Closing out the year of amazing releases in video games, there was a plethora of things to love from all types of gamers. Back in August, FromSoftware brought back to life a very old, but highly beloved IP that is of “Armored Core” with the sixth installment. In “Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon” it revitalized the love of fighting enemies in gigantic mechs. While it being a fairly challenging game, it still was kinetic and a lot of fun, along with a whole sort of customizable options. So now we are in December and developers at D3Publisher has released their own mech combat title “Custom Mech Wars.” At first glance, this feels a bit late to the party, but I couldn’t help but be curious if they had something special up their sleeve to really compete in this niche space.
Stepping into this world, I found myself thrust into a futuristic dystopia, an intricate world tightly governed by powerful corporations where the omnipresence of machines defines the very fabric of existence. As the protagonist, a seasoned pilot embedded within a specialized unit tasked with investigating the alarming phenomenon of rogue mechs, my journey unfolded against the promising yet imperfect canvas of the game’s narrative. The storyline, while brimming with potential, struggled to maintain its grip on my attention due to a pervasive sense of lackluster writing and uninspiring plot developments. Between missions, an excess of dialogue inundated the story and sucked up a lot of time, seemingly inserted with a heavy hand, as if attempting to artificially extend the gameplay experience. This surplus of discourse really failed to infuse depth into this tale and I often just had to skip a lot of it.
Traversing the vast landscapes in my personalized mech, the third-person action gameplay unfolded, drawing inevitable comparisons to the newer Armored Core installment. I’m sorry to say, “Custom Mech Wars” stumbled in its attempt to replicate the seamless finesse of its counterpart, presenting a gameplay experience that felt somewhat janky and unpolished. The struggle for precision in my attacks persisted, forcing an overreliance on the auto-lock feature to ensure my accuracy, there could be some potential in the combat dynamics, but I was struggling to have the key ingredient to any game, fun.
At the core of the gameplay lay the repetitive task of dispatching waves of enemies, a mission that, despite the variety in enemy mechs, grew monotonous due to a notable absence of difficulty. While the multiplayer aspect can inject a unique dimension into the gameplay, the lackluster core experience overshadowed the potential joy of engaging with friends, if I can’t have fun on my own, why would I want to subject this misery upon my friends as well? As missions were completed, a trove of parts awaited me, promising an extensive journey into the realm of upgrading and customizing my mech. For a game called “Custom Mech Wars” they at least got this aspect down right. The allure of tailoring my war machine to align with my distinctive playstyle does have its appeal. Yet, the overarching lack of challenge paradoxically diminished the incentive to invest time in crafting a superior mech, rendering the customization feature more of an embellishment than a vital gameplay element.
The narrative’s lackluster tone found its mirror image in the uninspired maps and level designs, bereft of the intricate details that elevate gaming landscapes to memorable heights. Despite the tantalizing potential for customization, the overall experience failed to provide sufficient justification for delving deep into the intricacies of mech crafting. Having said that, this might position the game as a potential entry point for younger gamers, unburdened by the discerning eye for these issues, finding unbridled joy in the sheer spectacle of mechs obliterating everything in their formidable path.
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