MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries
was considered by most to be the end-all, be-all of the MechWarrior series.
Its wonderful balance of maintaining finances as well as picking the right missions
made for great depth and replayability. Microsoft and FASA are trying to bring
that feeling back with the cleverly named MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries. While
MechWarrior 4 disappointed some with its more simplified MechLab and linear
story, they should be satisfied with the added depth MW4:M brings to the
Those familiar with MechWarrior 4 will
be able to pick up MW4:M and start without any trouble at all. Within 10
minutes I was stomping through the wilderness, blowing stuff up, as is good and
proper in any Mech combat game. There is more to this game than just blowing things
up, though. This time around, the logistics of running these huge war machines
is not behind the scenes or neatly dealt with via plot. Now every decision must
be weighed carefully, and early choices can have far-reaching consequences.
found myself enjoying this aspect of the game almost more than the actual missions
themselves. Selling off scrap and buying new mechs and mechwarriors was quite
a bit of fun, and then tricking out those mechs was also very rewarding. I got
pretty good at customizing mechs for each pilot, so very accurate pilots had PPCs
and Gauss cannons, while those good at piloting and sensors would take lighter
mechs and serve as scouts or support with LRMs.
of the lesser new additions to MW4:M is how squads of mechs are handled.
It's now possible to field two lances of four mechs each, for a total of eight
friendly units in most missions. Eight mechs allow for much larger battles, some
of which are just crazy. One of my personal favorite missions has the player on
the front line of a major battle, trying to hold a mountain pass. This mission
involves friendly units not under the player's control, so there ends up being
a lot more than just eight friendly Mechs on the playing field. Believe me, having
upwards of 24 mechs in a mountain pass, throwing everything they have at each
other, is quite a sight to see.
more people to watch your back does not come without a price, however. Dropping
the squads down from the orbiting ship costs a lot of money, and the more tonnage
you take down to the surface, the more it costs. Also, more mechs in combat means
more repair costs, and so taking a full complement isn't always the most financially
feasible option. I found that during the first time through the game, it was pretty
hard to keep my company in the black financially, and after running about 15 missions
or so I had to start over to apply all the tricks I'd learned.
over isn't that big of a deal in this case, as there are a ton of missions available,
some of which are mutually exclusive. For example, a planet might have two missions
available to them. One is to attack a certain base, and the other may be from
the owners of that base, asking you to defend it from an impending attack. Of
course, it is impossible to do both. The replayability is extended in more ways
than just through the variety of missions, however. For example, at the start
of each campaign, the player can pick from several different Mercenary groups
to join. These groups all have different benefits and drawbacks. Some pay more,
while others give you early access to certain technologies, and so on.
of technologies, those familiar with the BattleTech universe will be glad (or
dismayed, depending on your thoughts on game balance) to see the timeline has
advanced and there are new weapons, mechs, and other technologies. My personal
favorite, though it is broken beyond all belief, is the Medium Range Streak Missiles.
Two sets of MSRK 40's will knock just about any mech down and do some serious
While I enjoyed the single player
aspect, the multiplayer was fairly lacking. I've never found a mech combat game
with a solid multiplayer aspect, though the closest was Heavy Gear 2. Mechs
are big and slow, so it ends up being little more than a slugging match. What
I would like to see is Co-op, so that there would be actual mission objectives
and a reason to work together with more than just heavy mechs, but alas, no such
luck. It's too bad, because Mercs is the perfect setting for Co-op play; it'd
be nice to be able to go through the entire single-player campaign with my friends.
I was excited to install this game because I'd installed
a new video card since playing the original MechWarrior 4. Mercenaries
uses the same engine as its predecessor, and while still not bad, it isn't as
pretty as some similar games which have come out since then. Specifically, the
gorgeous graphics and little details of Comanche 4 spoiled me.
not to say this game doesn't have its moments. It's obvious that great care was
taken in animating the mechs, and it shows, especially in combat. Gauss hits stagger
all but the heaviest, whereas laser blasts don't actually move a mech at all.
It's still very satisfying to nail a Madcat in the back with linked Gauss shots
and watch it stagger forward, barely staying on its feet.
The sounds from
MechWarrior 4: Vengeance make a return appearance here. Thankfully, different
voice actors are used, so we don't have to sit through the horrific wooden acting
found in MW4. The music is pretty good, very inspiring and gets the blood
going. It's not as good as the fantastic music found in MechWarrior 2 and
MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries, but still excellent.
Mercenaries has the same control setup as MW4,
so there's not much to discuss here. I found myself switching to a mouse instead
of my usual joystick, simply because precision aiming is much easier that way.
Aiming is much more important this time around, since cockpit hits or blowing
off legs results in a mostly unscratched mech for salvage. In all, I never had
any real problem with the controls or interface, as everything was easy to understand
While MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries had some pretty large shoes
to fill, I think most fans of the series will be pretty happy with what is offered
here. The relative shortness of the campaign is balanced out by the variety of
missions and replayability of the campaign. As is good and proper, this game allows
you to stomp around in giant robots and blow stuff up. What more could you ask