MechAssault was a Third-Person Shooter Mecha Game developed by Day 1 Studios and published by Microsoft for the Xbox in November of 2002. MechAssault was initiated when Denny Thorley of Day 1 Studios approached Jon Kimmich of Microsoft about developing an original BattleTech game built from the ground up to support console play.
The game is set in the late 31st Century of the BattleTech universe, sometime after the Word of Blake occupation of Earth in 3058. The Player Character is an unnamed MechWarrior of the elite Wolf's Dragoons mercenary company. Together with Major Natalia Kerensky and Lieutenant Foster, the Mechwarrior has been sent to investigate the cessation of communication on the Periphery world of Helios. When they get there, their Drop Ship is shot down and they discover that the planet has been occupied by the militant fanatics of the Word of Blake jihad. The team must salvage new gear, fight off the Blakeists and find out why they're on Helios in the first place.
A sequel, MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf, was released on December 28, 2004. It picks up right where the first game left off, with the heroes recuperating on the planet Dante. The Blakeists soon make a return, in search of the MacGuffin that the team found in the first game. They soon meet up with a Pirate Girl whose Jump Ship can take them to other planets, so they can pursue the Blakeists and find more MacGuffins. This installment added the ability to get out of your 'Mech and into other 'Mechs, as well as battle tanks, VTOLs, and Powered Armor.
Both games featured online multiplayer over Xbox Live in the form of modes like Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. The second game also had a persistent "Conquest" mode in which players battled for control of territories over the course of many matches.
There was also an installment on the Nintendo DS, MechAssault: Phantom War. It is unrelated story-wise to the Xbox games, instead set many years later after the collapse of the HPG Network and starring a named protagonist, Mechwarrior Vallen Price. It was less well-received than the Xbox games, due to a lack of multiplayer and issues with the controls.
This game provides examples of:
- Action Girl: Major Natalia Kerensky, your commanding officer, at least, she's supposed to be. She ends up being more of a Badass in Distress. She's a competent VTOL pilot if nothing else. You can change your character into a woman in the second game's multiplayer game modes. Phantom War introduces a female mech pilot as the Player Character, and she kicks as much ass as the previous male mech pilot from Lone Wolf.
- Alpha Strike: An ability of all assault class mechs (barring the Ragnarok and Ymir) in the sequel. Alpha Strikes are essentially like Plasma PPCs, except much bigger and deadlier; strong enough to One-Hit KO almost every mech in the game and the few mechs that can survive it will be nearly dead.
- Animal Mecha: Averted in the 1st game, but the following games have you take on giant bug-like mechs. For example, the 2nd game has a Giant Spider mech boss, and Phantom War pits you against a scorpion-shaped mech.
- Awesome, but Impractical: The flamethrower that the Stiletto and Star Adder are equipped with can quickly melt through a mech's armor in just a few seconds as if it they were made of tinfoil, but unfortunately it's often a double-edged sword for the Stiletto mech since, unlike the Star Adder which has a larger heatsink system and can retain the flow of flames for longer periods, it quickly overheats the Stiletto's heatsink systems when used for prolonged periods, not to mention having to get uncomfortably-close to a mech to use the flamethrower effectively of course.
- Bottomless Magazines: Your weapons have unlimited shots unless you've upgraded them with a Power-Up. When that runs out, the weapon will revert to this state.
- Boss in Mook Clothing: Enemy mechs can be this, especially when you're fighting multiple ones at once.
- Canon Discontinuity: "Considered apocryphal", to quote the BattleTech wiki. This is in line with the policy of BattleTech canon in general, wherein any inconsistencies are considered to be ComStar deliberately screwing with the records.
- Charged Attack: PPCs work this way as opposed to a cool-down as seen in the MechWarrior series, where the longer the PPCs are charged, the stronger they get; ditto with their Plasma counterparts in the sequel, but they trade a fraction of damage in favor of better tracking and faster charge speed. The Warhammer Missiles (possibly Arrow IVs) are unusual examples of this trope, where charging them affects the range and duration of the missiles rather than damage. Either way, the damage is still stupidly strong, no matter how long you charge it. The Alpha Strike works just like the Plasma PPCs, except they're way more powerful.
- Cool Plane: The second game has player-usable VTOL aircraft, armed with missiles and able to pick up and carry a variety of objects. This comes into play more so in the multiplayer, where they can carry bombs.
- Covers Always Lie: Based on its color scheme, the Mech on the cover of the first game is a Cougar, which most certainly does not have a PPC in its arsenal. Which is an odd choice, since the Puma, treated in this game as a variant loadout of the Cougar chassis, does.
- Cover Identity Anomaly: One mission in MechAssault has the player pilot a captured enemy Thor into a Word of Blake base to download some intel from their computers. The disguise almost works, until one of the Blake officers asks you to transmit your ID code or be fired upon. Fortunately, they wait just long enough for Foster to download the intel.
- Death from Above: If you have a 'Mech with jump jets, it's possible to damage an enemy 'Mech by repeatedly landing on it from above, to where you will do enough damage to kill it if you land on it enough times. Sure, there are much more practical ways to defeat your enemies, but it's still possible and amusing nonetheless.
- Defeat Equals Explosion: Even more so than the MechWarrior games. Every mech that dies explodes in a violent explosion and can easily cause a massive chain reaction if many others (even you) are near it.
- Dismantled MacGuffin: The Data Core found at the end of the first game proves to be one of a set of five, created by Jerome Blake, the founder of the ComStar company. Exactly what they contain is unclear, but they are used several times to supercharge current technology. This later becomes a plot point in the game's sequel.
- The Engineer: Lieutenant Foster. He's a bit of The Ditz, but like many technicians in The 'Verse, he can turn a pile of molten slag into a working BattleMech in time to save your bacon.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The protagonist is almost always just called "Mechwarrior."
- Failed a Spot Check: Lt. Foster gets called on this during Mission 17 ("Payback") in the first game. After you seemingly destroy a convoy carrying the Word of Blake's second-in-command, Foster suddenly picks up a second convoy. Major Natalia replies with this line:Natalia: Foster, when you looked at the sensors the first time, you missed a group of massive walking tanks?!
- Featureless Protagonist: The main character of the original game. Averted in the sequel, which has him as a male Heroic Mime. His eyes are hidden by a visor, though you can see them in the cover art.
- Final Boss: The Ragnarok mech and possibly the Doomsday Drill in the first game. For the former, not only does it have Gauss Cannons, four LRMs, and a weapon called the Magma Gun, it also has an energy shield that nullifies all damage. Later becomes Boss in Mook Clothing when the final level of the second game has you fight multiple ones. Speaking of the second game, it has the half-built Uber Mech, a legless monstrosity of a Battle Mech with two giant Plasma PPCs, a flamethrower as a Breath Weapon, raining mortars from its back, and Eye Beams that melt your Battlesuit's health. Phantom War has Dante using the Mech in the game's cover, then uses a Battlesuit in the final phase.
- Giant Equals Invincible: Harmless infantry enemies are excused in that they're members of a fanatical cult who aren't afraid to die.
- Hold the Line: The level "Holding the Line" in the second game. You use a Sentry Gun to hold off incoming tanks and light mechs, but eventually things get hairy and you have to fall back to your Drop Ship - where Foster has prepped the Star Adder you recently salvaged.
- Humongous Mecha: Ultimately the game's premise, since it's based on the BattleTech tabletop game series.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The second game's levels all have names.
- Kick Them While They Are Down: Powered-up gauss rifle and autocannon shots have a chance to knock over an enemy 'Mech (except for any of the Assault 'Mechs); they will be totally helpless for a few seconds before getting back to their feet, giving you a moment to rain down fire upon them while they're vulnerable. Getting a knockdown (or getting knocked down yourself) can often turn the tide of a particular engagement.
- Lethal Lava Land: The setting for the last six missions in the first game.
- Lost Technology: The Data Cores likely contain Star League-era tech, given the fact they were created by the founder of ComStar.
- Made of Explodium: Mechs, Power Armor, Tanks, Buildings, Cars, Spaceships. It's guaranteed that a lot of things are going to explode throughout your play-through.
- Made of Iron: Whatever those data cores are made out of, they sure will survive. The final one takes this up to eleven when it survives a freaking JumpShip getting dropped on it and doesn't even look scratched.
- Mythology Gag: Via the games' variants system, Clan 'Mechs that appear in the roster will use their Inner Sphere reporting name for the basic form, and their Clan name for the alternate loadout, such as the Thor and Summoner being treated as wildly different loadouts on the same chassis. Others will use the names of completely different 'Mechs such as the Puma variant of the Cougar that's built around a single PPC, reminiscent of the Puma/Adder Prime.
- The Nicknamer: Natalia, who has names for the Mechwarrior and Foster. "Tiger" for the former, "Briefing Boy" for the latter.
- Overheating: As in MechWarrior, weapons generate heat when fired, with Energy Weapons generating much more than ballistics or missiles. Unlike in Mechwarrior, however, overheating your 'Mech will not force a shutdown or blow it up - you will simply be unable to fire until the heat meter drops out of the red.
- Powered Armor: Seen in both games, but pilotable in the second. Clan-type Elementals appear, as well as an experimental suit created by Foster with the help of a Data Core. In addition to a nasty mortar attack that can one-shot tanks, it has a "NeuroHack" feature that facilitates the hijacking of enemy 'Mechs.
- Power-Up: The most visible indication of this game's arcade-style nature, in contrast to MechWarrior. Green health pickups abound, as well as blue, red and yellow ammunition pickups, which power up your energy, missile and ballistic weapons, respectively.
- Press X to Die: In the multiplayer Grinder mode if you play with a friend you are able to walk around as a regular human. Press a certain button? Ludicrous Gibs!
- Press X to Not Die: The hijack mechanic has you do this to eject the enemy pilot. It's also used to operate consoles while on foot.
- Purple Is Powerful: Energy weapons turn purple after getting fully upgraded, and the second game introduces Plasma PPCs, which fire black and purple energy orbs that home onto enemies, along with the Alpha Strike: a devastating Charged Attack similar to Plasma PPCs, except they kill almost any Battle Mech in one hit, and the few that survive it will be dying. The Alpha Strike is exclusive to assault mechs, such as the Atlas, Prometheus, Blood Asp, and Star Adder, Battle Mechs that are considered by many to be high-tier, although the mech's weapons have to be fully upgraded to use the Alpha Strike and firing it significantly overheats the mech for a while. Also in the second game is the Spider Tank boss, which not only fires giant Plasma PPCs, it also fires a purple Wave-Motion Gun as one of its strongest attacks.
- Real Song Theme Tune: MechAssault 2 has "Getting Away with Murder" by Papa Roach. That song is also used for the awesome Spider Tank boss fight. The Final Boss has "Right Now" by Korn, although it's the clean version of the song.
- Rule of Symbolism: Invoked by Foster when trying to figure out where the last two Data Cores are. He discovers that the star systems where each of the five were hidden form a constellation of the ComStar logo.
- Run or Die: You get a neat little dose of this during the first part of the "Size Matters" mission in the first game as you're in an Elemental suit. Fortunately, you get to have the enemy have their own taste of this when you steal an Atlas to use against them in part 2, even getting some very sweet payback against the enemy 'Mech that was hounding you all throughout part 1 of the mission though the field is quickly back to being balanced after the Word of Blake forces properly retaliate after a short while later.Foster: Sir, your 'Mech playmate is back!
- Scary Scorpions: In Phantom War, the first boss is a giant scorpion mech that fires MIRV grenades at you, complete with a stinger tail that can trip or overheat your mech.
- Sequel Hook: How the second game ends. However, the creator (Day One Studios) was bought out before a third game could be made.
- Shout-Out: There's a bunch in the level names in the second game.
- One of the last levels is an arena battle. The name of this level? "Gladiator has Nothing on Us."
- One cinematic is called "We're not in Kansas anymore."
- Another is I Hate Snakes.
- Yet another is Sending out an SOS to the world.
- The Final Boss is an extremely advanced, incomplete prototype mech that's so new its legs haven't been finished yet.
- SkeleBot 9000: The Final Boss of the second game is what looks to be an unholy fusion of an Atlas and the human reaper embryo from Mass Effect 2, and it's supercharged with all five Data Cores. It looks scarier than it is, though - the strategy to defeat it involves Attack Its Weak Point and the aforementioned hijack mechanic. Then again, it is only about 1/3 finished, with no pelvis or legs. Presumably if it had been finished, it would have been an absolute unmitigated terror on the battlefield.
- Slow Laser: Pulse laser shots travel like your average "laser" projectile, while lasers shoot visibly-moving beams. Both types are, at least, as fast as bullets.
- Tanks for Nothing: Enemy tanks are really only a threat in large groups, though the Rommel tanks you can drive are more effective. They sometimes come equipped with "Null Sig" tech and have a zoom feature on their cannons.
- Spider Tank : The memorable boss fight in the second game against a HUGE variant. Much smaller versions of that boss are encountered near the end of said game.
- Too Dumb to Live: It's a really, really bad idea to get out of your 'Mech or other vehicle if there are any enemies around. Naturally, you HAVE to in certain areas. You have demolition charges, and enemies cannot see you unless you're literally right in front of them, so it's not as bad as it sounds.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can kill random groups of infantry who are Too Dumb to Live in many ways: Machine Guns, fully upgraded missiles or just walk right over them.
- Voice with an Internet Connection: Both Kerensky and Foster.