Both money and research points are earned in each battle and the research points can be used to bring new components to what is basically the game's part shop. These can all be attached to your mech, giving you better vision through fog of war, or even making your units impervious to friendly fire.
Above: Our first move in the game ended disastrously
It sounds generic so far, but a nice touch is that parts can be knocked off your mech during combat, so you'll lose the ability of certain components as your mech takes damage. The same goes for the enemy, however, so it's not all bad news. Crippling your foe and opening a big fat can of mechy whoop-ass on it is satisfying in anyone's book.
Above: Its leg's come off! Alien technology - apparently made in Taiwan
With an upgrade system based on unlocking things with collected resources, you would think that a bad start would cripple your chances of success later on. But you can re-play any mission to re-attempt secondary objectives and even try to find the secret objectives hidden in every stage, to give you access to more of the mech features at any time. The 30-mission campaign lasts for about 30-40 hours depending on skill.
Above: If you can read 'increase sight range by 3', you don't need this one
The game supports ad-hoc multiplayer for two players (though sadly not internet play), plus there's the very welcome 'hot swap' mode where you pass the PSP between you. My go! There's also two-player co-op on top of the versus mode, so there's plenty to get involved in if it grabs you.
We'll say it again because there's no getting away from it: turn-based mech games are not very sexy. But with so many similarities to one of the best games ever made (Advance Wars), even a less-sexy alternative is definitely worth watching on PSP, especially if you're looking for a PSP game of substance that you won't find anywhere else.
Above: The pre-rendered intro movie rivals Square-Enix's in quality
The game is out in the UK on April 24 and May 26 in the US, so expect a review soon.
10 March, 2009