After some time off, I’ve returned to editing the Sarna.net wiki and have plenty of ideas for improving the wiki. As usual, there’s the constant need for new articles and article updates, as well as the ever-growing pile of articles that need proofreading. I want to pick up where I left off with the unofficial “project video games”.
‘Mech combat on the planet Cermak
With this project we are aiming to vastly improve our coverage of the various video games in the BattleTech universe. Though these games are not expressly canon, they still are an important part of the ongoing universe and deserve better coverage than they have gotten.
So far, we have quantified and organized all the MechCommander and MechCommander 2 equipment stats, but the ’Mech and vehicle pages for the original MechCommander need work. With more help for those pages and for all the MechWarrior games’ related pages, these video games could be much better covered.
Needless to say the community was pretty excited, and I was lucky enough to get some time with the two of them to ask what BATTLETECH will look like.
Nic Jansma: Can you both give me a little intro into who you are, and what your day-to-day role at Harebrained Schemes is?
Mike McCain: I’m Mike McCain. I’m one of the creative directors here at HBS, on BattleTech, and just finishing up Shadowrun Hong Kong with Mitch here. I’m co-directing BATTLETECH with Jordan.
Mitch Gitelman: My name is Mitch Gitelman. I’m the cofounder and studio manager of HBS, and I also make games.
Nic: I obviously saw your announcement earlier this week. Took me by surprise! I’ll be honest, I’m really excited for it. I know you guys have done a great job with Shadowrun, and have Jordan behind you. And judging by the comments on Sarna and on Facebook, it sounds like the community as well is just as excited to see what this could be. So we’re really getting behind you guys.
I was a backer of MechWarrior Tactics before it fell apart amidst development. MechWarrior Online is alright from the first-person view- vehicle simulation side, but I was hankering for something a little closer to the original source material, and with a much richer immersion in the interstellar politics and intrigue that makes up the BattleTech universe. Personae Studios‘ MechWarrior Tactical Command was, in my opinion, an unsung classic game that gave me a mobile MechCommander fix. But the game was fairly short and its title’s similarity to MechWarrior Tactics as well as its exclusivity to high end Apple mobile products made it instantly obscure and isolated. Of course there is always Megamek, but for one reason or another, I’ve never really had a good experience with it.
I remember it taking a while to find a copy of this game that actually worked. I believe there was a technical issue with the software when it was first released. I’m not sure what exactly the problem was but it took nearly a year after my initial purchase to actually play it.
It’s another FASA Interactive sequel published by Microsoft, who had also developed MechWarrior IV. I like it about as much as MWIV. It had good production values, another decent live action cast, including a portrayal of Catherine “Katrina” Steiner. MC2 was a great game but like MechWarrior IV, it wasn’t groundbreaking like either MechWarrior 3 or the original MechCommander.
Control a larger force than ever before in a videogame.
If I had to pick any of the BattleTech licensed videogames, I’d pick this game any day of the week. I like the FPS sim format fine, but MechCommander has more of the feel of the table top game as well as a more fleshed-out storyline. It has to be because you’re not just getting the perspective from a single pilot or lance leader but a company-level ‘Tactical Operations Officer’.
The player controls Zulu company of the First Davion Guards during Operation Bulldog. It’s a much larger operation than the commando operation in MechWarrior 3 and its fully rendered 3D textures and environments. MechCommander is a 2D animated game shown in an isometric view popular in other Real Time Strategy games of the time; such as Command & Conquer and Warcraft II: Electric Boogaloo. It also featured a badly compressed but wholly entertaining FMV opening and ending cinematic that featured live actors for the first time.