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


When people play video games, even if the game has the greates graphics in the world, troublesome gameplay can drag it straight from the top into the cellar. Therefore a comparison of the gameplay experience is at least as important as a graphical evaluation.

Heavy Gear 2

Unfortunately, from playing both games, gameplay is something that Heavy Gear 2 lacks.  While the box claims the Gears move fluidly, this is only true when moving in a straight line: any sort of dodging tactics are incredibly difficult to pull off, due to clunky controls. While unique to feature zero gravity controls, they proved too confusing, especially when the calculations shot my framerate to virtually nothing. The game also has severe problems with some joysticks, and with maintaining a keyboard remap.  Control-wise, this game doesn't do well.

In actual gameplay, the game -- touted as an action title -- is anything but.  Wading into battle will end your game quickly, since the enemies have better critical hit rates than you could ever have, often taking you down in 3 hits or less.  Instead, the game requires you to -- most of the time -- move slowly, evade action/battle at all costs, and sneak around looking for a good sniper position. 

Heavy Gear also did not give the impression of power that one expects from a large robot title.  The explosions were pretty, but when the tanks begin to dwarf the robots one begins to wonder what's up with the game.  This was not helped at all by the fact that it took a lot of shots from even the heaviest weapons to take down most enemies, leading to a high frustration level after emptying an entire rocket pack into an enemy only to be taken down in two hits by the return fire. The visual unimpressiveness of the weapons only added to this lack of feeling.  The final problem is weapon availability -- every weapon and option is available from the start of the game, and one soon learns that certain weapons just are NOT worth the space on the Gear.  Playwise, this means that there is no "Oh good, I got a new toy" feeling... since the player is stuck with their choice of one Gear through the game, and all the weapons are there, there's no real incentive or opportunity to try things and be creative with choices.

Energy weapon blasts in both games.  Heavy Gear's Particle Accelerator is pretty unimpressive, while Mechwarrior's lasers -- firing all at once and making the water boil -- really bring the player into a mood for action. Note that you can't even DO multiple weapon fire in HG2.


Mechwarrior 3

What Heavy Gear 2 lacks in gameplay, Mechwarrior 3 has in abundance.  The 'Mechs are quick to respond to commands, with incredibly precise aiming through a mobile reticle on the HUD.  Enemy attackers are smart, but they also have their weaknesses, and an experienced pilot can handle them (especially with wingmen).  The visual impressiveness and fluidity of the weapons, combined with the ability to launch large punches of shots with simultaneously firing weapons, give the player a way to feel powerful, as if they are truly in command of a huge (ie over 25 TON) robot.

The game's salvage engine, which forces the player to pick and choose what he/she keeps (as well as fight better to get good weapons and accessories off of downed enemies in the first place) keeps him/her thinking.  Do I keep my small lasers, or blow them off for the LRM-20 rack?  What if I can't get more LRM-20 ammo, would a large pulse laser be better?  Do I keep the Vulture chassis or switch it out for this new Madcat I just got instead?  These questions and more influence the gameplay immensely. Making active decisions on what to carry, and being able to modify the helpful squad members' 'Mechs (you'll have to, to keep them alive) make the player MUCH more involved.   

In short, Mechwarrior 3 makes the player take much more of an active role in the game, and is easier to get into and handle. Thus it takes the Gameplay competition, too.


Both games have a pretty good storyline, coming off of popular pen-and-paper games.  Each tries to keep its viewers into things with mission briefings, clips, and in-game developments.  

In Heavy Gear 2, you are part of a special ops team, sent to search for a superweapon developed by Earth to destroy Terra Nova, your world.  The cutscenes are pretty much all of spaceships moving, and are done in 320x240 resolution.  In between missions you will find small video clips with computer-generated flybys of the objective, and a mission briefing to scroll through which lists the news and developments leading to the mission as well as your objectives and maybe some advice.  Missions usually have engine-generated "cutscenes" with you and your support or wingmen talking, and while the wingmen each say different things they won't change the storyline progression any. The good part of storyline was a set of one or two missions with alternate endings: messing one up leads not to a replay but instead to a tougher mission later. The end was a letdown: a shot of a ship flying to Terra Nova, with a line about the people never knowing how much they will owe you.

In Mechwarrior 3, you are also part of a special ops mission... but this isn't an ordinary one.  You are one of the few survivors of the special attack force sent to the home planet of Clan Smoke Jaguar, to exterminate their 'Mech producing capabilities so that they can be finished off once and for all. As you landed, the dropships were shot by the Jaguars' laser batteries, and you have to find your way to the one working one to get offplanet alive.  The intro, half of the mission briefings, and end sequence are all done in absolutely gorgeous 640x480 .AVI files, looking almost as good as movies on DVD do with a dxr2 decoder card.  Each mission will have developments such as a need for parts (take over a parts depot, then DEFEND IT from the enemies), a squadmate coming in (you were scattered pretty far apart), Smoke Jaguar commanders challenging you to a fight, taking over a mission when you find that anothe squad was annihilated, and more.  Your briefings come from the head of the mission, the lead man of your mobile field base support, with as much recon data from satellite flybys or otherwise that he has. Every briefing and post-mission chat is audio: listen carefully because your wingmen will tell you what they've seen as they report in, and your mission leader will be letting you in on what sort of threats to expect.  Personally, I thought this storyline looked a LOT better than the one offered by Heavy Gear 2, and the ending was great, with clips from the final battle to exterminate Clan Smoke Jaguar mixed in with an incredible newscast-like voiceover about the "true" Mechwarriors (that's you).

<-Back to Graphics | Onward to the Final Verdict! ->


Heavy Gear 2 VS MechWarrior 3

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

Page: 4/5

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