I know that I’ve mentioned this game more than once – specifically hoping it would some day show up for Android. As it still hasn’t come out for Droid, I managed to wrangle my girlfriend’s iPod while I get my game on – I mean review this promising spiritual successor to the MechCommander series. It’s currently $3.99 in the AppStore. And so far that’s a lot of bang for the buck.
With ‘Mech lab customization for thirty ‘Mechs, auxiliary unit support coming from remote sensors and fire missions, and a cast of believable and obscure but canon characters from the heyday of Operation Revival, MechWarrior Tactical Command is a BIG game in a small package.
My initial reactions are highly favorable, but I wouldn’t say that MTC mimics either of the MechCommmander games, which both have their own style and scope. Thanks to Input from Catalyst there is a real canon storyline at work; covering the exploits of the Clan Invasion that doesn’t need to be reconn’d after the fact. The forces you play as Identify the unit as Winfield’s Regiment. I had to dig around since the game itself covers none of the specifics, but canonically at this time they were known as Winfield’s Brigade, a Lyran Fedcom unit.
They haven’t revealed the unit the player is initially fighting against (nor is there any mention on their website or wiki page here at Sarna), only that they’re a DCMS unit lead by a Tai Sa Omata). Eventually, both units fight against the 1st wave Jade Falcon Fifth Battle Cluster push into the Sphere. And so on from there.
Both the game and the website has a good beginning library of people, technology, and the planets fought on, but without delving too deep Into that magnificently turbulent ocean that Is the BattleTech Universe.
MTC initially takes place just before the Clan invasion, though a jumpship bearing a Jade Falcon sail was featured in the beginning cinematic as well as the omnimechs in the above screenshot. Not only do they show up around the middle of the first planet level, but some major fence-mending between the Commonwealth and Combine forces is vital to survival.
Coming from a ‘modern’ age of 3145, this game feels like the Inner Sphere version of a World War II or Civil War game: big, epic happenings from a time long past. It also really touches my 1990s nostalgia. I even have the BattleTech animated series playing in the background as I write this.
Technically the graphics are pretty nice- nothing groundbreaking, but quite adequate with dynamic shadowing and particle effects. The frame rate is extremely fluid and the trees and other ambient objects are quite detailed even on a smaller device. The game maps, however are fairly limited: perhaps a mile or two from one end to the other from what I’ve seen so far. Being a satellite feed, the ‘Mechs are small: small enough to have trouble telling some of the light ‘Mechs apart unless you’re using an iPad. I have been told that Personae really pushed the hardware envelope with the zoom, rotate and dynamic shadow features. As a result, the newer your device, the better.
An iPad is also highly recommended to get the most out of the visuals. The zoom and rotating the view really helps, is quite smooth and lets you ID your lance a tad easier on smaller screens. There is also a small indicator hex attached to enemy and friendly ‘Mechs that show a damage diagram and other visual cues that quickly give you an idea of the combat effectiveness of your lance.
The ‘Mechs more or less look closer to their 90s artwork here than other modern BattleTech-themed videogames. There are thirty of them including the clan omnimechs, and some are making their first appearance In a videogame since MechWarrior 2, like the Whitworth, Hatamoto-Chi and the Caesar; which to my knowledge has not been featured in a game before.
The mechlab has similarities to that of MechCommander 2. BattleMechs have color-coded weapon spaces for ballistic, energy and missile weapons. The Omnis are gray, meaning you can put anything anywhere you have space for. Equipment like ammo, heat sinks, and Anti-Missile-Systems can likewise go anywhere.
Each pilot has a special ability and specialty, and trying to configure ‘Mechs to play to their strong suits is quite fun. Some are passive abilities, and others you have to activate by long clicking on an enemy to bring up an option wheel.
One thing I notice even on the iPod is that some of the walk and run animation cycles of some of the ‘Mechs show the models “sliding” along the ground; that is the movement of the legs and feet don’t quite match the movement of the ‘Mech on the terrain.
The music is quite good. I’m reminded of Hans Zimmer’s work. Especially The Rock. The voiceover work is likewise VERY good. Definitely on the scale of an animated movie (Don’t I wish BattleTech would have one) and not on lower budget translations like, say, Resident Evil.
Personally, I’m overjoyed that I’ve had a chance to play this game. I’m also similarly happy that though Personae didn’t really play up the scope of the backstory or the intrigue of the politics of the setting like a hardcore fan, They DID get it right.
If you wish that this game would come out for Android, trust me, you aren’t alone. As an Android user, I really wish MTC would hit the Android Market. One of the ideas Personae have had is to conduct a crowd-funding campaign to help finance a port of the game for Android. From what I’ve been told they would have to take the programming back to square one to make it work and that is difficult and expensive as well as difficult to fund. They want to make sure that there is a good market for it first so the Kickstarter succeeds.
Please feel free to comment below giving your thoughts, and if you think crowd-funding is a good idea.
That’s all from me for a while, I’m off to crack the Fourth Falcon Velites‘ heads on Butler.
Well bargained, and done.