The pickins have been pretty slim for console owners who are fans of 'Mech sims. Sure, PlayStation and Saturn gamers can boot up Krazy Ivan and Gun Griffon respectively, but those titles are too arcade-oriented for the tastes of most die-hard robot jockeys. The Mechs in both games handle more like race cars than lumbering, weapons-laden robots, leaving console gamers hungry for something a bit more technical bit more realistic.
That something has been available to PC gamers for more than a year now. MechWarrior 2 is the premier PC 'Mech title-and for good reason. It has a large selection of even larger robots, loads of missions and to top it all off, an epic background story (which is based on FASA's BattleTech RPG universe).
Now Activision is developing MechWarrior 2 for both the PlayStation and Saturn consoles. But gamers aren't going to be subjected to a strictly as-seen-on-PC port. (Although that wouldn't be all that bad, considering the huge following garnered by the PC game.)
The console versions are being redeveloped-so to speak-with the console player in mind. Activision's packing them with enhanced graphics, new missions and a slew of other improvements and changes (see sidebar).
Better yet, Activision isn't simply developing the game for one console and porting it over to the other; both versions' graphics engines are being built from the ground up to take advantage of each system's strengths. Consequently, the Saturn version features sharper, more detailed graphics, while the PlayStation version plays a little better. Both incarnations will move at about the same speed-a breezy 20 frames per second. Activision is still trying to bump that rate up to 25 FPS.
For those unfamiliar with the game, MechWarrior 2 is set in the early part of the 31st century, when control of the galaxy is divided among several warring clans. Peace isn't an option to these militant groups, who instead unleash their armies of 'Mechs to do battle with opposing clans. Players begin the game by choosing a clan-either the Jade Falcon or Wolf clan. They then climb into the cockpit of one of 12 imposing 'Mechs and go on a variety of missions to cripple the enemy clan. As they accomplish missions, players will advance through the ranks, from lowly MechWarrior to Khan, the clan's leader.
MechWarrior 2 features 48 missions in all (as well as a few brief training missions). Both the Jade Falcon and Wolf clan campaigns offer 16 missions, each which gamers can play through in the game's Career Mode. What will really excite MechWarrior fanatics are the 16 other, never-before-seen missions that Activision is adding to the console versions. Murali Tegulapalle, Activision's producer for both console versions, said the idea behind these new missions is to offer something exclusive to console owners.
"We were thinking about adding missions from Ghost Bear (the PC expansion set for MechWarrior 2) and Mercenaries CMech 2's sequel), but these missions are still designed for the PC player," Tegulapalle said. "So we asked, 'What if we went in and made new missions and new campaigns and designed them from scratch with only the console player in mind?'"
That's exactly what the developers did, and, consequently, the new missions play at a faster pace than the 32 other PC-inspired levels. In addition to this multitude of missions, players can also jump into an instant-action mode (called the Trials of Grievance) that puts them on a target-rich battlefield in a decked-out 'Mech. The PlayStation version also supports a Two-player Mode, which requires two consoles and a link cable. The two players can either work together or against each other in the Trials of Grievance minigame.
MechWarrior 2's missions are set on different planets, giving players an assortment of scenery to look at while they're locked in combat From urban landscapes to frozen canyons to scorching deserts, players will tear through plenty of varied terrain. Yet the differfent locales do more than just add visual spice to the game-they affect the performance of your 'Mechs, too. For instance, snow levels let you blast away with your weapons longer, since the sub-zero temperatures protect your 'Mech from overheating. Missions set on desert planets have the opposite effect, so you'll have to avoid going too gung-ho with your guns.
Throughout MechWarrior 2, players will embark on a huge assortment of mission types. Some are routine recon patrols, some escort duty and others are simple search-and-destroy excursions. Each mission is divided into way-points, to which players must guide their 'Mechs, and most waypoints serve as the location of a mission objective. For instance, one mission may have you guiding your 'Mech to the first waypoint, where you'll have to scout the area for enemy 'Mechs. Once the area is clear, you'll need to move on to the second way-point which may be the site of an enemy munitions plant that could use a good blowing up.
If you accomplish both objectives with your 'Mech intact and a few missiles to spare, you can help out your fellow 'Mechs before calling for the dropship that will take you back to base. Scattered between the waypoints are power-ups that players can nab to give their 'Mech an edge in battle (see sidebar).
As players progress through MechWarrior 2's campaigns, they'll earn access to more powerful 'Mechs and weapons. They'll be able to customize their robots with more than 20 different armaments, including lasers, missiles, machine guns and cluster rockets. Some 'Mechs even come with jump jets that give limited flight capabilities.
Combat in MechWarrior 2 requires careful aim, because continued use of your weapons will overheat your 'Mech (a dangerous situation-overheated 'Mechs shut down and become defenseless!).
Like in the PC version, players can also link weapons so that they'll fire in unison. For instance, rockets can be set to fire with lasers to deliver an extra-powerful punch to the armor of enemy 'Mechs. Players should be conservative with linked-weapon fire, however, since it will overheat their 'Mechs that much faster.
The huge arsenal hauled around by the game's 'Mechs may seem excessive, but-trust us-it isn't. MechWarrior 2's robots can take a heck of a lot of damage before they're destroyed. You can blow the arms and one leg off most 'Mechs before they go down for good. (The good news is that your 'Mech can take just as much damage.)
Cockpit displays tell you how much damage you've inflicted on the bad guys. Damaged limbs of enemy 'Mechs glow red, for instance.
The graphics in both console versions are outstanding. Everything-from the terrain to the sky to the 'Mechs-is rendered in detailed texture-mapped polygons. (The texture maps were taken from the special-edition PC version that was developed for high-end 3-D cards.) Lighting effects are used heavily throughout the game, as well. Explosions splash light across the battlefield and shadows play across the cockpit's surface as the 'Mech or its turret change direction. In addition to the sharp visuals, players will hear some way-cool sound effects, such as the digitized female voice that warns you of your 'Mech's damaged systems and explains your mission objectives.
MechWarrior 2 will no doubt appeal to most console owners, who until now really had no access to a detailed simulation of 'Mech combat-unless they own a PC. But players of the PC game may want to check out the console versions, too. With its enhanced graphics, original missions and other new features, MechWarrior 2 is more than a run-of-the-mill PC port. It's definitely new and improved.
Something new lies scattered across the battlefields of MechWarrior 2--power-ups. Each mission zone has these 'Mech enhancements hidden in key areas. For instance, you might come upon a health recharge at a waypoint positioned halfway through a missionjust when you need it most. And don't worry Mech Warrior purists--the game's developers will include an option to turn off the enhancements (or perhaps make them unavailable at a higher difficulty level), so the game will play more like the power-up-free PC version.
Here's a look at the game's eight power-ups. (Note: These enhancements are subject to change once MechWarrior 2 reaches the hands of Activision's game testers.)
Heat Sink Augmentation: Increases the efficiency of your 'Mech's heat-dissipation system, so you can blast away at enemies longer without overheating.
Invincibility; Take the worst your enemies can throw at you without suffering a scratch. Allows you to go on the offensive, too. since you can ram enemies.
Stealth; Hides you from enemy eyes and radar scans. It's the perfect power-up for recon missions.
Jump Jet Lets you jump higher and fly farther than you can with regular turbine engines. This sucker also reduces engine overheat from too much jump jet usage.
Health; Extend your 'Mech's service life with this instant repairjob. It'll even regenerate limbs lost to particularly problematic enemies.
Fire Rate Increase; Give more bang for your buck--or. at least, your weapons charge.
Weapons Reload: Tops out ammo supply for all weapons.
Speed Burst Doubles your 'Mech's running speed for a limited time.
MechWarrior 2 will be well serviced on the 32-Bit machine.
The PlayStation's polygon-pushing power should make the game run smooth and fast.
MechWarrior 2 will take you to the future, where all wars are fought with giant, mechanized warriors. These mechs range from the small, light, and fast Kit Fox. to the hulking, heavy and monstrous Dire Wolves.
Besides pre-existing mechs, you will be able to customize your own. You'll have to make decisions based on your wants and needs. Do you want to spend a lot of money on heavy armor (and an expensive engine to drive this mech) or a lot of space on weapons (and miss out on other features like jump jets)?
MechWarrior 2 will have you run through a campaign of several scenarios. You will also be able to fight in individual battles to prove your valor in combat.
MANUFACTURER - Activision
THEME - ACTION
NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2
Processor: PC compatible, P-200
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode