The original Mech Assault was one of the first big hits for the XBox system. Borrowing from the old Battle Tech franchise, the original game was an excellent shoot-em-up that boasted destructable environments (ever take down a city one building at a time?) and first-rate action. Though repetitive, it was never boring, and I still play it from time to time. This sequel offers much of what made the original so much fun, and adds some nice new features that make this a slight cut above its predecessor.
For one, the designers borrowed an idea from the GTA series (or maybe from Metal Arms): Hijack an enemy's mech (or other vehicle) and use it against the opposition. Unfortunately, one can't pick just any enemy to hijack; the game's plot requires you to jack specific mechs or vehicles at certain points of the game. Granted, it's still fun to be able to sneak up on an enemy and steal his mech, but it would have been more fun to be able to do it at random (a la Metal Arms). That would have added a twist to the gameplay. Still, it's a welcome addition.
Like the original, the sequel requires you to follow a certain path: defend the Icarus, destroy enemy bases and equipment, and defend innocents from the marauding Mechs of the Word of Blake (yes, they're back). The unusual technology captured from the Word at the end of the original plays a key role in the plot, and the enemies you face are more difficult to kill as a result. Even low-level mechs are a little more challenging than before. And, there are the bosses. Mech Assault featured just one major boss, whereas Mech Assault 2 features multiple powerful bosses that are reasonably tough. I won't give away too much, but the first boss you face--a gargantuan spider-like mech--is easily one of the coolest things to grace any XBox game in a while. (To give you an idea of what it's like, think of the Scarab in Halo 2). Many of the original mechs are back, and one thing I like about the new mechs in this game is the greater combination of speed and power than before. For example: in the original, Thor mechs offered sheer destructive power, but moved so slowly that I sometimes found my thumbs aching after a showdown with multiple enemies. The new mechs offer both greater firepower and ease of movement--a definite (and welcome) plus.
While Mech Assault featured excellent graphics, with an emphasis on graphically realistic building destruction, this game offers sharper environmental design, more detailed mechs, and some genuinely awesome effects: When a mech explodes, the detonation now causes a ripple-like warp effect in the immediate area. The greater emphasis on these type of effects comes at the expense of some others: You can still destroy buildings and other structures, but the ensuing collapse is less satisfactory. Like the original, the destructable environments offer a tactical advantage--you can still drop a building on top of an unsuspecting enemy. Cutscenes and other graphical extras are well-designed and animated. It definitely showcases how much better console graphics have become in just a few short years.
Overall, this a solid sequel to the original, and is recommended.