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Mechwarrior 2, the greatest mech sim ever, was released 20 years ago today

Lime

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Apr 27, 2008
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On this date 20 years ago Activision released Mechwarrior 2: 31st Century Combat. It is heralded as one of the best Mech simulation games with an amazing soundtrack, a great simulation engine, impressive FMVs, and an audiovisual design that really made you feel as if you were piloting a big and clunky robot. To celebrate its 20 year anniversary and the impact it had at the time on the video game genre landscape, I collected various links and references to commemorate what a classic game it was.

If anyone wants to play it on their modern computer, go over to mech2.org and download MechVM - my preferred version of the game is still the DOS version, since it had less bugs than the 3Dfx version and also allowed for 1024x768 resolution
Various resources on Mechwarrior 2 and its development history, background and cultural impact at the time

Interviews

Jeehun admits this was something of a gamble, since at the time he didn't have any equipment to his name (he wound up selling his only possession, a car he'd bought with his first six months' earnings, to buy a new Korg X2 keyboard workstation so he could commence the task) and he'd also never composed for orchestra. "I had never even composed music that didn't have lyrics!" he says. "But I just did what I thought would work, all on the X2's internal sequencer. Mech Warrior 2 is set in the future and is basically about clans fighting each other with hi-tech robotic weapons. I was creating lots of tribal sounding music, but also flavoured with out-of-this-world futuristic sounds. After I'd written a few songs I took them in and there was this big meeting with everyone, including the head of the company, where first they played all the music the other guy had done and then they played my music. To my surprise I got a standing ovation!"
Knowing a good thing when they heard it, Activision set Jeehun up with a computer and a small budget for equipment. Using Opcode's Studio Vision sequencing software, the X2 and a new Roland JV1080 with the Orchestral and World expansion cards, he scored the entire game.

"I was literally learning as they were paying me," he remembers. "It was the very first time I'd used a computer sequencer: prior to that, I didn't even know they existed! They also wanted me to score the movies -- the intro and outro -- so I got an old VCR with timecode and pretty much scored everything in real time and then went back over them. It wasn't really the conventional way of doing things and it took a long time, but I worked very hard on it."

His score was unconventional to say the least. Streets ahead of other video game music of the time, it seamlessly blended orchestral and contemporary sounds with elements of both classical music and hip hop.

"I was just trying to be experimental, and as I didn't have any experience writing for orchestra I just built the songs up with the sounds I liked, without adhering to one particular style," he says.

If the music was ahead of its time, so was the game's technology: Mech Warrior 2 was one of the first ever video games with full Red Book audio. Each track is burnt directly on to the CD-ROM as opposed to being coded as MIDI with sound coming from the player's computer soundcard -- the common standard at that time. With a happening soundtrack, superior sound quality and sensational graphics, Mech Warrior 2 was an overnight success.

"It sold millions of copies all around the world, was named Best Game of the Year, and I got Best Music of the Year in a lot of the game publications," reports Jeehun. "Activision were literally flooded with e-mail from people commenting on the music, many saying they'd have bought the game just for the soundtrack."

Screenshots of the game

Promo screenshots of the game
A magazine advert for the game
Gamespot's review of the game back in 1995. :

This is no cake walk: MechWarrior 2 is a tough, demanding game, with challenging controls and opponents. Maneuvering both the Mech and the turret can be a tricky proposition at times. With controls more like those of a flight sim, and a need for strategy and planning, this is not your average action game. It demands a lot of computer systems and gamers alike, but it delivers like nothing else around.
If anyone wants to read up on the history of the Mechwarrior series in general.
 

DeepEnigma

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Dec 3, 2013
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Loved this game to death. Then MSFT butchered it for the console when they purchased the series. Loved the Ghost Bear Legacy expansion too.

Got my Dell Pentium 133Mhz with a Number Nine Motion 771 4mb. Sidewinder 3D pro with analog turning of the gyro!

Then upgraded to my first 3D card when I saw ads of how much better it looked with it.

I miss you FASA!
 

iosefe

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Sep 14, 2013
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Brings back memories of like...4-5 years old me trying to configure a joystick to play this

Good times
 

SocksAndShoes

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Mar 11, 2014
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This game blew my mind back in the day. I had a tenuous grasp of the controls so most of my missions boiled down to me walking into the middle of an ambush and getting blown up, but damn it was fun.
 

Krejlooc

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May 27, 2014
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Funny coincidence, I just installed it on an actual pentium literally yesterday. Great game.
 

Donos

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Dec 7, 2008
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Just played through Advanced Warfare last weekend and thought about this game when
i played in the AST for a while
. New mech game with current graphics/engine ... droool. Genre seems niche though (probably too slow for kids these days) so i don't have any hopes besides kickstarter and an indi title here and there. I know Hawken but i want SP main game.

The moment when enemy mech is in range and you fire all your beam weapons...
 

Memory

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Nov 19, 2014
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Loved MW series, used to watch the cartoon also. I really need another single player MW game, MW online is just not for me. I'd also kill for another Mech Commander game.
 

Boogalogist

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Jun 19, 2010
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Absolutely loved this game. Controls were daunting at first, but once you get into it, it's like nothing other. I sure miss these simulation games on the PC.
 

LogicStep

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Mar 29, 2009
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Man I remember playing this as a kid on my dad's PC. My god... I never got very far as it was a pretty hard game, for me at least.
 

StrangeTaco

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Jun 17, 2014
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Absolutely awesome game. Makes me very sad to think we'll probably never see a full fledged Mechwarrior game again.

Clan Jade Falcon 4 lyfe
 

SomTervo

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Jan 19, 2015
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"Jade Falcon"... Wow, all these phrases are really bringing it back.

I can't remember the music at all now, but even the description of the orchestration in that quote brought back a few glimmers of memory.
 

pottuvoi

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May 17, 2010
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Still waiting for a return to glory :(
Yup.
MW2 and Mercenaries were the pinnacle of the series.
One of the rare games where teammates were usefull as well, survived the last mission of mercenaries due to them. (Was hiding in the crater with power off and they fought off the last couple of mechs.)
 

Night Hunter

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Mar 27, 2013
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I'm still salty as fuck that the MechWarrior Reboot turned into MechWarrior Online. I would love to have a new game in the BattleTech universe. A new MechCommander would be even better if you ask me.
 

deim0s

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Apr 25, 2009
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KODIAAAAKKKK!

Wait... that was the expansion.

Activision or whoever needs to get all the Mechwarrior games on GOG.
 

DeepEnigma

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Dec 3, 2013
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KODIAAAAKKKK!

Wait... that was the expansion.

Activision or whoever needs to get all the Mechwarrior games on GOG.
Loved the Ghost Bear Legacy. Man expansions used to be so much better back in the day.
 

rockmanjoe

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Jan 22, 2013
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I got the 3DFx version of this game in the Diamond Monster 3D bundle and it was easily my favorite game of the bunch, along with Descent 2.

Amazing game. The atmosphere was unmatched. Those menus and animations and soundtrack. So good.
 

Taikun

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Dec 14, 2013
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Mech2 and Netmech were my go-to games for a long time when I was a kid, loved them so much.

I was never able to get used to the joystick controlls on my MS Sidewinder so ended up playing with keyboard and doing pretty well online on KALI. Good times.
 

Crayon

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Jan 6, 2007
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This really is the greatest mech game to me and im always looking for a bettrr one.

What i find most interesting is that the game has alot of rough edges and a very simple design. And of course it survived one of the all time cases of production hell, and went on to be a masterpiece.

Happy birthday mech2. I wuv yoo.
 
Feb 22, 2009
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The first Battletech RPG by Westwood was a favourite of mine as well but I never really got into MechCommander. Just not my sort of game. Didn't really see the point of the third person Mech Assault games on the xbox either. Without the first person in the cockpit style gameplay a mech game is just a third person action game with a main character who has stiff uninteresting animations.
 

Glowsquid

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Jun 26, 2014
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I've been meaning to play Mech 2 for a while now, but I'm daunted by the fact there are 19(!) different versions of it. Why do people hate the 3DFX one?

Didn't they release one of the games for free a while back?
A fan-modificated version of Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries (not Vengeance or the Black Knight expansion) was made freeware for a while, but the group that distributed it moved on to making Heavy Gear Assault and Microsoft is unwilling to grant the rights to the replacement group they've set up so it's once again in limbo. It really pains me the rights to the best games of late 90's and early 00s PC gaming are owned by such an incompetent corporation.

(you can find MekTek's version very easily through means I'm not sure I can discuss, mind you)
 

Slermy

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Apr 18, 2009
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Fantastic game. I still have my Sidwinder 3D pro that came with MW2.
Fuck yeah! I think I finally got rid of mine though as I didn't have any way to use it anymore. :(

Did any of you guys played chromehounds?
I'd guess not. That game actually eclipsed Mechwarrior 2 for me. Mechwarrior 2 will always have a special place in my heart, along with its expansion Ghost Bear Legacy.

#TeamMarauderIIC
 
Mar 19, 2015
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What I would do for another "Proper" non-F2P Mech title....

One of the main reasons I still use dosbox is to play Mechwarrior 2 +GBL + Mercs

I still have 2 Sidewinder 3D's I also have two win 98 machines kicking around with Voodoo 2's for these games.

That soundtrack is still amazing to this day for me.

This game was one of my addictions when I was a young kid (I was 6 when it came out) and got me really into PC gaming (I gamed before this game, but I have tons of memories with this game)

I played the Dos version bundled with the Sidewinder 3D, I played the Matrox version that game bundled with that card, then I played the terrible titanium version that came out later.

I own all the Mechwarrior and Mech commander titles still (other than the first mechwarrior game from 89)