I make absolutely no secret of the fact that I love giant robots. I love Japanese giant robots - magical super robots like Gurren Lagann and more realistic robots from Mobile Suit Gundam both. I love American giant robots like Megas XLR. In my childhood, I spent hours playing with my friend's Transformers and Power Rangers figures ... so I'd be lying if I said that there wasn't a part of me that was excited to sit down and try out NCSoft's mech-based online action game Exteel purely on the basis of the subject matter.
The premise in Exteel is roughly as straightforward as it gets: you have your giant robot and must fight and blow up other giant robots in order to win fame and fortune (well, not so much fame), with which you upgrade your giant robot so it can blow up other giant robots more effectively. There's no plot whatsoever - which is nice, as it means that there is nothing to really get in the way of me and my monstrous mechanical mayhem.
Exteel's controls are equally straightforward and simple: keyboard and mouse. Your Mechanaught can hold a weapon in each hand (excepting large two-handed weapons), used with the respective left and right mouse buttons. Every Mechanaught has two different weapon sets that you can quickly swap between. For the most part, the controls are sleek and intuitive - however, the application of these controls is slightly less so.
It's worth mentioning that simple movement in Exteel is surprisingly fun. Doubletapping the movement keys (or jump) will activate the equipped booster, allowing your Mechanaught to quickly glide across the ground or boost into the air and draining a gauge that refills extremely quickly when not in use. It's hard to explain precisely what is so entertaining about the movement, but the intuitive, slick use of the booster was possibly what first drew me into the game.
Exteel's combat, unfortunately, isn't quite as intuitive. My biggest gripe is that with the exception of swords and rockets, every gun in the game requires you to lock on to an enemy in order to do damage. While this certainly makes sense and feels natural when using long-range cannon weapons, it's jarring to fire two submachine guns at a foe, see the bullets connect yet not do any damage. To be fair, locking on requires nothing more complex than briefly holding one's target reticule on the enemy and it's something one eventually becomes accustomed to doing. Even so, it still occasionally breaks immersion during dogfights.