Heavy Gear

Moby ID: 1522
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Description official descriptions

In a distant future on a planet called Terra Nova, an epic war is waged between the AST and the ECEF. You are a "Gear" pilot for one of these sides as you join the battle for supremacy. You pilot the various Heavy Gears (large biped fighting robots) in a variety of missions, either playing through the storyline for both factions or participating in the endless dynamic war going on between the two. As you get promoted, you gain access to better Gears and more destructive weaponry to acomplish your goals.

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Credits (Windows version)

241 People (225 developers, 16 thanks) · View all

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Story
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Voice Over Recording (SounDelux)
CGI (Equinoxe)
Storyboard Artist
Director (Vision Mixer)
Producer (Vision Mixer)
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Gaffer
Best Boy Electric
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Best Boy Grip
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 78% (based on 19 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.1 out of 5 (based on 12 ratings with 2 reviews)

Flawed attempt to shove Mechwarrior down your throat once again

The Good
The spiritual successor to Mechwarrior 2 continues Activision's lineup of giant-robot sims with a series of major additions. First of all there's Dream Pod 9's Heavy Gear universe which is set on a distant future where combat is done over mechanized assault suits rather than hulking mechas so everything is significantly scaled down.

In this universe a pair of opposing factions wage an unending war over a distant world. You play as a the lead gear pilot and duelist (the one in charge of ritualistic duels a la MW arena matches) of one of the hover-carriers of one of the factions (don't really recall which one, does it matter anyway?). The storyline isn't another "filler" plot to hold the mech-mayhem togheter and actually gets pretty good and turns the game into more of a Wing Commander-style space opera. As the lead gear pilot it's you who takes the rookie pilots under your wing and keep them safe and sound in the heat of the battle. One of these rookie pilots is actually the son of the carrier's captain, so you know that you have to keep Jr. and Daddy dearest happy. Everything is just dandy until you and the kid get caught by the enemy. Junior turns out to be a total incompetent coward and surrenders to the enemy while you escape with a fellow squadmate....Result? Daddy blames you for the dissapearance of his beloved "courageous" son and starts sending you to a series of suicidal missions and even puts down contracts on your head with your fellow gear pilots!! Obviously things eventually come to the limit and as you garner the few loyal pilots you can muster you'll have to deal with both your psycho captain and the enemy forces. In all, an effective plot that is also novel and exciting, told via excellently acted FMV sequences and integrating the game nicely.

On the gameplay side, weapons are more ballistically oriented with your choices being mostly between different assault cannons/machineguns/mortars, etc. Instead of PBCs or laser cannons. The landscapes offer much more obstacles and debris, and combat is generally more close-quarters oriented. There are also some newer gameplay additions such as being able to pick up discarded weapons on the battleground and use them right then and there.

Excellent hardware accelerated graphics mark another major difference between this and the Mechwarrior-era Activision games. More complex models, detailed textures and even some spiffy effects such as particle/smoke fx and atmospheric details such as visible fog make the game a visual standout.

The Bad
Looking back on Heavy Gear it becomes painfully obvious just how much in denial was Activision about losing the Battletech license. You'd think the developers would cut their loses and just developed a completely original product like on Interstate '76, unfortunately they decided to shell the cash for another tabletop game universe (???) and try to adjust said game to the Mechwarrior gameplay mechanics. And this is what really kills Heavy gear, the fact that it plays like Mechwarrior 2.... only.... it's all messed up!!

As mentioned the scale of everything has been reduced, as the gears are actually humanoid heavy duty power armors, unfortunately the gameplay keeps the mechanics of the MW series and you end up with sluggish controls that fit the hulking behemoths of Battletech's universe but are nowhere near what one would consider as appropiate for these vehicles. While the gameplay is considerable faster than on MW, the agile nature of the gears is completely dulled, and why did they keep controls like the torso tilt when it would be much more appropiate to include fps-like mouse aiming?? Picture trying to play tennis only someone shoved a basketball inside the tennis ball and you'll see what I mean. Activision thought they could just re-sale Mechwarrior under a new pait job and just failed. Either that or they just feared that fans would ignore the game if it deviated too much from what they were used to.

Also, while the mission design is way above average, didn't I escape POW camps like 10 times before in MW2 and Mercs??? And what about nav patrols and depot raids?? Enough with the recycling Activision!!

The Bottom Line
A substantial and interesting sci-fi sim that fails by incorporating the mechanics of a previous hit instead of following it's own rules and fulfilling it's potential. The result is a weird-ass mess that while far from being unplayable, is nowhere near the level of perfection Activision had us used to. I'm afraid that the giant robot torch has been passed and it's time to move on.

Windows · by Zovni (10504) · 2003

The unsuccessful successor to Mechwarrior2.

The Good
Like most Activision games using this engine (i.e. the Mechwarrior 2 products and Interstate 76), Heavy Gear featured excellent graphics, sound, video cutscenes, and music. Additionally, the engine had been updated so that it supported 3D cards, the results of which rivaled most other cutting edge games on the market.

Overall, the roughly 30 campaign missions were varied and fun. The operations ranged from standard search and destroy, to protecting your landship (essentially a hovercraft similar to our aircraft carriers), to infiltration/intelligence gathering. They were not too difficult, but nonetheless proved challenging.

As with most fighting robot games, you can customize your gear. You could easily drag-and-drop various body parts and weapons with the well designed interface. One interesting aspect of this was that you could essentially use a heavy strider's legs with a scout gear's torso, although one would not do this as a practical matter. As you progressed further, more weapons, gears, and equipment were available.

During combat, your gear gear weapons were fairly well developed. Also, the game featured realistic damage model similar to Mechwarrior wherein specific parts of the gear were damaged depending on where it was hit -- thus, you could possibly lose an arm or other vital systems, and the gear would reflect that.

The Bad
Probably one of the most disappointing points of Heavy Gear was the 'feel' of the gears. Activision's marketing campaigns all claimed gears were smaller and more agile than the bots in the Mecharrior (which they should have been, since gears are actually glorified suits of powered armor), and that the game would play like a cross between the fast first person shooters such as Quake and the giant robot feel of Mechwarrior. In reality, the game did not play too differently from Mechwarrior, save for the fact that gears were a lot weaker.

Also, some of the weapons seemed under-developed, such as the plethora of mortars available. In the pen-and-paper RPG, these weapons might be effective against troops or small vehicles, but they were not too useful in the computer game.

Lastly, the gears depicted in the game did not look too much like the anime inspired artwork that the Heavy Gear universe is usually portrayed in. Rather, the gears were blocky like and not the smooth organic-looking robot armor suits.

The Bottom Line
Heavy Gear came as a result of Activision losing it's Battletech license from FASA, and it shows. The engine, while fantastic nonetheless, is suited for the heavy walking tanks of Mechwarrior and not agile gears. Also, while the campaign story was somewhat interesting, the overall game setting was not well developed and I did not at all feel compelled to pursue Dream Pod 9's Heavy Gear universe any furthur.

Windows · by grimbergen (433) · 2001

Trivia

Development

This was the first "mecha" type game Activision produced after they lost the Mechwarrior license. Based upon another traditional pen and paper game created by the company "Dream Pod 9"

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Zhentarim7.

Additional contributors: Jeanne, Patrick Bregger.

Game added May 31, 2000. Last modified March 12, 2024.