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MechCommander Coverart.jpg
Developer(s)FASA Interactive
Hasbro Interactive (Gold)
Designer(s)Ross Babcock
Tom Dowd
Mitch Gitelman
Tim Ryan
Steve Scott
Denny Thorley
Jordan Weisman
Programmer(s)Glenn Doren
Artist(s)Todd Labonte
Writer(s)Tom Dowd
Joel Machak
Jordan Weisman
Composer(s)Duane Decker
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
Genre(s)Real-time tactics
Mode(s)Single player, Multiplayer

MechCommander is a real-time tactics video game based on FASA's BattleTech/MechWarrior franchise, developed by FASA Interactive and distributed by MicroProse in 1998. An expansion pack, Desperate Measures, was released in 1999.


Players assume the role of the commander of Zulu company from the Federated Commonwealth's First Davion Guards, a member of the Inner Sphere (IS).[2] The planet Port Arthur must be taken back from the Clan Smoke Jaguar.[3] The game's campaign progresses through 30 different missions broken into 5 operations with 6 missions apiece.[4] Each mission consists of a number of objectives which may include destroying enemy units, capturing or defending enemy units, protecting friendly units, and capturing and defending bases. Some missions must be completed within a certain time limit.[5]

In each mission, players controls a limited number of units which are either mechs or support vehicles.[6] This control is through a simulated aerial viewscreen above the battlefield.[7] Each mission restricts both the combined tonnage and the number of units allowed. Briefings are supplied prior to the start of the mission which lists the objectives and other relevant information. A wide range of strategies and tactics may be used on any given mission, and players can customize their forces for each one.[5]

In between missions players can repair and refit mechs, assign mechwarriors to each mech and purchase mechs, vehicles, mechwarriors, and components.[4] These items are purchased with Resource Points which are awarded for completing previous mission objectives.[8] Few mechs, vehicles, mech pilots, and components can be purchased at the beginning of the campaign, but more become available as the game progresses. However, only IS technology can be purchased. Clan technology such as weaponry and new mechs must be salvaged from the battlefield.[9] Salvaging equipment is an important feature of the game.[3]

Each mech is piloted by a mechwarrior. Pilots increase in skill as they use them during missions.[5] The more missions and kills a particular pilot has, the more experienced and valuable he or she becomes.[9] If a pilot gains enough experience, he or she will increase in rank. The four ranks from least to greatest are "green", "regular", "veteran", and "elite". Rank determines how effective a pilot is in a certain class of mechs (light, medium, heavy, or assault).[10]

MechCommander: Desperate Measures[edit]

MechCommander: Desperate Measures is an expansion pack that was released in 1999.[11] Set immediately after the liberation of Port Arthur, the player once again assumes command of Zulu company in a campaign to liberate the desolate planet Cermak in the Periphery, taken by a renegade Smoke Jaguar, Star Colonel Marcus Kotare (a character that was featured briefly in MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries), for an unknown reason that is revealed later in game.[12] Once again, the player starts with inferior Inner Sphere mechs (pilots and mechs from original campaign cannot be exported into expansion), though both mechs and pilots are better than in the start of the original campaign. The expansion features a total of three campaigns. Aside from the missions, the expansion also includes a new soundtrack, new landscapes along with redesigned and new buildings, new weapons, three new mechs for each side—Stiletto, Bushwacker, and Mauler for IS and Shadow Cat, Nova Cat and Turkina for the Clan, and new vehicles including Alacorn, Pilum and Regulator tanks, as well as ammo trucks that also doubled as mobile bombs and Centipede scout vehicles.[13] Desperate Measures also acted as testbed for the concept of custom NPC mechs that had their own names (like Kotare's Turkina), weapon configurations and overall superiority to the standard modifications. This idea was carried on to, and greatly improved in, MechCommander 2. A compilation called MechCommander Gold was released in 1999 that includes the base game and the expansion.[14]


The game received favorable reviews according to the review aggregation website GameRankings.[15] Next Generation called it "a good first effort, and FASA is to be commended for trying something different in the overcrowded field of RTS games. Unfortunately, it lacks polish, and the repetition of each mission drags down the fun factor."[19]

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences nominated the game for its 1998 "Strategy Game of the Year" award, although it lost to Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri.[22] The game was a runner-up for Computer Games Strategy Plus' 1998 "Real-Time Strategy Game of the Year" award, which ultimately went to StarCraft. The staff called the former game "great", but argued that "only StarCraft was stellar".[23]


  1. ^ GameSpot staff (June 24, 1998). "New Releases [date mislabeled as "April 28, 2000"]". GameSpot. Red Ventures. Archived from the original on June 17, 2000. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  2. ^ House, Michael L. "MechCommander - Overview". AllGame. All Media Network. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Easley, Joel (July 25, 1998). "MechCommander puts you in control of universe". Public Opinion. No. 5. Gannett Company. p. 1C. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Reed, Jim (August 14, 1998). "Mechs go real-time". The Tampa Tribune. No. 194. Tampa Media Group, Inc. p. 38. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c Clarke, Stuart (July 25, 1998). "Battle Stations". The Sydney Morning Herald. No. 50201. Fairfax Media. p. 14. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  6. ^ a b Mayer, Robert (July 14, 1998). "MechCommander". Computer Games Strategy Plus. Strategy Plus, Inc. Archived from the original on February 7, 2005. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  7. ^ Alderman, John (July 21, 1998). "MechCommander on the Move". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Loyd, Case (October 1998). "One Small Step for MechKind (MechCommander Review)" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. No. 171. Ziff Davis. pp. 267–68. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  9. ^ a b c Ferris, Colin (July 1998). "Mechcommander [sic]". GameRevolution. CraveOnline. Archived from the original on April 16, 2004. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  10. ^ a b Kasavin, Greg (July 8, 1998). "MechCommander Review". GameSpot. Red Ventures. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  11. ^ Tringham, Neal Roger (September 10, 2014). Science Fiction Video Games. CRC Press. p. 334. ISBN 978-1-4822-0388-2. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  12. ^ Bell, Joe Grant (August 25, 1999). Susan De Cicco (ed.). Mechcommander Gold. Prima Games. ISBN 978-0-7615-2227-0. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  13. ^ "MechCommander Gold (Game)". Giant Bomb. Red Ventures. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  14. ^ Kasavin, Greg (October 19, 1999). "MechCommander Gold Review". GameSpot. Red Ventures. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  15. ^ a b "MechCommander for PC". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on June 4, 2019. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  16. ^ Cirulis, Martin E. (July 16, 1998). "MechCommander". Gamecenter. CNET. Archived from the original on August 16, 2000. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  17. ^ Bergren, Paul (October 1998). "MechCommander". Game Informer. No. 66. FuncoLand. p. 64. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  18. ^ Ward, Trent C. (August 18, 1998). "MechCommander". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  19. ^ a b "MechCommander". Next Generation. No. 46. Imagine Media. October 1998. p. 120. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  20. ^ Olafson, Peter (September 1998). "MechCommander". PC Accelerator. No. 1. Imagine Media. p. 88. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  21. ^ Poole, Stephen (September 1998). "MechCommander". PC Gamer. Vol. 5, no. 9. Imagine Media. Archived from the original on March 9, 2000. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  22. ^ "Second Interactive Achievement Awards: Personal Computer". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Archived from the original on November 4, 1999.
  23. ^ CGSP staff (February 11, 1999). "The Best of 1998: Real-time Strategy Game of the Year". Computer Games Strategy Plus. Archived from the original on February 10, 2005. Retrieved March 30, 2020.

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