Strap yourself in and hold on to something!!
This game is neither for the armchair strategist nor for the valium-taking MYST junkie. Mechwarrior II shows exactly how close a PC can get to a pure gaming machine. It will strap you into a giant, beast-like robot and force you to play a three-dimensional style brand of dogfighting on the ground with other mechanical monstrosities. Sparks will fly, realistic computer voices will warn you of impending disaster, and explosions jettison giant churning chunks of metal as your lazers find their mark.
scene is the future, the 31st century to be exact (as the title states), and
you have the opportunity to fight for one of two warring Mechwarrior clans.
These graphics are largely bit-mapped polygons. Battles take place on landscapes
of desert or snow, in the shadows of mountains, crags of bare rock, or man-made
structures. The player can choose to engage in instant action duels to the death
or take part in a longer campaign for glory. There are opportunities to rise
in rank and command squadrons of “mechs” so as to control the destiny of the
clan. A superb tutorial with a mini-storyline is provided for the player to
become acquainted with the game before he or she goes on to the full experience.
Types of missions include working to destroy enemy installations, patrols to
destroy other mechs, or prestigious battles of honor.
Mechwarrior II can be played with a keyboard, but it screams for a
joystick. If one owns a joystick, this game becomes a transcendent experience,
especially if it has a throttle control. Control of the “Mech”
is very smooth and one even notices the regular stagger of the unit as it moves
across the terrain. The sound parallels the movement of the unit almost exactly
and one soon becomes completely immersed within the illusion created by the
virtual environment. Of course, it helps to have a Pentium 90 like this reviewer
does, but it should work fine on a DX4 or even a DX2 with some of the graphics
Another of the more favorable aspects of Mechwarrior II is the realism.
There is quite an artificial intelligence at work here to oppose the player. The
enemy mech will hide behind buildings or rocks, only to fly out when the player
is right on top of him. This creates a sort of Doom style of gameplay that
builds up a certain amount of suspense that is released in a sudden adrenalin
surge. Another aspect of this game is the non-stop chatter one hears either over
the radio inside the mech or from the onboard “computer”. Even during training,
the instructor appears to be a real person as he is continuously shouting instructions
and insults in a loud, barking voice.
One of the best features of this game is the fact that there are not too many
controls. How many times have companies released games whose documentation look
more like F-16 Manuals than instruction booklets? There are no multi-function
keys and no crazy keyboard overlays, simply what is necessary for play and that
is all. In a nutshell, this game was designed well. It does what it was set out
to do, and it does it well. That is all that the general public or the writers
at this magazine can hope for. This game should serve as a textbook example for
all game designers and programmers of how to make a game right.