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Mech Commander - Review @ GU  

  Mech Commander - Review @ GU

DEVELOPER: FASA Interactive (recently aquired by Microsoft)



  • 133MHz Pentium PC
  • 16MB RAM (32 MB for Win98)
  • 2 MB VRAM
  • Windows 95 or Windows 98
  • DirectX 5
  • 4x CD-ROM drive
  • 160MB Hard Drive space
  • DirectX Compatible Sound Card


  • 166MHz Pentium PC
  • 32MB RAM
  • 2 MB VRAM
  • Windows 95 or Windows 98
  • DirectX 5
  • 4x CD-ROM drive
  • 160MB Hard Drive space
  • DirectX Compatible Sound Card


  • PII300
  • 64mb RAM
  • 8X/2X ATAPI CD-R
  • Diamond Viper V550 16MB AGP (with NVidia Drivers 1.73)
  • Soundblaster PCI64

    GENRE: Real Time Strategy

    RELEASE DATE/PRICE: June 25, 1998 - $30 to $50 (US)

    DEMO : Click This

    The Ratings System:

    I review games in 8 categories: Gameplay, Graphics, Interface, Controls, Expandibility, AI, Multiplayer Ability, and Soundtrack. Each category is out of 10 points, except for Gameplay and AI which in my opinion are the most important factors to a game, which are out of 20 points. The points totalled added up at 100 points, therefore the final rating is out of 100. The perfect score mark is very hard to reach, and will only receive that if the game is flawless in that area. Those that receive extra points than possible, you know that the game is above and beyond what I expect (not too often). If the game receives a total 90% or higher in the final rating, the game will have a Review's Seal of Approval.

    Overall Impression:

    I was very impressed by what I first saw when I played this game. The game is full of action, and loaded with fun. But along with the fun, also comes a lot of stupid management, which in my opinion really isn't a whole lot of fun. This management really takes away from an otherwise good game. A few flaws also with the lack of in-game saves, and control is a little bothersome.

    Story Line:

    The storyline is pretty much the same for a lot of the Mech Warrior games. You are in charge of the invasion on Port Arthur. The clan here isn't all too happy about it and is giving of an attack.


Gameplay: 16.5/20

The game is loads of fun to play. Unlike most real time strategy games where you gather resources and built your army in the game at buildings you build (ala StarCraft, C&C), you don't build anything in the game. All the building of your army occurs off the battle field. So all you do is have missions to accomplish such as picking up a mech and returning to a extraction point (which sounds a lot easier than done), or just destroying enemy opposition. The game is very fun to play, and it requires a lot of planning, rather than I just take my guys and destory everything scenario (i.e. StarCraft). Each mech has their own weakness/strengths which fare differently against other mechs. But one hassle is the management of your units. This really gets awful as you have to equip each mech to a pilot that suits that pilot, weapons for each mech following the weight, etc. This can get quite frustrating considering you spend about 30 minutes doing this trying to get the proper equipment. But the lack of save during in-game is the worst...

Graphics (Eye Candy): 9.5/10

Even though this game doesn't use 3D Acceleration (man, would the graphics be mind blowing) the graphics still look stunning. The animated Mechs are done extremely well and detailed, both in the zoomed mode and the outer camera angle. The Mechs move so smoothly, that you'd think the mechs were composed of polygons and not pixels. The weapons lighting effects and bright different colors are very well done, they look very real. The enviornments look real, the trees, water, hills, dirt all give off vivid color and look realistic. When the mechs ran across objects, the objects move in some way. If it was a tree that they hit, the tree would fall over, and foot steps are left behind. The explosions look excellent, they look extremely realistic and have a correct path fire is supposed to follow. The only thing that bugged me was that the tileset the game is placed in is the same throughout the game. The setting never changes, it's always the grassy plane with metalic bases and ports surrounded by water. The movies in the game however are VERY well done. The intro movie is very good, almost like a movie. It was really suspenseful and got me into the movie.

Interface: 6/10

As I said above, the worst thing is the managment of the units. Getting weapons for each mech is large hassle. If you have the wrong set of weapons on the mech, you are in trouble as the enemy will probably kill your mechs in an instant. Getting pilots to pilot the mechs is also another thing, certain types of pilots can only handle certain mechs. Like a Green pilot can probably only handle a light mech, while a elite pilot can handle a heavy mech.

Controls: 10/10

The controls are pretty good. Mouse and keyboard as with most games. I haven't been able to find any major flaws with it.

Expandibility: 6/10

Not the greatest as a map editor is not included with the game. The only maps that can be added onto the game are from FASA's website (all of which are multiplayer maps). You can't download any new mechs (but why? there are already plenty), or any single player maps. But the maps are pretty cool to play with.

AI: 15/20

The AI is very well done, and they seem to follow a certain path or way. Sometimes they will move around and avoid your shots, and attack on the run. Sometimes they will hold their ground. Sometimes they will flee. Whatever they choose to do is usually a smart one. A major complaint I have with the game however is that there are no different difficulty settings. A difficulty setting would have been a graciously welcomed addition as the game is difficult. Until you fully get the handle of the game, you will constantly be playing missions over and over again, which is very frustrating.

Multiplayer: 6/10

Multiplayer is very crucial factor in RTS games. Without multiplayer, there is no point in even getting the game if it is an RTS game. StarCraft and Blizzard has been a star in this category when it comes down to the best multiplayer experience. There aren't a whole lot of choices for what type of game to play, as the only choice is battling against each other (no capture the flag). You can control a neutral city in certain maps and gain control of Turrets and attack the opponent, you can blast each other with strikes. Anything pretty much goes for it, you can also download new maps (not a whole lot of them) from FASA's site. But there isn't much more aside from that. But the games are pretty much lag free, and have plenty of action. But when you start out, you have certain amount of money, and you must purchase EVERYTHING. There is no set group, but you must assemble your group. And too bad there isn't some type of a save configuration cause that would save a lot of time...

Soundtrack: 8/10

The soundtrack is pretty cool. The music is decent which follows the game well. The sound effects are good, and match what they are supposed to follow. The music doesn't have a whole lot of variety in it, but matches just on par to the tone of the game. The explosions sound real good, like what you'd expect a real explosion to sound like. The pilot's speach is excellent also and they communicate very well.

Genre Specific

Originality: 80%

The first BattleTech RTS game to come out (probably not the last), but it was a good ride. The unique approach to the management was really a bummer as I didn't want to spend so much time in stupid management, but the lack of save feature took me right off. If a few improvements are made to the game, this game could really shine, but until then...

Overall:   77%

An enjoyable game, despite it's flaws

Final Comments:

FASA had a gem in their hands, they just left out a few things that could have made this game really great.


Screen Shots

These follow screenshots showoff the beautiful graphics in Mech Commander. These images were saved to Compression 3 to save loading time, so the image quality is lower than the real game would have

Defense for a base can make a mission extremely difficult.

Dog fights like this can get exciting, especially when you use a large explosion to blow a city up.

The mech standing next to the gas tanks is going to get blown up one way or another... either it be the gas tank blowing up, or the two mechs getting at it

You don't want to get this guy pissed off do you?

Added:  Saturday, May 22, 1999
Reviewer:  Chris Kim


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