MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries
|Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries|
|Developer(s)||FASA Studio / Studio MekTek Inc.|
|Publisher(s)||Microsoft Game Studios / Studio MekTek Inc.|
|Release date(s)||November 7, 2002
November 15, 2002 (EU)
April 30, 2010 (Free, on MekTek.net)
|Genre(s)||Vehicle simulation game|
|Mode(s)||Single player and Multiplayer|
Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries is a vehicle simulation video game for the PC released in 2002 and received favorable reviews from critics. It is a standalone expansion of MechWarrior 4: Vengeance, based on the BattleTech MechWarrior game universe. It was announced on July 9, 2009 that Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries and the Clan and Inner Sphere expansions would be re-released for free. By April 22, 2010 Microsoft had cleared its free release and on April 30, 2010, MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries was released to the general public by MekTek as a free download. However, due to the massive influx of 100,000 downloads and web site accesses, MekTek.net and related services crashed. MekTek recovered the MekMatch match making service on May 1, 2010 and the forum was restored on May 2, 2010.
In the following years, MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries was no longer available for free. MekTek expressed their intent to move away from the BattleTech franchise, and a new group interested in maintaining free versions appeared but encountered difficulties securing permission to continue offering the game as a free download. However, the game again became available for free through the file hosting service MyAbandonware.
In the game, the player takes the role of Spectre, a mercenary BattleMech pilot travelling inside the fictional interstellar region of the BattleTech universe called the Inner Sphere during the FedCom Civil War (specifically during the time period from January 1, 3066 to late July 3067).
The player's mercenary company initially takes on localized threats in certain planets far from the civil war. As the player's team takes on more missions, the assignments get tougher; at one point, a strike team from Clan Jade Falcon may challenge the player to a duel. The Jade Falcon Star Colonel in charge will join the player's team as a bondsman if the Falcons are defeated in one mission.
Depending on how the player handled allegiance between House Steiner and House Davion, they would end up with one of three mission paths, each with their own ending. All of them are interspersed with a small epilogue that hints at the Word of Blake Jihad, the opening stages of which began a few months after the events of the game.
Davion Ending: The player ends up assisting Peter Steiner-Davion in defeating the Lyran loyalists. The final mission sees Spectre taking part in the assault on the Tharkad palace where Nondi Steiner awaits with her bodyguard lance.
Steiner Ending: By siding with Steiner, Spectre must assist an agent from the Rabid Foxes special operations unit in obtaining information on Katherine "Katrina" Steiner-Davion's whereabouts. Ultimately, Spectre must deliver this information to Khan Vlad of Clan Wolf. Doing this requires Spectre to undergo a Trial of Position where he must defeat five consecutive Clan Mechwarriors in the planet Carse to finally join Clan Wolf.
Rogue Ending: This ending is actually an offshoot of the Steiner ending. Prior to the final mission, Spectre's tactical officer, Castle, pleads the case for abandoning Katrina Steiner and the losing side of the war. On her recommendation, an alternative opens up. Instead of undergoing the Trial of Position, Spectre elects to take a contract on New Canton to defend a base under attack by the Capellan Confederation. Success results in Spectre's unit taking the base for themselves.
The player is a pilot of a BattleMech or 'Mech, the iconic war machines in the BattleTech universe. Mercenaries has the player piloting a 'Mech and running a mercenary company at the same time. The company is sponsored by one of four mercenary outfits in the BattleTech universe—the Kell Hounds, Gray Death Legion, Northwind Highlanders, and Wolf's Dragoons. Each faction has their own special attributes, such as the Wolf's Dragoons being equipped with 'Mechs that have Clan technology.
In the campaign, the player controls up to two full four-man squads called lances. The other squad members can be issued commands such as attack or power down. The larger squad sizes allowed for larger battles, a unique addition to this iteration of the classic videogame franchise.
Missions are played in various environments, from deserts to urban areas. Completing them plus special objectives helps the player earn more money to buy weapons and 'Mechs for his unit. The resource management extends to maintaining the 'Mechs and hiring new pilots with the requisite salaries. The game time will be measured in weeks.
The player has some control over which missions to accept and in what order. In addition, how each mission is performed affects the timeline, and the player's reputation is measured in terms of Nobility or Infamy points. For example, killing civilians and neutral targets results in infamy points, which in high numbers can limit the player to brutal and "unethical" missions. Also, the player must choose between loyalty to House Steiner or House Davion. This is important as allegiance will eventually affect available contracts and even influence the ending of the game.
The game offers options to toggle unlimited ammunition and no heat buildup. In the 'Mech customization menu, the mercenary company's available Mechs can be upgraded with new weapons or equipment such as antimissile systems, extra armor, heatsinks, or ECM jammer pods. The configurations of each 'Mech can limit what weapons can be equipped, with penalties on weight by the ton and heat levels. Since 'Mechs tend to overheat (mostly if hit by heat-based weapons or by having insufficient heatsinks), the player has to equip a combination of high-heat energy weapons and low-heat-but-high-weight ballistic and missile weapons, which use up ammo, unlike energy weapons. It is possible for entire limbs to be blown off a 'Mech, resulting in loss of weapons or reduced movement. Destruction of the center torso or cockpit of each 'Mech, or destroying both legs, will result in the instant destruction of that 'Mech.
The Arena matches, which take place in the gaming planet of Solaris, has the player-character competing with a variety of enemy 'Mech pilots in "last-man standing" combat. If all other enemy 'Mechs are destroyed, the player wins the match and is rewarded money. Many of the opposing pilots have names and backstories, which are revealed by the arena announcer who provides constant real-time commentary on the matches. Arena battles are divided into four weight classes and take place in several different arenas. If the player wins all of the matches in each weight class, he or she advances to the championship round, which is open to all weight classes. Competing in them can boost the player's reputation.
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- "MechWarrior 4 Mercenaries critical review". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
- "MechWarrior To Be Distributed Free On BattleTech.com". 2009-07-09. Retrieved 2009-07-09.
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- "Free MW4 "Very Shortly"". Bluesnews.com. 2009-09-04. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
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- "Mechwarrior Is Back". Battletech.catalystgamelabs.com. 2010-04-30. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "Server and hardware problems". Mektek.net. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "Battletech Free Update".
- "Mek Tek". Archived from the original on October 27, 2013.
- Mektek.net — Current official website of the video game (dead link)
- Studio Mektek Inc. — Current publisher of the video game
- MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries at AllGame
- MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries at MobyGames