I <3 Mecha Games: Mechwarrior 2 Mercenaries
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Basic Premise: Giant 50+ ton robots blasting each other to bits with lasers, missiles, particle cannons, etc.
A Little More In-depth: It's the 31st century, and humanity remains in perpetual warfare within a region of space called the "Inner Sphere". Giant war machines known simply as Mechs dominate the modern battlefield. As a mercenary pilot, you'll fight for whoever offers the juiciest contract. Little do the denizens of the Inner Sphere realize that the successors of Earth's ancient past have come to claim their birthright...
The Mechwarrior franchise has produced some amazing video games over the years. I didn't get into it until Mechwarrior 4, which also had an expansion called Mercenaries. Disappointed with the "reboot" known as Mechwarrior Online, I went back to try MW2: Mercenaries since it was abandonware (free). From the opening cinematic, I was hooked:
First impressions of Mercenaries aren't that flattering. It's a pretty old game (1996), but with the limitations of the time, you have to admire what they managed to pull off. The game tends to be pretty dark which helps showcase the lighting effects. It can be mesmerizing to see glowing bolts of green, red, and blue lasers streak across the battlefield in the pitch of night. All of these visuals are accompanied by an excellent soundtrack and sound design. Weapons hit with a satisfying thud and the sound of missiles swarming out of their pods when fired makes you really feel like you're unleashing hell unto the enemy. The music tracks are largely moody electronic pieces that help set the somber tone of what you're actually doing: killing for money.
Speaking of which, the gameplay and single-player of Mercenaries still stands up. As the leader of your mercenary company, you get to pick which missions to take on as well as hiring other mercenaries to bring some extra firepower, which you'll probably need. This is not an easy game, as it's more of a "simulation" of what it's like to pilot these steel behemoths. You have to manage speed, heat, weapon cycles, IR vision, independent torso movement, etc. It's a lot to take in if you're not used to this type of game. But once you do, you'll find yourself running circles around those enemy mechs, blasting apart one after another. And if you're lucky, you might be able to salvage those mechs for your own use (or sell them as scrap)! Whatever credits you earn, you can invest back into your company through a customization system that can turn even a puny mech, into a monstrous laser spewing nightmare.
Mercenaries also covers what is my personal favorite part of Mechwarrior history: the invasion of the Clans!
All Systems Nominal
Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries is definitely not for everyone. It's pretty complex by today's standards, it looks pretty dated, and getting it to run on modern systems can be frustrating. But if you're a fan of Mechwarrior or these type of "simulation" games, I think its worthy of your time. And if you have fond memories of it, give it another go and let me know what you think. Does it hold up?
NEXT TIME: Dingo... his name is Dingo...