“I guess you’ll just never be good enough. . .”
The Battletech series is one of the best selling in history, as evidenced by the huge cult following, comic book, and even TV series that have seemingly created a whole world and society of Mechwarriors and other battle droids. It has transformed the Battletech saga into a universe of epic proportions, reminiscient of the Robotech saga that engulfed new age science fiction and adventure fans alike, which brings us to our latest adventure on the Saturn.
Mechwarrior 2, the latest in the Battletech series, is one of the most long awaited Sega Saturn conversions out there, and on top of that, it seemingly has all the features and options for a strong combat simulation. Although not quite as deep as the computer version (you can’t create or edit Mechs), the storyline is complex. You play the role of Beginner in your own quest for glory climbing up the military ladder, from private to general, in either of two clans (the Jade Falcon or Wolf clan). With a hatred rivaling the Hatfields and McCoys, the clans fight with reckless abandon.
To start, the graphics in the fight scenes are good, but the Mechs are a bit blocky and should be more defined. The colors are a bit shady, probably to add to the serious tone of the game. The Saturn is not known for breathtaking pallets of vivid color and brightness anyway. Although the handling of the Mechs in the game is a little tight, the graphics are very smooth and fluid.
There are a slew of great options in this piece of work, like a few nice practice missions that take you through the basics. I like the drill sergeant who takes you through training; he’s tough and scary sounding. Besides, a little constructive critism never hurt anybody, right, chum?
You can choose from all kinds of powerups and weapons, from machine guns to SSRM-4’s (wow). There’s also a number of Mechs to choose from, and little preferences based on height (which is funny because they’re all as big as a damn skyscraper anyway), speed (how fast could something that big really go, yaknowwhatahmsayin?) and firepower (16 story gats). There are many missions, which gives it some replay value, plus training (for suckas only) and 15 extra missions or levels because it’s “Arcade Edition”, which had me juiced.
Because of the immense combination of options, and only so many buttons, the game will seem clumsy at first. Joking aside, target practice is essential for anyone trying to get the basics down. Strategically, the game makes you think, because you have to know the effects of each weapon, how much heat it will apply on the Mech, how many of them you have at your disposal, and even which weapons to make part of your arsenal.
Often you will catch yourself pressing the wrong buttons, even after you would have thought that you would have learned it. There are so many buttons that there’s a little reference card in the game package. The gameplay doesn’t seem to equal the glory of its predecessors, but maybe that’s because the standard has been raised since earlier versions of Mechwarrior. Despite all the Mech and weapon choices, it always seems to come down to running in circles with another Mech trying to get behind it and shoot it. Some of the strategy seems to have been thrown out the door, because the computer is constantly “outsmarting” you by hitting you from behind. It’s not that bad when a lot of Mechs are on the field, because everyone’s not just bumping and running. Most of this depends on the kind of Mech you’re dealing with. The little fast ones like to get behind you while the big, powerful ones like to hide behind objects and open fire.
It is somewhat satisfying completing a mission, but the difficulty in completing the game is tremendous. With over 40 levels, you’re either going to be very happy or get very bored. It just depends on your view of the game, although it does say something for the replay value.
All in all, Mechwarrior 2is a good game, tradition nonwithstanding. I would only recommend this game straight off the shelves to die-hard Mechwarrior fans. If you have a controller, and a little extra space on your computer, I’d recommend you try it there first (like you’re going to buy this game twice. . .). If you’re just merely interested, I’d recommend you rent it first.