Archive for February, 2011

 

Dave’s appearance in the credits level of Zombies Ate My Neighbors

At last month’s Intellivision Lives! event I was introduced to David Warhol, Blue Sky Ranger and President of developer Realtime Associates. He was nice enough to grant me an interview on the gaming industry, serious games, and market oversaturation.

 BnB: First, what got you involved in game development?

DW: I got my start professionally in 1982 at Mattel Electronics as a game designer/programmer, which was my first job right out of college.  I was always a fan of classic arcade machines which had become popular by that time, Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Asteroids, Defender, those things, and my family had an Atari 2600.   Looking back a little earlier, I was writing games played on teletypes over 300 baud dial-up modems connected to our school district’s computer (which I also inadvertently crashed for a day and a half while I was poking around on it…).  And looking further back, when I was in about the fourth grade, I would get together with friends and design and then play our own board games.  So I have always been interested in them, and have been fortunate enough to have been working in them my whole life.

 

BnB: Since you’ve been in the industry since it began, how have things changed for independent companies like Realtime Associates?

 DW: When teams were smaller, it was easier to keep everyone moving productively.  We always had something in pre-production, something in production, and something in test.  So we could move artists, designers and programmers to different projects more readily.  With larger games, unless you’re doing many of them simultaneously, you need a much smaller staff at the beginning and ending of a cycle, so balancing the labor throughout becomes more tricky.  This seems to me why, once indies get to be a certain size for them to do front line work for a publisher, the publisher will often buy them out.  Things are more license driven nowadays too, and people specialize much more across the board.  We used to have 3D modelers who would build, texture, rig and animate a model, now those are four different disciplines.  It wasn’t uncommon for a team lead programmer to design and develop a tool as well as write the engine that ran the data from the tool.

BnB: Serious games were one of the subjects you brought up at the Intellivision Lives event that really caught my interest. While it’s (from the research I’ve done) actually a surprisingly large field, is there a particular niche you find yourself working in?

DW: Realtime has been working in serious games that address health care (Re-Mission, Cool School) and military applications (JFETS, ELECT Bi-LAT), though on the latter we work for agencies who work for the government, instead of working directly for the government.  I’m surprised you consider it a large field!  There seem to be so few large scale serious games efforts from my perspective.  One problem with serious games is that it’s hard to find a customer; in entertainment software, there are like ten companies to bring your ideas to; in serious games, there’s tens of thousands of doors to knock on.

BnB: I was reading up on your resume at MobyGames and I noticed you did the sound engine and work on Zombies Ate my Neighbors. Now I’m totally geeking out about that. I think anyone who’s played it for more than an hour has the neighbor’s scream burned into their brain with a big “Oh no!” response. (Speaking of which, I’ve attached an image from the “Credits Level”). Considering sounds like that, and certain others (like the sound of Pac Man’s chomps or Mario’s coins), are instantly recognizable to the people who have played these games, do you find that sound in games (or film for that matter) can be just as important as the images on screen?

DW: Thanks for the Zombie comment and screen shot. I forgot about that! Based on the picture I think I must have hired George “Fatman” Sanger to write the music.

Even as an (ex-) audio designer, I don’t think that audio is as important as the images on the screen, in VIDEOgames that is. That being said, a few years back, we released an AUDIOgame for the iPhone / iPod touch called Soul Trapper. We call the genre “audio adventures”, they are like an interactive radio drama or an audio version of a text adventure. If in a videogame you get most/all of the gameplay cues from the screen, in Soul Trapper you get all of the gameplay from stereo earphones (mandatory). It’s an interactive narrative interwoven with action and memory-based mini-games. (First four chapters are free in the app store, and we have a couple videos on You Tube, check it out!).

There have been a couple games where the voice acting was so bad I stopped playing the game. That doesn’t happen that often.

BnB: When you’re not working on games, do you still play a lot of them? Or do you prefer to spend time on other pursuits outside of work?

DW: I play games outside of work a lot, half having fun and half doing critical analysis (pacing, artwork, interface, you name it…).  Fun part of the job!  I have a WoW character up to level 85, keep cycling through a few casual/Facebook games, and play at least a couple hours of the major console releases.

BnB: Finally, in light of Activision dropping their Guitar Hero series recently, do you think the license/franchise-driven attitudes of the current gaming market are good for developers and gamers? Or are they simply responsible for stagnation and brands being dropped at the first sign of sagging profits?

DW: I don’t have any bad things to say against publishers who move away from product areas that are not performing or that have passed their prime.  Technically, a publisher’s job is to make money, not to make games.  Their shareholders demand it.  Someone somewhere does the math and makes the call, fair game.

Licenses are important for sales as a platform matures.  If you look at the launch of a console, that’s when the new IPs come out.  After a while you need a license to break through the noise.  I’d rather have games be about gameplay first and foremost.  But that’s not a universally held notion.  We did a real-time spell-casting prototype, gosh, ten years ago that we didn’t sell.  But if we threw Harry Potter on it, I think it would have been awesome!

The sudden move away from music games has to do with a couple things in my opinion.  One, a lot of the margin is in selling the peripherals, and once pretty much everyone who wanted one had one, business volumes slowed down much faster than if it was a game franchise alone.  Managing that kind of inventory is more expensive than just the software.  A second thing is that so many group/artist variations were released that it kind of saturated, I’m reminded of the Army Men franchise from 3DO ten years or so ago.

I still have a lot of hope for the music genre in ways that aren’t manifested by Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

BnB:  And on a final, fun note, what kind of music do you like listening to?

DW: Wow, that’s all over the place… I’m a big fan of Brian Eno, William Orbit, guitarists like Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, and Steve Morse (& the Dixie Dregs).  I listen to a lot of soundtracks, particularly Thomas Newman (American Beauty, Wall-E, to name only a couple).  Whenever I travel abroad I tune in to the local music TV channels and pick up international pop, that’s fun because you get all of the emotion and power of the music without having a clue as to what they are singing about.  I own a lot of classic rock too.  And the classics themselves, I find orchestral music written from about 1800 on to be interesting, big favorites there are Beethoven, Ravel, Strauss, Brahms, Mahler, Stravinsky, Copeland, Prokokief….

BnB: You’ve got interesting and good taste, sir! I fruitlessly tried to emulate Steve Vai’s guitar playing style throughout high school! Since you’ve done music and sound for a variety of games, did you find a lot of those diverse influences creeping in?

 DW: When I was writing music, my classical background gave me my best pieces.  My personal favorite is the C64 Pool Of Radiance which was patterned after Wagner (there’s a brief quote from Sigfried in there, hah!).  And I liked the music for Adventure Construction Set too, the fugue in that actually was from a class assignment I did once.  Though I listen to a lot of rock/pop music too, I don’t think my rock writing for games was particularly  profound, my best work was when I would work with another composer and then do the arrangement/adaptation to the console myself.  When I originally was doing music and sound for games, it was because you had to be technical as well to get the most out of the console.  Once MIDI became established and enabled non-technical people to contribute compositions, I went on to other things (well, producing games).

Thanks to Dave for being such a good sport and granting the interview. It was great chatting with you!

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“OK, even I think this is a little much…”

Like many of you, I caught a bunch of buzz on my Twitter feed today about the “amazing” Dead Island trailer. I watched the video. Then I wondered. What am I supposed to be so impressed by?

Granted, the visuals and the trailer were nice (in a pretentious sort of way- the pianissimo music was a bit much). However, I’ve learned to be wary of nice-looking trailers. Why? Well, let’s take a trip back to 2004, when I saw the commercial for Call of Duty: Finest Hour.

Well, I fell for it and bought the game. The visuals were nothing like the commercial. For that matter, the game itself was a buggy mess of 128-bit shooter mediocrity. It wasn’t the first time a game advertisement had steered me wrong, but the fact that they were using pre-rendered footage and promising “the most realistic combat ever” (guess that writer never played Rainbow Six) without showing a single frame of actual gameplay made it feel extraordinarily slimy and deceptive.

This has made me especially wary and skeptical of new trailers for games (which certainly led to a pleasant surprise when Uncharted DID look that good- unfortunately it had shoehorned supernatural elements that detracted zombies), and I think all of us should remember: this is the first time we’re so much as hearing about this game. It’s being developed by the studio that made the (based on reviews) mediocre-to-decent Call of Juarez. So you can expect a competent game, I guess, but why everyone thinks a pre-rendered trailer of zombies attacking and blood spurting in reverse-motion is some kind of milestone is as alien to me as why people would call a cookie-cutter movie like Avatar groundbreaking. I didn’t see anything that was distinguishable as gameplay. I know what game engine graphics look like, and those weren’t being rendered in real-time.

(I am prepared to eat my words if those turn out to be in-game graphics. But you know that’s not gonna happen.)

And there’s one more little problem I have: people seem to be blown away by the fact that it takes place on an island full of zombies. This isn’t exactly what you would call an original plot, mind you. Resident Evil: Code Veronica and Gun Survivor both took place on an island, as did the (terrific) Borderlands DLC The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned. It’s the same basic plot as in the so-bad-it’s-horrible Sega CD title Corpse Killer, and is predated by the films Day of the Dead, Zombie/Zombi 2, and 1943’s I Walked With A Zombie. So yeah, it’s about as original as Rocky V.

To be fair, I really don’t see the continued pop-culture appeal of zombies. Zombie fiction was pretty much deconstructed and parodied to hell and back with 2004’s Shaun of the Dead, which really should have been the final nail in the coffin. But unfortunately, now zombies are everywhere. Call of Duty has zombies. Red Dead Redemption has zombies. As Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw put it in an episode of Zero Punctuation “do you get a tax break for making a game about zombies?”. They’ve far worn out their pop culture welcome to the point that even classic literature is suffering at the hands of the undead. Apparently Northanger Abbey isn’t any good on its own merits, it needs some flesh eating ghouls! The only franchise that lacks zombies anymore is Resident Evil! That’s completely insane!

Perhaps the only way you could get more cliché than zombies would be to have a buzzcut space marine fighting zombies in a dockside warehouse full of shipping crates. Which I’m sure Activision is working on as we speak.

If you had a Mac in the ’90s, you probably recognize this.

Long before the Apple logo could be found in every other person’s pocket, long before the iPod, the Intel switch, or the hipster worship of everything Steve Jobs gives/dumps on them, Apple was a struggling computer manufacturer. Sure, they were huge in the early days of computing, but even after the introduction of the Macintosh, their top seller was the Apple ii line (which you might remember as THE school computer in the pre-internet age).

I had a 386 PC with Windows 3.1, but the first new computer my family got that I can remember was a Macintosh Performa. And when life gives you Apples, you play the games that run on them. So let’s take a look at some of the games that made the beige boxes from Cupertino a little less boring.

Bungie’s Library

You may know Bungie Software as the little company that made the Halo series. Well before that behemoth, they were just a small team of Chicago-based developers who worked exclusively with the Macintosh. Their first title was Minotaur, which was a multiplayer RPG configured to run on AppleTalk networks. A modest success, it paved the way for their next, much more ambitious title, Pathways Into Darkness. Pathways had a lot going for it – clean graphics, numerous levels (going both up and down in a Mayan pyramid), great sound effects, as well as RPG elements like inventory management, weapon proficiencies, and the ability to talk to other characters (although the other characters are all dead).

However, their biggest impact on the Macintosh, the game that made Bungie synonymous with Mac gaming, was 1994’s Marathon. Perhaps closer in style to its competitor System Shock than Doom, Marathon thrusts you into a bloody conflict aboard a colony ship as you try to stop marauding aliens from enslaving the civilians onboard while at the whims of a mad artificial intelligence. Also, it features things uncommon in shooters at the time – an in-depth story, multiple fire modes, dual-wielding, and the ability to use your mouse to look around. It was followed by two sequels, Durandal and Infinity, both of which sold very well on the Mac (and even had custom trapezoidal boxes). Soon, Bungie branched out to the PC with Myth, before their sale to Microsoft. And the rest is history.

Escape Velocity

Another name to know in Mac gaming is the (still operational) Ambrosia Software. While they had produced a wide variety of smaller, arcade style games such as Apeiron and Maelstrom, their biggest and most ambitious games were the Escape Velocity games. Putting you in control of a freighter captain, you flew around the galaxy much as you can in Mass Effect, trading commodities, ferrying passengers and cargo to new planets, and perhaps getting involved in an interstellar war. It’s an interesting game that’s hard to categorize, but it’s a very immersive and fun game that garnered a lot of fans – and two sequels.

Bolo

Bolo was another game that utilized the AppleTalk network- a game where you controlled a tank and fought it out with other players while dodging fire from pillboxes. While it looks primitive by today’s standards, Bolo was one of the most popular multiplayer games in its day, and some of the maps were brilliantly designed. Having not had an opportunity to play it much myself, I can’t say a lot about it. But I remember hearing a lot about it.

F/A-18 Hornet

The Mac counterpart to Falcon 3.o, Hornet put you in the cockpit of the US Navy’s nimble twin-engine fighter as you fly missions in Kuwait and Korea. The flight model and attention to detail is pretty impressive, even for a flight sim. The game was polygon-heavy, too – we had to get a video upgrade with a floating point unit for optimal performance. I remember playing this one pretty extensively as I had an expensive joystick and there weren’t a whole lot of other flight sims on the Mac (off the top of my head I can only remember X-Wing, A-10 Cuba, and Comanche). And this one was, as real aircraft sims go, the best.

Blizzard

Wot, more work?

Even when nobody else was, Blizzard was kind to the Macintosh crowd. Each of their releases since 1994’s Warcraft: Orcs & Humans have seen simultaneous PC/Mac releases. The fact that they managed to always polish their games to a fine sheen ( I hated WarCraft 3, but it WAS polished) while managing to keep the versions functionally and aesthetically the same made them a much loved and very successful developer on both the PC and Mac fronts. Which is news to nobody.

Ports

The Mac was home to a number of ports from the PC – the top sellers like Doom and SimCity (and its fantastic sequel SimCity 2000) made it over, and LucasArts ported most of their games over for a number of years (Rebel Assault and the SCUMM-based adventure games were extremely popular on all systems at the time). Interplay had an entire division, MacPlay, dedicated to porting over their most popular titles (and a few that weren’t theirs) – among them Star Trek: 25th Anniversary, Alone in the Dark, and eventually Fallout.

So there’s your look back at what it was like to have the less popular system back in the ’90s. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a HyperCard deck to flip through.

Revolution X Starring Aerosmith

This Game is Bad

And not bad in the way the cool kids said it in the mid-’90s when the game came out. Bad in the sense that you can only explain with a horribly pixelated mugshot of Steven Tyler. Bad in the sense that you wanted to cry after renting it instead of Vectorman or Aero the Acrobat II. Bad like losing all your POGs, bad like getting your earring in the wrong ear, bad like going to a Soundgarden concert only to find Poison is playing instead.

Basically, it’s what you should expect to get when you decide to make a rail shooter based on a rock band. And specifically, a party-hearty band like Aerosmith.

Generation X is in Effect

Fighting Enemies in Revolution X

First, let’s take a look at the game’s premise. It’s the far future year of 1996, possibly not long after the prologue of Demolition Man. And the New World Order has banned rock and roll, and fun in general. Therefore it’s up to the disaffected youth of Generation X, led by crusty ’70s rockers Aerosmith, to take back the world from guys who look like Scorpion from Mortal Kombat in motorcycle gear by gunning them down with uzis and…launching Compact Discs at them. Yes, you can fire CDs, presumably through some sort of specially designed railgun.

So the forces of Generation X, well known for their unwillingness to do anything not dictated by MTV, are mobilized not by a band that actually had a popular hit at the time the game came out (I suppose Metallica and Pearl Jam had the good taste to pass on this one), but by…Aerosmith. Yeah. Nothing like hearing Dream On to get me to rebel against oppressive fascist forces!

So the idea of the game is completely insane. To say the least. But all that can be forgiven if it’s fun, right?

Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing…Except Maybe This

Let’s start with the gameplay problems. The Sega Genesis is not a well-equipped system for rail shooters unless you owned the rare Sega Menacer gun controller. Like the SNES Super Scope, it was rare, it was expensive, let’s face it, only the rich kid who had a Power Glove and a 3DO had one of these. And while he laughed at us from the tower of his majestic suburban castle, we rented and played Revolution X.

You control the crosshair with your D-pad. The Genesis controller is many things. Comfortable, perfectly sized, shaped like a boomerang. It is not, however, a mouse, or a lightgun, or anything worthwhile for quickly moving a cursor. You move the controller to gun down an endless army of identical mooks, occasionally launching a compact disc which must be explosive or razor edged because it brings the hurt. This is what you do for pretty much the entire time.

Rockin' the Guitar in Revolution X Game on Mega Drive

You also get to listen to what might have been intended to be Aerosmith tracks, but either they’re B-sides I don’t recognize or are so horribly mangled through the Genesis’s soundchip that they just sound like uninspired 16-bit garbage. That’s great, the game promises me Aerosmith and I can’t even rock out? What’s the point?

And while I’m on that subject…again, of all bands, WHY Aerosmith? I’m sure a perfectly good sidescroller could have been made based on Megadeth. Or maybe some kind of GWAR-PG. I’d even give serious thought to a Leisure Suit Larry game starring Phil Collins before I’d say, “You know what sounds like an awesome idea? A rail shooter featuring Aerosmith!”

The Final Verdict

If you were expecting a good licensed game based on a band, look elsewhere. Here it’s the same old story, same old song and dance.

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You know there have been times where a game’s artificial intelligence has caused you a moment of hairpulling, controller-throwing or profanity-shouting. The AI may not be smart, but it can sometimes do things that completely baffle you. Take the slingshot AI in the old NFL Blitz games, which punished you for doing too good.

But that’s not what this is really about. Today I’m writing to celebrate two of the greatest villains of the 1990s, both of whom are artificial intelligences.

Durandal (Marathon series)

Sorry to give you the bad news, but you’ve been kidnapped. You aren’t where Leela wanted you to go, and you surely won’t get there any time soon.

Introduced in Bungie’s Marathon, and appearing in both of its sequels, Durandal began digital life as the UESC Marathon’s utilities AI, alongside main AI Leela and science AI Tycho. However, he became self-aware and eventually rampant. This caused no end of headaches for the Marathon’s security officer (the hero of the games), who dealt with him, was manipulated by him and was eventually sent to a tangent reality in which Durandal was unsuccessful in putting the officer into stasis after the events of the original game (the story gets convoluted enough to make Hideo Kojima cry in Marathon: Infinity).

What stands out about Durandal is that he could be extremely helpful – when the mood suited him. He was just as likely to teleport you into a room full of fusion batteries as he was to give you pages of gibberish ASCII code. The evidence of his neglect of his duties is evident from the first level of the original Marathon, where doors stutter and jam in place and elevators push straight to the ceiling (threatening to crush you).

Durandal is interesting. He may not even necessarily be evil, but he is without a doubt insane and willing to send the player character to his death for his own purposes. And the interesting part is – he’s usually on your side. Usually.

Just remember, if the door’s jammed, it’s just because he’s laughing.

SHODAN (System Shock series)

Look at you, hacker. A pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you run through my corridors. How can you challenge a perfect, immortal machine?

SHODAN- Sentient Hyper Optimized Data Access Network. Sounds pretty benign, no?

Well, that’s until she starts talking to you. System Shock‘s unforgettable bordering-on-villain protagonist, the player removes SHODAN’s ethical restrictions at the beginning of the game. Then, things get worse, as she takes control of Citadel station’s systems and becomes an omnipresent figure in the Hacker’s life. For the length of your stay on Citadel Station (and aboard the Von Braun in its sequel) , SHODAN is for all intents and purposes your god.

SHODAN, like Durandal, is a little different from their mutual ancestor HAL 9000 in that she is both fully aware of her actions and their consequences. However, unlike Durandal, who communicates only through terminal text, SHODAN has a voice and a distinctive personality to match it.

I first played System Shock 2 when I was about eleven. A big part of SHODAN’s memorable qualities lie in the fact that some of her more memorable lines are double entendres (see the introductory sentence) and the fact that her vocal delivery, when not crackling with full-bore nightmare fuel, fairly drips with breathy sexuality. Take my word for it – at eleven years old, I noticed.

She made for an interesting villain, one of a type we hadn’t really seen at the time – omnipresent, always in contact with you, and aggressively working against you. It’s a shame that EA doesn’t seem interested in re-releasing or even acknowledging the System Shock games, because SHODAN is a villain that you will remember once you’ve played the game.

Bonus Round: The Colonel AI (Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty)

I hear it’s amazing when the famous purple stuffed worm in flap-jaw space with the tuning fork does a raw blink on Hari-kari rock. I need scissors! 61!

This is a bit of a post-script. Since 2000, there have been many AI’s featured in videogames – notably Halo’s Cortana, Fallout 3‘s John Henry Eden, and Mass Effect 2′s EDI. All of those have owed something to HAL, SkyNET, and the two aforementioned AIs. They do not count as they were created post-1999. But I will include one more, for the sake of fun. And that’s the Colonel AI from Metal Gear Solid 2.

Towards the end of the game, it’s revealed that the “Colonel” is in fact an artificial intelligence under the control of the shadowy Patriots organization. And as Raiden is knocked out and…eh, disrobed, the Colonel starts to malfunction. Some people seem to find the Colonel’s behavior scary. I found it hilarious. The source of the immortal “I need scissors! Sixty-one!”, this almost makes up for the fact that you’ve been playing an androgynous blonde dude instead of Solid Snake for most of the game and have spent the past twenty minutes playing as said blonde dude naked. It almost makes up for it. Almost.

Almost.

Enduro for Atari 2600

Hittin’ the Road

Buckle your seatbelt, put Red Barchetta in the tape deck and push in the clutch. Once the wheels are turning in Enduro, you don’t get a break.

Released by Activision in 1983, Enduro puts you behind the wheels of a sports car (being an Atari 2600 game, you’re free to imagine it to be whichever car you’d like – I tend to imagine it as a Lotus Esprit or Buick Grand National) as you take on an endurance course. You’ll drive in daytime, nighttime, sunny countrysides and snowy mountains. Obviously, a good amount of this is up to the player’s imagination, as the graphics lack any real detail.

Enduro Atari 2600 Review

The goal of the game is essentially to pass a set number of cars in a day. If you can make it through the day and get past all the other cars, then you continue on to race the next day. You want to maintain a steady speed, but you also have to be careful not to hit other cars, as you’ll lose valuable speed (and daylight!) and have to build your speed up.

Your driving is accompanied by the soothing/maddening sound of your car’s engine as provided by the Atari 2600’s primitive soundchip. Whether it brings you to a zen state or drives you up the wall is a matter of personal taste.

The game is one of the best racers on the 2600 (much better than the feeble Dragster), and plays like a simplified Pole Position, right down to the pseudo-3D that would become the standard for racers over the proceeding years. It’s a solid title, and if you have a 2600 (or find it in one of Activision’s compilations) give it a shot.

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MechWarrior 2

…All Systems Nominal

Those words are burned into the brain of everyone who played MechWarrior 2. Taking place in the BattleTech universe (which reaches from a tabletop wargame, a tabletop roleplaying game, to numerous novels and electronic games), MechWarrior 2 puts you in control of a BattleMech for one of two warring clans – Clan Wolf and Clan Jade Falcon.

The game is functionally a simulator rather than a simplistic action game, allowing you to take full control of your Mech. You can choose your weapon loadout, as well as your shields and engines, and, perhaps most importantly, your heat sinks. Managing your Mech’s heat in battle is one of the most important aspects of the game, as an overheated Mech is a sitting duck.

You can choose how hardcore the simulation is – as simple to control as a typical first-person shooter, or as intensive as being able to independently control each leg of your mech. The game does a good job of simulating these fictional war machines – the only real comparison I can make is to LucasArts’ X-Wing/TIE Fighter series (in the general sense of both simulating fictional vehicles).

MechWarrior 2 GameplayThe missions range from simple seek and destroy missions to recon and base destruction. Your chosen Mech and loadout will affect the difficulty of the mission. The possibilities (try taking on the later missions with just your Gauss Rifle) add up to a lot of replay value.

The music also deserves special mention, comprised of ambient industrial tracks. They work well as background for piloting your bipedal tank. The music is composed of CD quality music, and it’s strong and atmospheric without overtaking the immersion. The tracks never go over-the-top; sometimes limited options are superior to a full orchestra.

The PlayStation/Saturn Version

There is also a separate edition of MechWarrior 2 which, although largely based on the PC original, was more focused on straight-up action rather than simulation. However, you can still choose your Mech model and loadout, and the missions and controls are streamlined to be friendlier on the more limited console controls and hardware.

How much you like either version will depend greatly on whether you prefer a more technical experience versus a more arcade-like experience – if you prefer harder sims like Falcon 4.0 or TIE Fighter, then the PC original is right up your alley; otherwise the friendlier PlayStation/Saturn version is probably a better choice. In any case, the PlayStation version requires the least effort to get up and running, as either a PS2 or PS3 will run a copy. However, it’s not hard to track down either version, and I haven’t had much trouble getting the PC version running on my XP system (there’s a patch to get it to work).

The PC version is a full-fledged classic, and the console version is a minor classic. It’s worth getting a copy, especially if you enjoy games like the Armored Core series. So choose your side, hop in your BattleMech and get a taste of the 31st Century.

BNBGAMING Recommended Award

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