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 Home -> Reviews -> MechWarrior 4: Vengeance
MechWarrior 4: Vengeance By John "Award" Del Percio,
January 4, 2001
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Developer :FASA
Publisher :Microsoft
Release Date :Forth Quarter 2000
Demo Available : Yes - Download
Table of Contents

· Introduction
· Closer Look
· Facts
· Final

All Systems Nominal

If you're wondering why I have not mentioned Microprose's MechWarrior3 yet, it's not because it was a bad game. Surely it was a beautiful game when compared to Mech2, but it just didn't have the same mystique as Mech2. I still can't figure out why entirely it didn't, it just didn't have it. MechWarrior 4 takes a slightly different approach from all the previous games, however, by dropping the Clan storyline, and advancing the eras to the battles of the Inner Sphere. Moreover, you're fighting as a rouge member of one of the noble families of the sphere, and have no relations with a formal army or service. While this difference is a nice switch in many aspects, I must say I really miss the chivalry and honor system of the Clans. It just doesn't seem like you're fighting for the same ideals. I miss the all-knowing hierarchy of genetic engineered warriors, and holding you to your honor at all costs. Call me petty, but it certainly made for a more interesting game. Nevertheless, the new story still works, though it seems to remind me more of Earthsiege/Starsiege (no, not tribes, the real Starsiege) than it does of MechWarrior. In fact, much of the game seems to remind me more of Earthsiege/Starsiege than Mechwarrior. Although much of the keyboard map and control system has remained the same as Mech2, targeting, and keyboard systems seem far more similar to the 'Seige system than the Mech system Even the general appearance of the interface and reticule reminds me of the 'Seiges.

Aww, helicopter fall go boom
Missed me!
Never knew what hit him
Whoa, musta hit a reactor. Oops

Now before I continue any farther, I'd like to dispel a myth I've heard frequently about MechWarrior4. I've heard countless times that since it is published by Microsoft, it has been "Microsoft-ized". To a point this is partially true, but it is more or less a coincidence. True, I am by no stretch of the imagination a fan of Microsoft.. That being said, most of what is thought of as being "Microsoft" does not apply to Microsoft's games division. All their games are made by third party developers. That means that all MS does is put it in a pretty box, stamp the CD's, and run ad campaigns. Of all things Microsoft does, publishing really is their strong point (if only we could convince them to stick to making mice, keyboards, joysticks, and publishing third party software, they'd make some of the best stuff on the market. If you're listening, Bill, please leave the programming to someone else <g>)note that MechWarrior4 is not even made by Microsoft. The first indication of that should be the fact that it is extremely stable. True, FASA is now owned by Microsoft, but judging by the way FASA handled their business in the past, I'd bet a dollar that FASA would never be bossed around. Not even by Microsoft. So where did this myth come from? Frankly I have no idea. I've heard it said that they've sped the gameplay up too much, they've simplified the controls among other things. I'm counting just as many controls as before, with the exception of the "inspect target" key, though that could simply be an oversight on my part. If the game speed seemed too fast to anyone, they must have forgotten they were playing with a small fast 'Mech, or have forgotten to re-allocate some of those engine upgrades for extra armor, weapons, and ammo. Most 'Mechs I've seen come by default with extra engine upgrades, unlike the preceding games. You can swap that for whatever you want in the Mechlab.

Zoom Lens
The thaw
Duck!
Guess they won't be needing that

So what has been "Microsoft-ized?" First of all, the packaging, as always for MS games, screams out "serious software." I'm still not sure why they bother placing a "certificate of authenticity" on the side of a game box. It's not an OS, you don't need a certificate. Every other publisher in the world does just fine without one. That's one thing that has been bugging me since Age of Empires. The second thing is the inclusion of "Important: Read notice on the back of package before opening." on the game inside spine rather than the game title. It just bothers me that I can't distinguish my game CD from my Windows CD. But this stuff is all commonly known things, and I can hardly count that against any game.

The game menus have been simplified a bit, and look a lot more like Windows dialogs than I would have like to have seen (think AOE), it certainly doesn't hold a candle to the Clan halls of Mech2. I also miss the long history behind each battle you enter that was available in Mech2. The in game HUD also seems to be a bit simplified, and contains less data readouts than I am used to with Mech2. Finally, the movies are, well, interesting to say the least. The decision to use live actors ala Wing Commander was regrettable. Especially bad ones. The same actors also do the in-game voice acting, which proved what I already figured, they are superb voice actors that were used in visual acting sequences. They're actually not the worst actors I've ever seen (See Shatner), but they don't exactly inspire, either. All your comm messages and "briefings" (if you can really call them briefings since you're the commander) come in the form of videos of the actors. It's sort of a cool effect, but better sequences would have been far more worth it. Though one thing that does lead me to question the sequences with live actors is that in the intro movie, you watch two MechWarriors in their BattleMechs. But according to Battletech history, the MechWarriors are supposed to have some soft of neural connection with their 'Mechs. I'm not seeing any head-gear. But enough of the bad stuff already, let's talk about some good stuff...

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