Mech Commander 2

Snap75_1Awesome high-voltage tactical destruction.

Microsoft did a bang-up job putting us behind the controls of 100-ton metal beasts of death in the action-focused MechWarrior 4. But you can’t expect that level of immersion in a strategy game, right? Well it seems the Mech Commander series proves you can. Microsoft has outdone itself, injecting all that Mech mayhem into its second BattleTech-based tactical strategy game. The result is the thinking MechWarrior’s game with almost the same caliber and intensity of pyrotechnics.

Enemy Mechs, tanks, buildings, turrets, fuel drums, and even infantry explode gloriously on the 3D battlefield. The Mechs themselves move with fluid grace (relative to their size) thanks to detailed animations, particularly of their death throes. A fatally stricken Mech will often explode, fall down, and then struggle valiantly to its feet, only to stumble a few more paces before blowing its core reactor in spectacular fashion.

As the commander of a mercenary Mech outfit, your job is to lead your charges through an epic campaign consisting of 24 missions. Anywhere from one to 16 Mechs and support vehicles are at your disposal, depending on the mission. Your goal is to keep as many of your pilots alive as possible while reaping the highest fiscal rewards. Mech Commander isn’t a typical RTS game, though you do have Resource Points to contend with. You must spend points on stuff like vehicle repair or salvaging enemy Mechs.

Snap91_1All of the action takes place on a planet besieged by three warring Houses — all of which will be employers at various points. The new fully-3D landscapes are a welcome addition, and suitably diverse considering the entire game takes place on the one world and its moon. The missions themselves are mostly of the base-assault variety. But there’s enough escort, defend, and seek-and-destroy missions tossed in to keep the strategy options interesting. A typical Mech Commander 2 mission will take an hour, and the larger ones can take two hours.

A few missing features that would have been useful include formations and unit-facing commands, and the AI isn’t extremely clever either. But there’s enough gameplay in the campaign (or the multiplayer, for that matter) to keep any MechWarrior fan in particular – and real-time strategy fans in general – glued to Mech Commander 2 from beginning to end.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 8 MB Video, Win95

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