Mercenaries is the perfect stand-alone sequel: improved enough for hard-core players, yet accessible enough for novices.
The MechWarrior franchise has now been around so long that it's running out of names. Aside from the numerical designation, MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries shares its name with a product released as part of the MechWarrior 2 line. Both covered essentially the same ground, but unlike the 1996 game, MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries version works beautifully right out of the box. It's as polished as the rest of the Microsoft-published games in this franchise, and while it doesn't have the same impact that the original MechWarrior 4 had two years ago, it's still a very good game.
Mercenaries is essentially a stand-alone update to 2000's MechWarrior 4: Vengeance. It's fully compatible with the Inner Sphere and Clan Mech Pak expansions, so you don't lose any functionality by upgrading. Some of the weapons have been rebalanced, but for the most part, it's the familiar MechWarrior 4 gameplay.
In the single-player campaign, you play as a mercenary leader. You jump around the galaxy, visiting various worlds and completing missions, which eventually opens up new worlds with new missions. There are maintenance costs to be paid in each cycle, so initially you'll have to stay on a single world to avoid paying fees due to time spent in hyperspace. You'll eventually get the chance to lead two full lances of mechs (but only when the game specifically lets you, not simply when you can afford it) and keep track of your standing with House Steiner and House Davion. The uneven cutscenes in Vengeance have been replaced by decent, if campy, voice-overs, although the voice work gets tiresome if you have to repeat the missions too often.
While the campaign might appear to be dynamically generated, it's really a scripted (albeit branching) campaign in which your choices early on affect the ones that become available later. It's not really possible to fail, since if you don't complete a mission you just restart, so you don't have to worry about destroyed mechs or mounting cycle costs. The missions have a good mix of recon, assault, and stealth objectives, and the game has three endings based on your mission choices, so you can't just play on indefinitely, taking assignments and building up your mech arsenal. A nice addition is the Solaris gameworld, where you can go and fight gladiator-style battles for cash prizes in different weight classes. You start in the light mech class and progress to assault, and there are factory, coliseum, and jungle maps to choose from, each with its own ladder. The only disappointment is that the encounters are scripted at each level, so if you fail to place in any round, your subsequent fights will have the same mechs and placement.
- Player Reviews: 24
- Game Universe:
- MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat Arcade Combat Edition (PS, SAT),
- MechWarrior Online (PC, X360),
- MechWarrior 4: Vengeance (PC, ARC),
- MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries (PC),
- MechWarrior 4: Clan 'Mech Pack (PC),
- MechWarrior 4: Inner Sphere 'Mech Pack (PC),
- MechWarrior 4: Black Knight Expansion (PC),
- MechWarrior 3: Pirate's Moon Expansion Pack (PC),
- MechWarrior 3 (PC),
- MechWarrior 2: Titanium Trilogy (PC)
- Number of Players: