Available: Q4, 2003.

Battle Engine Aquila © Lost Toys / Encore
Preview By: Patrick “Rhett” Moore

Recently, I received a pre-gold version of Battle Engine Aquila – a game that previously was only available on consoles. I wanted to try this game out for a while on PS2, but am glad I waited until now. So many games are out now, but none of them have the feeling of futuristic war like this one. You fight in a Jet/Spider walker that transforms into either type, and can choose a couple different variants that have new sets of weapons and different advantages.

There are a lot of goodies in this game, concept art, seen in-game movies, unit descriptions, and yet more concept art. These make you want to play through all of the levels and get the master S rank on all of them. Ranks are assigned after you finish a mission, and based on how “elite” you did on it, gives you a better overall rank and more goodies. It's not particularly easy or extremely hard to get an S rank, you just can't stop for coffee in mid-battle or else you sacrifice an S or A rank. You also don't do missions alone; later in the game you can use different squad mates that have different advantages and disadvantages, which help a lot against the massive enemies. Not only do you get squadmates, but you fight along tanks, missile launchers, bombers, fighters, ground troops, and many more units in the fight against evil. I really really loved fighting with backup like this, it definitely feels like a real war.

If you stop to look at the scenery and units, then you're in for a beautiful surprise. The tanks and aircraft are extremely detailed, and the infantry are fluid in running and shooting. The water isn't reflective, but it does show sunlight shining on it, and it looks so fluid and gooey – it's awesome. The units gleam with a reflection of the sun, and so do the buildings. The geometry is also very well done, no glitches in the terrain as far as I've noticed, and the foliage doesn't screw anything up.

I was amazed by how well my computer handled this game: barely any jerkiness or hiccups in framerate – all maxed out options, and it ran silky smooth. I also loved how it performed with two of these “Aquila” engines on the same screen in Multiplay. Speaking of which, there is no Internet play: only two people using the same system and different keys to move and attack, although I think it could've immensely benefited from Internet play support. Playing on one computer can be fun – or completely messed up, because two people playing on one keyboard is hard. Either way, it still rocks playing with two people on a computer, especially with an awesome arcade game like this.

Overall, I think this game has a lot of replayability and very nice graphics; it could very well be Arcade Game of the Year, even if it isn't groundbreaking enough. I enjoyed Battle Engine Aquila very much, and I thank Encore for letting me preview this unique experience of a game. I have found the one fast-paced game that has enough action and war going on to fill my hunger – and fighting with fellow troops makes me love this game so much more. I definitely plan on reviewing this game when the final version comes out.