MechWarrior 4: Vengeance
The improvements and regressions balance out to make this an average game
The graphics are pretty good. They're better than the previous MWs and better than Starsiege, but this is to be expected as technology advances. The story is actually pretty good. Instead of fighting in some impersonal military action, as the box says, "this time it's personal". I thought the acting was particularily good, as the actors actually show emotion. This is so hard to find in games, and particularily in 'Mech-type games. So often it sounds like the actors are just sitting there looking into a teleprompter and reading from a script. Towards the end of the campaign the acting is excellent.
The opening movie is awesome. It makes me wonder how far we are away from a MW movie!
I thought the sounds and music were also pretty good. I was impressed to see that they practically had a symphony orchestra doing the music.
They made it so that collision damage occurs. This is something I'd wanted to see for a long time. Now you can ram enemies! Also, you can step on those annoying tanks and other vehicles and crush 'em. That's great!
What are they thinking?!?! Why is there no indication of which weapons or weapons group you have selected??? How did this make it out of beta testing? Did those beta testers have a different version of the game? Every previous version of MW gives a clear indication of which weapons group you have selected (they are hilighted or rectangled or something), but in this version there's no way to know. There's also no way to know which firing mode you're in. Previous MWs had a female voice that would say something like "Chain fire selected" or "Group fire selected". In this, there is no voice, and no visual indication! I absolutely can't fathom why they didn't include this.
The next big thing is, of course, the concept of designated hard points they introduce. Now I've never played the BattleTech RPG (the paper version), but I've played through MW2 and 3 and all the add-ons for them. I'm sure the paper version is the same as those two: you can customize your Mech however you want. Each Mech location (head, right arm, etc.) has a certain amount of critical spaces for which to put whatever you want on.
This game completely changes this fundamental part of BattleTech, and reduces it to the miserable level of Earth/Starsiege, by not only limiting the amount of critical spaces available, but by designating most of them for a specific class of weapon (Missile, Ballistic, Laser). Like so many other games, they are slowly dumbing-down the players. Why did they put these restrictions in? Did it make it easier to program? It certainly does not benefit the players. The best thing about MW was the ability to have complete freedom over how to design your 'Mech, and they have taken this from us. Thanks, Bill Gates.
In MW3, when you would blast an arm off, you'd see it go flying and it would land somewhere. In this one, it just disintegrates. Also, they had made it so that if you damaged a leg, it would limp. This, too, is gone. These little details added to the realism, but for some inexplicable reason, they removed them. It's neat that lasers will burn the paint off, and the 'Mechs spark, pour out smoke, and burn (nice effects!), but I'm still waiting on bullet holes!
The combat in general takes forever. It takes a very long time to destroy even small 'Mechs. You and your 3 lancemates can pound an enemy 'Mech, and it can take several minutes for it to go down. I like it challenging, and it's not so bad that it detracts from the game, but they should make the weapons do a little more damage.
The Bottom Line
If you've gotten the previous MW games, you should get MW4. It has some small problems and those 2 inexcusable problems I described above, but hopefully these will be fixed in patches or player MODifications. Overall it isn't that bad.
by Raphael (1245) on December 28th, 2000