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