by Microsoft Game Studios
One of the most established series in PC gaming is the MechWarrior series. Set in the BattleTech universe this series is the be all and end all for Mech fans. MechWarrior Mercenaries, it's fair to say, doesn't really do anything to revolutionise the series and if you were a fan at all of the previous versions there is nothing here that you'll dislike.
The game modes consist of a Tutorial, Instant Action Campaign and Multiplayer. The heart of the game of course, is the Campaign. Here you start off with three Mechs under your command and you can go to any one of nine planets to select the available missions. The campaign sees you caught up in a war between Victor Davion and Lyran Steiner. It is this war that sets the scene for your missions. Rather intelligently the designers also threw in the Solaris VII missions to change the pace. On Solaris VII there are combat arenas and for you this is an opportunity to make some serious C-Bills (the currency in MechWarrior) and therefore give you greater opportunities to hire more pilots or improve your Mech.
There are 40+ Mechs in the game and they are divided into Light, Medium, Heavy and Assault Mechs that range from the lowly Cougar to the mighty Zeus. You have control of repairing your Mechs when they become damaged in battle as well as modifying them for example adding better Chassis to them for that custom feel. It's very impressive the way that no two Mechs feel the same and you'll find yourself opting for a particular model to suite the type of mission you'll have to undertake.
The multiplayer games on offer are Battle (team and individual), Destruction (team and individual), and Mission Play (team only). In Battle it's a question of kill or be killed. Points are scored by destroying the enemies weapons and components. Destruction is simply about killing your enemey as many times as possible within the time limit. Mission Play actually puts you in a structured mission with set objectives to complete. It is fair to say that more could have been offered in the multiplayer side of the game. Where's capture the flag or king of the hill? Sure they've been done a thousand times before but they are popular and should have been included.
Graphically there is no difference between this and the last MechWarrior game, which is somewhat disappointing. However it has one plus in that the system requirements haven't really gone up either so even if MechWarrior is the only game you play on your PC, you'll be pleased to know that if you haven't upgraded since the last release then you'll still be able to play Mercenaries without any trouble at all.
So far so good then. Well when we look at the suitability for deaf gamers the rating goes downhill somewhat. There are no subtitles in the game at all. That includes the introduction, the cutscenes, the tutorial and the campaign. The tutorial shows what keys need to be pressed and barebones information in text but precious little else. The campaign is filled with verbal information that simply isn't shown to the deaf gamer which is disappointing. Pressing 'O' will show you the objectives but this isn't quite the same as having all verbal information subtitled. You can get away with just the objectives but it is a stripped down experience compared to what a hearing gamer would have.
MechWarrior Mercenaries is by all accounts a very good game. However the experience for a deaf gamer is a rough one and some will find it simply not worth persevering with. If you're a fan of the series then by all means go for it but casual gamers should probably give it a miss.
Game Rating: 5.5/10