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MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries Review
developer: Cyberlore Studios
PIII 700, 128MB RAM, 16MB Video Card, 500MB HD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Nov 07, 02 (released)
|» All About MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries on ActionTrip|
It's been a long time since I've had the privilege of playing a Mercenaries game. For me, MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries is probably the best MechWarrior game ever. Every MechWarrior game that has been released has tried to capture the feel of that particular game. I've often wondered if the MechWarrior franchise would return to its roots and now finally the wait is over, as MS has released...the remake of an expansion pack for the 'original sequel' - or something like that... Bottom line is I once again get to play as a cutthroat mercenary - to roam the Star Systems in search of great contracts, and basically kick a whole lot of Clan ass with my heavy-duty 100t chassis!
Damn, if it weren't for those stupid clouds, it would be a perfect evenin' for a Mech-date.
Look at him disintegrate! Sweet!
The original Mercs game was the reason why I became such a fan of the MechWarrior series - it provided more than just action and various mission assignments. Mercenaries was so great because it managed to combine management and RPG elements with furious combat. In Mercs, completing missions isn't everything - it's picking the right missions, managing your resources and knowing the ins and outs of each of your chassis. This game is for the business-savvy, not just the trigger-happy warrior. Of course, when it gets hot, you'll be right in the thick of things, so never fear; you'll experience plenty of metal melting action as a lance leader! It's just that you're in charge of leading a band of mercenaries, and you have to watch over them, your chassis, and your finances, not to mention that you'll eventually have to choose sides in the ongoing civil war. Star Systems can be a fun place, but only if you're carrying plenty of C-Bills and a really big stick!
The year is 3063, and the political backdrop is the civil war between the Federated Commonwealth and the Lyran Alliance. The strife begins with Victor Davion's call to arms against his sister, Lyran Archon Katrina Steiner, following the murder of their brother Arthur.
In this struggle, people with cool heads and great piloting skills are in great demand. The MRBC has just authorized your new company for mercenary work. After securing the required sponsorship from a full-fledged mercenary company: Wolf's Dragoons, Northwind Highlanders, Kell Hounds, or Gray Death Legion, your company has ample opportunity to make a name for itself. As the game progresses you'll be able to sign more dangerous contracts, pilot more powerful mechs and lead a squad of up to seven lance mates into battle. Somewhere along the way, the story will unfold in such a way that you'll have to choose sides in the civil war. Each side has its own reasons for being in this conflict; for you, it's not about politics, it's about money and your lance mates. It's about gaining reputation amongst your peers and reaching the highest possible MRBC rating (ranging from F to A+), so that you can play the toughest missions and earn the highest pay. Of course, just like in the previous Mercs game, the best missions are those that drag you deeper into the civil war and let you play massive full-scale Mech battles. And believe me, the battles in MW4: Mercenaries are more massive than ever! This not only makes the gameplay more captivating, but it also adds an epic feel to the game. Oh yeah, baby! This is what it's all about!
But in order to be successful at your job, you'll really have to take good care of your money, and how you spend it. In your pursuit of the almighty C-bill, you'll have to jump systems, and that costs money. The more mechs you deploy into battle, the more money it will cost to do it. Spending too much money gallivanting about the galaxy will subsequently force you to sell some of your chassis. If that happens, your MRBC rating goes down, since it's based on the type and the number of mechs you own. As a result, you won't be able to sign the best possible contracts and you'll lose money, as well as reputation...a downward spiral that can be avoided by making good business decisions off the field, and sound tactical decisions on the field.
The good thing about this Mercenaries remake is that it manages to capture the atmosphere of the previous game, while adding a more intuitive Mech Lab interface and controls (inherited from MechWarrior 4) and more mechs on screen than ever! Besides that, the 'new' Mercs game places even more emphasis on the management and RPG elements than the original Mercs, which can only be regarded as an excellent addition to the game.
The Armageddon is near.
Let's take 'em out boys!
Mission types are not particularly varied, but they will get slightly more imaginative as the story unfolds. This latest MW game has managed to combine some great elements from the previous installments and fuse them into one really intense and most of all addictive gameplay experience. Bottom line, if you liked the action in MW4 and MW2: Mercs, you're going to thoroughly enjoy this one. And if you get bored from all the 'work', you can always go and play at the Coliseum.
Solaris VII is not a mission so much as an opportunity - an opportunity for you to make some serious C-Bills fast. If you're in need of cash, or if you just like fighting for the sake of fighting and don't mind thousands of rabid fans cheering you - or jeering you - you're going to like Solaris VII. Choose between three arenas, the Factory, the Jungle, and the most infamous of them all, the Coliseum. Yes, that's right - it's the 'Unreal Tournament' of the Solar Systems; a nice break from all the civil war fighting... However, the gladiatorial action on Solaris VII is virtually identical to the Trials from the early MechWarrior games.
Even though the new Mercs game adds new weapons and new Inner Sphere and Clan mechs, there are no notable innovations over the previous Mercenaries game. In a way, this is understandable since I still can't figure out if this game was intended to be a sequel or a remake.
I'm sure that those of you who haven't played the original Mercenaries will find the 'sequel' fresh and tantalizing, and even us jaded mech fans will enjoy it, given that it has been so long since MW2: Mercenaries hit the shelves. Still, the fact that the graphics look pretty much the same as in MW4 (in other words - dated), and that the changes over the original Mercs are mostly superficial (apart maybe from the more massive battles), will leave you with a feeling that the designers could've done so much more with the Mercenaries series, and that they've only suggested but hardly materialized the untapped potential of the this franchise inside a franchise. As it stands, MW4: Mercenaries is a well-polished and excellently executed remake of the original, with the addition of certain gameplay nuances, some of which have been inherited from MW4, and some which have been added exclusively to this game.
However, I can't shake this feeling that Microsoft just fails to realize the full potential of 'Mercenaries' and is instead concentrating on their latest and supposedly greatest mech game yet - MechAssault.
The pressure to up the Xbox sales, and the strong push to try and establish their console on the market is just killing any creativity that was flourishing at the time when some of these great games came out. I think the lead designer of Crimson Skies predicted this would happen in an interview in PCG, but let us leave this discussion for some other time, or a different text.
8.6 Very Good
Well-polished and executed remake of the original Mercs. I really enjoyed playing this one. Massive battles are downright spectacular. Voice acting is topnotch, and the few visual enhancements to the MW4's 3D code (like the better looking explosions) somewhat diminish the fact that MW4: Mercs looks dated;
Only a few superficial changes to the original concept ... which means that the vast potential of the original Mercs is left to whither away until the next remake - or until someone at MS realizes that short-term gains from rehashed products hurt their games business in the long run. It seemed to me that the game was too short; you can get to an A+ rating pretty quickly.
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