BattleTech is a turn-based strategy game with pausable real time movement between missions. It is set in a fictional universe with massive battle mechs piloted by Mech warriors but is it worth getting and playing?
BattleTech places heavy emphasis on combat and tactics and doesn’t focus too much on the economic aspect, completing missions is how you gain income. If you like a lot of action and combat that’s similar in a lot of ways to Xcom, it’s worth it. If you’re looking to conquer the galaxy and set up a galactic empire then this game is not for you.
BattleTech has a good story background and an interesting campaign. During the campaign your Lance undertakes contracts. Prior to executing a contract, you negotiate terms and can determine how much you get paid versus how much salvage you collect. In most cases additional reputation can be gained as well. One genuinely nice feature about this game is that once the campaign is over you can still travel the universe, take on new contracts, and blow up enemy mechs for as long as you want to.
I have found myself to be very “keyboard challenged” when it comes to unit movement and combat and dislike using the keyboard for any of that kind of stuff, the more I can point and click with a mouse the better. The BattleTech game is very user friendly in this respect. Movement is easy, just select a unit, click on one of the white dots that indicates where you can move, choose a facing direction, and click again.
Combat is also pretty easy, just make sure you are facing the target (you normally can’t fire at enemies behind your back), select the target, turn off weapons that have a low probably of hitting the target (plus make sure the weapons you do want to use are turned on) and fire.
When I get a new game like BattleTech I tend to just dive head first into it and see what it’s got, and that’s exactly what I did with this game. I took the default settings and default Mechwarriors and started playing without really worrying about any kind of tactics or strategy. Not a formula for success but it gives me an idea of the game difficulty, how it plays, game mechanics, etc. If it grabs my interest, then I know I’m going to really like it. After all, why invest all that time in strategizing and learning the details of a game if I’m not going to like it? The game play is interesting (although I think it has a slow start before getting into any real action) and after a while hours began slipping away without me noticing, making this game a worthwhile investment for me.
Of course, by using this approach I was bankrupt after the third mission, and when you go bankrupt, game over. Charging headfirst into battle without any tactical plan leaves you with badly damaged Mechs and either injured or dead pilots (I lost two in the short time I played my first campaign). Definitely not a recipe for success but fun, especially if you’re a little sadistic and like having the home team obliterated every now and then.
The user interface is easy to learn and use. Movement, aiming, and firing is point-and-click although you may have some problems seeing your possible movement points on a light-colored background like snow. The WASD keys can also be used for movement.
One of the main things in the game interface is the Leopard (Argo after the upgrade), which is where you’ll be in-between missions. Sometimes, when you’re between missions, random events pop up which must be handled. Of course, depending on how you handle it determines how much it will affect your lance.
From the Leopoard screen you have access to all the little things you want to do to strengthen your lance, train your pilots, travel to other systems, and negotiate contracts. You can also get a snapshot of your finances and morale, plus the time line in the upper right corner tracks events that will occur, such as repairing a Mech. Hovering over one of the main menu items brings up a sub menu, although navigating to a sub menu can be a little tricky from time-to-time.
I absolutely enjoy playing this game! Blowing massive Battle Mechs to smithereens while trying to minimize damage (and profit loss) to your mech lance is big fun. The AI is smart on a normal setting and provides a surprisingly good challenge for an average player like me. I like the maneuvering that you go through on the map to get a good shot at the enemy, while keeping in mind your heat buildup during combat. The arena you’re fighting in greatly affects that as well, such as a hot climate making your mechs heat up faster, which limits how often you can use heat-generating weapons. Some types of enemy reinforcements are bound to arrive so wiping out the first enemy lance you face as quickly as possible adds to the intensity and drama of the mission. This game definitely captured my imagination.
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Characters in the campaign are believable and add a lot to the game. Most of the dialog is text based, which is okay, but since I’m a big fan of cut scenes, a little more of that would go a long way with me. But still, even with what I consider a lack of cut scenes, it does not affect the quality of the game play for me.
Graphics are detailed and well-drawn. Action for the most part is smooth but there can be a little stutter at times, enough to be somewhat annoying but not enough to affect game play. Battle mechs are well drawn and the landscape is crisp and detailed. The shadow effects of the game give it that added dimension of realism.
Sound effects, like explosions, are great and well-timed. The pilot chatter adds to the realism, and the voice over the ship intercom is interesting and sometimes outright funny. The music is very good and changes with the action and setting, and there is nothing as satisfying as hearing the sound of the enemy battle mech’s center torso exploding.
Going through all the tutorials and introductory cut scenes was fun the first time but it wouldn’t be much fun the second or third time. Fortunately, this game has an option to bypass most of that and the tutorial, which saves a lot of repetition if you’ve played the game before. By choosing a custom campaign you can skip the prologue and tutorial and alter other aspects of the campaign, like enemy force strength, how much salvage you get per mission, and make salvaging rare items like weapons impossible.
The skirmish mode is a big plus for replay value. Mechs and Lances can both be customized prior to a skirmish. You have all the pre-made mechs available at the start and there are many pre-built lances for you to choose from too. Any of these can be customized as well. Once you’re satisfied with your mechs and lance you can start the skirmish. You can make the skirmish as easy or as hard as you want, which makes this a great arena for testing out customized mechs you might want to use in a regular campaign.
One of the keys to the game is successfully completing missions without taking much damage. The less damage your mechs take the better, so quick kills are a must. On only the most lucrative missions can you afford to sustain major damage to your Lance, and possibly lose a pilot as well. Using fewer heat sinks to allow for more potent weapons is good advice. Beefing up front armor as much as possible is a must since that’s where you usually get pummeled the most by enemy attacks. This game is fun. Despite an occasional long load time for missions, it’s very enjoyable.
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As you play the game it gets more rewarding. You get an upgraded ship early in the game which allows for more options. One of the neat things is the ability to expand the Mech Bays so you can field more mechs. Really awesome when you can choose from 18 battle ready mechs to deploy on the next mission. I would buy this one again.