AirMech by Carbon Games is an interesting game that expands itself much like Magicka does. This MOBA has an appealing simplicity to it.
If there is one thing I noticed about this trailer, it is that there are no theatrics. We have all seen those kinds of trailers that are nothing like the game. You watch the trailer and think: Cool, I can’t wait to try that. Then you start playing and the game developers are surprised when you ragequit due to the game not living up to the expectations they hyped in the trailer. As you might have guessed, AirMech’s trailer is 100% gameplay. You can expect to be able to do all of the things that the trailer suggests you can do.
Then and Now
I played AirMech back in beta and it was a well put together game even then. Due to its minigame-like appeal, the game rapidly loses its fervor, making player dropout rate high. I was one of those players who dropped out, but because the game was so much fun, I came back to it to see how much it had changed. From beta to today, AirMech had opened the doors to more types of mechs, introduced pilots, parts, and boosts as a way to subtly influence matches.
So all in all, not a whole lot had changed. This is not meant to be a negative comment; the game is still a blast to play and a player who had put the game on ice could easily get back into the groove within a match or two.
One curious thing that had not changed was the maximum players one could team with. Even back in beta, 3v3 was the most a player could experience and months later, it was still 3v3, although a noticeable “suggestion” of 2v2 was in effect. It was unnecessarily difficult to get into the matchmaking pool for 3v3; it would probably take new players awhile before they find the option. I always felt that 4v4 or more would be an interesting twist, with AirMech’s penchant for lightning fast gameplay, it would no doubt make for an explosive match.
At a Glance
The game is classified as a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena). Unlike MOBAs you may be used to, such as League of Legends or DOTA 2, AirMech is extremely fast paced. If you try to play AirMech like you would with DOTA 2, you will likely find yourself overwhelmed and on the losing side. There are only nine different mechs currently available for play, although, each mech has multiple skin variations that look really cool. In addition to the Google Chrome skin for the UFO, there is a Captain America look, and Tron-like armor.
At first, you may think that you are playing a cartoon. The models are defined, yet the colors are vibrant and exaggerated, giving a Borderlands feel to it. The animations are fluid and sophisticated, combined with the mechanized transforming robot that the gamer is playing as, you might think that you are in a Transformers movie. You would not be wrong. Most of the game is you trying to effectively transform back and forth from your flying state to ground state, depending on the situation at hand.
The terrain is a pain to navigate, as there are many obstacles for you to overcome. Have to no fear, because you can mostly just fly over these obstacles with little to no problems. The flying-ground dynamic makes this game very interesting. However, one of the more unique parts of this game is the ability to pick things up and ferry them wherever. Some mechs are better at this than others. However, when you build a unit, you have to pick it up at one of your bases and put it on the ground. Where you put it on the ground to contribute to the fight is up to you. You can choose to put it directly on the front lines, behind enemy lines, or right on top of your enemy, depending on your strategy. One you set the unit down, it fulfills the normal MOBA mission; clashing with the other side.
When you die, you will be able to respawn within 20 seconds, with the option of paying in-game resources for a faster spawn. With shells flying everywhere, it is tough to make out who is winning or losing until one side definitively destroys the other. You will definitely find that your health gets incinerated quickly unless you are a mech with a lot of health and armor. Although you may be the fastest and most badass thing on the map, believe me when I say that your glory will be short lived if you play like Kratos from God of War.
Friends & Enemies
The start of the match allows you to build units and get yourself set up. You will want to use this time as wisely as possible so that when the game begins, you can devote yourself to the fight. Understand that your presence is a magnet for the enemy mechs. By yourself, you can usually overcome the AI. As soon as it is you vs AI and enemy mech, you will probably want to retreat. Make good use of your ability to pick up and drop off units. You can rapidly reinforce a position, or drop them on an unsuspecting target. Be mindful that most mechs do not have a very large load capacity. The larger units are strong, but unless the frontline has smaller supporting units, your powerful new arrivals are likely to get overwhelmed.
One trend I observed of enemy mechs is that they are quick to fly in and engage, but slow when trying to get out. When they get to 10-15% health, they will panic and try to transform into their flying state. They then try to retreat as fast as possible. If you can correctly anticipate this, you will be ready to continue engaging them in the air before they transform, which makes finishing them off quite easy. I have not seen the majority of pilots smart enough to juke or otherwise zigzag away from danger. Most prefer to fly away in a straight line. The beauty about your mech is it has unlimited primary ammo, which extends farther than your screen shows. So if you see an enemy mech making a run for it, keep shooting; you will get that bonus kill more often than you think.
If I had to offer a suggestion, I would propose introducing a drastic new dynamic to the game. This would be specifically meant to increase player retention. For example, instead of the typical red vs blue, or blue vs green, AirMech could try a three-way battle. Red vs blue vs green would be exciting to not only play, but watch as well. Coupled with the option of playing 4v4v4, or 5v5v5, and you have yourself a game element that helps with player retention. Another interesting suggestion could be to allow a single gamer to play as the neutral faction. I have not fully developed this idea, but I feel as though there is something there that the game could expand upon.
Overall, AirMech is a thrilling game to play. Burnout rate is high, as it does not change, but is balanced by how quickly matches finish. The game has yet to truly find that differentiating factor, as mentioned above. Even so, this title deservedly earns a place in your game collection. Out of 100 points, I rate it an 85. The gameplay is enjoyable, the matchmaking system is efficient, and the models/texture are developed. Ten points were deducted due to the propensity for player burnout, and five points for lack of any true differentiating dynamic.
Here are well put together tutorials for AirMech. Have fun, and enjoy!