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    Mechcommander 2

    Reviewed by Raven

    System Requirements:
    P2 266+ or equivalent (400 if no 3D acceleration)
    Windows 98, ME, 2000
    64MB RAM
    400MB Disk space for typical install, + 200MB for swap file in game
    4x+ CD ROM Drive
    8MB+ SVGA Card

    I’ve always been a rabid MechWarrior fan, having completed all of the Mechwarrior games, I can willing say that I have wasted many a night trapped inside my Mech’s cockpit, attempting to blow up any and all who got in my way.
    When I first got my hands on the original MechCommander, I have to admit I was surprised and quite impressed. The game had a feeling unlike any other, it was a strategy game, but because you controlled so few units, and because of the emphasis placed on developing your Mech’s and pilot’s abilities, there were also some very interesting Role Play elements. When I heard that Microsoft had bought the rights to develop MechCommander 2, I was doubly excited, and after seeing some of the earlier media, I had very high expectations for this game. In retrospect, it seems my expectations were justified, because despite a few selected shortcomings, MechCommander 2 is a wonderful title, worth adding to anyone’s CD collection. Before I get on with reviewing the game, its probably worthwhile to quickly set the scene story wise.
    In the distant future, humanity now spans over countless planets and galaxies. In a time of constant war and civil unrest, the threads of unity that once bound our race together have vanished, leading to the formation of several warring Houses within the Inner Sphere. The year is 3068, and you are the leader of an elite group of Mechwarrior mercenaries. Armed with your giant, forty-foot, nuclear powered, heavily equipped, walking killing machines (Mechs); you have been hired by house Steiner to remove the bandit problem from the planet Carver V. In the coming months, your decisions and actions as a MechCommander will ultimately decide the political fate of the planet. Sound exciting? I hope so.
    Click for a larger imageMechcommander 2 consists of 5 training and 24 semi-sequential campaign missions, dealing with the Carver V incident. Sadly this is one of the most disappointing aspects of the game, with so few missions and no split or alternative endings there is very little replay value. Thankfully though all of the missions are moderately long, and many, especially those encountered later on, will require more then one attempt to complete successfully.

    For those unfamiliar with the Mechcommander series, you are in control of a squad of Mechwarriors in an RTS setting. In the game, you can control up to 16 Mechs on the field at once, although Mech tonnage limits for each mission mean will that you will be limited to between 4-7 Mechs for each mission . Field control consists of everything from movement, to what part of an enemy Mech to target. 
    Prior to the start of each mission you are shown a briefing, depicting a recorded video clip, as well as data on your current mission, which included target, possible strategies and some of the enemies which you are likely to face. The video clips are done well and sets a nice scene for each missions. The read outs for each missions are packed with important data, that become critical, when deciding which Mech’s to use.
    As noted above, after the briefing you are then allowed to choose the Mechs you wish to pilot. Mechs can be salvaged from the battlefield during your mission, or purchased in the mission briefing screen. Each Mech’s weaponry can be easily customised and added to as savaged technologies improve. From here you then select a Mech Warrior to pilot each Mech. Mechwarriors have the ability to specialise in different areas, ranging from Jumpjets capabilities, to Weapon Arrays, to Mech Sizes. As your Mech pilot's gain field experience, the will become better suited to a particular type of Mech, making them more effective pilot and giving then a definite edge in combat. Thankfully the interface for doing all this is straightforward and very easy to use. Infact, all of the interfaces in Mechcommander 2 are easy to use, and this is again one of the strong points for this game.

    Once you put your Mech’s onto the field, you are set a list of Primary and Secondary objectives to complete. For you to achieve victory all of the Primary objectives must be completed. Secondary objectives however, usually give very big cash payouts, so it would be very foolish not to go for these as well. How you achieve your objectives is completely up to you. Objectives can include, seeking out and destroying a particular unit, sweeping a sector and eliminating all enemy forces, capturing a locating, or defending a friendly location and protecting friendly units. The bottom line is that all of these mission objectives involve facing a force bigger then your own, and eliminating this force before they do the same to you.

    Once the mission has started you can take control of all of your Mech’s and issue complex movement and combat orders. On the higher difficulties settings, I found myself using the pause function often, especially in long drawn out battles, where the key is to take out enemy units as quickly as possible. You are also allocated a certain amount of "Resource Points" to use for certain options like calling for support units such as artillery, repair trucks or scout choppers. The game is fully customisable and provides a whole score of keys which can be used to toggle special actions, such as jump gets, or target slot and target ranges for engaging enemy Mechs. To the next page

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    Zalman: ZM-DS4F Headphones

    An affordable, ultra-portable headphone set.

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