Reviews
MechWarrior: Tactical Command

By Seán O'Sullivan - October 19th, 2012

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MechWarrior* is a cherished videogame franchise that has been around for over two decades now, and its name carries a certain gravitas for those who have ever played PC games – regardless of whether they have played previous titles in the series or not. Considering this rich legacy, it’s rather perplexing to see that MechWarrior: Tactical Command for the iPad is such a wretched turd of a game.

This is a real-time-strategy Game where your redundancy is immediately made apparent. In the first mission, the mechs are stomping around, blowing things up, and seemingly having a great time; but when one of them brings up the commander, the veterans scoff at the prospect of being ordered around. “Someone back at base playing on a fancy toy?” If my soldiers don’t even respect my post, then why should I care about it?

Sure enough, the Mechs you command are largely autonomous – you point them in the general direction of where to go, and they duly comply, trudging across the terrain, blowing up whatever they encounter along the way to smithereens. The home base sets way-points, which you then relay to your mechs, who comply; but there are no fine details or specific tactics that can be teased out by a skilled commander. The game-play consists of: telling your small crew where to go; waiting for them to get there and do their thing – which triggers a story segment; then sending them to the next designated location to repeat the process. It’s as hands-off as you could expect, which is probably a good thing considering how clumsy and unresponsive the controls are.

The game is a technical mess. Sound effects and music cut out regularly, scripting is woefully unreliable, leaving you with unwinnable missions, and the app crashed on a number of occasions, forcing me to slog back through the infuriatingly dull game-play (and the unskippable cutscenes) to see if the next level held greater promise. I endured as far as Mission 7, but the game crashes at the same spot every time (despite multiple reboots), and frankly, I’m not interested in taking any proactive steps to redress this situation considering how despicable the hours leading up to this issue were. If you want more evidence of this being an unpolished product, open up the ‘News and Updates’ option on the main menu, then drink in the vastness of the empty menu page that awaits. Helpful.

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It’s not a mech that destroyed that silo – it was Sully’s rage.

MechWarrior: Tactical Command regularly seems to be disrespecting the player. The mechs move slowly, even when you ask them to run. If one of your mech’s legs gets destroyed, brace your patience, as you’ll be forced to watch your soldier shuffle for minutes -interminably boring eons- through the bland vistas of MechWarrior’s dull battlefields. That’s assuming they listen to you the first time – the soldiers won’t always respond verbally when issued a command, and just because the destination marker appeared when you tapped your finger on the screen doesn’t mean that they’re actually going to start moving towards it on the first prompt. The sparse graphics and murky textures seem to contradict the game’s hefty download size, until you realize that this is a package padded out with pointless FMVs.

With all due respect to the developers who were surely caught up in the rigors of delivering a timely product and hitting the moving target of device compatibility, Personae Studios have balls asking $10 for this abortion of a product. The game-play is brainless puppet-theater, the story is abhorrently dull (even the dumb character names like ‘Captain Hammer’ can’t enliven proceedings), and the entire package hasn’t been competently assembled into a game that’s playable in its entirety (the comments on the App Store show that mine is not an isolated issue). The hours I have spent with MechWarrior: Tactical Command have inspired my consumer-advocacy responsibilities more than any other title to a point where I am almost irrationally invested in preventing you from opening your wallet. Do not under any circumstances waste your money on this broken app with merit-less game-play.

* – Yes nerds, we’re all aware that MechWarrior is part of the BattleTech franchise, but we’re talking about games here!

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