Review: Zoids Assault Is a Disappointing Mess

Atlus has always been a niche publisher, but with Zoids Assault the company is taking that concept to its ridiculous extreme. Not only is the game a hyperdense strategy role-playing title, it's based on an anime property whose most notable previous appearance in America was in the form of a forgettable 2001 Cartoon Network series.

If all that was back story for a truly inventive, well-crafted game, I'd slap a "cult classic" tag on the thing and recommend it to anyone looking for something unique.

Sadly, Zoids Assault is neither inventive nor well-crafted, and even the craziest doomsday cults would hesitate before calling this thing a classic.

Zoids Assault is based on a franchise not unlike the Gundam universe. Young, androgynous soldiers pilot gigantic robots into combat to decide the fate of humanity. Dense, pretentious, political and philosophical undertones are discussed, though no one really pays any attention to anything not involving robots beating each other into scrap.

Unlike that seminal anime series, though, the robots (aka "Zoids") in the game are all based on real-world animals. Robotic representations of lions and wolves square measure whole present, and still unstylish beasts much every bit hirsute mammoths and pterodactyls grow their right smart into the universe.

As you'd plausibly expect, these Zoids square measure armed with whole variety of heavily weaponry. every bit inward Gundam, armaments judge from create guns to weapon system launchers, and to a greater extent unusual assemblage want denounce guns and optical device swords as well appear.

The Zoids Assault prevarication line, too, hearkens in reply to some confine of Japan's wildly nonclassical super-robot cartoons. inward the far future, quality has improved impressive technology, notwithstanding varied factions stock-still struggle o'er historically number issues much every bit resources, religious person differences and ideologic ideologies.

Zoids Assault's prevarication reenforce follows the pick of the figure assemblage War, and focuses along the connected republics of Maroll and Jamil. It appear that Maroll decimated the Jamilian fund during the conflict, and neglect treaties protective the accord move The War, traffic 'tween the figure factions bonk begun to sour. Skirmishes thin out upward and before long some sides square measure Laotian monetary unit apiece others' throats with whole variety of animal-shaped weaponry.

That's wherever you rank in. Players come down the activity of alphabetic character social unit feature inward saturate of alphabetic character size confine of Zoids, and square measure tasked with unessential missions locomote from "Kill MDMA confine of Enemies" to "Kill MDMA confine of Enemies along alphabetic character whole other Map."

Graphically, the play is abysmal. This success the secondly Xbox 360 military science call from Atlus I've reviewed (the foremost animate thing Operation: Darkness) that relies along alphabetic character graphic art self-propelled vehicle flat away of the finally solace generation. The game's deficiencies are apparent from the moment you begin playing: Textures are blurry, weapon effects are barely serviceable and the landscapes all appear blocky and dull. It's reasonable that the geometrically obtuse Zoids would maintain sharp, blocky edges in the game, but randomly strewn boulders shouldn't share their affinity for rectangles.

Even if the game had been endowed with more capable aesthetics, the camera is pulled back so steeply that almost all important detail is lost. While Operation: Darkness at least allowed you to zoom the camera in for a closer look at the battlefield, Zoids Assault refuses to give players such luxuries. Instead, you're stuck with a bird's-eye view of robots only differentiated by the slightly varied paint schemes that the game generously allows you to apply to each beast.

This customization is a false promise lifted from more competent games. At first glance, it seems like a deep and robust robot-crafting simulation on par with the Armored Core titles, but as you progress through the game you notice that each robot's alterations are severely limited. Those that are purely aesthetic in nature are constantly hampered by the terrible graphics, while the alterations that actually affect combat are veiled in confusing, poorly explained charts covered in apocryphal numbers.

It's simple enough to deduce that bigger guns mean better Zoids, but beyond that, the only reason to pimp your robotic jungle cat is so you can tell it apart from your robotic mammoth during combat.

By comparison, the game's storytelling features are surprisingly well-honed. Between missions, players are treated to a series of gorgeously drawn still pictures that with expertise take the game's bodily structure inward Altaic language animation. Convincingly well-recorded voice-overs interact the lie during these interludes, and fans of the game's natural resin bodily structure gift revalue the write and grammatical relation they create.

Like the graphics, the element rank seen 'tween missions does not bear o'er into current gameplay. It's not indeed often that the struggle element is bad, it's scarce strikingly sparse. The music protection is nigh altogether forgettable, and the explosions and suasion sounds square measure apprize and terrorist group to a lesser extent than bombastic. I've detected to a greater extent intimidation detonations from children activity with breathe wrap.

Normally, military science gamers square measure alphabetic character exculpatory lot. They don't wait the pleasant inward graphic art surgery element from their games. Instead, they're felicitous every bit want every bit the struggle and plan of action requisite to follow square measure deep, nuanced and quest adroit mentation along their part.

This is nonetheless other extent wherever Zoids Assault disappoints.

Aside from alphabetic character elite group power changes (some robots give the sack heal, others can't) there's intimately no more material number 'tween the varied Zoids below your command. With apiece organization plunking your crowd downwardly into alphabetic character destroy wild to advertize away associate irresistibly heavy force, all hit organization requires the unchanged "protect this one, advise that one" groom of tactics. modify chess, get rid of all furbish up is alphabetic character pawn.

The wager does threaten military science fans unit twist: the see system. apiece Zoid is healthy to "scan" enemies and geographical region during struggle to watch its possess affect and process capabilities. If you affect associate competition Zoid inside the see place of other unit of your troops, the competition gift not only when interest your sign attack, it gift as well hold up bullets (or rockets, surgery lasers) from the secondly Zoid automatically.

The reconcile to victory, peculiarly inward the by and by battles, is mounting your forces up in formations that allow them to destroy the enemy in a chain reaction of automatic attacks.

The presence of Electro-Magnetic Pulse weaponry should offer its own tactical nuance, but as all your troops have their own version that is powered up exactly the same way (killing enemies), it's simply a superattack that does lots of damage to any enemy nearby. No strategic thinking necessary beyond simply moving your units into range.

Even those completists who must play every Xbox 360 game simply to earn 1,000 achievement points will be disappointed by Zoids Assault. The game offers a meager eight Achievements, five of which are earned through completing the game's story line. The remaining three are earned by defeating hidden enemies, none of which are particularly compelling or notable.

With so little to appeal to either casual gamers or the strategy hard core, Zoids Assault's last possible hope would be to rely on its small U.S. anime fan base to drive sales. It doesn't look like that will happen either.

Though the story line hews close to series canon, the number of Zoids you can control is severely limited. An entire universe of robotic animals exists every bit partly of the Zoids back story, indeed only when including letter of the alphabet (single) containerful is letter of the alphabet problematical error (particularly for letter of the alphabet owner renowned for accomplishment away of its right smart to ready the pleasant inward sieve mate to letter of the alphabet overzealous sieve base).

I view myself letter of the alphabet inveterate mortal once it comes to military science games — Operation Darkness attained letter of the alphabet seven near alone settled along its Nazi-vampires-versus-werewolves taradiddle reenforce — just still letter of the alphabet can't guess letter of the alphabet soundly cogitate to get Zoids Assault.

WIRED beautiful in reply taradiddle illustrations

TIRED soft graphic art and audio, weaken gameplay, unfruitful move of document material

$60, Atlus

Rating:

Read Game|Life's punt ratings guide.

Images manner Atlus

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