Don’t tread on the daisies! Review

MechWarrior 3 Info

genre

  • N/A

players

  • 1 - 8

Publisher

  • Atari

Developer

  • N/A

Release Date

  • 12/31/1969
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PC

rating

Don’t tread on the daisies!

We are the Eridani Light Horse, most distinguished among combat units. Our enemies

of Clan Smoke Jaguar must die. Their invasions into the sacred territory of our

inner sphere must end for all time. Kill the head and the body will die…

You have been selected for the most important mission in our offensive. While

the bulk of Inner Sphere forces crush the Clanners on Strana Mechte, you shall

lead a commando raid upon the world of Tranquil. You shall destroy Smoke Jaguar

production facilities, military emplacements, and their battle force. You will

crush buildings, burn bridges, squash ground troops, and eventually take down

the military leader of Smoke Jaguar, Galaxy Commander Brendon Corbit.

Such is your purpose in MechWarrior

3
, a game of BattleMech combat set in FASA’s legendary BattleTech universe.

Mech 3 is the official sequel to MechWarrior 2 and

Mech 2: Mercenaries, which were both created

under the auspices of Activision, who have since lost the license to Microprose.

For those of you still unfamiliar with BattleTech or the MechWarrior

series of games, here’s a quick intro. BattleTech is a system of combat between

large, lumbering, anthropomorphic machines. The 50 foot tall machines are controlled

by human pilots, whose movements are mimicked by the BattleMechs. ‘Mechs carry

enough firepower to level a city block in a few seconds, can run at speeds of

up to 110 MPH, and may be outfitted with JumpJets which allow them to fly through

the air. In addition, the torso of the Mech may swing from side to side in a

180 degree arc, causing Mech combat to be a nimble, graceful, and precise form

of combat, even though the combatants maneuver at a sluggish pace compared to

your average human.

It has been a long time since the last MechWarrior game (aside from

the strategy game MechCommander),

and since this one has a different developer, the question arises: Does it measure

up? Is it as good as Mech 2?

In a word, no.

The combat has been enhanced and expanded, resulting in better gameplay. But

key elements of the game, which in Mech 2 were responsible for the game’s

incredible atmosphere and immersiveness, are cut short in Mech 3, giving

way to a sometimes better, but ultimately soulless action experience.

To begin with what is good, look no further than the actual Mech combat. Quite

simply, battling in BattleMechs has never before been this much fun. The inclusion

of new features such as constant beam lasers rather than the old ‘energy projectile’

ones, writes new rules for how to proceed in battle. Having to keep a laser

targeted on a specific part of a Mech for an extended period of time changes

your whole attack style.

Other great new features include the ability to deform terrain, stomp on buildings,

and bring down mammoth structures on the heads of your opponents, crushing them

resoundingly. There are also great new little details like a zoom reticule and

your cockpit bucking and swaying when hit by incoming fire. Charging a line

of hostile enemy Mechs takes on a dramatic, almost WW2 air combat simulation

feel. Combine this with new, truly incredible graphics for the Mechs and some

fantastic fireworks, and you’ll see that Mech 3 has more energy and provides

more fun than any of the previous Mech titles.

To add to the bounty, the missions are all very well designed. Ranging from frontal attacks on major bases to underground strikes on thermal reactors, the missions are enticing, varied, and eminently playable. In fact, once you start Mech 3 it is very difficult to cease playing until you beat the game. Unfortunately, with only 20 missions in the one-sided campaign, Mech 3 flies by far too quickly. However, good multiplayer and an excellent instant action mode ensure several more hours of fun once the campaign is completed.

Graphically, Mech 3 is something of a quandary. Although the Mechs

themselves are incredibly detailed, the terrain is somewhat more angular and

less ‘rolling’ than it should be. Also, the terrain uses textures that are washed

out and dull when compared to those on the Mechs. However, the overall graphical

effect is sufficient to support the game. Flame, explosions, and other special

effects are all very attractive. The Mechs are simply stunning, water and other

environmental effects are handled with aplomb, the detailed 3D cockpits help

draw you into the action, and you can’t help but smile at the delightful ways

that the Mechs perish amid smoke, flames, electrical sparking, and a gnashing

of servo-motors. The sounds that accompany all this action are truly first rate

and lend a hard edged feel to combat, giving Mech 3 an edge over the

esoteric variety found in the recent rival StarSiege.

Sadly, it is in atmosphere that Mech 3 fails. The first problem is apparent

in the interface, which is technical, military, and completely lacking the immersive

first-person feel of the Activision MechWarrior shells. The next failing

is that you are now piloting for the Inner Sphere instead of the Clans as you

did in Mech 2. While from a moral perspective this is preferable (the

clans being genocidal maniacs), it also takes much of the sense of culture out

of the game. The clans have elaborate new social classes and command structures

which, when mixed with a highly developed sense of almost religious fervor,

made playing for the clans a unique experience. Who can forget wondering just

what the hell the ‘Keshik’ was, or marveling at how the Clan’s Mechwarriors

earned promotions by winning fatal duels against their comrades in arms? Playing

for the Inner Sphere is essentially like being an American (Hey! Watch it,

commie. – Ed.)
, which although preferable to the humanitarian, is of less

interest to a fan of intriguing science fiction.

Music is a key issue in Mech 3. Games that truly excel in the music

department usually manage to distinguish themselves in terms of feel and originality.

Mech 2 was an excellent example of this, featuring a beautifully composed

neo-classical techno score that brought the gamer into the experience and really

transported you a unique world. Mech 3, unfortunately, includes only

2 actual music tracks on the CD. Although these tunes are well-composed and

have a feel that is similar to the Mech 2 music, the Mech 3 soundtrack

just comes up short. This makes the entire game feel far more ordinary and military

than the mysterious and intriguing Mech 2 and Mech 2: Mercenaries.

It’s a pity, because if the atmosphere and depth in Mech 3 had been up

to par with the rest of the Mech series, it would easily have been an ‘A-‘ game.

In the end, MechWarrior 3 is an excellent simulation of piloting a

BattleMech and stays true to all the precepts laid down by FASA in the BattleTech

board games. It manages to be a hard hitting, enduring action title. Unfortunately,

it is also marred by a lack of atmosphere and a few rough edges. Mechwarrior

3
is a superior action game, but an inferior overall experience to the previous

games in the series. Fans of Mech combat should definitely try it out, but perhaps

take out the old Mech 2 CD during play, pop it into the stereo, and just

let it all flow. . . while you keep an eye out for Heavy Gear 2.

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

4
Rating
Excellent combat action
Fantastic Mech graphics
Good missions
Excellent new additions to the Mech paradigm
Lacking in 'Mech' atmosphere
Disappointing music