It's a fantastic introduction to the MechWarrior series for those who haven't yet discovered it, and should have enough depth to keep veterans involved for a long time.
The MechWarrior series is probably one of the most recognizable in computer gaming. Based on the Battletech pen-and-paper tabletop game, the series has become more popular on the computer than the original game ever was. The Battletech license has bounced between developers over the years, but with the fourth game in the series, it has finally come home. MechWarrior 4: Vengeance was developed by designers from FASA, the company that originated the board game and developed the Battletech virtual reality centers, where you could actually sit in a large capsule and play a multiplayer computer game with other similarly outfitted combatants. While MechWarrior 4 has returned to its roots in this sense, the latest action-packed addition to the venerable series is actually a departure from the previous games. It can be dangerous to meddle with a successful franchise, but in the case of MechWarrior 4, the changes are for the better.
The MechWarrior series focuses on combat between mechs, which are giant mechanized robots with human pilots. You control one of these mechs from a first-person (or third-person) perspective. Mechs come in different sizes and are armed with a variety of weapons, but the point is always the same: to blow things up. MechWarrior games are more complicated to play than shooters because of the skill required in piloting the mechs, but they aren't as technically involved as some pure military simulations are. In this respect, MechWarrior 4 does a good job of emphasizing action without compromising the basic military simulation feel. It's a difficult balance, but MechWarrior 4 pulls it off.
The graphics in the game are absolutely superb. A configuration utility lets you choose the exact options that will maximize the frame rate on a given machine, and those with a decent processor and a fast video card can enjoy beautiful terrain, detailed mechs, and spectacular explosions and weapon effects. It's been less than two years since the last game in the series was released, but MechWarrior 4 is still a significant step forward, graphically. The visual impact of the game is heightened by the fact that the mission maps are varied and appropriately decorated with trees, buildings, and the like. This sort of terrain looks much better than the relatively desolate maps of MechWarrior 3. Also, because of the addition of smaller vehicles such as tanks and missile launchers, MechWarrior 4 effectively conveys the sense that you're piloting something really enormous. In short, the graphics really enhance the game.
MechWarrior 4's audio effectively supports the game's stunning visuals with appropriate sounds of missiles launching, lasers, and a range of other effects that sound believably like futuristic weapons. You'll also notice the different sounds made by the mechs as they walk over different terrain like snow, desert, or swamp. If the game's audio has a weakness, it's that your lancemates who accompany you in battle aren't very active on the comm frequencies, and the lack of radio chatter makes the single-player campaign sound somewhat sterile. There are scripted broadcasts during the missions, but they only partially solve this problem. Of course, this isn't an issue in the game's multiplayer mode.
MechWarrior 4's predecessor was criticized because its single-player campaign was limited to about 20 missions, so the campaign was short and forgettable. This new installment has an expanded campaign that contains more than 30 missions in a variety of environments. You play as the sole heir of the House Dresari, and you are tasked with restoring Davion rule in your homeworld of Kentares IV. Starting from a secret base on a moon orbiting the planet, the campaign takes you through arctic, alpine, desert, and swamp environments before ending in a series of titanic clashes in an urban jungle. The cutscenes between missions are acted out fairly well and move the story along nicely, while the various lancemates available to choose from have well-developed personalities and notable strengths and weaknesses in combat. The key to the campaign is salvaging destroyed enemy hardware as you go along so that little by little you get to design new mechs for use in subsequent missions. The pace of salvage ensures that you won't have the really big mechs available to you until you need them. There is a good mix of offensive, defensive, and recon missions during the campaign, all with varied objectives, but none of them are particularly difficult. Experienced MechWarriors might be somewhat disappointed at the ease of the campaign, even on the highest difficulty level.
- 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: