Get ready: this week’s Retro Game Of The Week is locked and loaded!
My childhood years were defined by just a few important things, chiefly among them being videogames, pizza, and cartoons. I was completely content existing in my 16-bit console world thanks to the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment Systems, pizza stained hands and all, until a trip to RadioShack during the Christmas shopping season of 1995 changed my whole world. On display upon thy shack of radios was a fairly simple computer running a demo of Mechwarrior 2. I forgot to mention earlier that my other child obsession was ANYTHING to do with giant robots destroying each other. The sales clerk rambled on to my mother about all the learning software and blah blah blah, my mind was permanently affixed on the missiles and lasers gliding from what I would later know as a Timber Wolf class mech.
Christmas of 1995 the Windows PC entered our home, and Mechwarrior 2 arrived in my stocking like a gift from… well… Santa. Though I was ordered to play it along with some educational software that was also provided to me that Christmas morning, my mind was already racing with the possibilities of amazement I was soon to endure. What I actually was about to endure was a game with a learning curve like I had never experienced before during my 8-bit and 16-bit era days. To a ten year old child, the flight-simulator like controls of Mechwarrior 2 presented a challenge, one that I actually had to (gasp) open the instruction booklet packaged with the game to decipher. Fast forward a few weeks, and I was handling those Mechs like a dream, and Mechwarrior 2 was absolutely blowing my freaking mind.
The BattleTech universe, of which Mechwarrior 2 takes place, is one of continuous war and death. Fierce conflict between groups known as “Clans” are carried about by dedicated pilots inside roving death machines. The Battle Mechs are of various size and loadouts, and come with awesome names like Timber Wolf, Hell Hound, and Harbinger. The player is given a first-person position inside the cockpit of whatever mech he or she chooses, with the HUD displaying all of the critical information. The graphics, for the time, were amazing and highly noted in every critical review upon release. The beginning of the game has players choosing which of the two Clans presented to fight for, Jade Falcon or Clan Wolf. Each clan will task players with completing 16 missions with various objectives such as search and destroy, defending vital positions, or attacking enemy bases. The soundtrack is a mixture of electronic and rock synth tunes that provide a decent backdrop to the sounds of battle during missions.
Critical and commercial success followed the release of Mechwarrior 2, enough to warrant several expansions and sequels. Mechwarrior remains a viable franchise to this day with the ever popular Mechwarrior Online, of which I highly recommend. Mechwarrior 2 was my entry into the world of PC gaming, and has provided me with countless hours of joy over the years. Later I discovered several ports of BattleTech games to my 16-bit consoles, and while good in their own right none of them compare to the excellence of the PC versions. Though some problems exist getting this old of a game to run on newer gaming rigs, it can be done and this game is truly a classic. If you can not get your hands on this title, play any one of the sequels, none of them disappoint.