Bat­tletech

STOMP YOUR WAY TO VIC­TORY – IF THE BUGS DON’T STOMP YOU FIRST

PC & Tech Authority - - CONTENTS - DAVID HOLLING­WORTH

Ido not want to be writ­ing this re­view. I would much rather be play­ing Bat­tletech, Hare­brained Scheme’s tac­ti­cal break into the more than 30-year old universe of the same name, a game about gi­ant walk­ing mecha strid­ing about the bat­tle­field caus­ing glo­ri­ous may­hem in a universe that is as rich as it is far-fetched.

And I would be play­ing it now, and far happier to be writ­ing this re­view, but to date I have tested Bat­tletech on three dif­fer­ent PCs, and the damn thing just won’t run – and not in any com­pre­hen­sively fa­mil­iar pat­tern, ei­ther. My home PC crashes be­fore launch­ing the tu­to­rial. My work PC man­aged the game for a few days, be­fore it too mysteriously started re­fus­ing to launch, and a bor­rowed gam­ing lap­top sim­ply crashes out be­fore the game even launches. With each crash a win­dow pops up ask­ing you to post your bug re­ports on the of­fi­cial bug-re­port­ing fo­rum…

There are cur­rently 44 pages of bug re­ports, of­ten with more bug re­ports nested in each top-level re­port. It is re­mark­ably dis­heart­en­ing, be­cause what I have seen of the game makes me think it should rate – and among those who can play it, it cer­tainly will – as one of the best games of the year.

For a game that’s about ro­bots the size of build­ings smash­ing other ro­bots to pieces – an idea that makes no damn sense when you think about real mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles, but is cool as heck – the game de­liv­ers a strong and emo­tional start to its cam­paign. In fact, it re­minded me a lot of the start of Dragon Age: Ori­gins. Three sim­ple choices do a lot of heavy lift­ing – they mark out where you come from, why you’re a Mech­war­rior, and what kind of fighting you’ve taken part in, while also spec­c­ing out your start­ing skills. These de­ci­sions are writ­ten into the main story struc­ture, too, and as you zoom about the galaxy pick­ing up con­tracts and try­ing to keep your mer­ce­nary com­pany afloat, they’ll of­ten come back to haunt you.

But as rich as the game’s story is, the game’s got a lot go­ing for it. Ini­tia­tive clev­erly ties into how light or heavy each mech is, and the game makes it very easy to keep your lance of up to four mechs un­der con­trol. Com­bat can be as bru­tal or pre­cise as you want, es­pe­cially once you start equip­ping mechs to match your play style. Whether you like stand­ing back and snip­ing with PPCs or rush­ing into ac­tion with as­sault mechs, or any other tac­tic – and game’s cer­tainly deep enough to war­rant a lot of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion - com­bat is deeply sat­is­fy­ing.

But the fact re­mains: the game is sim­ply too buggy for a de­fin­i­tive re­view, for me, at this time. So take this 3/5 score as an as-it-stands judge­ment. It’s def­i­nitely worth wait­ing for a patch, but for now, I have more sta­ble games that could use the hard drive space. And that re­ally hurts to say.

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