By Kieron Gillen on July 4th, 2008 at 12:33 pm.
RPS likes robots. Of course, saying “RPS likes Robots” when introing a game like PreVA is guaranteed to prick the temper of at least one mecha fan in the comments thread in a, “They’re not robots! They’re enormous exoskeletons,” way. Which is exactly why we’d say “We like Robots” in the first place. You will learn, mecha-fan, you will learn.
Anyway – PreVa’s an indie giant Mecha game with a splash of Terra Nova which has just released a demo. About 200Mb, which you can get from here. And being a PC mecha game, it’s something of a novelty. Some impressions beneath the cut.
Well, it’s not exactly great. It makes a brave shot of trying to get the slickness of the games which inspired it – short, interspatial cut-scenes try and set the scene, but only work in a Nineties kind of way. In fact, the talking heads aspect is one of the main things which reminds me of lost-Looking Glass classic Terra Nova.
The other two being Jetpacks – which are also a mecha trope, admittedly – and the fact you’re in charge of a small squad of chums who are off to fight other suited beings.
The latter’s the biggest problem, at least with a Mecha-Game. There’s little sense that these are enormous suits. They feel like spacesuits, even to the way they control. They’re nimble, turning on a dime and able to walk as quickly forward as backwards. Similarly, the scenery isn’t built to a scale which suggests our enormousness. Hell, if you didn’t see the cutscene with a tiny man being locked inside your ship, you’d almost certainly assume you were just a spacesuit guy.
Get past though, and it’s some quick-paced space-blasting. There appear to be dozens of mecha to pilot, though they’re not really in the demo – I only have a basic machinegun and force-blades one on the first level, and the neat chaps like the hover-craft were out of bounds, and would clearly feel a lot more like the standard. It’s not complicated, but the alternate picking off with machine guns, hiding behind your shield and manouvering behind an engaged enemy to tear them apart with a hot energy blade has a certain charm. I don’t get to tear people apart with hot energy blades enough, mark my words.
At which point we hit the biggest problem – the demo crashed three times. First two times I couldn’t work out whether it was because I’d completed the level or died (the latter reveals another problem – there’s little sense of damage to your craft. It took me until my third go to locate what I thought was my health meter, and even then I’m not sure). Third time, I decided it was neither, and was just unstable on my machine when you reached the base.
Worth playing to see if it works better on yours? If you’re a real mecha devotee, you’ve already clicked. For everyone else… no, not really. Though it awakens a hunger for some heavy metal action on the PC again. I’d kill for a Cyberton-set Transformers MMO, randomly…