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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (495)

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Persona 5 Royal 4.5/5
A Hat in Time 3.5/5
Sunset Overdrive 4/5
The Vagrant 4/5
Honkai: Star Rail 3.5/5
MechWarrior 5: Mercenar... 4/5
Rage 2 3.5/5
Alan Wake 4/5
Riverbond 3.5/5
Dead Island 2 3.5/5
Saints Row IV 3.5/5
The Last of Us Part II 4.5/5
Torchlight III 3/5
Wolfenstein II: The New... 4/5
Ghost of Tsushima 4.5/5
Battletoads (2020) 2/5
Danganronpa: Trigger Ha... 4/5
Override: Mech City Bra... 3/5
Maneater 3/5
Door Kickers: Action Sq... 4/5
Spider-Man (2018) 4.5/5
Red Dead Redemption 2 4.5/5
Boot Hill Heroes 3.5/5
Control 4/5
Victor Vran 3/5

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MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries   PC (Steam) 

Heavy is the Mech That Shoots You Down    4/5 stars

Mech games are quite fun - but it's few and far between that seem to do things right. MechWarrior as a series is venerable but MechWarrior 5 is the first main entry to come out in a long time, and it seems that developer Piranha Games has stumbled on to a winning recipe that has old-school charm but suitably modern touches. It has been quite awhile since I last played a mech game, but with friends along for the ride (and some added mods) this was an overall good experience.

Looks and Stuff: If you've come here looking for the most robust graphics-intense mech experience... too bad. MechWarrior 5 is best described as utilitarian - mechs are big, heavy (even the more, uh, sprightly models) and mostly ugly - even when you give them a bright pink paint job. Think of an Abrams tank, but, you know, a giant robot version of that. This is far removed from your Gundam-style anime sleekness. And the environments and locations reflect this, with small outposts and towns looking very grey and blocky and even thought there are different types of worlds (from ice cold to desert dry to volcanic hot) nothing seems to really make much difference (other than how fast your mech overheats) and you will often just chug along mountain valley paths or hilly terrain until to can shoot whatever the game throws at you.

Likewise, the audio is solid, if nothing spectacular. The game is voiced but most missions just have bad guys trying to thrown out random insults or your allies complaining when you accidentally step on a fuel depot or mistake your missile barrage and take down an apartment complex or something. The only character to really get many lines if your operations officer, Ryana Campbell, but her rather by-the-books delivery is merely fine - unless she keeps prattling on when you're barely functioning at the end of the mission and it refuses to close out until she's done with her Shakespearean soliloquy. I never want to punch a gal, but Ryana really does deserve it sometimes.

The game did have a handful of minor glitches - connection errors and such - but nothing majorly broken. It also supports a robust suite of mods - many of which make the game much easier - maybe too easy for hard-core git gud gamers - but perfect if you would rather have fun than rip your hair out.

Story: Also not really a strong point as the main story is a typical revenge plot. Your mercenary father of some renown, Nikolai Mason, is killed very early by a seemingly unknown mech unit of great strength and power, leaving you, his son, barely able to escape. Lucky for you, your father's capable associates, mainly chatty ops lead Ryana and mech mechanic Fahad Arazad (along with a fair number of faceless, nameless other crew) are here to pick you up and set you down the path of retribution. Of course, early on, you are quite limited in what you can do as you have access to very basic mechs, basic weaponry and basic mission. The early game is quite the slog with a handful of mission types you must play in order to increase your overall reputation (that unlocks more story) while building alliances with certain factions - and pissing other ones off. Each mission also provides C-bills (the in-game currency) which you need to repair, hire better mech pilots, get better mechs and better weapons. Still, the game is a bit stingy and you will find yourself playing many missions before you can get into the meat of the actual story. My personal favorite missions types were destruction (just blow up this town for us, will you?) and assassination (just blow up this guy for us, will you?) but you also have the opposite of protecting a town from destruction, or keeping people alive. As the story progresses, you learn your father is harboring quite the secret while also breaking down your enemy, who it seems has their tendrils all over the place. We haven't picked up the DLC yet - but whenever it goes on sale I think returning to this universe and its many factions will be a good time even if I don't have a big grasp on the lore.

Gameplay: You want chonky mechs doling out damage as they clunk along? This game's for you! The only speedy mech is a dead mech (because it's the smallest and weakest - fast, but rarely deadly). The best mech is slow as molasses but packs a mother of a punch (missile, laser - whatever you prefer). However, we nearly never found out about this as we all played through the tutorial first... and the default controls nearly causes all of us to relegate the game to the waste bin. The default of how you walk, turn, point your weapons - it was all, to put it mildly, abjectly terrible. Frustrating, maddening - throw-your-controller rage-inducing - all of the above, yes. Luckily it was quickly found out you could change these controls to be much more like typical FPS (but, you know, controlling an awesome mech instead of a gun). A game changer? You bet and after than it made things so much better. The repetitive nature of the early game and weaker mechs is still a downer, but if you can sally forth and make it through that first chapter, it opens up bigger and better mechs, more varied weapons and, with mods, an even smoother game to play.

One of the main headaches is that everything costs money - from travel to repairs to new and unique mechs (hero units) if that's your thing. It's also hilarious that the game always tells you where you can buy these seemingly awesome mechs and weapons, but never tells you exactly WHAT you're getting - until you arrive in person (wasting time and travel) only to find, to quote SNL's Mike Myers... IT'S CRAP - which happened far more often than actually finding a useful or interesting model/weapon. And while it's hard to fail a mission (but we still did a handful of times), it's far easier to get your awesome weapon destroyed or you pilot injured (required several in-game days/weeks to fully heal) or, in the worse case, die (often requiring a replay if it was a valuable pilot). It's also funny that very early in the game, mission requirements would only allow TWO mechs at a time (each mission has a weight limit, you see or it will penalize you) and most of the game we could play with only three - meaning if we actually did have all four of us playing (luckily one sat out for this one) most of the time until quite late in the game, someone would of had to twiddle their thumbs during a mission. When we could add a fourth without penalty, the AI was mostly worthless, dealing out negligible damage and rarely even taking down any enemies. On the flip side, enemy AI could be wonky - usually laser-focused on a single character (allowing for others to snipe them and easily take them down). When you have long-range weapons, it often means enemies can't even hit you from that far away - and it's telling that the most annoying enemies are the one's with long-range attacks - and also the tanks, which can be more annoying than the actual enemy mechs at times. Of course, as the game progresses both you and the enemies increase in power - and, with certain mods, you can both tone down the economic headaches and make outfitting your mech much more enjoyable - and overall just making the game more fun. Unless you want to be hardcore Henry, I think tweaking the game is perfectly fine.

Replay value: Even though the missions are repetitive, I don't think they ever go away, so you can plink away at your heart's content. There are even certain missions that span multiple parts (with no repairs in between) that are like mini-story quests. We didn't do many of these, but there are plenty of those out there as well. And, of course, you have plenty of DLC (still to come for us) some of which is cosmetic but others have hefty stories on their own.

Final Verdict: You may be big, slow and ugly - but damn if it isn't fun!

Presentation: 3.5/5
Story: 3/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Replay: 4/5
Overall (not an average): 4/5



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