When we first laid eyes on Drakkar Dev's latest creation, War Tech Fighters, we could sense the fact that the game was developed on a budget on the lower end of the scale. Our minds were taken back to the golden days of Farmville or the many mobile titles being advertised on social media, yet while it reminded us of a mobile game, there's more to it than that.
We're talking about humongous mechanical fighters here (think a mix of Iron Giant, Liberty Prime and almost every other walking computer you can think of), mechs that us mere humans step into in order to enhance our lesser abilities. As the title implies, in War Tech Fighters you will fight in a war and it's in one these high-tech metal husks that you'll see most of the action. We have to admit that the premise sounds intriguing; flying around in space in a mech suit with a mounted laser cannon and, with the reflexes of a cobra, turning space ships into intergalactic ground pepper doesn't sound too bad.
Well, we'd say that it both is and isn't satisfying. The battles are fantastic (and are definitely the highlight of the game) but it's only during these moments that you'll feel the game's quality. War Tech Fighters consists of two separate elements: combat and mech tweaking. For you to be able to upgrade your mech, you need to gather materials. To research and add new and improved parts to your mech, you need the exact materials, and you get them by participating in battles. When you're out in the weightlessness space, a lot can happen; asteroids, docking stations, enemies and various debris will be in your way, like in Geometry Wars or Super Stardust Ultra, so you'll do best when keeping your response times sharp.
As we mentioned earlier, your 'War Tech' (the name of the suits) is adorned with an arm-mounted gun, as well as a sword and a heavy cannon. While the gun and the cannon are perfect to take enemy ships down, the sword comes in handy when trying to execute an enemy or when you take on an opponent up close and personal. When you've managed to hurt your enemy so that its health meter is almost depleted, you can engage in close-quarters combat. It's here where your sword gets pulled out and you'll have to parry, block, and deliver killing blows with it. If you're successful in this endeavour, you'll get a reward in the shape of a brutal cutscene, although getting it right can be tough. The game tries to be as bombastic as possible with a lot of intense explosions and plenty manoeuvring around the battlefield, and as the action is fast-paced, the game's biggest issue really stands out: the frame-rate.
During your duels, the frame-rate drops quite a bit, to the extent that the sequences are almost unplayable. Sadly, the menus suffer from similar issues, which makes the game hard to play for more than an hour at a time. We never really felt the urge to return after pausing our play-through either: it's that bad. It's also the reason why we spent as much time as we possibly could inside our suit because in battle the game runs fine.
One thing that the game has going for it, however, is the graphics. While it's not photorealistic or groundbreaking in any way regarding its lighting, rendering, or polygon count, it reminds us of the cel-shaded world of Borderlands and the style really fits. It looks great and the details on everything, from the mech suits and ships through to the laser blasts and stars themselves, gives the impression that time and care has been spent on the visuals.
There's not a lot to talk about other than these aspects, however. The music is great, the menus are not. The tunes reminded us of Doom 2016 and they work well with the battle sequences, but the menus get drowned in "helpful" pop-ups that explain how everything works. These tips come at you at such speed that it's hard to focus and that led us to make mistakes each time we wanted to try something new or upgrade something. When you return to your hangar you'll be met by a message telling you that a new upgrade is available, but when you're in that menu you won't see even a subtle flashing hint as to where that upgrade can be acquired.
If what we've told you so far seems a little mixed, that's probably because our words reflect our thoughts on the game. War Tech Fighters isn't bad by any means, and we never encountered a bug and we never had to restart a mission. In fact, we had a lot of fun with the battles and it looks stylish. However, there are a few technical issues, and we'd even go as far as saying that at times the game is bland.
As we alluded to earlier, War Tech Fighters feels like a mobile game, with its battles being its only major upside, however, the rest (especially the menus) is hard to navigate, the missions are boring, and even though the objectives differ, they usually end up playing out the same way. If you want to experience some solid mech-based combat we can just about recommend it, but go in knowing that it's fun for a few hours but not much more than that.