The Switch port of Modus Games 2018 PC release casts you into the role of a pilot at the helm of a customisable mech rampaging through an array of fully destructible environments. You have your pick of a mechanical menagerie consisting of roughly a dozen unique models ranging from Incan-inspired golems to giant robot fish to your standard Gundam and Megazord clones. Unique weapon loadouts swords, shields, guns and various perks allow for further customisation of your battlebot. Though in the thick of combat itself, the wide array of options at your disposal all begin to feel rather similar.
Override’s story consists of you orbiting in a space-station hubworld where you’re dropped in to various locations around the globe to beat down gangs of generic kaiju space monsters that have begun invading Earth. The story mode itself is shockingly short and can easily be completed in about two hours, even at a leisurely pace.
The invasion locations are all visually unique and well-composed. You and your mech battle together in varied locales from the frozen Siberian tundra to an Egyptian desert to a glittering Japanese metropolis. Despite the variety of environments, there are no unique effects associated with any location. Mechs don’t move more slowly in the frigid temperatures of the Russian steppes nor does the games overheat mechanic accumulate more rapidly in the scorching desert sun of Egypt and Morocco. All environmental differences are purely cosmetic.
The local terrain exhibits a similar dearth of unique effects. Water barely rises above your mech’s ankles, and stomping on the smallest duplex feels exactly the same as barreling through a skyscraper. To compare the buildings to cardboard models would be inaccurate, as cardboard models would offer more resistance than even the most imposing constructions in Mech City Brawl.
The byline “City Brawl” is also a bit of a misnomer. A more appropriate moniker would be “fenced-in abandoned portion of a city that feels more like a predetermined arena than a populated city under attack.” A cross-hatched blue barrier impedes your movements any time you stray too far from an area the game deems appropriate for metal carnage.
Override’s sound effects and soundtrack do their job quite well. Mechs stomping about, buildings falling, and punches connecting all sound as you’d expect them to, whether via external speakers or in portable mode. Override’s soundtrack is rousing and orchestral, though a tad generic. The tunes suit giant mech combat quite well, though you won’t be humming them in the shower any time soon.
Visuals and character models are crisp, sleek and original. There are occasional moments of clipping but few to any framerate dips. Given the whimsical design of many of the mech models (the robot fish comes to mind), it’s understandable that Override takes a lighthearted approach to giant mech combat. Unfortunately, this approach ends up conveying the impression that there’s no consequence whatsoever to a city’s destruction. Fights would feel more consequential and less generic if there were civilians that needed protecting, and where every row of buildings you or your enemy collapsed caused hundreds of casualties.
Indeed, if any sort of civilian casualty metric existed within Override, almost every campaign mission would have you causing more damage to your city than the invading space monsters.
The controls of Mech City Brawl are thoroughly clunky and often unresponsive. The timing of button presses for combinations feels as though it changes after each execution. Punches, kicks, aerial stomps and weapon swings all trigger the same bland floating damage numerals. Despite their unique appearance and array of customisable perks and weapon options, each mechs playstyle begins to blend together to the point where actual gameplay differences between them seem negligible.
For lumbering behemoths, the mechs of Override are far too spry and move far too nimbly. As an example, the animation where your mech regains its footing after being knocked down involves it springing up like a jack-in-the-box. The lack of a sluggish Dark Souls-esque dodge and recovery roll in such a situation feels like an extreme oversight in a game so focused on tactical combination-based combat. Players hoping for a stompy slugfest between ungainly machines and hulking monsters will be disappointed
With a laughably short story mode, It’s clear that the focus of Override is meant to be its multiplayer combat. Override’s multiplayer modes are all beset by long wait times queuing up for matches. This is likely attributable to the small player-base that Override currently possesses on the Switch and is no fault of the game itself. With this in mind, players hoping to indulge in Override’s multiplayer experience should expect long wait times before entering a match.
In terms of features unique to Switch, Override lacks any motion control support. This is understandably out of reach for a small indie studio such as Modus Games given the production costs for such a feature, but its addition would’ve made the title stand out far more than it currently does. Having a mech throw a punch with a sideways Joy-Con a la Arms would be an amazing upgrade to the otherwise bland button-mashing gameplay.
Override: Mech City Brawl (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)
The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.
If you’re a Switch owner, there are better mech games, and there are better fighting games. Override is a game best overlooked.