When you think of Real Time Strategy games you probably think of games like Command & Conquer and Age of Empires. While you think of those you probably expect to play them on a PC. Well Ubisoft and Carbon Games have released a game called AirMech Arena on Xbox Live Arcade. Now I know what you’re probably thinking, “A RTS on a console? That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.” Well AirMech Arena may be a Strategy game, it features MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) features that make the game feel more like it belongs on a console.
Before we get into the review, you’re probably wondering to yourself where Carbon Games come from? It’s understandable since this is actually the first game the studio has worked on. The company was founded by former members of Titan Studios, who made the Fat Princess games on Playstation systems. On top of that,Titan Studios was composed of former members of famous studios such as Blizzard, Lionhead, and Ubisoft. So you know that the team of 8 at Carbon Games know what they are doing.
You play as 1 of 9 AirMechs which basically works like a Transformer. One mode you are a type of aircraft and carry troops from your base, and the other is a ground mode which is mainly used for attacking. The cool thing about aircraft mode is instead of a traditionally making units spawn outside the base and having to click on them, then tell them where to go, you actually can pick them up from the base and carry them anywhere on the map using your aircraft. You can only spawn 5 enemies at a time, and you can’t just pick them all up at the same time. There is a limit ranging from 2 to 4 depending on what spawns. For example, you can carry 4 soldiers at a time, but can only carry 2 flankers, or 2 tanks at a time.
The great thing about this game is that it actually satisfies both traditional RTS gamers as well as people who want a little more action. There’s an achievement called “My hands are clean…” which requires you to win a match without destroying any units with your AirMech, and another one called “Replicators Down” which is winning a game without building anything. Skirmish has different intensities like 2v2 3v3 even 1v3. Survival mode has you in the middle of a map and enemies come at you in waves at 5 different locations around the map.
So since you hear me praising the game so much I know what you’re going to ask next. Yes, there are flaws to the game. I did run into a minor problem in a 3v3 skirmish where we all charged for the middle and we had so many units and were firing at each other that I experienced some lag. The other big thing is playing against a computer gets boring after a couple hours. Thankfully you have online play. Unfortunately I don’t have a Gold account so I can’t tell you exactly from my perspective how it is.
My last thought is that this game is surprisingly really good. With only minor negatives, this game is a must play for anyone who owns an Xbox 360 and not just gamers who love RTS games. You have no reason not to pick this game up since it’s available on the Xbox Marketplace for FREE. Yes I said free. After the disappointments I have had in the past with RTS games (especially on a console) this game has eased me on the idea in the future and I can’t wait to see what the guys at Carbon Games cook up for us next time.