Heavy Gear 2 Review

Nebojsa Radakovic
Heavy Gear 2 Info


  • N/A


  • 99 - 99


  • Activision


  • N/A

Release Date

  • 01/01/1970
  • Out Now


  • PC


“Save Me, Giant Robot!”

A few years back, when Activision first lost its license to the FASA BattleTech

gaming system (and with it the extremely classy and lucrative Mechwarrior

games), most of us really didn’t know what to make of it. We were then pleasantly

surprised to discover that BattleTech was not the only quality robot-combat

game in town and we waited eagerly for Activision’s Heavy

, based on the Dream Pod 9 role playing system. However, Heavy Gear

turned out to be a fairly rough game that could have used another 6 months in

development to work out some gameplay, graphical, and glitch issues. Activision

immediately went to work on Heavy Gear II, intended to lift gamers into

the magical la-la land of gaming euphoria.

So now

we are at a unique moment in computer gaming. The long awaited Starsiege,

Mechwarrior 3, and the comparatively quickly

produced Heavy Gear 2 have all arrived at retail shelves everywhere,

and for the first time, there is real competition in the ranks of oversized

robot combat simulations. To Activision’s credit, Heavy Gear 2 manages

to come out in the lead position thanks to a slick combination of excellent

production values and refreshing, high-energy, intense gameplay.

HG2 is set in the 62nd century, roughly 100 years after the events

of the original Heavy Gear (the box takes a noticeable swipe at Mechwarrior

by proclaiming HG2 to be ’62nd Century Combat’ which is double that of


‘s ’31st Century Combat’). Blissfully, this means that you are no longer

playing Senior Ranger Edward Scott who must prove his innocence, slay the dragon,

and run off with the… yeah, better he’s gone. Instead you are the nameless

commander of a crack team of special ops commandos, dubbed ‘Black Talon.’

Your squad is sent to investigate the recent anti-matter destruction of Peace

River, a large city on Terra Nova. The destruction of Peace River was caused

by those old enemies, the New Earth Concordance (NEC). Because of the new outside

threat from the NEC, the Northern and Southern powers have decided to put aside

their differences and fight the common foe. Your investigations into the destruction

of Peace River will end up taking you to Caprice, a gateway world for interstellar

traffic and the staging area for an imminent attack on planet Earth.

Although the vehicles in Heavy Gear 2, the Heavy Gears, may resemble

their BattleTech brethren, it is important to note the differences in the design

and focus, because they make the gameplay an entirely different animal from

that of Mechwarrior or Starsiege. The most notable dissimilarity

is that Gears are only 12-15 feet tall, as opposed to 30-50 for Mechs. The small

size grants much greater maneuverability in the form of being able to sidestep,

jump, and extend wheels from the bottom of a gear’s feet to double velocity

but halve maneuverability. In a salute to Anime, Gears are also extremely anthropomorphic.

Their arms are actually able to punch, hold guns, utilize cutting weapons such

as swords or axes (a little like in Shogo), and pick

up new hand held weapons. A Gear’s armor is much thinner than that of a Mech

and so it takes a lot less to either kill or be killed, making Gear combat much

more fast paced and tense than the BattleMech variety.

The plot, far more compelling than the corny tale of betrayal found in Heavy

, provides a plausible and dramatic send up for HG2‘s absolutely

incredible campaign.

Missions range from prison breaks, to sorties through swamps, to stealing

spaceships, to driving around the skyscrapers of an Uber-Metropolis, to spinning

and diving through the void of outer space. Although the objectives, length,

and situation of the missions vary widely, they are easily some of the very

best missions designed for any game. They call for a great deal of stealth and

keen use of your intelligent and effective squad mates. All of this makes Heavy

Gear 2
the most strategic ‘bot game out there.

When stealth

inevitably fails, or when you choose to enter combat on your terms, Heavy

Gear 2
really comes into its own as the preeminent robot combat game. You’ll

find beefy weapon sounds, terrific graphics and special effects, extremely destructive

guns and tense action. Simply put, Heavy Gear 2 is an incredible blast

to play. Side stepping out of the way of a rocket strike, jumping over an enemy

Gear, turning in mid air, and vaporizing it with a single rail-gun strike to

the chest is delirious fun.

Heavy Gear 2 is based on an entirely new graphics engine. Dubbed “Dark

Side,” this new engine does wonderful things. The textures, highly developed

landscapes, Gears, special effects, kick-ass explosions, believable 3D trees,

near perfect shadows, wispy dust and smoke trails, and everything else under

the sun is rendered beautifully. It is simply far more pretty than the cartoon-ish

Starsiege or the inconsistent Mech 3.

Sadly, there are a few small issues with Heavy Gear 2 that stop it

from being a better game. The Campaign, juicy though it is, is only about 25

missions long. Without the dynamic campaign option like in the original HG,

the game is far too short, even with the extra Historical Missions and the ‘botmach’

Instant Action. Another gripe, which many may not consider a flaw, is that you

are allowed only one specific Gear for the entire Campaign. Although the Gears

are incredibly customizable (down to assigning very thoughtful ‘perks’ or ‘flaws’),

limiting the Gear choice makes variation only possible if you replay the campaign

from the beginning with a new pilot. And while there are over 70 gears available

for use in the Historical and Instant Action modes, only 5 are available in

the Campaign.

Mild complaints aside, Heavy Gear 2 is a fantastic game. The engaging

story, taut action, meaty sound, epic music, great voice acting, squad mates

who actually kick ass, excellent AI, and eye-watering graphics make it the best

of the three ‘Mech’ contenders. Multiplayer even gets a good rub down in Heavy

Gear 2
, because it’s functional and exciting right out of the box. If you

have a fast enough computer to handle the heavy load (Pentium 300 recommended

by me, 3D accelerator required by them), you’ll find that Heavy Gear 2

is just about as good as it gets for the genre.

There are simply too many things to gush over to cover them all into this

review fairly. It’s a pity. But, suffice to distill it as this: get your ass

out there and buy the game… now, if you please. I’ll be waiting online.


Incredibly Fun Action
Terrific Missions
Great Plot
Exemplary Graphics and Sound
Best of the 'Bots '99