EarthSiege 2

On the hunt for the perfect MechWarrior clone.

17_1In late 1994, Sierra released their first-ever battling-robot game, Metaltech: EarthSiege, giving MechWarrior fans an unexpected break during the long wait for a sequel to the Activision game. Although it was just one of many similar titles on the market at the time, (Iron Assault, Ultrabots), EarthSiege didn’t dilute the experience with arcade action or simplified gameplay; instead, it delivered a thrilling and demanding simulation that managed to create a believable look and feel for far-future battle in massive, manned robots.

You begin EarthSiege 2 as a new squad leader in charge of three wingmen, with only a handful of weapons, a few types of HERCs (the manned version of the cybrid), and limited resources at your disposal. After receiving a quick mission briefing, you’ll outfit your team, strap yourself into a 100-ton walking arsenal, and jump into defense and strike missions against the cybrid forces in a series of five campaigns.

As soon as you reach the first mission, you’ll notice there’s a striking difference between the original EarthSiege and the sequel. In the high-resolution, SVGA mode, you’ll finally see texture-mapped terrain and structures. And, unlike the original, in EarthSiege 2 those mountains aren’t just obstacles to plot a course around; you’ll actually be able to bound over hills and down into valleys, using the terrain to your advantage. Each of the five campaign settings has its own distinct look: stark, lifeless plains; cracked earth oozing molten lava; lunar landscapes; and a bleak, nuclear-winter setting.

19_1On the battlefield, though, you probably won’t have time to enjoy the scenery; the action is fast and and short, dramatic firefights with the cybrids punctuate every mission. Fortunately, mission difficulty — a sore spot in the original EarthSiege — has been toned down, giving novice players a chance at success. It would’ve been nice to see more variety in the types of missions EarthSiege 2 offers, but MechWarrior 2 fans who were disappointed with the small number of missions in that game will find plenty in EarthSiege 2.

There’s also a lot more to the game than just blindly shooting at cybrids and watching them explode. Each time you’re sent on a mission, you’ll use precious resources from the human resistance. In order to keep a steady flow of weapons and resources coming in, you’ll need to be subtle about how you take down those cybrid forces. By focusing your fire on the legs of a cybrid rather than its body, for example, you’ll leave behind a lot more scrap to salvage (which translates into more raw materials for the resistance), and enough weapons to make up for those you lost in battle. On the other hand, if you continually shoot enemies until they’re ashes, you’ll find you don’t even have enough scrap to repair your existing HERCs.

5_1EarthSiege 2 demands a fine balance between action, tactical finesse, and skill. You’ll also need to make crucial decisions about what to build. As the game progresses, you’ll be able to build newer and better HERCs. There is, however, a lack of HERC types. You’ll find a couple of new ground-based units that provide only modest improvements over the old ones, and a new flying craft called the Razor. While an air attack craft is nice touch to a MechWarrior-type game, the potential is only half realized. The Razor is crippled by sluggish, unresponsive controls and a limited weapons payload.

We’ve seen a bunch of MechWarrior clones of late, and the EarthSiege series is definitely no exception. But while other games are more action-oriented and not that clever, EarthSiege 2 throws in more tactical issues that you must consider during gameplay.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Win95

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