MechAssault 2 jacks gold

Mech shooter stomps off to production, and is on schedule for its uncommon December 28 release.

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Microsoft today announced that MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf has achieved gold status and will be ready to hit Xboxes and light up Xbox Live December 28.

The sequel to GameSpot's Xbox game of the year for 2002, MechAssault 2 is a third-person shooter based in the cult Battletech universe.

In conjunction with the announcement, Microsoft has launched a Web site for the game, featuring screenshots, wallpapers, and gameplay footage. The site also features information about the story, game features, and the numerous Mechs and vehicles gamers will be able to commandeer.

The game is once again set in the warring 31st century, where battles are decided with giant walking tanks capable of leveling a city single-handedly. Continuing where the first MechAssault game left off, a small group of Wolf's Dragoons are stranded on a planet and battling the mysterious order of the Word of Blake. There will be about 20 missions to complete, and cutscenes scattered throughout the campaign will help unfold the story.

MechAssault quickly became an Xbox Live favorite when it launched with the online service in 2002, and MechAssault 2 looks to cause similar fervor when it is released. The new multiplayer mode will feature clans complete with customizable decals, a 3D lobby for soldiers waiting between games, and new game modes and environments to battle in.

The big news with the game comes in the new features. Battles won't be confined to Mechs alone, as gamers can now jump in and out of Mechs, and even hijack enemy Mechs using the battle armor, a sort of 31st-century plate mail. Pilots will also be able to hop onto turrets, drive futuristic tanks, and fly VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) vehicles that can drop bombs and carry passengers to different parts of the maps.

MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf is rated "T" for Teen and carries a $49.99 price tag. It currently has the uncommon ship date of December 28, just after the holiday shopping season ends. For more information on the game, see our previous coverage.

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