment of madness that infects Override: Mech City Brawl. Mechs might feel satisfyingly authentic when stomping around Switzerland but this range of 12 colorful combatants each has their own outrageous personality. If Crystal’s massive heart hammer or Metagekon’s neon death breath aren’t enough, you get to wield a flamethrower. It’s not just flamethrowers either. Mech City Override’s progression system unlocks access to deploy weapon packs of varying ferocity. The result is huge metal dragons and cat bot screaming around a cityscape with laser swords, shotguns, and the odd crowbar. It’s ridiculous but fantastical so.
Weapon packs are not the only progression system that Override: Mech City Brawl has to keep players involved. The single player story involves a plethora of upgrades and unlocks as pilots carry out ground missions. Research points are awarded that allow players to unlock new technology upgrades. Modifications which drop can be slotted and provide additional benefits, such as generating less heat, shorter cooldowns, and dealing even more damage. A range of cosmetic skins for the roster of mechs are also available as stage rewards. In every circumstance, progression rewards are unlocked simply by playing the game. Override Mech City Brawl does not indulge in loot boxes, cash shop items, or wallet gouging. Just play the game, unlock upgrades and cool cosmetics by getting good. Outside of appeasing my Otaku sensibilities, this reward structure has to be one of the most satisfying things about Override: Mech City Brawl.
The Full and Franxx Truth
While I found leaping around Tokyo with a laser sword and crushing aliens under foot cathartic, Override: Mech City Brawl is not the perfect game. I mentioned earlier that combat has a very deliberate rhythm to it. This means that, in general, mechs can descend into close quarters combat with little room to extend distance or quickly close. Additionally, the rhythm of combat is less frantic than dedicated roster fighters, meaning it may not be to everyone’s taste.
Anybody looking to take their combat mech online may also have a slightly sporadic rhythm to matches. While it is impressive that The Balance Inc included several online combat scenarios, finding players can, at times, prove difficult, with community numbers still growing towards that critical mass at present. Thankfully the plethora of solo and local play modes more than make up for this. Check out Override: Mech City Brawl on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One now.