The first PC game I ever played was Mech Warrior. I remember using my older brotherís computer while he was at work, without his consent, of course. I truly enjoyed the whole experience: large robots with destructive weapons, the ability to get contracts, and using any money to upgrade/buy Mechs. When Mech Warrior2 came out, I played the copy my brother had and enjoyed it immensely. I skipped Mech Warrior3 due to the poor reviews it got, in addition to my poor reaction to the demo.
Enter Microsoft with the newly released Mech Warrior 4: Vengeance. Ever since Microsoft signed a licensing agreement with FASA, it has been wondered whether the Mech Warrior franchise can regain its lost luster. Iím here to tell you, it has.
Coming with two CDís, installation of the game went smoothly with two installation options: Minimum or Full install. The minimum install requires around 530MB of hard drive space while the Full install requires 1.004GB of hard drive space. For this review, the Full install was used. It should be noted that DirectX 8.0 is required for Mech Warrior 4 to run properly. DirectX 8.0 is included on the second CD.
Before entering the game, there is an option that allows you to auto-configure the graphical and sound aspects of Mech Warrior 4. These options can help in tweaking the gameís performance on slower machines, although the program selects what it feels is the best options for the computer. There are more options inside the game, but not as specific as what the auto-configure program offers. For the purpose of this review, all options were set to maximum and a resolution of 1024x768 at 16bit color.
Upon start-up of the game, there is a movie that incorporates actors and Mechs together, pseudo-FMV style. While this gets the premise of Mech Warrior 4 off to a good start, the acting is poor. The poor acting continues through out the game with the actors over-acting during briefings and voice-overs. This game couldíve done without adding such cheesy actors in the game.
On the main menu screen, there are a host of choices for playing the game. There is a training mode, so one can get used to controls, movement, and firing. There is Instant Action, where one can take part in a host of gameplay options. While in Instant Action, one can choose do participate in training missions, re-do completed missions, a wave mode (where enemy Mech waves enter the map), and a Master Trial selection (this randomizes ever aspect of the Instant Action options). Multiplayer allows one to use Zonematch to find other players, LAN access for those who are connected to a network, and the ability to specify IPís. There is an option for the MechLab where one can tinker with all the available Mech models. Roster allows one to manage different profiles. Credits & Movies allow one to view shown movies and view the people who developed the game. Options allow one to set new controls, video settings (gamma and resolution only), sound levels, and difficulty. The final selection on the main menu is the Campaign mode. This is the meat of the game and envelops one into the story.
The Campaign begins when you receive the last transmission from your father, a Duke, before he is killed. As part of a resistance, it falls upon you to avenge your fatherís death. Starting on Antares IVís moon, one begins their campaign to restore your familyís rule to the planet. You start off crippling a communications link and end with a full assault on your fatherís castle.