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Battle Engine Aquila - Ntsc

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#1 Barnolde


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Posted 02 March 2004 - 06:29 PM



When you first hear this title, you probably wonít have a clue to what the hell it means. You may ask yourself, ďWhatís a battle engine?Ē and thatís understandable. This game essentially came out of nowhere, there was little hype, and little marketing. The battle engine is this mech/walker/flyer type vehicle thing that you pilot. The story is a bit nonsensical, because youíre just a regular guy bestowed with all this responsibility. The story is fairly similar to Waterworld, and for all the lucky people who havenít seen it, keep it that way. Youíre a group of humans called the Forseti; who dress in funny blue outfits, against another group of humans called the Muspell; who dress in funny red outfits, you fight over the few remaining patches of land left on the planet. Instead of working out their problems and sharing the land like logical people, you have to fight to the death over it. Why does there always seem to be a lack of benevolence in the future? If youíve ever played Gun Metal, you may notice an resemblance between the two games, they play somewhat similarly. This super powerful, transforming, ďthingĒ is made to help combat the Muspell, and youíre the pilot of it.


The game controls like an FPS when youíre on the ground, in walker form. By pressing X you can transform into the flying form and take to the skies to shoot down enemy planes and such. One thing about flying is that you cannot fly forever, you have an energy meter to monitor or else you could find yourself plummeting into the sea. Thatís another thing, the Forseti could make this ultimate ďsuper-destructoĒ thing, but get a little water on it, bam, itís gone, but at least itís one way to get out of programming things far into the ocean. Flying is surprisingly simple, and easy to control, which is definitely a good thing. It seems that flying is just an extension of walking except now you can move up and down. If youíre being attacked by something on land, or in the air, you can try and dodge it by pressing left, then right quickly, or vice versa. You have a few weapons at your disposal depending on which of the battle engines you chose to use. As you progress you unlock more battle engines and even partners which help you. One of the most important things about this game is that you arenít just a one man army, a la Halo, youíre part of a huge battle thatís going on all over the map. There are literally hundreds of soldiers on each side, not only on foot, but also in vehicles as well. There are a few boss levels spread throughout the game, and the bosses are one of the coolest parts of this game. Each boss has a unique feel and look to them. I especially liked how each boss is defeated a different way and is not too difficult. One of the most annoying parts of the game is when the game decides that youíve lost. Despite of how well you think you can win, sometime the game just decides that youíve lost and itís pretty annoying. The AI isnít the best that it could be either. I didnít come into this game excepting Halo, but the AI is downright stupid in many instances. They sometimes ignore enemies right next to them and ignore their own teammates. There are instances when a transport is letting off craft, they donít move to accommodate the other craft that has to come out of the ship. There is a multiplayer and co-op mode, but it feels like nothing more than a cheap add-on. The co-op mode does not span through the entire game like Halo and Serious Sam, it only gives you six ďextraĒ missions that arenít a part of the main story. The multiplayer has six Skirmish levels where you and your team go against another player and their team. Thereís also Versus mode where you fight one on one against an opponent. The cheesy multiplayer shouldnít be much of an issue, thereís 44 missions, and most of them are pretty fun to replay as well. Included in the 44 missions are 15 Evo missions, which are basically just the same mission, only much more difficult, with more enemies.


The maps that you play on are huge, and the draw distance on them is excellent. You can see all the way across the map, which helps when using the Lancer battle engine, which has the sniper. The vehicles, soldiers, and turrets are all very detailed, each with distinctive colors and animations that make them unique. Itís obvious that the developers put lots of minute detail into all the small things in this game. One thing that couldíve been improved was the ground textures, they seem very plain and lifeless. Some bump mapping couldíve easily given the ground a more realistic and polished look. The water effects are nicely done and the splashes look realistic as well. When you are destroying a building, youíll notice all the stages of building destruction, and how detailed they are. The explosions from destroying buildings and craft are all very nicely done, and itís a great site to watch a flaming drop ship smash into the ground. The fact that this game was simultaneously released on PS2 and Xbox does show. The graphics overall are not on par with other Xbox games, especially most exclusive ones.


The audio is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Battle Engine Aquila. With very poor and repetitive orchestral soundtrack, the music doesnít offer much to hold your attention. I had to replay many times to just get a feel of the soundtrack, because itís just so easily ignored and lifeless. Itís confusing as to why Lost Toys chose NOT to include custom soundtracks, it couldíve given the game a much needed burst of life in the audio department. The sound itself isnít anything special. Generic explosions, gunfire, and other wartime noises flow from the speakers. There are voices, but theyíre pretty boring and lifeless. Your leader has the same boring tone when he gives you instructions, when you let the entire fleet die, and when you take over an enemy base. It wouldíve been nice to have some real vocals, but vocals arenít a big part of the game, and luckily theyíre not House Of The Dead quality.


The control in this game is actually very good. It follows the typical FPS format. The controls are responsive and they allow you to make quick manuevers like dodging rockets, which is moving the left thumbstick quickly left to right and vice versa. Sometimes you may even forget that you're in a flying mech/walker vehicle, because of the fluid and human-like FPS controls. If you've used these controls once, you've used them all, and it's a good thing that companies do not try to "improve" upon this format, because it does not need improvement.


The single player game will take a fair amount of time, as itís the average length for this type of game (10-15 hours). Itís an enjoyable time through, but is it worth playing again? Yes, it is definitely worth playing again. Many of the missions are very fun and thereís nothing like being overwhelmed with lots of enemies and taking them down with your teammates. There are also over 100 ďgoodiesĒ to unlock, which should keep you busy for quite a bit. Some of the ďgoodiesĒ include concept art, others are footage of the development, and information on everything. The co-op is always something fun to pick up and play, even though it doesnít last too long. This game begs for two player split screen, or even system link, but itís stuck with only two player split screen. The single player missions should be enough to warrant a purchase, although the two player just adds to the replay ability. The ease of replay ability comes from the gameís great sense of pick up and play, as itís very easy to just pop it in and go.


When Battle Engine Aquila came out and still now, nobody really knows about it, and thatís a shame. Itís a fun game, with a fairly lengthy single player campaign, as well as unlockable extras, and multiplayer. While the story is pretty mediocre, the graphics are barely above average, and the sound is nothing special, the game hits home where it counts. Itís a fun game! Youíll want to play on to see what happens to your characters. You want to see the cut scenes, even though theyíre really nothing special, you want to play the game, once you get into it. It takes a pretty original take on the mech genre, of which there is a plethora of on Xbox. The ease of jumping into a mission is simple and seamless. The controls are easy to pick up for most Xbox owners (Halo owners) as every company wants to copy Bungieís perfect control scheme. If you like mech games at all, or first person games, be sure and pick this up. This game is a great mech game in first and third person view, and itís sure to bring hours of enjoyment to Xbox fans everywhere. With Lost Toys just recently kicking the bucket, this game should become increasingly rare, and it'd be stupid not to own it.

Gameplay: 8.6
Graphics: 7.9
Audio: 6.8
Controls: 9.1
Overall: 8.2

Edited by Barnolde, 02 March 2004 - 06:35 PM.

#2 floyd


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Posted 03 March 2004 - 09:38 PM

Yes, this is a gem of a game that most people aren't aware of. It reminds me quite a bit of Dropship for ps2 (only released in Europe afaik) which is a good thing. These are two of the only console 'action-sim' games I can ever remember where you feel part of a greater battle - with other friendly units attacking the enemy and requiring assistance etc etc.

#3 Mr_Belowski


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Posted 05 March 2004 - 12:18 PM

Nice review, it sums Aquilla up nicely. A solid and sadly underrated game. A million times better than the awful Gunmetal.

Personally, I thought the graphics were pretty good - not great, but well above average given the insane amount of stuff going on, and they did a decent job of conveying the huge scale of the battles.

I played it all the way through (which is pretty rare for me, I'm ashamed to admit) so I guess I must have enjoyed it smile.gif

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