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Heavy Gear 2 Review@GU
 July 3th, 1999 by Michael "" Ahlf

Heavy Gear 2 does NOT play like the typical robot games that Activision has produced, and veteran Heavy gear players used to the old tweaks of the Mechwarrior 2 engine will have plenty of surprises when they try to jump into the cockpit and head out, guns blazing. The walking handling is more like a first person shooter such as Quake -- the movement is controlled on the numeric keypad, with forward/backward movement, turns, sidestep (yes, you can, although it's not easy to use effectively), and even jumping or jump jets held right there.  Aiming, meanwhile, is done with the mouse, and is pretty good assuming you're standing still or using your SMS (basically, rollerblades) as the walking motion gives quite a bit of view bobbing. The options to kneel and crouch are also on the keypad, and they will be needed more often than the weaponry in most missions.

When it comes time to modify your Gear, the options in weaponry range from simple machine guns to awesomely-powerful cannons (at least you'll think so until you hit an enemy with 6 shots from an "incredible damage" weapon and he still isn't dead).  The Gear itself has handling options, armor, and sensor functions as well as movement speed for you to modify.   The final category is Perks and Flaws. In here you'll get such things as a sniper scope (pretty much a game necessity), enhanced positional armor or chassis locations, backup systems in case one is damaged, and environmental options like submersible capabilities (watertight sealant) or Zero-G (spacewalk capability). Each selection places a "threat" value into a category (offense, defense, other), and the average of these is the "threat" value of the Gear.  Don't worry about the weight anymore, now we just won't let you be fully armored, have full sensor capabilities, and have the superhypermegakillerblaster too. Take the time to get to know each weapon -- the highest threat weapons usually aren't the best for the mission, and the choices you make outfitting your Gear can make the mission easy or nearly impossible.

When using wingmen, the commands are plentiful. Wingmen can go scout, hold a position, regroup with you, or flank an enemy.  They can be told to go kill something, or to protect something (though the need for that is rare). The most intriguing part of wingman interaction came when I tried to call my wingmen out of a battle and was told that they wouldn't; a few seconds later I heard a death scream over my radio, and realized that the strategy of the game requires you to decide: do I really NEED a wingman? In most of the scout missions, you are better off without: while you can manage your own stealth, the wingmen are pretty careless about theirs, and will blow your cover the moment they are given a chance. The short description would be: the wingman options are great because they make you think.

When you start the game, you have three choices. Instant Action is exactly that -- you set up a group from the preprogrammed squadmates, and the enemy group, and then go in to kill them.  Campaign mode is the game's storyline: be very careful with your choice of Gear at the beginning of Campaign mode, because you're stuck with it till the end, only able to change options during the Campaign.  Campaign mode features many enemies with capabilities FAR exceeding your own, and you'll play sniper for most of the game. While you will have missions like a city sneak, a few spacewalks, and a some chances to take on enemies, most of your time will be spent on the red world of Caprice, trying to AVOID getting into fights (you wouldn't survive them) and seeking new places to go to sneak into the enemy's waiting hands. You will also get to listen to your squadmates banter, on the missions when you have them -- storyline moments will play differently depending who is there, although the actual mission goals won't be changed.

The most fun part in terms of actual gameplay is the third option, Historical Missions. In these you and squadmates of your choice will re-create famous battles such as the Peace River Army battle, an assasination, an escort mission, and more. The bonus to this is that the gameplay is much like the opening sequence: your capabilities will be equal to or exceed those of the enemy Gears, and you can therefore go toe-to-toe with them in the sort of combat action that the box shows.

Multiplayer is a fun option, for a while, but some changes will need to be made: even with incredibly low threat value maximums set for a server, it is still possible to take weapons which do one or two-shot kill.

The gameplay suffers from some major setbacks, however. First of all, even with the handling option of the Gear maxed out, the control is still sluggish in movement.  If you slow down or attempt to backpedal as the computer controlled Gears do, you will quickly be shot down. When on slopes and crawling, be careful as your Gear can become stuck and unable to rise for a time due to a clipping bug. In space, the rotational controls have the steepest learning curve of any part of the game -- the average user can expect to need several hours of gameplay for the later space missions involving true Zero-G movement and tactics against the enemy Frames.

Secondly, the engine has similar clipping problems with energy-based weapons. The firing of lasers through walls, especially through corners, will happen far too often by both you and the computer.  The final complaint is about battlefield salvage -- though mentioned in the instructions as a possible way to increase your on-battlefield power, picking up a dead enemy's weapon will not be very useful.  The powerful weapons only carry 1 to 9 shots, which will be gone by the time they are dead, and the lighter weapons will be useless against the opponent Frames.

The biggest problem in the game, however, is the lack of part-specific damage.  If you are hit, you are hit, and your armor chipped away the same without regard for whether you took a missile facefirst or were clipped in the shoulder. This makes it more likely that an enemy will score a killing blow, and leaves you without any specific target on the enemy to try for in hopes of a one-shot kill.

Last Page | Visuals and Storyline?

Modify your Gear --  the only thing missing is "Turtle Wax".

The world of Caprice.  You'll be spending most of the Campaign here, so get used to the color red.

Historical Missions - Quite possibly the most fun part of the game.


Added:  Saturday, July 03, 1999
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/5

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