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Product: MechCommander 2
Company: Microsoft
Website: http://www.microsoft.com
Estimated Street Price: $54.95
Review By: Julien Jay

Introduction

Table Of Contents
1: Introduction & Game Basics
2: Strategy & Realization
3: Conclusion

With the approach of Christmas and the holiday season you’re probably looking for some cool new games to have fun with. Since September Microsoft has released a lot of new titles including the one we’ll review here, MechCommander 2. MechCommander 2 is obviously inspired by the Mech universe. By the way, do you know what a Mech is? Well a Mech is a armored robot weighing up to a hundred tons dedicated to struggle against other Mechs. If Microsoft MechWarrior 4 Vengeance propels you to the heart of the action by letting you control and pilot your own BattleMech, Microsoft MechCommander 2 is a real-time strategy game where you’ll have to deploy and control an entire company of these military machines. In comparison, to the first release, Microsoft MechCommander 2 comes with a brand new 3D graphics engine and carries several enhancements we’ll review here.

Features

  • COMMAND ENORMOUS BATTLEMECHS® - MechWarriors take their orders from you! From your dropship, you command up to 16 BattleMechs—from the nimble Raven, equipped with sensors and electronic countermeasures, to the massive Atlas, bristling with deadly firepower. Choose from some of the most popular 'Mechs® in BattleTech history.
     

  • PUT THE RIGHT MECHWARRIOR IN THE RIGHT 'MECH FOR THE MISSION - Leverage the unique strengths of each 'Mech and each MechWarrior to create tactical advantages. Use sensor 'Mechs to uncover enemy locations. Use long-range 'Mechs to weaken incoming assaults. Use jump 'Mechs to bypass enemy fortifications.
     

  • THE POWER TO USE—AND TAKE—WHAT YOU WANT - Capture a weapons facility and refit your 'Mechs with superior new technology. Take a turret control building and watch your enemy's 'Mechs get cut to pieces by his own defenses. Fly in a Salvage Craft, grab a downed enemy's 'Mech, and use it against him in the same mission.

Installation

   As usual with Microsoft, the installation process is painless, and before you ask, yes MechCommander 2 works under Microsoft Windows XP. Installing the game is a matter of minutes. The full installation requires 548MB of free hard disk space, but you can still choose to perform a compact or medium installation (respectively 216.5MB and 453MB ). Once the game is installed, you’re simply ready to play!

  


Microsoft MechCommander 2 Setup Screens (click to enlarge)

The Game

   The first time Microsoft MechCommander 2 is launched users will have to follow a short twenty minute tutorial (divided in five distinct missions) that will present them the basis of the game so they can learn how to handle the interface, how to manage the relief, how to use support equipment and more. Now that the tutorial is finished you can start a new campaign. Before each new mission MechCommander 2 plays a video clip giving you details concerning the objectives of the current mission, the factions involved in the battle and more background information. Those video sequences really add life to the game thanks to their high quality. Once you’ve been briefed by the video a map will be displayed onscreen with the exact location of your assigned objectives as well as some topographical information.

  


Microsoft MechCommander 2 Videos (click to enlarge)

  Now you have to choose the Mechs you want to command as well as their pilots. All the Mechs of the BattleTech universe are available in MechCommander 2 giving you the opportunity to control a wide variety of twenty nine different mechs, but obviously you’ll start the game with basic Mechs, while top notch highly destructive units will be available later on as you progress into the game. MechWarrior 4 fans will be familiar with the Mechlab that is the place to customize the robot’s arming and design (you can customize the colors of the Mech). Obviously you can add or take away guns, missiles, or cooling equipment as long as your Mech doesn’t exceed the maximum authorized weight. For each mission your team can be composed of several Mechs and you can assign a pilot to the mech of your choice. Choosing the right pilot that has the adequate skills for the Mech he’ll command is primordial for the success of your missions. However depending on the mission, the weight of the Mechs that can be transported varies: that means for some missions you’ll only command two or three mechs because of this limitation. Once you have setup your combat unit, your mechs will be dropped somewhere on the map and the mission will begin.  

  

  


Mission Briefing, MechLab and Pilot Assignment Screens (click to enlarge)

GamePlay

   Once your units are deployed on the terrain you will have to use your mouse to give them orders like move, explore and shoot. You can select several mechs at a glance and assign them an objective by simply clicking the enemy unit or building you want to eradicate. Using the bottom area of the battle screen you can select a few mechs holding the shift key while clicking them, to accomplish a special operation while the rest of the mechs struggle against other objectives. It’s a fact that the point and click mechanism doesn’t always work correctly: the cursor is imprecise. The result is that clicks might be incorrectly interpreted by the game thus the wrong unit(s) will be knocked down. Anyway after a little bit of practice you’ll get used to the control correctly the mouse cursor. You can obviously control the way Mechs move by instructing them to run, walk or fly using their jumpers (if available on the mechs you currently command).

   With MechCommander 2 you have to keep in mind you’re no longer a MechWarrior but a MechCommander: that means you don’t act alone anymore but you have to command a whole unit of mercenary MechWarriors to destruct and divide the three noble houses you fight against. Your decisions and strategies have to be efficient and well thought so you can achieve your goal.

   
BushWacker, Atlas, Vulture Mechs Available in Microsoft MechCommander 2

  Strategy & Realization »

 

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