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SummaryThis Merc title did everything right about BTech
The GoodMercenaries managed to capture the flair from the first Mechwarrior title, except the contract negotiation and dynamic campaign with extended missions. You are in charge of a new merc outfit and depending on YOUR performance you can grow at the optimum rate, or even go to Solaris VII to prove your own worth as a Mechwarrior. Loads of weapons, "Black Market" to trade weapons and mechs, loads of mechs, multiplayer, it's almost a Btech player's dream
The BadNo graphical upgrades, still balanced toward the larger mechs (i.e. a bit too powerful), many mechs are in the extra cost expansion packs, as are some of the weapons (though you don't need them for SP), no true dynamic campaign (the whole thing is multi-branch scripted) not enough reference to the existing "lore" other than the initial bits.
The Bottom LineMechwarrior 4: Mercenaries is the last iteration of the Mechwarrior 4 series. After introducing Mechwarrior 4, Black Knight, and the 2 mech packs (Inner Sphere and Clans), Mercenaries is basically what FASA and Microsoft has learned from the entire series distilled into a single game.
The graphical engine did not get upgraded, as they need to maintain compatibility, but all the bugs have been fixed and performance tweaked. The MW4 series is a bit faster than MW3 and a bit more action oriented, and the new engine works well enough for that.
Sound remains about the same as well. Nothing major, though some of the new weapons sounds pretty good.
The main difference is you are now running your own mercenary company, instead of working for someone else, or a planetary government / alliance. You are really on your own, work for the highest bidder. You start your career allied with one out of four sponsors, which basically gives you a default orientation and bonus. One starts with more cash, one with more techs, one with better mechs, and one with better weapons! From there on, take on the various missions, try to earn as much money as possible by fulfilling mission objectives, and try to obtain salvage. Capture enemy weapons and sell them.
When time is right, Solaris VII becomes available, where you can choose to fight on mech to mech action in various classes, and hopefully be crowned "grand champion". Winning gives you a huge bonus paycheck.
As missions get harder, you'll need to hire additional help, and you can take many mechs into the battle, subject to mission drop weight limits. You'll need to hire mechwarriors to pilot them and weapons / ammo to outfit them, of course. Employees cost money. As it is your company, it is all up to you.
At the end, you can choose your allegiance toward Davion, Steiner, or neither, as you have fought from one end of the known galaxy to another in this long campaign, and you do need to choose sides, as choosing one side will preclude missions on the other, and so on.
Some missions require tactical finesse, while others rely on speed, teamwork, and more.
Single Player campaign, as mentioned, is quite good, with lots of branches and lots of apparent freedom. Individual battles can be hard, but not overwhelming, at least not after a bit of practice.
Multiplayer has no "commander" view, it's basically every one for himself, though there is chat support which would offer some sort of coordination.
All in all, MW4:Mercs is the most satisfying of MW4 series, giving players a true taste of being a mercenary (Black Knight expansion doesn't really count in that sense) and adding Solaris VII is a brilliant touch. Multiplayer is a lot of fun if you find the right people. All in all, a great time to be had, just wish they added more of a "dynamic campaign" to the MP.