Activision may have lost the FASA Mechwarrior license for good, since Microprose acquired FASA (Spectrum Holobyte then acquired Microprose. - Ed.). When we visited with Activision this summer and filmed interviews for The Computer Show with the entire Mercenaries team, we pointed out that they had the FASA license since 1989. Activision said they were very sorry to lose the Mechwarrior account and there still was a chance that they would work together in the future. In the meantime, Mercinaries will be coming out and on its heals another machine combat game, Interstate í76.
Like the original Mechwarrior game that came from Activision in the late 1980ís, Mercinaries chronicles the role of the mercinary Mecwarrior pilot in the clan run society of the 31st century. Accepting contracts from various clans, scavenging parts from destroyed or disabled enemy Mechs for parts to sell or use to update or customize your fleet of mechs, and hopefully making a profit after the repairs to your current Mech are completed, similar to EarthSiege and the actual FASA Mechwarrior rules. This is the life of a mercinary in the inner sphere in 3039 prior to the arrival of the clans in 3057.
There are over thirty missions planned in the game, which seems a woefully inadequate number of missions to end an era on. The 40 new mechs will be fully customizable and upgradable with whatever weapons systems, armor and equipment you desire.
The bad news is that this may be the last game from Activision that carries the FASA Mechwarrior and Battletech label. This partnership has been profitable on both sides, but many who license out names, concepts, and fantasy worlds want to keep their agreements fast and loose these days.
Mechs you drive: 32 new mechs are added to the prior two gameís lineup.
Graphics: Mechs and Landscapes now have textures and insignia. Multiple light sourcing, which the Mechwarrior 2: Mercinaries design team demonstrated to us when we visited their studios to film, allows you to see smoke trailing from several missiles and smoke from explosions. The nightvision infrared sensor paints everything in red now instead of the original green.
Accurate modeling: When you blow a leg off, mechs may fall down and have to work to get back up, like in the original game back in the late 1980ís.
Plot: Branching scripted plot which allows more personalization and more replay value. Choices and performance now effect choices and performance later, similar to but not identical to the dynamic mission generator.
Artificial intelligence(AI): All new AI planned for the game surrounding the rules of honor that mercenaries to not always hold to while the military are pretty strict about. In the beginning the unconventional and dishonorable mercenary tactics will be an advantage over the military, but in time the military will learn how to compensate for the lack of honor and develop more deadly tactics of their own. The new mech adversaries lead their targets, group their weapons, and fly to catch you off guard and make targetting difficult. Other tactics enhancements include Pirates who gang up on lone mechs, Clan Mechs who fight along the strict honor codes and Military House mechs that will concentrate on single targets and attempt at all costs to rescue downed pilots.
Difficulty modes: Novice mode will increase game access, but a sophisticated difficulty matrix that allows the game player to tailor the game to individual preferences and skills is still lacking.
Modes: campaign and single mission play
Multiplayer: Free Internet play, and MercNet full eight player networking capability is included with the game, as well as null modem and phone modem two player head-to-head play. I am still disturbed at the trend in multiplayer toward competition. Many people, like my son and I, like to play cooperatively. I would love to play against the computer AIs with my son in a mech at my side, just like when we play humans on Kesmaiís new Multiplayer Battletech.
Christine Grech Wendin, PC Games, volume 3, number 8, August, 1996, pg. 34.
Greg Fortune, Computer Gaming World, number 146, September, 1996, pg. 74.
Thierry Nguyen, Computer Gaming World, number 146, September, 1996, pg. 76.
Mike Davila, Mechwarrior SNES, Activision, Video Games & Computer Entertainment, volume 5, issue 4, April, 1993, pg. 38.
Steve Wartofsky, Computer Games Strategy Plus, issue 70, September, 1996, pg. 60-61.
Steve Klett, PC Games, volume 3, number 12, December, 1996, pg. 142 - 143, 92%.