By Nate Adcock on Tue, 05/28/2013
Folks around these parts been sayin' thar's a new mech game in town, goes by the name of iMech Online. Well, I'm here to tell ya I seen it with my own two eyeballs! You'll want to be a-strappin on your pulse cannons, because this one is gointer to be a wild, mech-blasting ride!
iMech Online is finally in the App Store—free and full of cool 3D blow em up action—nearly a year after it was announced at the 2012 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.
It is a testament to the health of the App Store ecosystem that indie games like iMech Online can flourish. But I digress... What I like about iMech is less about fancy 3D Retina visuals that can eat half a gig of device storage (iMech comes in at a leaner 136M), and more about its tried and true game-building principles, namely:
1. Make your game engaging (also fun and eye-catching), easy to play, and when suitable, multiplayer capable'
2. If you make in-app purchases or ads part of the game, don't make them obnoxious.
That being said, the version I tested did have some issues running on my iPad mini (which the devs are working to fix).
Game strategy in iMech Online is to outrun and outgun your enemies in an urban obstacle course—high-rise buildings in some anonymous city. A few more interesting terrain options would be cool. The game is online only (though its developers are considering a short AI-based tutorial mode), and pairs you up against other mech fighters from across the Internet. Destroying the other guy or girl's mech requires you to lay it on with an array of weapons (pulse cannon, flame thrower, etc.) until you overload their shields and your opponent goes kaboom!
The HUD updates you on your own health, weapon selection and who is currently blasting whom. I had some trouble selecting between weapons reliably and my mech always seemed to want to turn in one direction.
As you play, you earn credits and orbs to upgrade your mech, but many of the upgrades are not exactly cheap. You can advance through mere experience, but almost anything you do to your mech costs something (changing the skin or even your online profile name costs iMech creds). You can quickly level up with an IAP, of course. Orbs are the credit of choice, being somewhat akin to large bills in real-world currency. Most upgrades start at around the 10-15 orb level, and you might earn one every few rounds or when you level up. I think 10 orbs will cost you about $0.99.
Ads appear between rounds, which is a little annoying, but I suppose they have to keep the lights on in the server room somehow (being an online freebie game). The game has a few warts. As I pointed out above, control of the mech went a bit goofy at times, and the game would suddenly freeze up, lock in a firing control loop, or simply exit on connection. I updated to the latest and greatest, and it was better, but I didn't test it that long before finishing up the review. The latest version allows the game to run on older devices (like 4th-gen iPod touch), and stabilized some of the crash and connection bugs, according to the iTunes app details.
Despite the bugs, I really enjoyed iMech Online. The graphics are cool, but not over the top, and the lurching mech control even adds a bit more challenge (and exasperated fun). Plenty of upgrade options make it interesting to evolve your mech, and the gameplay is a straightforward online slugfest with the right formula to attract replay action. A little revamping and tweaking could make this game go viral.
No nonsense online mech combat;
Fun and free to play.
Sometimes buggy controls and gameplay;
IAPs and ads.