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MechWarrior: Tactical Command

Score: 25%
ESRB: 9+
Publisher: Personae Studios
Developer: Personae Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Real-Time Strategy/ Squad-Based

Graphics & Sound:

I am a fan of MechWarrior from way back, whether it be on the Super Nintendo, a 286 or simply the table-top game. MechWarrior: Tactical Command uses some 'Mechs that I recognize from previous games, but that recognition is primarily by name; the models are extremely low resolution, appearing quite blocky and simplistic. This appears to be 3D models in an iPad game. The idea is fine... if the 3D models looked good. As it is, the game suffers from performance issues and even crashes, which the Support Pages contribute to how intensive the game is. The 'Mechs could look better and be less processor-intensive if the game used pre-rendered images on sprites. Look at what Donky Kong Country did with the lowly Super Nintendo Hardware to see what I mean.

The sound effects aren't bad, and there is a lot of voicework which is actually pretty good, but sound can't make up for low polygon models... and certainly can't make up for game crashes.


With the table-top game, I have played games where I controlled more than one 'Mech - in fact, I once played a game where I controlled ten 'Mechs on my own. That game was a blast, but it wasn't real-time, so I had reasonable amounts of time to make my moves. However, with MechWarrior: Tactical Command, the action is real-time... and with in real-time, it can be difficult to control four different 'Mechs - especially if you try to split them up and have them work separately. Sadly, the game (as of when I played it) had some bugs with the A.I., putting me in some really tough spots. Specifically, in one mission, if I didn't keep Kyle in the middle of the screen and keep him in the center of the road when I gave him orders to run, he would go the opposite direction, even when the other 'Mechs were in a pack with him and they were all being controlled together.


There are some challenges to be had in MechWarrior: Tactical Command, but sadly, the biggest challenges tend to stem from bugs in the game, itself. The A.I. pathfinding bug mentioned above is inexcusable. This bug, alone, makes it very difficult to get past certain levels, since one of your MechWarriors ends up running off in the completely wrong direction.

When you're not fighting the A.I. issues, it can still be very difficult to effectively control your four different MechWarriors in their different 'Mechs. Above and beyond the difficulty in simply managing four units at the same time, each MechWarrior has a special ability that you can use to gain the upper hand... if you remember to put them in the correct types of 'Mechs and, in some cases, put that ability into use. Additionally, there are certain actions that are only available to certain 'Mechs, such as jumping or "Death from Above" being limited to 'Mechs with jump-jets. You will only have these options available if you have a single 'Mech selected and it has that ability. You can't, for example, select two 'Mechs with jump jets and have them both jump together to a selected location. Further, there are some "assistance" items that can be used, such as an artillery barrage, a bombing run or radar - and these are available via a context menu when you have no units selected.

It all boils down to the fact that there are a lot of things you can do, but you have to have the appropriate units (or no units) selected in order to get them to show up on the context menu. The controls feel clunky and between the clunky U.I. and the clunky A.I., MechWarrior: Tactical Command is simply clunky to play... until you arrive at the point that the game simply crashes on you.

Game Mechanics:

This control scheme leads to a lot of changes of selections - select everyone to get them to move to a location, deselect a 'Mech with leg damage so that you can tell the other three to run to that location (since run isn't an available option if one of the selected 'Mechs is incapable of running), deselect all 'Mechs and call in radar or another support action, then select the 'Mech with the damaged leg and command them to Aim and Fire (so they stay away from the enemies) and select your other 'Mechs and tell them to attack, so they draw the attention away from your injured 'Mech. If you do all of this correctly, you're putting some good tactics to work, making things easier. However, the user interface feels clunky and, given the above chain of moves, I more than likely would end up having the wrong units selected at some point. This costs you time - at best - and has you sending your injured 'Mech into the fray and keeping your uninjured 'Mechs out of the fight at worst.

The worst part of MechWarrior: Tactical Command is that it simply crashes. I got almost halfway through the game until I arrived at a level that I can't pass, simply because the game crashes every time I attempt it. I've read the forums and tried closing every app other than the game, but although I got a little further through that level, it still crashed before the end of the level. I can't progress - not because I can't make it past the level, but because the game won't make it past the level. Sadly, I cannot recommend this game to anyone; on one hand, the gameplay bugs might annoy you enough that you won't like the game, but on the other hand, you might be able to overlook those issues and actually like the game, only to be utterly frustrated to find you can't progress beyond the midpoint in the game. If you're looking for fun in the Battletech universe, you may want to check out Mechwarrior Online on the PC, but I'd pass on this one until (and unless) they get the bugs worked out.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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