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    Mechcommander 2 - Page Two

    One of the best things about Mechcommander 2 is the obvious improvement that has gone into the AI. All the commander needs to do now is worry about which way to move each Mech, and where and what to target. The AI now determines the optimal firing range, and Mechs will go to that range and attempt to fire consistantly from there. This is a big improvement from MC1 where Catapults would often play statues when enemy units got in to close for Long Range Missle packís to be effective. The Mechs can now determine their optimum firing range based on their loadout and move in any direction to adjust accordingly. Enemy AI however is equally as good, now enemy units attempt to flank and gang up on weaker Mechs, aim for target slots such as legs and heads, and most disdainfully, have the annoying habit of taking out sensor equipped Mechs, leaving you virtually blind to the goings on of enemy units outside of your screen.

    One of the best features of Mechcommander 2 over Mechcommander 1 is the removal of Fog of War, which now allows you to see the landscape of the entire map during a mission. This means that you can plan almost all of your assaults using geographic features such as hills and forest to your advantage. Enemy units however can not be seen on the mission map and can only be detected by either line of site, or sensors. Capturing sensor towers in missions, are vital where they are available.

    Click for a larger image Another feature I absolutely love about Mech Commander 2, is the ability for in game salvage of Mechís. Once a Mech has been salvaged, one of your Mechwarriors will be flown in to pilot it for the duration of the mission. By reducing the damage on enemy Mech and blowing out specific slots, such as the head, you can easily gain near perfect Mech, adding to you arsenal for each mission.

    Overall the default difficulty doesnít pose too much of a problem, if you plan your missions and use the abundance of resources and Mechs which can be salvaged, you should be able to do almost all of the missions on your first attempt. However on higher difficulty settings the game literally becomes insane, and is a worthy test of any Mechcommander no matter how great their skills. On the hardest difficulty setting it took me 3 attempts just to beat the first mission.

    Now onto graphics, I can thankfully say that Mechcommander 2 plays like a 3D rendered, 2D RTS. Unlike other 3D strategy games, there is no need to rotate camera angles or fiddle with your isometric view, the designers never fell into the trap (although zoom, pan, and rotate are still available). One problem I do have with the graphics engine is that on some missions, such as the Moon Base mission, enemies on the very edge of the map, can actually become invisible and impossible to see or target without rotating the camera.

    Overall the rendering for Mechs, weapons and landscape, is beautiful and a treat to watch. Its hard to describe the feeling of being able to zoom in and watch a near scale Assault Class Mech in all its glory, blowing apart any and all targets within its range. Blowing up large fuel containers that leave huge creators is especially satisfying, as is watching near crippled enemy Mechís spark and drag injured limbs in an attempt to run away.

    Of special note is the soundtrack that accompanies this title. There are a variety of tracks, some subtle, some fast paced, but all sound beautiful and seem to add to the heavy action. Sounds effects are also of a very high quality. 

    Click for a larger image Multiplayer for MechCommander 2 is another strong point. Itís clear that Microsoft spent plenty of time working out all the bugs. Using the Internet Gaming Zone, it is easy to find other players to play with, and with fast servers and limited lag, games run fast and smoothly. There are a variety of different gaming modes for multiplayer including Last Man Standing, Death Match, Team Capture the Flag and so on. In each game you can set different C-Bill restrictions, as well as time and tonnage limits. 

    Single Player however does not include these different play modes, and that undoubtedly hurts the overall playability and replay value from this game. MC2 has been creamed in a number of recent reviews, because of its lack of replay value, it is important to note her, that Carver V is a single campaign and there is a screen in the GUI for choosing campaigns, it is highly likely that in the future Microsoft will release a number of additional campaigns for this title, and judging from the number of patches and additions made to Mechwarrior 4, odds are other features will be imbedded to add additional single player gaming modes to this title. 

    In summary, MechCommander 2 is a game of the highest quality, as was expected from this Microsoft title. Even though it may not have the long lasting value of a Starcraft or Half Life it is sure to gain and keep the interest of any budding strategy gamer. This game tries to make amends of all of these flaws of the original, and does so with flare. Overall I give MechCommander 2 a positive rating of 89, only hampered by its lack of replay value, and lack of playability for single player gaming.

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