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All weapons are fitted on the basis of their size and weight, fitting into slots on the torso, arms, and possibly a missile rack on the Mech. There are three weapons categories - beam, ballistic, and missile, and certain slots on each Mech can only hold a certain type of weapon. (E.g. A missile rack cannot hold beam or projectile weapons)
Projectile weapons require ammunition, which take up weight on the Mech, while energy weapons require your Mechs engine to fuel their power. Heat generation is also an issue from energy weapons, and your Mech can take up to a certain heat before reaching critical temperature and the necessity to shutdown arises. For more advanced users the automated shutdown can be overridden at the cost of the chance of parts damage due to overheating. Heatsinks are equipment available to cool the chassis faster, and in addition you are fitted with a certain amount of coolant to flush the system temperature down significantly in one shot.
Most of the key weapon types such s AC cannons, rockets, and lasers were brought forward from the previous installments of the game. There have been enhancements such as machine gun arrays, which are a group of mounted machine guns designed to cause a greater punch. Other additions include the Long Tom, Thunderbolt Missile, and Bombast laser. The concept of amour types has been improved on, with a range including laser reflective and reactive amour, boasting different strengths and weaknesses against different attack forms.
Another feature improved upon in Mech4 is the concept of Lancemates. These act as support to you in battle. You can fit each Lancemates Mech as you see fit as well as provide commands in the battlefield as you see fit.
The user interface of Mech4 is similar to that of Mech 3, except the aim cannot be fine tuned with the mouse, thus requiring more keyboard control in order to aim.
For those who aren't familiar with the controls of a Mech, the basics include throttle, turning ability, and torso twisting in addition to the look up/down commands. An adjustable throttle, rather than a start/stop interface sets the speed of the Mech. Acceleration rate can be taken into effect depending on the engine and size of the chassis, as well as the terrain slope. Your Mech will also turn at the legs - although fairly slow due to the 100-ton weight they are lifting. Your upper torso can as shift to look up and down, but another key feature is that of the Torso Twist. This is similar to strafing in FPS games, except your entire torso turns to face a different direction from that which your legs are moving. It is in this fashion that you can circle around another object, and therefore not become a sitting duck, while maintaining a lock on the target.
One feature that was allowed in Mech3 was the ability to use the mouse to fine tune aims within a small area, which is no longer in Mech 4. This makes it somewhat harder to keep a precise aim on an object as you will be needing both hands on the keyboard to fire the weapons, enable special functions such as jump jets and coolant flush, as well as controlling your velocity, direction of movement, and aim using your torso movements.
The GUI of the game includes radar, damage (divided into sections of your Mech, including the arm, torso and legs) and torso twist indicator (show far your torso has turned from the center position), which are infinitely useful for the gameplay and control. You can lock onto and cycle through certain enemy structures and vehicles, which will inform you of their health status and provide a target for your homing missiles.
There are various game types, including training for the uninitiated Mechwarrior, Instant action - skirmish levels, as well as the actual campaign. Multiplayer is also provided in which up to 16 players can battle out in 6 game types, including destruction, CTF and King of the Hill.
Mechwarrior 4 is a fairly CPU intensive game to play, and even through it requires relatively low systems specs to play, a mid tier system, with many special effects enabled would provide a much better experience.
The controls are quite complicated and much practice is needed to become accustomed with the concepts of BattleMech control, including torso twisting and managing several different weapons at once.
The game provides many hours of gameplay, including 25 missions each of varying types (destroy, protect, etc), and is definitely a worthy addition to the series.
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