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Mechwarrior 3 vs Heavy Gear 2
 July 10th, 1999 by Michael "" Ahlf
 
Part 2:

GRAPHICS

Graphics are as important as can be in a simulation game like this: Activision already has proved that with their success in selling new upgrades to the old Mechwarrior 2 engine, every time with graphical improvements but little in the way of gameplay changes. The graphics competition compares shots with shots, to determine who does what better.

First off: the environment.  Both engines do VERY well with terrain, as well as the rain and haze effects.  The snow in the early missions of Heavy Gear 2 is quite impressive, as are the rocket trails and smoke from anything destroyed.  Bumpy terrain, with lots of small rises and dips, is handled quite easily in the Dark Side engine.  Something Mechwarrior 3 doesn't have, space combat at zero gravity, is also handled well, though it tends to get very taxing on the graphical side.

Unfortunately for Heavy Gear 2 fans, the price paid for this visual impressiveness is too high.  Mechwarrior 3 accomplishes rainfall, smoke from destruction, rocket flight, and even steam when the lasers hit water, for the small price of a 2 MB video card.   Further, while I was stuck in 640x480 resolution in Heavy Gear 2, my 8MB Riva 128ZX video card (yes, I know it's old) was able to render every bit of rain, fog, smoke, and miscellaneous effects like sparks in Mechwarrior 3 at 1024x768 resolution without complaint (Note to users: I took screens for Mech3 in 800x600 to keep download times down). The nail in the coffin is deformable terrain:  Mechwarrior players can see where every missile has landed, as the impact craters remain.   The environmental award is pretty close, but in the end Mechwarrior 3 just pulls it off better, presenting the user with a world they can see as "real" and can experience without slowdowns. 

Heavy Gear 2 in space, Heavy Gear 2 with shadows and snow, Mechwarrior 3 with snow and deformable terrain, Mechwarrior 3 showing off a damaged 'Mech (check the arm wiring) and its own shadows.

      

      



The second criterion is the enemy and other robot detailing, and Mechwarrior 3 is the clear winner in this regard.  While Heavy Gear 2 does a good job showcasing the enemies, its textures and number of polygons per enemy lack the quality to make one really believe that the enemy could exist.  Enemies in Heavy Gear 2 just explode: the loss of a weapon doesn't actually get seen on the enemy. They also have a tendency to fall over more than once, sometimes stuttering in the animation.

Mechwarrior 3, meanwhile, presents the user with graphical displays about where the enemy is damaged, as well as actually showing when an enemy's leg or arm is destroyed, the missing part showing wires and sparking.  The enemies also are textured and built to seem realistic: they limp, get knocked over, and when destroyed spark like mad.  The smoke seen from destroyed enemies is as brilliant as that from Heavy Gear 2, and the animations were smooth: enemies killed on the ground died right there, enemies destroyed by leg loss fall over with the leg flying elsewhere, and enemies killed on their feet die impressively, with sparks all over the place as they fall over. 

A few demonstrations of what I saw: a Heavy Gear 2 piece of wreckage, and three shots of the death of a 'Mech: first I blow off his missile pod, then I blow him up, then I watch his wreck burn.

           




<-Back to System Requirements | Onward to Gameplay ->

Heavy Gear 2 VS MechWarrior 3


Added:  Saturday, July 10, 1999
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf

Page: 3/5

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