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Video Game / MechCommander

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You will have a plan. You will be right. You will be wrong. You will attempt the impossible. You will pull it off. You will hesitate. You will panic. You will love your troops. You will curse their names. You will respect your enemy. You will pay the price. You will be defeated. You will face your fear. You will ask for a second chance. You will act on instinct. You will be exalted. You will know what it is to command.
MechCommander 1

A pair of Real-Time Strategy games, with a heavy focus on tactical gameplay, set in the BattleTech universe.

MechCommander was released in 1998 and focused on Operation Bulldog, the Inner Sphere counter-offensive against Clan Smoke Jaguar, specifically the assault on the planet of Port Arthur. The player is in charge of Zulu Company of the First Davion Guards, and has to regroup their forces (scattered by a forced landing), harass the Jaguars and prevent them from entrenching, and ultimately seize the starport so the main invasion force can land.

An expansion pack, Desperate Measures, continues Zulu Company's story as they hunt down a renegade Smoke Jaguar commander on Cermak, eventually culminating in a race to stop him before he can crack a Star League weapons vault containing universally banned weapons of mass destruction.

The Gold edition has both campaigns available, as well as adding a few new features.

MechCommander 2 was released in 2001 and switches to the perspective of a mercenary unit arriving on Carver V, formerly controlled by House Liao, in the midst of the FedCom Civil War, which has divided the FedCom force there into groups loyal to House Steiner or to House Davion. Now, Carver V is in an uneasy peace, as the former FedCom units are reluctant to engage former comrades, and Liao's battered forces are in no condition to force either one off.

Several days into the Civil War, suspiciously well-equipped and organized bandits begin raiding Steiner's military outposts and stealing supplies. In response, Archon Katrina Steiner has hired your unit to deal with them, as she worries that Steiner reinforcements would spark another conflict on Carver V. The local Davion commander agrees to this, as she believes you will simply pull out once the job is done. You have other plans...

The main campaign is divided into three parts, and the player alternately works for a different faction in each part: Steiner, Liao, and a group of rebels supported by Davion. The Mechs that can be purchased will also change depending on which faction you're currently working for.

The second game had its source code released some time ago, and a relatively new overhaul called Omnitech is being worked on.

These games provide examples of:

  • Ace Custom: Making these is an important part of the games. Both Desperate Measures and MechCommander 2 also feature a few in the enemy's ranks, such as Katherine Furey's Railgun-equipped Vulture in the former and bandit captain Vong's ER PPC-packing Lao Hu in the latter.
  • Aggressive Negotiations: About 2/3rds of the way through the second game. Blindingly obvious what will happen, since you have General Ripper meeting with General Failure, they're both riding in Assault Mechs, they both brought a sizable "Honor Guard", and your tactical officer predicted that there wouldn't be any trouble during the mission. Not so obviously, they instead decide to join forces against you and your mercenary company.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: A variation/justification: You can only bring a certain combined tonnage of 'Mechs into each mission. Which makes some sense, as Mechs get transported long distances by DropShips, which certainly don't have infinite cargo capacity.
  • Artificial Stupidity: In the second game, the enemy would never switches targets, as long as the original target was alive. You could abuse this limitation by using a designated target mech to "pull" enemy units into ambush. The ambushing units would always take zero damage, so it made sense to field a swarm of the lightest mechs possible, to gain lots of pilot experience per mission.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Long Tom long-range artillery gun and Heavy Thunderbolt medium-range missile launcher, which can cause significant amounts of damage but are slow-firing, have low ammunition reserves and take up a lot of room in weapon load-outs.
  • Badass Crew: Forming one of these to pilot the Ace Customs you come up with is just as important.
  • Badass Normal: Gunnery Sergeant Cash, your weapons tech from the second game, used to be an infantryman in a universe where 20+ ton Humongous Mecha are the norm.
  • Bag of Spilling: Whatever you do in Gold's original campaign won't carry over to the expansion. Say goodbye to your company of salvaged Clantech!
  • Beam Spam: A viable tactic, especially with Large X Pulse Lasers.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Or at least ejects out of his 'Mech, as seen in the intro.
  • Boom, Headshot!: The head is a viable, if difficult to hit, target location that will immediately disable a Mech if it's destroyed. As this limits the damage to the armor and weapons elsewhere, it's perfect if you plan on salvaging it afterwards.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Normally averted for non-energy weapons, but played straight if the Unlimited Ammunition option is enabled.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • 'Mech designs that don't normally have jump jets in the original game get them here, including Colonel Renard's 100 ton ''Atlas''. Yes, really.
    • The second game's Legion tank.
  • Canon Immigrant: The Hollander II from the original and the Stiletto from Desperate Measures both appeared here before they made it to the tabletop. The same goes for the CN-10 Centurion and JM-7 JagerMech sub-variants in the original, both five tons heavier from the originals that they were derived from.
  • Damage Is Fire: Buildings. They show damage by burning down into charred husks.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: The Raven in the Mechcommander 1 intro is ordered (under extreme protest from his Mechwarrior) to 'get his attention' - 'his' being a Smoke Jaguar Mad Cat. He thus fires a couple of missiles into the enemy Mech, which was busy engaging other targets, essentially shooting it in the back. Said Mech pauses and twists its torso to look back at the little Raven behind it that just tried to backstab it (and barely scratched it). The scene screams exactly this.
  • Disc-One Nuke: If you can actually salvage the 75 ton Mad Cat (see Wake-Up Call Boss), it becomes this. If you salvage it perfectly intact, it's closer to a Disc One Nuclear Arsenal, as the heaviest 'Mechs you can have at this point are 55 ton Inner Sphere Mechs with inferior technology.
    • The devs released a "Mad Cat Patch" which gave you a fully armed Mad Cat A at the start of the campaign. Every once in awhile, when the stars properly align, you'll take the second Mad Cat intact too. The havoc this wreaks on the game's balance must be seen to be believed.
  • Ejection Seat: Used to preserve Mechwarriors in the event that their Mechs are damaged beyond combat effectiveness. This allows them to save themselves and become available for the next mission, as opposed to just dying outright. It is, however, not an ironclad guarantee of saving them.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar: Effective sensor use is vital, especially in the second game. Only a handful of units have sensors, and the quality of those sensors varies greatly. Capellan 'Mechs like the Raven or Anubis in particular have the best sensor suites around.
  • Energy Weapons: A wide variety are available, including several kinds of lasers. They tend to be more compact than other weapon types, but generate more heat.
  • Escort Mission: Of both the 'fragile objective that mindlessly continues forward' and 'overly aggressive NPC who tries to fight everything' variety. Most infamously, the ambulance mission from the first MechCommander has you fending off waves of 'Mechs and tanks trying to destroy a bunch of slow, unarmored ambulances. Lose one and you fail the secondary objective. Lose two and the mission is a wash.
  • Exploding Barrels: Massive gas storage tanks are a Mech-sized version of this. A few missions in the first game are very difficult unless you lure an enemy into a field of gas tanks and set them off. And one mission places you in an urban center full of these, forcing you to check your fire, lest you start a chain reaction that can either kill your pilots or accidentally destroy your primary objectives. Of course, one particular Masakari will take advantage of that to destroy said objectives if you let him.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The Raven pilot in the opening cinematic of MechCommander 1 declares that he "thinks" the area is clear of enemy Mechs. He missed one...
  • Fell Off the Back of an APC: Lieutenant Diaz tells you to say this if anyone asks you where you got the Tactical Data Display (the second game's manual) from.
  • Finish Him!: The exact phrase is said in the intro for the first game.
  • Fog of War: Unexplored areas are shown in black, but your mechs have a radar that can identify contacts still shrouded. Once part of the map is explored, it's contents are permanently visible.
  • General Failure: Captain Jason Cho in the second game. You never actually see him fight until he tries to personally kill your unit, but in almost every mission briefing, the Mandrissa tells you that he lost a battle.
  • General Ripper: Colonel David Renard from the second game.
  • Glass Cannon: Early in the Port Arthur campaign, your Firestarter will typically serve as your damage dealer, as it's a W-Configuration and sports a PPC right from the start, but is one of the few mechs that's even flimsier than your Commandos.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: You, in the second game. Justified due to being Only in It for the Money, and in the case of the rebels, Davion's offer of captured Clan tech and revenge against Steiner and Liao for betraying you.
    • Liao's leaders begrudgingly admit that they need you at their disposal, though one does declare that You Have Outlived Your Usefulness when Renard demands the death of your unit in exchange for a treaty between Steiner and Liao - since you've trashed so much of their military whilst in the employ of House Steiner.
    Mandrissa Cho: "I see no need to check your references, Sang-wei (Captain), we have seen your work first-hand. It is an odd twist of fate, but the reduction of my military at your hands forces me to hire you as my mercenary."
  • Hold the Line: You're going to have to keep several bases secure—one mission in MechCommander 2 has you in mostly medium-weight Inner Sphere 'Mechs holding out against several waves of Clan heavies. Hope you secured the repair facilities beforehand.
  • Homing Lasers: And PPC's, and bullets - every single projectile homes in on their target when a 'hit' is determined, with the exception of the Swarm LRMs in the second game.
  • Jack of All Stats: Medium Mechs in general are designed with flexibility in mind, particularly the Inner Sphere Bushwacker.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • The Clan Shadow Cat, a very fast Medium Mech with respectable armament and armor for its weight class.
    • The Clan Mad Cat (Timber Wolf) and Thor (Summoner) are a pair of decently fast Heavy Mechs that frequently come armed with a hard-hitting array of weapons and are covered with plenty of armor.
    • The Inner Sphere finally gets in on the act by the time of MechCommander 2, where House Liao's Lao Hu class Heavy 'Mech is arguably one of the best heavies available, with good armor, good speed, jump jets, and room enough to mount some fairly big guns. It's telling that the one you can salvage at the end of the first campaign can carry you for the next half a dozen missions straight until you can buy some of your own.
    • The Starslayer from the same game and House is also an impressive design, boasting all the same features of the Lao Hu in a package two-thirds the size.
    • The Clan Blood Asp, also from 2, is one of the best assault 'Mechs in the game bar none. Good top speed, highest base armor value in the game (and the third-highest overall), all while packing multiple batteries of powerful weapons. The only thing it lacks is jump jets.
  • Live-Action Cutscene: Live-action actors are used for character portraits in mission briefings and for cutscenes in MechCommander and MechCommander 2.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: You'll likely be seeing this a lot if you arm your Mechs with huge numbers of LRMs, particularly in the first game, where missiles don't arc up like they do in the second.
  • Mighty Glacier: Heavy and Assault Mechs in general tend to qualify, but especially prominent with the Inner Sphere Atlas and Clan Turkina. Both are huge and possess massive amounts of armor and firepower, but at the cost of being the slowest 'Mechs in the game bar none.
  • Mission Control: Lieutenant Diaz in the second game.
  • Non-Entity General: In both games, but particularly noteworthy in the second game, where you are always referred to as "Commander" or "Sang-wei" (Captain).
  • Oh, Crap!: During the MechCommander intro, a Raven scout Mech pilot is ordered to get a Mad Cat's attention. He succeeds, and the now-enraged Smoke Jaguar turns his far bigger guns on the Raven. The Raven's pilot looks ready to soil himself.
    Panther, sounding suitably terrified: "Got his attention sir."
  • Praetorian Guard: Mandrissa Cho's Palace Guards and the Steiner Elite Guard from the second game.
  • Private Military Contractors: Your unit in the second game.
  • Real-Time with Pause: Present in MechCommander Gold and the second game.
  • "Risk"-Style Map
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The last 3rd (Davion supported rebels) of the second game's campaign.
  • RPG Elements: The Mechwarriors under your command grow in skill as they see more combat, which is one of the reasons to try to keep them alive.
    • In the second game, pilot customization is taken to the next level, allowing you to choose a new skill for each pilot every time they move up a rank. They vary from weapon specializations to increased skill with sensors, to increased likelihood of headshots. Furthermore, the skills you choose for the early rank-ups improve in later rank-ups.
  • Shop Fodder:
    • If you are able to complete most of a mission without spending any Resource points, it is a good idea to salvage as many mechs that you otherwise wouldn't in the field as your resources will allow, as you get them fully repaired for free. Fire Ants and Urbanmechs are very susceptible to this.
    • Firestarters, Commandos, and eventually even Clan light mechs become this in the first game. During Desperate Measures you may even find yourself treating Shadow Cats this way.
  • Shoulder Cannon: The primary gimmick of the Hollander II and both incarnations of the Hunchback, most of whose weight and firepower comes from their shoulder mounted BFG. In a far more understated form, the shoulders are a popular mounting point for missile racks, with the Thor coming the closest thanks to its cylindrical launcher.
  • Shows Damage: Limbs get blown off, smoke and fire pour out of armor-shredded sections, and 'mechs with a destroyed leg visibly limp as they struggle to keep moving.
  • Sniping the Cockpit: Your Mechwarriors can be on both the giving and receiving end of this. Doing so tends to leave the rest of the Mech intact, which is excellent if you're planning on salvaging it. If if happens to yours, though, it can permanently kill your pilot.
  • Southern-Fried Private: Rooster, one of the worst Green pilots you can hire in 1, has a slight Appalachian drawl.
  • Subsystem Damage: Mechs taking too much fire to their arms can lose them (and any attached weapons). A damaged leg causes 'Mechs to limp slowly, while disabling both legs is considered a kill. And if you blow off one of the side torsos, the 'Mech can kiss that arm goodbye too.
  • Support Power: In the first game you can call in artillery, sensor probes, and UAVs. In the second, this expands to included fixed artillery emplacements, manned scout helicopters, salvage vehicles capable of restoring an enemy 'Mech and placing it under your control, and repair vehicles.
  • Tank Goodness:
    • The Steiner Legion tank is a 100 ton monster that can match most 'Mechs in a straight up fight. The smaller but more numerous Storm tanks should not be underestimated either.
    • Players of the Desperate Measures expansion for the original game will remember unfondly their encounters with the Alacorn Mark VII's triple Gauss rifles.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Colonel Renard's Atlas has jump jets and generates more heat than it has capacity. All other 'Mechs must have less or equal heat generation.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • A crappy rookie pilot from the first game , callsign "Rooster", returns near the end of the second game as an elite MechWarrior.
    • Several pilots from the original campaign return with improved skills in the Desperate Measures expansion, to highlight its increased difficulty. To whit, your starting three mechwarriors (Isis, Thunder and Goblin) are all one full rank ahead of their base game incarnations.
    • Also happens to your Mechwarriors as you progress through the missions, based on their Piloting and Gunnery skills, which are increased by getting shot at and shooting at, respectively. The ranks go from lowly Green to Elite.
      • MechCommander 2 adds Ace, and each level allows you to select a skill. Aces have access to some of the most over-powered skills in the game in addition to their maxed out Gunnery and Piloting stats.
  • Vertical Mecha Fins: The Inner Sphere Awesome and Mauler Mech designs (the former of which had the fins roughly a decade before Neon Genesis Evangelion was released).
  • Video Game Caring Potential:
    • Even if it's notoriously difficult to pull off, managing to escort all five ambulances to the extraction point in the first game can leave warm fuzzy feelings associated with philanthropy - along with a substantial RP (read: money) bonus.
    • And then there's completely annihilating the bastards in 2 who decided that attempting to destroy a prison full of unjustly-imprisoned innocents was a good idea, and then wiping out the reinforcements and the guard forces keeping the evacuation convoy away from the airport. Suffice to say, for a mercenary commander, you get to do quite a bit of good for the people of Carver V.
    • Getting through a campaign with all of your starting pilots still hearty and hale. Thanks to the RPG Elements, they'll have become quite the Badass Crew through your efforts.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential
  • Wake-Up Call Boss:
    • The third mission of the first game, when your force consists mostly of, and is mostly fighting, light 20-30 ton Mechs, suddenly throws a 75-ton Mad Cat at you. You're supposed to run from it (or take note of all the fuel tanks it's running past or exploit its reliance on long-ranged weapons that cannot fire up close). But if you can salvage it...
    • The second game does it a little later than the first, sending a similarly-powerful Lao Hu after you in the first campaign's final mission while also introducing you to the existence of enemy Ace Customs with that same 'mech.
  • We Do the Impossible: Your mercenary company gains this reputation at the end of the second game.
  • Wolfpack Boss: Practically a given in most cases given that you can use the same 'mechs as your enemies do. Notable instances include Major Piotrev's command star in the first game (four JagerMechs and his Awesome), and the Liao Palace Guards (several Catapults loaded with Swarm LRMs and Lao Hus, with the captain in the Cyclops) in 2.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: When Colonel Renard negotiates a peace treaty with Jason Cho, one of the conditions is that the mercenary commander must die, which Cho agrees to.
  • Zerg Rush:
    • Many of the missions have you facing off against massed groups of tanks and other vehicles.
    • You may also opt to perform these when the tonnage and your bank account allow. What better way to let the rookies stretch their legs than by purchasing a dozen Wolfhounds and just mobbing things to death?
    • In the original game, expect to be on the receiving end of a rush of six to eight Firestarters several times.

Alternative Title(s): Mech Commander 2