Mech Warrior 2
Review by: Dave Z - (Editor in Chief)
When I first heard that Mech Warrior 2 was making its way to the Saturn, I was not all that excited. While I knew that it was a huge smash hit for the PC, I just never could get into it. The PC version of was a bit too much simulation for my tastes. Then I heard that the console versions of Mech Warrior 2 would be built from the ground up, customized for console systems with more arcade- style missions and game play. This peaked my interest.
So those of you looking for a direct PC port with all of the strategy and depth intact, you will probably be extremely disappointed. But for those of you that found the PC version to be boring because of too much strategy and not enough action, Mech Warrior 2 for the Sega Saturn might be what you are looking for.
In addition to enhancing the game play of Mech Warrior 2 for the consoles, the developers saw fit to spice of the graphics to take advantage of the Saturn's 3-D abilities. Unlike the original PC version, everything in the Saturn version is texture-mapped and the game moves at a fairly good frame rate. Of course, this is compared to the original version of Mech Warrior 2 and not recent upgrades that, depending on your CPU, are in fact superior graphically to the Saturn's version. The cinemas are pretty nice looking, but you will find crisper video on other Saturn and PlayStation titles.
The music in Mech Warrior 2 for the Saturn is probably the only area that was actually hurt in the transition from PC to console. It's not that the quality is worse (my stereo speakers destroy my set up for my PC), but type of music didn't seem to fit the game as well. I'm not saying that it is a lot worse, or even that much different, but the PC's music was a bit more dark and set the game's atmosphere much better.
The sound effects are fairly good, but could have been better. The voices are clear, the sounds of the mech walking and moving are very well done, the rockets and explosions are good, but the sounds of the lasers are very weak. Compared to the PC, everything seems exact.
As mentioned above, the largest area of change was the game play. And in my opinion, it is the area where the developers did the best job. If you have played the PC version, you might wonder how it could be possible to take all those keyboard and joystick commands and get them to fit on an eight button controller, surprisingly, they did a great job. You have eight different controller configurations to choose from, with some allowing you more control over your mech than others. Personally, I found configurations 6, 7, & 8 to be the best as they offered the most control over you mech, and were the only ones that allowed the rotation of your torso, which is something that I feel is of huge importance. One thing that Activision left out, though, was a way to save your control set up. Once you turn off the game it resets to the default, so if you prefer another configuration, you must change it every time you turn on the game.
While the game play is a lot more action packed and less sim-like than the PC version, if you are used control of a mech from Virtual On, you might still consider Mech Warrior 2 to be too much simulation. Even though controlling the mech in the Saturn version is much easier than its PC counterpart, your mech is still fairly slow, can't strafe, and is unable to make quick maneuvers to dodge attacks. In addition to that, the missions, while not as strategy oriented as the PC version's, are not something that you can take on like a maniac just shooting everything that moves. You will not survive with that attitude.
While this basically covers it for those who have played the PC version, I understand that many of you have not. So, now I'll describe the game itself in a bit more detail. Mech Warrior 2 features 48 missions in total, sixteen exclusive to the consoles. You have the choice to play as a member of the Clan Wolf or the Clan Jade-Falcon. Once you choose your side, you will be greeted with an introductory movie describing what it means to be a member of that clan and a brief history.
For each Clan, you have three campaigns to choose from. The first choice for both is the Trial of Refusal which contains 16 total missions, these are the ones that are in the PC version of Mech Warrior 2. The other four campaigns, with four missions each, are the campaigns designed exclusively for the Saturn and PlayStation
At the campaign selection screen is where you must first choose the mech to use. There are twelve different mechs at your disposal, each with several weapon configuration options. The mechs themselves are also very different as they vary greatly in speed, armor, weapon power, and the weapons that they can use. Your choice of mech and weapon set up is very important in some missions.
The missions themselves vary greatly. Some involve you simply finding and destroying a few key targets, or destroying all enemy mechs in the area, or defending a base from enemy mech attack or finding, identifying and possibly destroying a specific target. After each completed mission, you will get a debriefing and a password, in case you can't save the game to memory.
Sometimes you might not want be in the mood to play a mission, but just want to jump right in and destroy enemy mechs. For that, Mech Warrior 2 has a Instant Action mode for you. In this mode you just choose your mech and weapon set up and jump right into a battle.
Another mode that is available, is the training mode. This is good for those of you that are new to the Mech Warrior universe and are not sure how exactly the game is played. In the training mode, you are offered six different menu options to help you learn the game. They are: Objectives, Mech Handling, Weapons Usage, Hunting, Inspection, and Trial Test. The training missions are very well done and are recommended for any first time players of Mech Warrior.
Overall, Mech Warrior 2 is a very fun game that offers something for those looking for a good combination of arcade and simulation aspects. It might not offer enough strategy for huge sim fans and fans of the PC versions, or enough arcade action and control for those who want something more like Virtual On. But it does offer enough of both features to warrant at least a rental for people that are to each extreme and a buy for any fan of mech games in general.