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War World

Developer: Third Wave Games | Publisher: Ubisoft
Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 10/01/08 | Genre: Shooter

Upon seeing a screenshot of War World, I must say I was pretty darn impressed. “This is an arcade game?” I thought to myself, because this mech combat title is probably one of the best looking games on the XBLA, and could even pass for an original Xbox title. But a warning for anyone that dare purchase it, War World will rear its ugly head as not quite a game, but rather a hollow husk of one. A pretty husk yes, but a vacuous one none the less. It is as if the developers attempted to squeeze a mech game designed for consoles into the arcade, and it’s pretty obvious that a new strategy is needed for putting the genre on the service properly, rather than just including the bare minimum.

Anyone who’s piloted giant suits of armor before will be very comfortable with War World’s controls. The analog sticks control movement, and the triggers and bumpers allow the player to discharge ordinance. B activates a temporary shield that also disables the mech’s firing capacity, and of course there are the jump jets for certain mechs which can be activated via the Left Bumper. When running low on ammunition replenishment is scattered around the environments. These range from military bases in tropical venues, urban sprawls, and ancient ruins that seem to have survived years of mechs fighting a war on top of them.

There really isn’t any storyline to explain this conflict, and that’s because War World possesses no actual campaign at all. An arcade mode is available in the single player, but all it amounts to is a series of bot matches where the amount of enemies to be decimated increases at every level. Oh and did I mention that the player doesn’t get to choose which mech to take into the fight? It is also possible to engage in offline deathmatch and team deathmatch with up to 14 other AI’s but they sure don’t make for good team mates, or enemies. If you’ve ever wondered what a mech looks like when being piloted by an intoxicated operator, War World delivers. Frequently the AI will either get stuck, stop moving, or continually bounce off a series of objects like a pinball. I witnessed one mech cascading off of a tree, rock, and wall for about five minutes until the absurd entertainment grew old and I moved on.

War World’s multiplayer offerings aren’t that much better, featuring the regular deathmatch variants as well as capture the flag, and bomb assault. Up to eight players can partake in an online match, but sadly there are only eight different maps, and they’re all the same ones that can be found in the arcade mode. Thankfully there is the ability to choose a mech in the multiplayer, but that choice is restricted to only ten different models, ranging from the usual fast, light armored units, all the way up to the gigantic hulking beasts. Each have a couple of unique traits such as cloaking, or lasers that can fire through walls, but the majority of stats like weapon load outs aren’t provided at the selection screen, which is too bad given how unbalanced War World’s assortment of armored vehicles is.

Certain mechs come with nearly every kind of weapon in the game; lasers, missiles, mortars, while others are only packing a mere machine gun, which is pretty sad when the mech has little else to offer making it almost useless in battle. The visual design of the mechs themselves isn’t all that imaginative either, and they all possess largely the same physical traits, with some simply being bigger than others. Hardcore mech fans will also be displeased to hear that there are absolutely no customization options. Obviously for an arcade title only so much is possible but at least the developers could have allowed users to select their weapon layout.

I said earlier that at first glance War World looks astonishingly good for an XBLA game, but that praise only holds until the game actually starts running. Yes the environments and mechs are detailed and complemented by bright lighting, but everything remains extremely static. Not one object in the environments can be toppled at all, and I mean nothing. When the mechs themselves do happen to finally blow up all that’s provided is a subtle yellow ball with a few falling pieces. Some annoying slowdown also crops up as each match comes to a close.

To make it even worse the sound effects for all those explosions sound just about as muted as they look. The soundtrack itself is nothing to write home about, and the only voice acting to be found in the game is an annoying inhuman announcer that calls an end to each match.

Because it certainly doesn’t look like the average arcade game, and at least somewhat plays like other mech games, it’s easy to forget that War World is an XBLA title at times.  This illusion should be taken into account because we have to remember that there are some things an arcade game just can’t offer, but even so, War World could have had a heck of a lot more, like an actual campaign and at least some meager form of customization. Part of me wonders if the visuals just took up all the space, but insane graphics should never be the focus of any bite size, ten dollar game.

That all being said War World is one of those games that will succeed in pleasing absolutely no one. Regular XBLA shoppers looking for some quick thrills should definitely stay away, and mech fans will feel insulted at the incredibly shallow gameplay. The basic controls and feel to War World is fine, it just needs an actual game built around it. Any potential buyers should avoid it and save their MS Points, but if you have yet to purchase any more Microsoft money and carry a sickening lust for mech action, a better option would be just to pick up a used copy of original Xbox title MechAssault 2 (which is backwards compatible with the 360). It can probably found for a price below ten dollars, will look even better than War World, and will provide a lot more bang for your buck.

Real Life Rating
As I’ve already stated in the review there isn’t really an audience that War World can possibly appeal to, unless you’re the parent of a youngster with an insatiable love of robots. War World is a family friendly title with little violence beyond exploding mechs. Anyone looking for a promising mech game, or a decent Arcade experience should avoid it entirely. I wholeheartedly agree with the rating that War World has received based on my status as a longtime mech fan, and discerning XBLA shopper that believes in getting his money’s worth.

By Mark Melnychuk - 10/30/08
ESRB Details: As I’ve already stated in the review there isn’t really an audience that War World can possibly appeal to, unless you’re the parent of a youngster with an insatiable love of robots. War World is a family friendly title with little violence beyond exploding mechs. Anyone looking for a promising mech game, or a decent Arcade experience should avoid it entirely. I wholeheartedly agree with the rating that War World has received based on my status as a longtime mech fan, and discerning XBLA shopper that believes in getting his money’s worth.
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Screenshots for War World

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