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MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat

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MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat is a 1995 video game produced by Activision. It is part of the MechWarrior series of video games. It separates itself from the original board game BattleTech by placing the player inside the cockpit of the BattleMech.

Originally developed for MS-DOS, it was ported to a variety of platforms including Windows, Apple Macintosh, and the game consoles Sega Saturn and PlayStation (as MechWarrior 2: Arcade Combat Edition). The MS-DOS, Windows, and Mac releases shared the same gameplay, while the console conversions tweaked the game's mechanics to emphasize arcade-style action over the tactical-simulation of the original PC release.

In MechWarrior 2, the player can choose to be a member of one of two clans, either Clan Jade Falcon or Clan Wolf, while engaging in a total of 32 missions (16 missions for each Clan) in the year 3057 time frame.

MechWarrior 2 features a soundtrack composed by Jeehun Hwang, which consists of ambient electronic music and a rendered intro sequence by Digital Domain.

MechWarrior 2 (original release)

Plot details

MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat (generally known as MechWarrior 2) is a game re-creation of the "Refusal War" between Clan Wolf and Clan Jade Falcon. Set shortly after the climactic Battle of Tukayyid between the Inner Sphere and invading Clan armies, the plot revolves around an ideological conflict inside the Clans. It focuses only on Clans Jade Falcon and Wolf, both of which represent a different side in the struggle — Crusaders and Wardens, respectively.

Background of the conflict

The Clans are the descendants of the Star League Defense Force, most of which was led by their commander Aleksandr Kerensky into the unknown regions of space in an attempt to save the warring nations of the Inner Sphere from obliterating each other. These forces eventually splintered and formed 20 separate groups, called the Clans, creating a society entirely based around warfare and creating the perfect warriors for their advanced BattleMechs.

Over the years of isolation, two schools of thought divided the clans. Crusader clans wished to return to the Inner Sphere as conquerors, forcing the nations to unite and recreating the Star League. The Warden clans, on the other hand, believed that the clans should act as protectors of the Inner Sphere, only intervening if a threat of sufficient magnitude was encountered.

Eventually, the Crusader faction won out and the Clans returned to the Inner Sphere as an invasion force containing only of a small fraction of the clans including the Jade Falcons, Clan Wolf and the Ghost Bears. The invasion force consisted of both Crusader and Warden clans (chiefly Clan Wolf). The Wardens participated in an attempt to mitigate the damage caused by the Crusader clans. The invasion continued until the invading clans were challenged by the ComStar organization to a fight on the planet Turkayyid. If the Clans won, they would gain control of Terra (controlled by ComStar at the time) and if they lost they would halt the invasion for 15 years under a truce.

The battle was lost by the Clans and their invasion was halted for fifteen years. In the wake of the defeat, Ulric Kerensky, the (then) leader of the invasion, and also a member of the Warden leaning Clan Wolf, was charged with treason by the Crusader elements of the clan. They thought that since Ulric was a Warden, he engineered the defeat to sabotage the invasion. They called for him to be stripped of his status, opening the door to ignore the truce and continue the invasion.

As part of clan law, matters can always be settled by combat (in this case through a "Trial of Refusal") and Ulric issued a challenge to the Crusader clans to uphold his status within the clan council and, as a result, maintain the truce. The Jade Falcon clan, the strongest of the Crusader clans took up the challenge.

This is where things stand at the start of the game. In the conflict known as the Refusal War, the Jade Falcons fight to prove the Council's judgment of guilt correct, allowing an immediate resumption of the Invasion against the still-weakened Inner Sphere. Ulric and the Wolves, however, are grimly determined to fight a war of extermination against the Falcons and leave them too weak to pose a threat to the Inner Sphere.

Gameplay

At the start of the game, the player must choose to side with one of the two Clans involved in the Refusal War: Clan Wolf or Clan Jade Falcon. The battles in the game take place on planets named in the various BattleTech source books on the war, as well as expanded universe novels such as Bred for War. Each battle has a specific goal such as search-and-destroy, reconnaisance or a base strike.[1] Initially, the player controls one Mech, but in later missions has access to squad commands.[1] Between missions, a mech lab allows players to customize the weapon, armor, engine and heat sinks of any drivable mech.[1]

MechWarrior 2 is played as a tactical simulation, incorporating aspects of both real-time first-person combat and the physical simulation of the player's mech. The player can choose between several control modes, from a basic "point and shoot" mode, to an advanced mode that allows the player to manage the legs and torso of the mech independently. The mech's on-board computer provides feedback to the player, ranging from the proximity of friendly and enemy forces to system damage and ammunition depletion. Among other things, the player must carefully manage heat buildup; the mech's computer will attempt to perform an emergency shutdown if heat levels rise too high, though this can be overridden by the player. However, rising heat levels caused by the repeated firing of weapons can result in ammunition explosions and damage to the mech, including the loss of limbs actuators, and, ultimately, overheating will result in catastrophic detonation of the mech's fusion engine.

A version for Windows 95 was released, which included NetMech software for player vs. player battles over a network or direct connection.[1]

Critical reception

MechWarrior 2 was critically well received. GameSpot praised the game for its high resolution graphics and its requirement of strategy and planning from the player. The control complexity was likened to that of a flight simulator.[1] GameRevolution also noted that the controls were not overly complex for a simulation, and a throttle-control joystick was particularly intuitive.[2] NetMech had some problems with stability and smoothness.[1] PC Gamer US awarded it a score of 93/100.[3]

3D Enhanced Editions

A number of enhanced versions were released to take advantage of the 3D graphics accelerator cards at the time, including 3DFX, Matrox Mystique, and ATI 3D Rage.

Ghost Bear's Legacy (expansion pack)

MechWarrior 2: Ghost Bear's Legacy is the follow up expansion pack for MechWarrior 2, which gives the player a chance to play as Clan Ghost Bear. This expansion pack gives players access to fourteen new BattleMechs and a number of new weapons, plus twelve new missions in a number of new environments, such as outer space and underwater. New songs for the CD soundtrack are also added, continuing the tradition of high quality music that fits specific atmospheres.

If the player manages to master the 12 missions of the regular campaign without being killed or failing one mission, he enters the competition for a blood name. This additional campaign consists of 5 missions. Unlocking the additional campaign without cheating can be considered a difficult achievement.

Plot

Taking place after the Refusal War, Ghost Bear's Legacy is the story of a new Ghost Bear warrior living in the Inner Sphere. Fighting off raids by mercenaries initially, everything changes when a raid by the Draconis Combine is successful in stealing the genetic material of the Clan founders Hans Ole Jorgensson and Sandra Tseng. Enraged by this attack, the Ghost Bears send units to track down the culprits, only to find the matter is not as simple as first thought. It would appear that the Draconis Combine has been framed for the raids as the battlemechs used in the raid had been captured by Clan Smoke Jaguar several months before.

This starts a search through the Clans to find out who is responsible. Strategically, this is essential; if the culprit were able to successfully finger someone else, a war would instantly ensue that could leave the Ghost Bears vulnerable to attack.

Eventually it is found that the Smoke Jaguars themselves lost the battlemechs in a raid by Clan Wolf. After the Refusal War, the Wolf Clan had been divided into the Crusader faction under Khan Vlad Ward (who remain aligned with the rest of the Clans) and the Warden faction. Sending units to investigate either possibility, the truth is soon discovered. It is two rogue Galaxy Commanders of the Crusader Clan Wolf (The Jade Wolves) who had stolen the material in the fake raid. The units sent to investigate Clan Wolf in Exile are allowed to honorably withdraw by the Wolves and the stage is set for the final battle.

MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries

MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries was released in September 1996 as a stand-alone sequel to MechWarrior 2 and the last BattleTech game made by Activision. In this game, the player takes control of an Inner Sphere mercenary squad, with control over finances and free choice of missions. Mercenaries covers the years of 3044 to 3052, ending with the Battle of Luthien. As such, it is a prequel to the other MechWarrior 2 games and includes missions pertaining to the Clan invasion. Mercenaries also features MercNet (a redesign of NetMech) for multiplayer.

Plot

The player can take contracts from one of four factions, the Draconis Combine (DC), the Federated Commonwealth (FC), ComStar (CS), or the Free Rasalhague Republic (FRR). Generally, the background plot is of the Draconis Combine and Federated Commonwealth making initial moves towards yet another war between the two great powers, with the FRR and CS trying to play both off against the middle. The backdrop for this is the aftermath of the War of 3039 between the two great powers (which was effectively a stalemate) and buildup by both sides towards the next war. The player can take contracts by both sides without censure from either, though doing so will cause time-limited contract openings to close if the player is already "booked".

Missions include helping (and crushing) uprisings, generally on behalf of the FC and DC respectively, deep recon and raids, anti-pirate campaigns, and even fights against other merc units. The player can also attempt to win the crown of Champion of Solaris in the Battlemech Games, inside massive enclosed arenas. These missions proved so popular that they were brought back in the spiritual sequel of Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries.

The buildup to a war between the two Great Powers suddenly comes to a dramatic twist with the invasion of the Clans. The player is thrust into the battles against the "unknown mechs" of the Clans (though if the player has played Mechwarrior 2, he or she will no doubt recognise most of the mechs and their capabilities). For a time captured by Clan Wolf, the player returns to the Inner Sphere and fights some of the major battles of the invasion such as the Battle of Wolcott (which is represented inaccurately as a multi-day campaign rather than a multi-minute ambush) as well as the climatic Invasion of Luthien.

The Game ends with a cutscene of the Battle of Tukayyid with a lance from the Com Guards, led by Comstar's Precentor Martial Anastasius Focht, destroying a Clan Star.

Gameplay

The Mechwarrior 2 engine is still used but with upgraded graphics with terrain texture mapping and enhanced lighting effects and higher resolutions. A completely new musical score was devised for the game as well as an updated version of NetMech, which included native Internet- playing ability. Far more battlemechs were available, as well as other vehicles (including a single mission where the player could use a hovertank). The player could hire an aerospace fighter to provide air cover.

External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat Review. UK Gamespot (May 1, 1996). Retrieved on 2009-11-26.
  2. Strap yourself in and hold on to something!!. gamerevolution.com (06/05/04). Retrieved on 2009-11-26.
  3. Vaughn, Todd (September 1995). MechWarrior 2. PC Gamer US. Archived from the original on March 12, 2000 Retrieved on April 14, 2010.
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