More MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf InfoWhen Microsoft launched the Xbox Live online gaming service, there was one game above all others that really drew Xbox owners to online gaming. That title was Day 1s MechAssault. Taking the heavy metal Battletech universe and removing the intricate tweaks of the simulation style MechWarrior series, Day 1 created a fast-paced third-person shooter of immense proportions. Now, it has finally come time to release the next installment in the series, and we had a chance to take a look at what the game will have to offer when it ships later this year. Yes, you read correctly, the tentative ship date is set for December 28. After the original MechAssault established itself as one of the premier titles for Xbox Live, the team over at Day 1 looked at everything the consumers were saying about the title. Where they thought improvements needed to be made, and what was already great about the title. Theyve headed back to the drawing board for MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf, and from what weve seen of the title, everything that could be better, is better. Day 1 knew that the multiplayer aspects of the original MA were the highlight of the game, so with Lone Wolf, one of their primary objectives was to improve the single player aspects of the title. While well have new multiplayer information for you next week, for now well take an in-depth look at everything MA2 has to offer from a single player standpoint. First and foremost, the relationship between Day 1 and Microsoft has blossomed since the success of MechAssault. This has allowed the development team to create Lone Wolf specifically for the Xbox, without fear of having trouble porting it to other consoles. With this new found freedom, the team has done some amazing work with the Xbox hardware thats on par and even surpasses (in some cases) what Bungie has done with Halo 2. As youve probably heard by now, the main advancement in MA2 is the addition of Battle Armor. Its basically a suit of armor that acts as a miniature Mech. Theyre smaller, faster, and quite a bit more versatile than a 300 ton Mech, and this addition alone adds a considerable amount of strategy to the game. Players will be able to latch onto buildings using the Battle Armors claw. If you scale a building to the top and enemy Mechs cant attack you directly. This is where the new and improved destructible environments come into play. Every building in MechAssault 2 can be completely leveled. Some will have more depth and detail than others. Depending on the building, you may be able to blast the outer shell off a building, which will reveal the internal structure; complete with pieces of the building falling in and around it, and interacting with your weapons if you continue firing upon it. Leveling a building is really the only way your attackers can deal your Battle Armor damage once youve planted yourself on top of a building. However, theyll have to watch for falling debris as it will cause considerable damage to Mechs. Another new addition to Lone Wolf is the Verticle Take-Off and Landing aircraft (VTOL). The VTOL can pick up Battle Armor or tanks and carry them rapidly across the battlefield. When your Battle Armor is connected to the VTOL, its offensive power is greatly increased, giving it the ability to take on just about anything else on the battlefield. You can even drop yourself behind an enemy Mech and attempt to jack their ride through a series of button inputs. All of this adds up to create an immersive single player experience. Instead of a storyline that is advanced through mission briefings, Day 1 has opted to focus on the people inside the machines. Cut-scenes between missions will progress the storyline as you uncover the mysteries surrounding your enemy. In fact, we got to take a look at a few cut-scenes (still a work in progress) and players should feel as though theyre the pilots of the Mech instead of the Mechs themselves. One of the single player missions has you getting in your Battle Armor and taking a VTOL over to enemy territory in order to steal several of their Mechs and bring them back to your base of operations. Getting to the enemy Mechs wasnt a problem. The additional firepower your Battle Armor receives from the VTOL was a big help. However, once you landed behind one of the Mechs you needed to occupy, things got a little tricky. In order to steal a Mech you have to get out of your Battle Armor, run around to the front of the Mech and then climb in. Since youre constantly under fire, this is not the easiest of things to do. Your Battle Armor cant take as many hits as a standard Mech, but as just a regular human, you cant take hardly any damage. Even after you figure out how to get into the Mech unharmed, you still have to plow through a veritable army of enemy Mechs to reach your base. And this was only the sixth mission out of the planned 20 to be included in the final game. While Halo 2 will obviously be the game of choice for most Xbox owners this year, MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf is about as close as you can get to the untouchable Bungie title. Weve only scratched the surface of the single player mode, and even though its considerably improved over the original, the multiplayer and Xbox Live features are what will truly make MechAssault 2 shine. Stay with us as we detail the multiplayer next week; and trust us when we say that MechAssault 2 could easily be the best Xbox Live game of the year, with or without Halo 2 as competition. Well see you again in about a week.