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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Atari / Infogrames

 

Developer

Lost Toys

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q1 2003

 

 

- Very solid action
- Big transforming robots are great
- Good mission variety
- Feels like you’re part of a larger war machine

 

 

- Videogame logic stretches itself even further and can lead to frustration
- Some missions extremely hard

 

 

Review: Halo (XB)

Review: MechAssault (XB)

Review: Gun Metal (XB)

Review: Gears of War 2 (360)

 

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Battle Engine Aquila

Score: 8.3 / 10

 

battle engine aquila xbox review         battle engine aquila xbox review

 

Suspension of disbelief is essential for any gaming experience, but Battle Engine Aquila (BEA) almost pushes the suspension to breaking point.

The battle engine itself is a big transforming mechanized terror that dishes out damage in the air and on the ground. It has a host of powerful weapons and even the ability to accumulate small amounts of enemy fire to unleash a “super shot” that can decimate wide swathes. It’s one of the coolest robot’s I’ve ever piloted but it has the most head-scratching and bizarre limitation. Like the Wicked Witch of the West, the battle engine dissolves (i.e. explodes) when immersed in water.

This limitation is bizarre for a number of reasons but the main one is that the conflict takes place over a series of islands – that being, landmasses separated by

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water. Were the engineers just not thinking clearly that day? Was there a budget shortfall? Did the chief stand up and say, “We just don’t have the budget to make it waterproof. Or even float for short periods of time. Yes, we all know the water level is rising and dry land is at a premium. But the money has run out. Those $1.50 water seals are just too much to bear. We just have to hope that the Muspell enemy don’t start using water balloons.”
 

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Fortunately, this big gap in logic is somewhat overcome by the considerations it creates during a mission.

Missions that take place over water can be especially harrowing since the battle engine can only stay aloft for a finite time. The energy normally used to power the shields (in walker mode) is what keeps the engine flying. Once that drains you had better be over solid ground. Once you land the energy replenishes and you can take to the skies once more. This means leap-frogging off boats.

The best part of all this is the control aspects which I expected to be a mess. Fortunately, a familiar first-person shooter scheme is used so any learning curve falls to learning the battle engine’s full potential instead of fighting the controls.

Equally impressive is the amount of un-confusing on-screen HUD’s that indicate everything from selected weapon to targeting info to heads-up from wing mates. Some of it can get lost in the course of a mission simply because some conflicts are so big, intense and in your face that you’ll need to pull back to properly assess your situation. Unfortunately, assessment time is at a premium. Since the battle unfolds independent of you – you’re but a cog in the war machine – you have to know when to pitch in and tip the scales and if that means thundering in, damn the torpedoes! They don’t call it the battle engine for nothing.

 

battle engine aquila xbox review        battle engine aquila xbox review


Of course, all this commotion can mean many, many do-overs. It’s easy to flub a mission objective without even realizing – you do have to make tactical choices. Mostly, “What should I vaporize first?” but they’re still choices. And after a successful mission you can replay it to attempt a better grade (that allows access to more missions).

As far as graphics go, the explosions are big and satisfying, the action smooth and the small touches all equal an impressive visual package. The cutscenes are all CG and of generally good quality, but have clothing designers lost their minds? Your character, Hawk Winter is about as color coordinated as a 9th Grade science teacher.

In some regards Battle Engine Aquila is a lot like Gun Metal (XB) but with more style and gameplay. Plus, it’s more fun. (Can you say two-player co-op?) BEA is definitely worth your time if you’re a fan of big robots – and still worthy is you like your action hot and coated in plasma. Just stay out of the water.

- Omni
(March 16, 2003)

 

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