When MicroProse announced the sequel to Mech Warrior 2 they must have been in the same sort of dilemma that Ford they ed the Escort. In other words, what do you do when you already have a best selling, universally popular product, but one that's showing obvious signs of age and is in desperate need of a major overhaul?
You can't just drop it and concentrate on something else, because people are badgering you for another version. You can't go adding extra features in the hope of wringing out a few more sales, because you'll lose ground to the competition. And you can't go heading off in a different direction with a new idea, because you'll alienate existing users. It's a tricky one.
Zipper Interactive, the development team hired by MicroProse to oversee MechWarrior 3, were told to start with a clean sheet. They used their own proprietary 30 engine to render the big Mechs, worked closely with FASA to ensure BattleTech authenticity, and are now involved in developing several multiplayer add-on packs for eager punters later in the year.
The new game is better than its predecessor In almost every aspect, trom super-sharp artificial intelligence to deformable terrain. Let's give you an example: imagine that you and your robot conveyance are sniping at a bad guy from behind the girders of a metal bridge. "Hardy har!" you mumble to yourself as his SRM6 rockets dig craters into the ground next to you. "He can't target me." True enough, but that doesn't mean you're safe. The enemy are now smart enough to look for 'related' objectives, and while you stand wondering why your adversary has switched to firing at the bridge supports, the superstructure lets out a metallic groan and collapses on top of your head...
Mech components can now be individually targeted, meaning, for example, that if an enemy is laying into you with his auto cannon, you can actually target the arm carrying it and render it useless. To do this, you use the zoom function which, unlike before, magnifies just a small portion of the screen, making it much easier to see what you're sniping at. And after you've polished him off, you can stomp over and salvage anything that's left behind.
There's been a four-year gap between MW2 and MW3, and the visual improvements are nothing short of darling. The game now encompasses indoor and outdoor environments, from narrow cliff ledges running above hauntingly empty mesas, to the cramped interior of enemy outposts with numerous objects and corners to lurk behind.
Weaponry is now more gratifying than before, with top animation accompanied by great sound effects. Hop outside your Mech to the third-person view and, with a suitably beefy 3D card, you can see your missiles streaking across the landscape to their target. Smoke trails behind them, and an eruption of light and metal fragments shows they've done their job. Ammunition rounds glow and lasers fizz. Enemy Mechs shake and flinch under heavy bombardment, and tumble into an exhausted heap when defeated. If they still have the power, electric motors whir noisily as they scramble to get to their feet again - it's sometimes hard to finish them off; but of course you do.
As before, the top half of your Mech twists independently from the torso, enabling you to swivel round and face your foe while legging it in a different direction. Choice of weaponry is important, as the heavier the gun, the slower your reactions. If you do end up taking damage, a mobile field base enables you to repair your armour and pump up supplies in the heat ot battle.
The Story Is This...
The Inner Sphere (ie you) are still fighting Clan Smoke Jaguar and, as usual, neither side is particularly willing to call it a draw. While the battle rages, a Smoke Jaguar Star Colonel is back on his home world of Tranquil (he tried living on the neighbouring planet of Rather Unpleasant, but the people there were just too nice), preparing a crack battalion of OmniMechs with the sole aim of microwaving your innards.
Your mission is to take part in a commando-style raid on Tranquil and destroy everything with a military purpose. The only trouble is that the Smoke Jaguars know they're beaten, and are likely to rip off both your arms before coming quietly. Luckily you have the assistance of other Inner Sphere Mechs and their pilots.
You can issue them orders, for example, to defend your target, or get them to move into position elsewhere on the battlefield ready for an ambush. Missions, while rather linear and predictable, regularly allow you to take advantage of this.
Developers Zipper were obviously out to impress from the off, and so the first mission starts with your Mech on the edge of a lake, the water texture ruffling gently below you. Engage forward drive and the steady thump, thump, thump of your robot legs disturbs a flock of gulls nesting on a nearby jetty. Thump, thump, thump and you've smashed a boat out of your way; crushed the roof of a fisherman's cottage; stomped on his wife. Thump, thump, thump...
This Could Be Fun
Only something's not quite right here. The game lacks the immersive, strategic feel of Starsiege - with its bulletin boards, news feed and crew roster - ranking outward appearance over ambience. Additionally, the startlingly realistic Mechs make the surrounding terrain look decidedly bland - especially in comparison to the mysterious, far-reaching dunes of Starsiege. And the multiplayer aspects are surprisingly low-key, and don't feature the same sort of effortless connectivity as found in Starsiege and Tribes.
Finally, the main attraction of MechWarrior2-and also of titles like Battlezone-was its choice blend of arcade and strategy. It appealed to a wide range of people, whether they 'dug' Mech games or not The trouble with MechWarrior 3 is that the balance isn't quite right. Maybe the promised multiplayer add-ons will give the game a kick, but until then Starsiege remains the one to beat.
Download MechWarrior 3
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
After scoring the Battletech license from Activision, MicroProse and its developer, FASA Interactive, are hard at work on the next round of mech-thrashing action. Details on MechWarrior III are still scarce as the game's almost a year away from completion, but it sounds like MicroProse is sticking with the tried-and-true MechWarrior style. Players will be able to design and arm their own mechs, then head out into campaign-based combat in worlds littered with swamps, rivers, canyons, and other 3D terrain. By scavenging new equipment and weapons, mechs can be repaired and updated. MW III also promises cooperative or head-to-head multiplayer action over LAN or Internet .
The giant-robot combat-sim wars continue as MicroProse readies the long-awaited MechWarrior 3. MW3 boasts an impressive polygon-generating engine and played smoothly even in the preview version. With crisp lighting effects such as retina-burning explosions and realistic lens flares, weather environments including rain and snow, and a wide variety of customizable Mechs, MW3 looks ready to open fire on Activision's Heavy Gear II.
Meching maniacs Won't be disappointed by Mech 3's improved audio/visuafpackage. Superb details like fizzling steam from laser-heated water and crater-making explosions combine with brutally realistic weather and synapse-bursting Iighting effects to make this a mega Mech. Consistently realistic voice acting and cinema-worthy sound effects in stereo make the missions feel like true military ops, though the bland score will bring your adrenaline down to milder levels.
Manning the Mech
True to MechWarrior 2's Legacy, Mech3 puts virtually every element of your Mech's design and control at fingertips--and the highly responsive controls with rocking force feedback put you right in the cockpit By necessity, this is a very complicated game--but a difficult interface with your A.I.-controlled lancemates and some obtuse campaign-mission instructions needlessly add to the confusion. Plus, the training exercise works only with the game's default control scheme (which is tailored to one specific joystick, the Microsoft Force Feedback Pro) and doesn't explain mech design, weapon theory, or even mid-level attack strategies. Mech 3 doesn't have a learning curve--it has a steep cliff that you'll probably plummet over.
Bottom line: Mech 3 will please fans of the franchise, but it's not the envelope-pusher its predecessor was. This is superior to Starsieges goofy control structure, but Heavy Gear II is eminent There are chinks in this Mech s armor.
- When engaging multiple bogies, destroy one at a time-even a damaged mech can level you with a good shot
- To cripple a mech, concentrate your fire on their legs.
- Attack from the water to pound your foes!