Have You Played… Battle Engine Aquila?

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

I’d love to play a modern version of Battle Engine Aquila, and I’d be eternally grateful if anyone can tell me if such a thing exists. Each level tasks you with either obliterating or protecting a futuristic army base, which you do from the skies in jet mode or – with a tap of a button – a spider-like tank that blasts foes from the ground.

There was something effortlessly compelling about those transformations. Swooping down behind a line of tanks, transforming mid-air and firing a barrage of rockets before you’d touched the ground could make me feel agile and powerful in a way that few vehicle/mech based games manage.

There was strategy to it, too: on the attack missions, you had to choose which buildings to target first. Shutting down the infantry generating buildings might give your own troops an easier time, while destroying the enemy’s tank factories might eliminate a direct threat to your Battle Engine.

Those Battle Engine’s came in varieties that catered to different playstyles, with some being stronger in the air or on the land, while others had stealth capabilities. I spent most of my time with it in the multiplayer, so I never got to see some of the later models that could only be unlocked by reaching milestones in the campaign. Maybe one day I’ll go searching for them.

12 Comments

  1. gwop_the_derailer says:

    Ah, thanks for reminding me of this. I miss the vehicle-based AA titles of yesteryears.

  2. NuclearSword says:

    Used to play this and Gunmetal all the time on my Xbox; just loved this era of “B Tier” action titles, with those valleys and hills that went on for miles and tons of little destructible buildings and units everywhere. Just so much fun.

    Anyway, it’s not exactly a modern version of this, but the closest thing I can think of that does this kind of gameplay is Warshift. You could check out Warshift: link to store.steampowered.com

  3. blamstokel says:

    Oh man, I literally had a nostalgia wave about this game last week and was looking up old gameplay videos. This was part of my fairly limited game library at the time and I poured many hours into flying around battlefields shooting low-poly buildings to death. I would love to see a modern title like this as well.

    Sky Rogue actually reminded me a lot of the airborne bits of this game and sort of scratched that itch.

  4. Darloth says:

    I have, actually!

    I remember it primarily for being really, really hard and struggling mightily against it (before failing) in the singleplayer campaign.

    Something that has pretty much all of the same things but honestly plays entirely differently is Airmech, where you’re a transforming air or ground mech commanding an army of people pushing against another army of similar people – it’s basically Herzog Zwei, but it doesn’t have any of the feel that Aquila did.

    I think a lot of it would be the first-person perspective, as well as the strange floatiness of the movement… it basically FELT like some sort of semi-alien battlemech, instead of being a big stompy heavy robot, it always felt like it could just drift away on the breeze and so when you pressed the button that made it do just that it somehow felt right.

  5. Mister eX says:

    This was maybe the first new game I’ve played on my first brand new computer in 2003. I remember that later levels got really hard, and you had to try and perfect your “run”, learning what comes next through failing. It was a rush to always try to get ahead of each new problem. Sounds frustrating, but actually quite enjoyable. :)

  6. Sardonic says:

    Played this on the PS2, I loved the concept as all hell, but man was it hard. Had to use cheats to even try to progress, and even that wasn’t always enough.

  7. Jezebeau says:

    The closest thing I can think of is Strike Suit Zero, though it’s entirely space-based and less strategic.

  8. geldonyetich says:

    I remember that I enjoyed Battle Engine Aquila, but not much else. I guess there was a transforming jet robot and I got to blow stuff up. Nuff said, really; what else could I need?

  9. beleester says:

    The best part was when the enemies were big enough for you to land on them. You could land on an enemy battleship, blow it to bits, and then fly away as it sank. Or stand on top of an enemy dropship in midair to destroy it before it could land. There were a few missions that really ran with this concept – one of them gave you no dry land to stand on at all, so you could only recharge your flight by landing on ships, in the middle of a huge naval battle.

  10. Smaug says:

    Such a great co-op game, I have very fond memories of it.

  11. haradaya says:

    I played the demo on PS2, never knew it was on PC as well.

  12. DrazharLn says:

    Divinity Dragon Commander has a similar concept, but you have to manage your mooks.

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