I think the title is self-explanatory.
There seem to be about 500 different mech combat games for the PS2, and I want to know where to start.
The experience I’m looking for is basically this:
The mission starts and my mech powers up. There is that oh-so-satisfying grinding metal cacophony as the machine lurches out of its powered down hunch and begins thundering across the twilight of an alien landscape. My heads up display warbles with useless information as the soundtrack’s percussion line begins to kick in. It complements the heavy thud of my massive armored feet rather nicely.
As my mech leaves a trail of devastated fauna (or maybe just compacted sand) in its wake, a small red blip appears on my tactical display. Powering up my weapons systems, I twist my mech’s Torso and get a good look at the rapidly approaching enemy mech. It looks… crunchy.
It moves in, peppering me with missile fire. I wait it out, lining up my shot as my mech rocks back and forth with the hail of small explosions. The pilot tries to skirt me at an oblique angle as I inch closer. He peppers me with another salvo, but I advance without hesitation. And then, I get my shot. Squeezing the fire button, a hail of autocannon rounds fly through the alien sky, ripping the enemy’s cockpit to shreds. Vaporizing the pilot’s compartment, I continue firing, triggering a reactor meltdown in his unfortunate machine. The enemy mech explodes in a hail of jagged metal chunks.
Turning my mech back to my original course, stomp through the wreckage, ready to proceed with my primary objective.
And yeah, I realized that I just described Mechwarrior 2. But fuck you, I’m not setting up Windows Virtual Machine to run that again.
So, where do I start?
Armoured Core and Z.O.E. are the premier mech. combat game series on the PS2 but have a heavy anime styling. Armoured Core is a little more sim-like, as the mechs have weight and are a little slow.
If they were released in the US, R.A.D. and Remote Control Dandy SF provide interesting takes on the mech. combat genre. You play from the perspective of a pilot, but on the ground indirectly controlling the mech. Controlling a pilot controlling the mech. certainly makes for some interesting control schemes.
The Melbourne House Transformers game is supposedly good.
I don’t know of any mech. games for the PS2 that play like the MechWarrior games. They mostly play like slightly more ponderous action games. GunGriffon Blaze is the closest I can think of.
There aren’t that many PS2 mech. games as far as I know, so don’t take my word for it.
Addendum: A little research told me that Remote Control Dandy is somewhat like Steel Battalion, without the giant control set-up. Edge liked it, Famitsu liked it [32/40] and ntsc-uk liked it. Import-only, though.
I had a similar craving a bit ago, and ended up trying ZOE, Armored Core, Transformers and Battle Engine Aquila. From your description Armored Core is probably the closest, as it combines mech building with furious mech-on-mech battles … and that’s pretty much all it does. All the others had a different feel, playing more as a third-person-shooter rather than simmy mech destruction.
I found it a little too actiony though, and never hit what I wanted until I did the 360 + Chromehounds solution. But it may do the trick, and there’s so many iterations of it out there that you should be able to pick one up cheap.
If it wasn’t for the occasional mission where you constantly get interrupted during battle, it would be great.
Z.O.E. is super overated. Also it doesn’t sound like what he’s looking for, as it’s more a flying/shooter game than a mech game, despite flying a robot.
RAD it is until I bite the bullet for the 360.
Robots do, indeed, motherfucking kill people.
Z.O.E. is definitely not what you’re looking for: but if you want it anyway, get ZOE2. Way better.
RAD is really funny. The cutscenes and voice acting is bad in ways undescribable. It is like watching MST3K and then playing a giant robot game.
But there is simply too much talking. You’ll spend most of your time listening to the silly story.
I’ve heard good things about R.A.D but never played it. Armored Core has been going downhill in the last versions. The controls are still pretty sloppy, but the create a mech feature is pretty good.
Zoe isn’t really a mech game, it’s more of an action game with mechs. Besides equipping weapons your not really building a mech.
I highly reccomend checking out some of the Armored Core games as they seem to contain many of the features you are looking for, nice size of scale, a HUD with lots of bars and numbers, really cool mechs and weapons, speed, a pretty decent soundtrack. The obvious problem would be the controls, however if you can get around those the series is some good fun. I reccomend starting out with either SL:AC or whatever one of the new ones is, though I remember everything since Nexus as a little less fun.
Another choice would be S.L.A.I. by Konami. I haven’t played it, but I’ve heard that it’s pretty fun. It’s the sequel to Phantom Crash and the game revolves around battling other mechs in an arena. I believe it also has online play.
I have a sentimental fondness for Iron Soldier 3. Like Iron Soldier 1 and 2 (which were Jaguar exclusives), it’s a fairly slow-paced, almost strategic urban smash-em-up. There are occasional enemy mechs, but most of the time you’re stepping on tanks, shooting down planes, and reducing city blocks to rubble with your bare claws. It really delivers on the MECH BIG, MECH SMASH type of gameplay.
I should caveat that this is a PS1 game, but it was released at the tail end of the PS1’s life cycle, so it does look pretty good.
Not quite what you’re looking for, I’m sure, but Front Mission 4 is a great mecha combat game. The thing is, it’s a square-grid TBS, so no clunking around with a telephoto FP view of a devastated cityscape or desperate wrestling with the controller to target a fast-moving helicopter… Anyhow, as a TBS with RPG elements goes, it’s pretty good.
On the other hand, the opening cinematic is to die for, beautiful 60 seconds or so of really high quality mecha combat animation, strangely at odds with the south-park-like character animation in the cut-scenes.