Making a video game about giant robots fighting each other (or indeed, fighting anything at all) should be a guaranteed hit. Yet the modest list of Switch mech-related game releases has proven over time that this isn't as easy as it sounds. We do know that this will very likely change mid-September, but can Drakkar Dev's War Tech Fighters serve as more than a mere amuse-bouche of metal-on-metal carnage until then All systems go!
Despite being a mech game, the lack of ground-based missions means that this has more in common with EVERSPACE Stellar Edition than your regular third-person/cockpit view mech game of choice. If you're a fan of Mobile Suit Gundam, imagine this one as taking part only in outer space: warfare between agile mobile suits and space fleets. The titular War Techs resemble hybrids of Pacific Rim's Jaegers and Michael Bay's Transformers, giving the overall aesthetics a vibe of a Western-made Gundam. We're unsure if the developers were purposely aiming for this, but it certainly succeeded in grabbing our attention.
You will likely be fighting both enemies and the controls for the first few missions (despite the great tutorial prologue mission explaining all the core gameplay) but it soon falls into place. Navigating and shooting become second nature as you start to gradually feel more comfortable with your fully-customizable War Tech. You can pick from three flavours of variable strength and agility, and while we certainly favoured the latter, if you prefer to have a bulkier, slower War Tech to soak in the damage, then go for it.
While a few missions break from the norm with stealth and hacking sections, most of the thirty-plus campaign missions will have ships of every size and space stations firing in your general direction. They feel truly inadequate compared to your hulking bipedal monstrosity, something the game proudly makes you aware of with the introduction of varied 'execution' cutscenes which feel a lot like the Fatalities from Mortal Kombat, minus the fiddly button inputs.
Take an enemy down to about 25 percent of their health (their threat display turns to red) with your regular payload (guns, missiles and everything in between) and pressing 'X' will unleash a finishing move that varies according to the enemy you're engaging. Small ships can be punched, kicked, shield-bashed or turned into a metal Shish kebab impaled in your sword, while bigger capital ships get the 'up close and personal' treatment as you slice and rip away parts of their hull. These are extremely satisfying moments and while they're entirely optional, they certainly help the game stand out in the crowd.
Eventually, the Zatros Empire (the cliché bad guys) do wise up to your ridiculous overpowering of their fleet and dispatch War Techs of their own. Unlike the immediate executions of other types of enemies, the game throws you another unique feature instead: one-on-one War Tech duels. In these, you can dodge to either side, use your shield to block and strike with fast or strong attacks. These are usually resolved quickly and if concluding favourably, the enemy War Tech will end up sliced in half before gloriously exploding. In fact, everything explodes gloriously, helped by some excellent graphical choices, ranging from gorgeous space vistas, decent enemy design and your own War Tech customization options.
Where the game falls short is when you're not bashing metal in outer space. You will be forced to spend half your play time in your carrier, navigating not-so-friendly menus and submenus for the research and customization of your War Tech. We feel this part of the game distracts far too much from the meat of the experience and could have probably have been handled in a cleaner, more concise fashion.
Loading times are the other big issue; there's just over a minute of loading between your carrier micro-management bits and all-out space warfare. Missions often recycle objectives too, and some of the best tech is locked behind an experience wall, forcing you to eventually resort to grinding on the simulator for XP and building materials.
The overall stable performance of the game and over-the top action does mitigate the negative aspects somewhat, but its a shame this was not better streamlined for the Switch. In terms of music, we hope you are a fan of heavy metal because the game will constantly barrage your ears with loud drums and shredding guitars. Since the whole 'there is no sound' reality of space doesn't really make for good game design, once you add explosions and weapon fire sounds of every kind, you end up with an audio spectacle that more than matches the visual one.
War Tech Fighters does exhibit a few rough spots here and there, but it is undeniable that it ticks all the right boxes for any self-respecting mecha fan. As of right now, it's a toss-up between this and Project Nimbus Complete Edition for the title of top mecha game on Switch, but if you're after a fast and exciting robot-based space shooter and don't mind long loading times and the odd awkward menu system, then this is worth a look.
Regular person by day, super video game player by night, Gonçalo lives in eager anticipation that the prophecy of a new F-Zero will soon be fulfilled. When not messing about making weird music he can be found with a Super Nintendo pad in hand, replaying a Japanese wrestling game no one has ever heard of.
Sounds like it never runs at 60 frames per second, which is a shame. Gameplay videos I've seen don't look to ever get up to 60fps. I know it's not a mech game, but Manticore looks very good on Switch running at 60fps. It's also a fun space shooter! I just wish more games could match or exceed it's graphical prowess.
I bought Project Nimbus thinking I would at least enjoy it, but I haven't felt the need to play it beyond the first couple of missions. Maybe this one will fare better. Or maybe I should just wait for DxM and be patient...I want a good mech game.
War Tech Fighters seeks to combine the Japanese mech fandom with western space games. At best, it is a competent game with inventive mechanics. Though more often it is a somewhat clunky space shooter whose mech implementation bounces between delightfully absurd and annoyingly clunky.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Drakkar Dev and published by Blowfish Studios. It is currently available on PC, Switch, PS4, and XBO. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher code and reviewed on the XBO-X. Approximately 15 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Violence. The game is consistently violent in a robot-on-ship/robot sense, but the targets are not shown in a graphic manner. This does not seem like a particularly troubling title for teens and pre-teens.
Graphical performance, on the other hand, is pretty stellar. The resolution on Switch, even when docked, looks really sharp. Framerate is smooth too, never dipping in my time playing the game. My only performance related issue with the game were the agonisingly long load times between missions and menus.
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War Tech Fighters has you control a custom mech as you tackle intricate missions and the core gameplay involves both long range and close quarters combat. The former is accomplished through various weapons such as guns and homing missiles while the latter has you engage in sword fights which involves timing blows and shield raises in order to eventually defeat your foe. Not only are the controls super-tight, War Tech Fighters goes above and beyond when it comes to presentation as well. Listening to your operator interact with you as you partake in large-scale battles only to unleash finishing blows on your adversaries that result in impressive death scenes will make your jaw drop. Oh, and the amount of customization and growth options is supremely satisfying. My only complaint is that I wish there was some sort of local or online multiplayer component because that would have elevated the fun to a whole new level.
In My Friend Pedro, you play as a killer who's brainwashed by a talking banana to murder everyone in his path. If you can get over this psychotic and downright goofy premise then you'll be in for one heck of a time. The gameplay involves shooting at hordes of enemies as you traverse intricately designed stages. What makes it stand out is the fact that you can perform flips, wall jumps, and many other acrobatic moves as you shoot and avoid bullets. Plus, you can aim at 2 foes at once, ricochet your bullets off certain objects, spin to dodge incoming projectiles, and utilize a variety of firearms. Although merely working through the campaign is great fun on its own, you can also try and aim for high scores which is rewarding in its own right. Overall, it's a stylish and slow-paced shooter that's very fun.
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