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Review: War Tech Fighters (PC)By Renan At 30.07.2018 22:32

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It's important to recognise that there is a distinction between a game taking inspiration from within the medium and outside of the medium. The former can lead to titles coming off derivative, while the latter can easier solidify itself as a love letter to a completely different style of creation. War Tech Fighters takes the latter approach and, while it's rather by the numbers as far as the mecha genre is concerned, it translates rather well to a videogame format.

As there isn't much representation for the giant robot archetype in gaming, War Tech Fighters carves itself a nice little niche alongside the likes of franchises such as Armored Core and Front Mission. Enough time has passed from the final releases of both series, however, where WTF manages to come off all the fresher.

In terms of narrative, the overall story falls into the B-tier of mecha anime plots. Anyone expecting the dramatic nuances of UC Gundam will only find themselves disappointed. That said, though, tempering expectations for a serviceable, self aware script does make the story flow better; even then, this isn't a title interested in simulating the best of the mecha genre's storytelling. Rather, it aims to capture the overall feeling and tone that comes with giant robots duking it out in outer space.

Of course, before there can be gameplay, there must be customisation. Upon choosing a class after finishing the prologue, players can go on to customise every single aspect of their mech. Each new purchased part affects at least one of four stats: endurance, speed, energy, and aim. While the goal of customisation is mainly to improve the playable mech to its fullest capabilities, its colour scheme can be edited, allowing for personalisation beyond gameplay purposes.

As for the gameplay, combat plays to the inherent madness of piloting a mech during all out warfare in outer space. Battles are frantic, requiring intense focus to stay alive on harder difficulties and later missions. Quite a lot happens consistently on-screen, and part of the design relies on the player adapting to chaos and adjusting themselves to environments that are, at times, visually hostile.

Visually hostile, in this sense, doesn't mean War Tech Fighters is visually unappealing, for what it's worth. It's by no means beautiful, but it has a strong aesthetic identity, one that roots itself in traditional militaristic science fiction designs with a vivid colour palette to keep everything from coming off too dreary.

There is a learning curve to controlling the mech that can make earlier missions a bit difficult to get through. Movement, with a mouse instead of a controller, especially, can be incredibly fluid, to the point where it's hard to keep track of where the mech is heading at all times. This can be quite problematic during battles, as it can lead to a premature game over where it's hard to tell what took the mech down.

Upon adjusting to the movement, gameplay is simply a matter of cycling between the mech's heavy weapon, light weapon, missile, and shield to take out enemies. To keep players from spamming their firearms, there's an energy system in place which effectively works as a stamina meter. Heavy weapons deal more damage, but also drain more energy, while light weapons deal less damage, but can be used for far longer without eating into the energy bar. Boosting to gain distance or weave in and out of combat also drains the energy bar, so it's important to be mindful of how the mech is moving and attacking at all times.

Although War Tech Fighters is a genuine thrill to play once the controls are mastered, the mission variety leaves much to be desired. Levels are all structured rather similarly and involve the mech taking out waves of enemies is uncreative set pieces. Mechanically, the gameplay is solid enough for this to not be a major issue, but it does only serve to hurt the overall campaign. Long play sessions become legitimately tedious. The only real attempt at spicing up the gameplay comes from the occasional sword fight between mechs. Unfortunately, these aren't nearly as well designed or implemented as the core gameplay so, while they feel fresh, they aren't exactly all that fun.

Despite the occasional tedium, however, War Tech Fighters does capture that giant robot anime feeling in its mechanics and control scheme. It leaves much to be desired perhaps more often than it should, but it's nonetheless a solid title that understands what it's paying homage to well enough to create a worthwhile game.

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Final Score
From its story, to its aesthetic, to its gameplay, [i]War Tech Fighters[/i] feels like a traditional mecha anime brought to life. It's by no means perfect, often falling into the tedium of repetitive as far as its combat is concerned, but its presentation and novelty are more than enough to keep it a memorable experience all throughout. It perhaps also could have benefited from a story that felt more appropriate and in sync with the genre it's paying tribute to, but, as is, [i]War Tech Fighters[/i] is a charming take on the giant robot niche with plenty of love to give around.

7

/10

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