Mech Commander
Preview by Al Giovetti, 11/10/96
Genre: real-time action strategy
Release: July 1997
Developer: FASA
Programmer: Frank Savage (Wing Commander III and Strike Commander)
Producer: Jordan Weisman
Publisher: MicroProse

History: FASA, Freedonian Aeronautics and Space Administration, was formed in 1980 by two school chums, Jordan Weisman and Ross Babcock. In 1984, Weisman wrote the BattleTech boardgame which has continued to sell after 16 years on the market. FASA MechWarrior and BattleTech have inspired numerous novels and lately computer games such as the original BattleTech Activision games and the original MechWarrior I.

The BattleTech computer games have been very successful. MechWarrior II and Mercinaries brought the failing Activision back to life with a quick influx of cash. Almost two dozen BattleTech entertainment centers of networked Mech cockpits have been opened and are still a sensation.

Plot: You are a member of one of the clans of the inner sphere, a feudal organization of highly trained and specialized warriors that fight with 100 ton robots. Now the lost Mechwarriors who fled the inner sphere are returning with higher technology and faster bio-engineered mech pilots. Only the best can survive when out gunned and out dated. The true test of the maxim that its the pilot not the machine will be played out with you at the center.

Game play: The control of a team of up to twelve mech pilots and their machines will extend to where to go and what to do when they get there. Specific objectives will help to override the innate artificial intelligence of the pilots which in a pinch will allow them to act on their own. The mech pilots you throw against Kerenskiís decendents include raw recruits from the mech academy where you are an instructor. You must keep them alive and develop them into an effective fighting force.

Artificial intelligence: Interesting tactical situations and advanced artificial intelligence.

Interface: Three-Quarter, top-down, three dimensional, third person perspective is the game play view. Up to four windows can be kept open at once. Satellite uplinks allow you to observe and command individual mechs.

Graphics: Backgrounds will be real-time, computer-drawn polygons. All objects, including mechs, will be Silicon Graphics rendered sprites.

Future plans: Mechwarrior III is still on the plate for this company, with this strategy game as the icing on the cake.

Missions: 50 scenerios

Jeff Sengstack,