In this day and age of heavy advertising, internet banners and various other methods of hyping and oftentimes over-hyping a new release, it's a shock to see a game company release a game or expansion pack with nary a word to the consumer. Mech Commander Gold is just such a product. If you're not already a Mech Commander fan you probably don't even know what I'm talking about, do you?
C'mon guys, it's not like it's code-word stuff you're putting out so why not put the news on the release? If it wasn't for the core group of fans over at Dropshipcommand.Com in keeping us MC fans up to date on the future of the series, MCG would be released completely unnoticed. Hasbro and Microprose are you listening?
Yea, we bad...
Last years excellent real-time strategy title, Mech Commander, has been brought into the mech bay for an overhaul and refit and sent out into the field in the Gold variant. Mech Commander Gold is the new compilation and expansion product from the talent of FASA Interactive now being published by Microprose and Hasbro. The wonderful talent of the team has not been held back with the acquisition this past year by Microsoft, if anything it's gotten better!
As in most 'Gold' products, Mech Commander Gold (MCG) comes with the most up to date (i.e. fully patched) original product, a whole boatload of new goodies and missions and some nice tweaks thrown into the mix. If you found the original product frustrating and at times unforgiving, you'll be quite satisfied to hear that there is no more single difficulty level. The game now comes with Easy, Medium and Hard settings that you can switch back and forth between missions.
Choose Your Pleasure
So when you find your nerves a bit on the frayed side just change the settings to Easy (you wimp ) and have at it. I'll let you in on a little hint here, I ran through all the missions on easy the first time so I could see them all. Now I'm going back through on Hard mode, guess that explains the sudden twitch in my eye when I hear the phrase "I've got a new sensor contact". These settings can not only be used in the expansion campaign but in the original campaign as well which allows you to tailor the entire Mech Commander experience to your liking.
Click to continue
The expansion pack's title is 'Desperate Measures' and you'll find out how desperate those measures are for both sides as you unravel the plot within the campaign. No I won't reveal it to you here as it would ruin the surprise, but suffice it to say that it is a very heinous plot that you will uncover.
In a nutshell, a renegade Smoke Jaguar Star Colonel, Marcus Kotare has taken the periphery planet Cermak, (the planet name comes from the road on which FASA resides) an old Star League outpost and you've been tasked with hunting him down and finding out why he's taken the planet. Being an old, obscure outpost there is no obvious relevancy to Kotare's actions but your boss (who has a striking resemblance to Annette Benning) wants to know why, and fast.
Beautiful Downtown Cermak
To aid you in your new mission, Battalion has been kind enough to toss you three new mech chassis: Stiletto, Bushwacker and Mauler. You'll also face off against three new Clan mechs as well, the Shadowcat, Nova cat and Turkina. There are also 10 new weapons in the game such as the Light Gauss Rifle and Long Tom as well as a VERY devastating new turret.. I'll just leave it up to you to find out about it on your own. Needless to say it spells almost instant death for your scout mechs, so move carefully and wisely.
The 12 new missions range in difficulty from tough to merciless, but just as in the original set of 30 missions, you can still accomplish the objectives given to you with minimal damage (sometimes) if you're careful and don't get carried away with attacking everything in sight.
Save your mechs for the mission specific tasks as much as you can and above all, explore, explore and explore the maps! There is beaucoup salvage to be had if you spend a little extra time looking for it. So much so, that towards the end of the campaign I was halted from entering the mission because I had too many mechs in salvage!
Let's Get It On!
Other refinements include the use of hotkeys for fire missions and sensor probes. No more wasted time in the heat of battle fumbling with the MFD to select which fire mission you want. It's now a simple case of a keypress and mouse click and it's 'shot out' time.
Another very welcome addition is the ability to lay down waypoints; it's simple and works pretty well. Waypoints can be laid down for walking, running and jumping actions. You can even order units to blackened out areas of the map with the waypoints, something you could not do before which was a cause for frustration when trying to coordinate multi-pronged attacks.
Go to Part II...