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Heavy Gear Assault promises out of mech experience, sponsorships in upcoming game

Heavy Gear Assault promises to bring a few interesting twists to the slowly reviving mech genre.

In Heavy Gear Assault, players don't simply control a walking tank, they control the pilot controlling the mech.

"You are the pilot, you can get out of your mech, you can grab your CPU and you can run it across the battlefield," said Vince McMullin, president of developer MekTek Studios.

McMullin said that players can hop out of the mechs batting in arenas on the fly, choosing to hoof it across the battlefield to avoid death in a exploding mech.

" You can actually play as the pilot in the game," he said. "There are in the arena we have miniguns and turrets. You can go and fire the minigun and start playing with that. You won't be as protected as being in a gear."

Another interesting twist is that the game, planned for a release on PC, Mac and Linux, is that there will be a companion app for iOS and Android devices. The app won't let you play the game, but it will let you spectate in matches. When a player decides to spectate, McMullin said, they actually occupy one of the AI-driven spectators in the game's arena stands. While spectating, players can choose to sponsor battling gears. If that gear wins, the spectator sees a return on their investment.

An early version of the Unreal Engine 4 game was playable at GDC this week. The controls took some getting used to and none of the features I discussed with McMullin, like live spectators, a mobile app and the ability to hop out of a gear and sprint across the arena, were not yet functioning. The game did give players a sense of gunplay and controls. The controls are designed to be more like a simulator than an arcade version. Players have to control their movement and their view separately and can drop down wheels to charge around the arena.

Another interesting, and not yet demonstratable, aspect of the game is that CPUs will have light AI personalities. The idea is that players will upgrade to specific CPUs because they offers specific tweaks or bonuses in battle. That could include things like auto-correcting movement and light auto-locking for gun battles, McMullin said.

Stompy Bot has pulled in more than $100,000 of their $900,000 crowdfunding goal and plan to launch a Kickstarter down the line to supplement their crowdfunding later this year.

"With a rebirth of interest in mecha games, we feel the time is right for a new Heavy Gear game," James Taylor, President, Stompy Bot Productions said. "We're all gamers and fans of giant robots at Stompy Bot and are dedicated to bringing a revolutionary game to the community. With our crowdfunding campaign, we are appealing directly to the community and are soliciting their participation in the birth of a new era."