We take a second look at Enix's upcoming mech game.
Mech games are now firmly entrenched in the console gaming world, and while most of the recent entries in the genre have taken a fairly conventional approach to presentation and control, some developers are starting to take a little creative license when creating their mech titles. Enix's upcoming Robot Alchemic Drive offers a unique twist on the tried-and-true gameplay mechanics of this genre by putting you outside of an enormous mech that you control using a remote. We recently received a preview build of the game, and we've been pretty pleased with what we've seen so far. RAD's unique control scheme, slightly loopy atmosphere, and detailed graphics are coming together quite nicely.
Robot Alchemic Drive's story keeps it grounded in the melodrama that is prominently featured in the mech genre. Humanity has apparently been trapped on Earth due to the hazardous effects of a type of radiation found in space called nectar radiance. While the radiation kills humans faster than you can say, "No space travel for you," the deadly energy is thankfully kept at bay by Earth's atmosphere. As a result, life on Earth lacks the special zing that space exploration always brings. Fortunately for gamers, the boredom of life on Earth changes rather dramatically when the planet gets a surprise guest at the start of RAD's story. The appearance of a massive alien robot that is hell-bent on destroying anything and everything in its path signals the end of our lazy, Earth-bound existence. Due to the fact that the alien visitor is less "E.T." and more "terminator," a secret government organization rolls out some mechs, called meganites, that it happened to have lying around. You'll assume the role of one of three controllers and direct a unique robot to beat the smack out of the enemy.
You'll find four modes to choose from in RAD: tutorial, story, challenge, and versus. Tutorial offers you two instructional battles that familiarize you with the basics of controlling your meganite. Story mode will take you through a series of scenarios tied together by cutscenes and still images with narration. Each scenario usually involves saving the city from being flattened by a massive robot. Challenge will let you play any scenario you've cleared again. Versus is a two-player mode that will allow you to take on a friend in a split-screen battle.
Playing RAD is a unique experience thanks to the game's interesting premise. Rather than controlling and viewing the action from the inside of the meganite, you'll be maneuvering your human character through the city streets, positioning him or her close to the battle area, and then controlling your mech remotely. Proximity to the battle is essential, as you'll have to be able to "see" what your meganite is doing. The game's camera is basically a representation of what your controller sees, so you'll have to make sure he or she has a view of the action. The catch is, if you're too close, it's very possible to be crushed to death by debris or a flying mech.