There is just something uncontrollably cool about jumping into a 90-ton robot and simply obliterating anything that steps in your way. Pulling the trigger and seeing your opponent fall to pieces! Yes, this is the feeling you get with Mech Warrior 4, and if you're lucky enough to own a force feedback joystick or gamepad you're definitely going to have a sore arm once you're done playing this one.
Probably one of the biggest improvements MW4 holds over it's predecessors would be how multiplayer is setup. Something that plagued MW3 (and IMHO killed it) was that if you wanted to play a game, you had to have all the players in your server before you hit "JOIN". What's more, if someone dropped or crashed from the game, they couldn't rejoin until the next mission, or the game is the restarted. Mech Warrior 4 solves this problem though - you can set up your server, and join right away. Others will be able to join your game and start playing too as long as you have "Drop in Progress" checked - this allows anyone to join in as they please.
The story in the game is actually a little more indepth than what it has been like in the past - lack of story pissed off a lot of hardcore Battletech fans. However, Microsoft did a good job this time, having people on the team who've been in the Battletech Universe for more than five years. The story unfolds as you return from a victorious battle in the Clan Wars, only to find that your homeland has been destroyed and taken over by an Opposing House. To add to the drama, your family is dead. As the title of the game implies, this game is about seeking your vengeance on those who have desecrated your home. What're you waiting for? You've got a Mech, lancemates and the skill - go get your revenge!Graphics-wise, this game is stunning. Absolutely stunning. For those of you who played the Multiplayer Test released a few months back, well, you ain't seen nothing yet. The Mechs look dirty and banged up, the landscapes are full of life, and the special effects couldn't have been better. Speaking of landscapes, there's a lot - Lunar, Ice, Desert, Cities, Lush terrain and more. When your Mech stomps it's massive feet on the dusty desert terrain, dust shoots up and a footprint is left implanted in the ground. Firing off your weapons result in a bright flash emanating from the location of the muzzle; very nice. Better yet, if you equip your Mech with jump jets you're in for a spectacle; switch to an external view and you can see the thrusters and resulting smoke fire out.
The animation for the Mech's themselves is very realistic. In Mech Warrior 3, when you were walking over a hill or ridge, your foot kind of just jutted out as if there wasn't a hill there at all. In Mech Warrior 4 your feet, legs, limbs, etc. are all articulated and 'conform' to the environment. Better yet, if you get hit in the back with (for example) a gauss rifle your Mech doesn't just absorb the hit - it gets thrown forward and if you are hit with a big enough impact you'll fall flat on your face! It's not just the animation either, it's all reflected in the cockpit too. Recoil while firing off the weapons is really neat to watch as well. Something I thought was really cool is if your leg is heavily damaged, it affects your Mech's movement - resulting in a old-man limp, killing your chance of escape. To make matters worse, if you're dumb enough to turn on your jump jets, if you don't time your landing just right when you hit the ground, you'll snap your leg off!
Combat and the in-game experience... that's really what it all boils down to isn't it? Well you're not going to be disappointed here. Stepping into multiplayer you're met with a myriad of game types and scenarios - a big change from that of online MW3. Including CTF (Capture the Flag), Team Attrition, Attrition (points are tallied up for the damage dealt, not kills/deaths), Team Destruction, Destruction (Team death match, death match), King of the Hill and Steal the Beacon. Forget having to login to "The Zone" in order to find some servers. The team has successfully integrated an ingame server browser, similar to that of Tribes or Q3:A - making it very easy, not to mention quick to get in some online fragging before dinner.Heading into the Mech lab is a very comforting experience compared to previous MW games. Before you had to know exactly what each weapon did, how to properly disperse your armour and separately load up ammunition for your ballistic weapons. It's all been simplified in MW4. You have a few choices at the main screen for special components, very self-explanatory; jump jets, ECM's, a light, etc. Stepping into the weapon configuration area is quick and painless. All hardpoints are colour coded according to what weapons are allowed to be placed there and ammunition is included with the weapons this time. If you want more or less ammo, simply click on the up or down arrows accompanied by the weapon.
For those of you who are familiar with firing chains, you're going to get a kick in the butt here. While the game does allow you to set up individual weapons in their firing chains, or weapon groups while in the game... it doesn't help you much. Naturally, you'd hit something like 1 for firing chain one and then pull the trigger to fire right? Or use the ]'s to rotate from firing chain 1 to say 4. While this does work, there is no indication on the HUD as to which firing chain you're in. Thus you either have to fire a weapon and see which chain you're in or set it up how I have it - the numbers 1 - 6 are for firing, rather than using the mouse or space bar to fire. It's somewhat of an inconvenience but I'm flexible.
Like to see how you stack up against the other Mech Warrior's out there? No need to trade screen shots of your uber-l33t kill. Included in the game is NetGames USA Statistics... heard that name before? Sure you have! It's the same one found in Unreal Tournament. Also you don't have to worry about hacks or cheats getting into the game as... unlike MW3, MW4 uses a client-to-server configuration which has the server check out your system, Mech, etc. before it admits you into the game.
Sound is really well done here. The "thump thump thump
" you hear when your Mech's feet hit the ground sounds really beefy if you've got a sub woofer hooked up. When you thrust your jump jets on it really does sound like dual jet engines kicking in - heh, scared me the first time I used them! Lasers and beam weapons are really well done too, getting hit with the ER PPC not only hurts like hell, leaves your HUD in a mess but you can also hear a distinct crackling noise while it tears up your internals. Something is really annoying after a while however, is hearing your torso twist again... and again... and again... that lil' squeel of a noise, if you want to call it that is very irritating.
The campaign and instant action areas in the game are really well done. Complete with more than 20 missions, you're going to find yourself developing a lot of skill and devoting a lot of time to single player. Unlike the majority of games out there with a single and multiplayer parts, the single player aspect of MW4 is actually fun to play! Each mission has a specific set of objectives (primary and secondary) that you have to complete in order to advance. Then there's salvage - no more completely
annihilating your target - go for a leg or a direct kill and save as much ammunition, weapons, actual steel, etc. for the salvage crew to clean up. Trust me, you'll need it all later on in the game.
All in all, this game is a ton of fun to play, online and offline. The visuals are enough to leave you speechless and once you learn the intricate details, tactics and ways of killing your enemy you won't be able to put this puppy down.
Official Mech Warrior 4 Website