MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat
Description official descriptions
You are the genetically engineered Clan Mechwarrior. The Clans are invading the Inner Sphere. Join either the Wolf Clan or the Jade Falcon Clan as they pursue their own agenda against the Inner Sphere and other Clans. Take your advanced Omnimechs into battle against all comers. Win high warrior ratings (by using less mechs or smaller mechs than needed, completing secondary objectives, etc.) and you'll get chance at a promotion trial where you face superior odds in an arena. If you win, you advance in rank. If you are very successful, you can make it all the way up to Khan, leader of the Clan.
Mechwarrior II was developed in-house by Activision as the successor to their original Mechwarrior. While this time there are no dynamic campaign and mercenary actions, the Clan culture is integrated into the two campaigns. Different clans have different mechs and different rules, even different weapons. You can customize your mechs in order to use less than the "par" force in order to get a higher rating. The game features full 3D environments. The addition of NetMech allowed users to fight each other online.
When 3D cards came along, special versions of the game were created to take advantage of 3D texturing.
Credits (DOS version)
205 People (175 developers, 30 thanks) · View all
|Lead Game Designer|
|Associate Game Designers|
|Associate Producer for 1.1|
|Tools/Drivers Licensed from|
|[ full credits ]|
Average score: 86% (based on 39 ratings)
Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 93 ratings with 3 reviews)
MechWarrior 2 was a nifty cross between pure action and simulation, with a level of polish that lifted it above a host of competing giant robot fighting games. It resembled Lucasarts' X-Wing games in that respect, with its combination of accessible depth and slick audio and visual production. In terms of plot I have no idea how strictly it adheres to the Mechwarrior "universe", but basically the game puts you in charge of a series of fighting robots, and you have to blow up other robots and protect friendly installations and so forth. In this respect it was again very much like X-Wing or TIE Fighter, but set on the ground, and far in the future rather than a long time ago.
The impression of moving about in a giant robot was extremely well conveyed. Your robot strode around the landscape exactly as if it was a hundred feet tall and made of iron. The sound design was effective as well, with a good range of clanks and robot noises that added greatly to the experience. The voice acting of your robot computer and mission briefings etc was professional. The gouraud shaded 3D polygons were fast and detailed, and they moved well, with mass and heft. Later instalments in the series - the add-on pack Ghost Bear's Legacy, and the sequel Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries - pushed the engine beyond its limits, including underwater and indoors sequences, but plain old Mechwarrior 2 had a fine set of large, expansive alien landscapes. There were a couple of cities, and although most of the buildings were just shaded blocks, they seemed large and real. From what I remember the game supported the extravagant resolution of 1024x768, which was jerky unless you had a 486DX50 or something similar.
The game system had been well thought out, and benefited from its RPG roots. One of the best features was the way that you could customise your robot, indeed you could choose several different robot bodies. Each could store a certain weight of weapons and equipment in a certain set of locations, and if you overloaded your robot it moved slower, heated up quicker, and couldn't jump as far. The process of modifying your robot was uncomplicated, with enough depth to be fascinating, but not so much that it became tedious (MechWarrior 2 was superior to its sequels in this respect). The robot builder gave you an incentive to replay the entire game with a different robot design philosophy each time - you could have a large, slow-moving battleship, or a small, fast frigate that could dodge incoming missiles, or something in between. I remember completing most of the game in a fairly small and simple Nova, with six medium lasers set to salvo fire, blasting off the legs of opposition robots.
The missions were standard for this kind of thing - destroy the opposition nuclear reactor, defend the base, escort the train, that kind of thing. Most of the missions had hidden objectives that rewarded exploration. Some of the setpieces were impressive; after destroying the aforementioned reactor you had to dash out of range before your Mech was vaporised in an atomic white-out. The robots could be damaged in the arms and legs, knocking out functionality and weapons systems, which added to the tense atmosphere. Often you would enter the final phase of a mission with a missing arm and a wary eye.
Special mention must be made of the soundtrack. I have been playing computer games since the early 1980s and I have heard many of the great computer game soundtracks. I believe that the soundtrack for Mechwarrior 2 is one of the giants. The music was recorded with synthesisers and streamed from the CD, and I still listen to it occasionally. Despite some cheap-sounding synthesiser patches the composition nonetheless had depth and power, pulsing along purposefully at moderate tempo, exactly as the soundtrack to a game about giant robots should. It complimented the game perfectly. The music mixed a wide range of influences - bits of techno, Middle Eastern scales, Latin rhythms, stately Wagnerian chords, martial bass drums - to sublime effect. Whatever Activision paid for the soundtrack, they invested wisely, because it made the game seem twice as expensive as it was. The console versions of the game had dull metal soundtracks, and although they included most of the gameplay, they felt flat and dull compared to the PC version, because they didn't have the soundtrack.
The only real problem was the control scheme. Your robot's torso rotated independently of the legs, and it was often tricky to co-ordinate the two frames of reference. To be effective in combat you had to master the art of navigating around with your legs, side-slipping and jumping with your jump-jets, and targeting the enemy with your arms, which meant that you have to be deft with the keyboard and mouse. No doubt MechWarrior 2 sold lots of those multi-button joystick/rudder pedal combinations that were all the rage at the time.
I recall that there was a bug in the original release of the game, whereby your robot's left arm took much more damage than your right arm, and was consistently shot off early on in a mission. As a consequence it was advisable to put your weapons in the other arm. This was patched, but I have no idea if the patch is still available (or if later, budget re-releases of the game were patched).
Mechwarrior 2 is problematic with modern Windows XP PCs. From what I have read the DOS version of the game can be made to run with a bit of work, but the Windows 95 version is a dead loss, and in both cases it's tricky to get the game to recognise the CD, which means that you can't hear the soundtrack. I had a heck of a time getting my old DOS version working with Windows 98, because of some nonsense with VESA drivers.
The game predated the widespread adoption of 3D cards by about a year. Nonetheless it became a popular bundled title with the early PowerVR, 3DFX, Rendition Verite, and S3 Virge cards. The game didn't really benefit from 3D acceleration, however; the graphics were sharper, but the overall effect was poor, because the ground and sky textures remained small and obviously tiled. Unlike Tomb Raider, Carmageddon et al, each 3D accelerated version was specially coded for the specific card. I have to assume that the game does not have OpenGL support. Perhaps you have an old Voodoo2 hanging around somewhere. I preferred playing the game in software mode (a useful vector graphic "infra red" vision mode is absent in the 3D accelerated versions).
The Bottom Line
Mechwarrior 2 was a superlative game in its day, and it is my favourite of the modern-day 3D Mechwarrior games. I was disappointed with the sequels. I have no idea if the Mechwarrior series is still popular today.
DOS · by Ashley Pomeroy (225) · 2006
This is pretty much a re-tread on the earlier MechWarrior game design-wise, with some upgrading of the universe and a mojor graphics overhaul. All the joys of the earlier games are here as well.
Multi-player action is a welcome addition, but really only if you are on a LAN.
Of course, many of the same flaws of the earlier design still remain, such as the ability to instantly destroy an enemy by aiming a PPC at his head and firing (the same can happen to you, making it even less fun).
**The Bottom Line**
Another game lots of people love, but I was not enamored with. I prefer
Windows · by Tony Van (2804) · 2000
I was never a big fan of the original Mechwarrior game. That said, I really tried to go into this game with a clear head.
This was one of the best gaming investments I ever made! This game is full of action, cool music and sounds-----and you get to pilot enormous Mechs! The broad array of terrain-types and combat scenarios will give you many hours of slammin'-jammin' gaming goodness. If you can find this game, buy it!
Pretty much, nothing-----a couple of times, it crashed back to my desktop (extremely rare). Other than that, it's great!
The Bottom Line
Mechwarrior 2 is an action-filled game offering the player opportunies to pilot various Mechs in numerous combat scenarios.
Windows · by Paul Budd (426) · 2000
|MechWarrior 2 Let's Play||Rich Hanes||Aug 15th, 2015|
1001 Video Games
MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
Mechwarrior 2 straddled the boundaries of DOS and 3D accelerator cards. As a result, several DOS-but-3D-accelerator-only versions were released specifically for certain chipsets to be bundled by OEMS with their cards. (Later releases, including a "Titanium" version, include all released versions as well as a generic Direct3D version for Windows 95.) One of these OEM bundles, ATI's 3D Expression+PC2TV, was an oddity since the software-only version ran faster on a 486/66 than the "accelerated" version did on a Pentium 90!
During development, the game (surely to be cancelled due to the money lost, and two year delay) was put on hiatus, because of memory limitations, (The game engine was only capable to have one mech onscreen at a time) Two programmers took the project on their own time, and rebuilt parts of the engine, alleviating the memory limitations, and allowing more mechs onscreen. After Activision found out, they cancelled the hiatus, and with a new team, continued development.
The original package came with two "sheets" of Clan Warrior propaganda. The Wolf Clan, as the leader of the "Wardens", wants to "shepherd" Inner Sphere toward enlightenment, while the Crusaders, lead by the Jade Falcon Clan, believe that Inner Sphere belongs to them and they'll take on all comers to reclaim it.
The Macintosh version of Mechwarrior 2 featured a bug that caused the display to be messed up when using certain game resolutions.
If the user set the screen resolution to, say 320x240 pixels, the game would be drawn at that size on the screen. So if you were playing the game on a 15'' screen at a smaller resolution than the standard resolution of your computer (e.g. 640x480) your game would actually be only a portion of the screen. The fact that a system 7 or 8 user couldn't lower the screen resolution below what was recommended by the system didn't help.
The difference between DOS and MacOS was that DOS gamers could play their games at any resolution in full screen while the Macintosh somehow only drew the game at a smaller size.
You can target individual buildings, and their names show up in the targeting radar. In some city maps (the city map for Trial of Grievances, for example), you can find a tower building curiously labeled "Activision".
- Computer Gaming World
- April 1998 (Issue #165) - Introduced into the Hall of Fame
- June 1996 (Issue #143) – Space Simulation of the Year
- June 1996 (Issue #143) – Space Simulation of the Year (Readers' Vote)
- November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #27 in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
- March 2001 (Issue #200) - #9 Best Game of All Time
- GameStar (Germany)
- Issue 12/1999 - #38 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
- Origin Awards
- 1995 - Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game
- PC Gamer
- April 2000 - #40 in the "All-Time Top 50 Games" poll
- April 2001 - #8 in the "'50 Best Games of All Time" list
- April 2005 - #31 in the "50 Best Games of All Time" list
Related Sites +
Moby Games Classic: MechWarrior 2
A reminiscent feature article on ShackNews written based on the MobyGames entry for the game, specifically drawing on the reviews and description.
- MobyGames ID: 106
- Wikipedia (en)
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Brian Hirt.
Game added June 25th, 1999. Last modified November 22nd, 2023.