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Review: Break Arts II

0

Mobile Suit Wipeout

What's cooler than the ability to pilot your very own mecha? That's easy: The ability to build your very own mecha (as well as pilot it). 

Break Arts II, from indie Japanese studio MercuryStudio, takes that hook and runs it in an unusual direction. Much to the envy of 90% of Japanese mecha anime protagonists, players won't be forced to take their robots into battle.

That's right, they won't fight. They've just gotta go fast.

Break Arts II (PC) 
Developer: MercuryStudio
Publisher: Playism
Release: February 9, 2018
MSRP: $14.99

Yes, Break Arts II is a racing game. Premised on the existence of a sort of VR racing league, the game pits players and their creations against each other and the clock in a high-speed competition that feels equal parts Wipeout and F-Zero.

The racing itself comes across quickly enough. In a design twist imported from its mobile original, the game handles acceleration automatically, leaving players to handle steering, boosting, weapons (there is some combat), and a new feature, the "side boost" that jukes one's mecha slightly to the side. Given the speed of movement, that's not so much a "dumbing down" as a helpful design decision, at least for players like me who can't stop scraping the walls in Wipeout

As a result, Break Arts II's skill ceiling is located in boost meter management, as players figure out when to drop the hammer and go all out and how much or how little to turn to ensure they can come out of a curve without touching the speed-retardant walls. Add to that the presence of weapons (which are often homing and can knock parts of one's bot), and the game has the solid foundations of a high-speed battle racer.

The real joy to be found in Break Arts II, though, is in its mecha design function. It's a truly powerful thing, rivaling the likes of Armored Core, Gundam Breaker, and other customization-heavy mech titles. Players can choose from a handful of presets (showing off a design aesthetic that feels as if Zone of the Enders' Orbital Frames paid a visit to Tron-world), or go all-out and build a bot from scratch using parts unlocked during play. Each part has its own function, and affects the performance of the final design, including its maneuverability, boost energy, acceleration, and weapon damage. Despite a somewhat obtuse UI and unhelpful tutorials, the system is impressive in its depth. MercuryStudio knows this, and even calls all its players "Artists", in a clear realization of the game's best feature.

In an interesting twist, Break Arts II also allows players to customize even their bot's weapons and the animations that see them deployed. From drone-like Option pods to massive, articulated sniper barrels, many things are possible, and it's easy to see all manner of awesome fan works arising from the scene. 

That is...if there is a scene to begin with. Break Arts II's biggest liability at the moment is the sheer emptiness that greeted me when I played. I'm not just referring to its deliberately stark aesthetic and complete absence of narrative or characters (the star is your custom mecha, after all). During the entire review period, I couldn't find a single online race available to try, and I was frequently the only one present in any of the regional server lobbies. Hopefully things will pick up after launch, but as of this point all my racing was done solo, in the quick race and Grand Prix modes.

Worse still, even if the game develops a healthy online community, there doesn't seem to be much opportunity in Break Arts II to appreciate its greatest feature: The custom mecha designs. This is because other racers' mecha aren't shown on the track itself, and are instead reduced to generic diamonds (at least in the solo races). Whether this was some kind of a technical holdover from the game's mobile origins or a deliberate aesthetic choice, it's very disheartening to play knowing you'll never see another player's mecha in-game, unless they happen to place in the top three of your session. 

In the end, Break Arts II feels like a great mecha customization system in search of game. Whether or not it has legs will depend on players' willingness to put up with the racing to build their robots.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]


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Break Arts II reviewed by Josh Tolentino

6

ALL RIGHT

Slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy it a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.
How we score:  The destructoid reviews guide

 
 
 

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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoAnime Editor   gamer profile

When not posting about Japanese games or Star Trek, Josh serves as Managing Editor for Japanator, Dtoid's sister site for the best in anime, manga, and cool news from Glorious Nippon. Disclosure... more + disclosures


 



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