[Editor’s note: brecksher talks about the Battle Tech games for last month’s Expanded Universe topic. — CTZ]
The Battletech universe has been around since the early 80’s and has since gone through so many face lifts, Micheal Jackson might just stare in awe. It’s blend of simulators, books, console titles, table top board games, and even a collectable card game have sucked this IP dry, and now, it’s like beating a dead horse because it won’t carry the cart you just hooked up. It’s gone through hell and back, and now, the series seems like it’s finally fizzled out. But has it?
Has the Battletech/Mechwarrior franchise finally met it’s end, to be left in obscurity of dark basements and classic gaming conventions where models of the games-past are all that’s left of this once rich, great, and thriving series?
: It’s 1984, and mankind is once again at war.
BattleTech was published in 1984 by Chicago-based FASA, who began as a two-man operation with starting a capital of less than $350. BattleTech focused on commanding huge robotic war machines known as Battledroids. However, the term Battledroids was replaced with BattleMech in the second edition, fearing a lawsuit from Lucasflim and a Mr. George Lucas, who owned the rights to the term, “droid”. Thus the term BattleMech was born, and piloting these massive war machines: Mechwarriors, the heroes of the 31st Century. As far as a complete universe goes, you can’t get much further into detail than FASA has with their series. To only give a two sentence summary of the plot would be a crime against nature. There’s a HUGE timeline, following the events of an alternate history from the year 2005 all the way to 31st century, following the rise and fall of many empires, and ultimately, a Holy War waged against the galaxy.
Mechwarrior Series: Where it all began (for me)
I was first introduced to this series through a friend of mine who suggested a computer name called Mechwarrior 2. I never really heard much about it, and for about $15.00, I decided to pick up the then bargain bin game. I booted it up and from the first introduction video, I was hooked.
It’s got a lock on me! IT’S GOT A LOCK ON M-
From then on out, I delved into this world. I learned all about the Clans and their struggle against the Inner Sphere. I saw through the eyes of a Jade Falcon and a Wolf alike, fought hard and smelled the sweetness of victory. I read all the holo’s I could, How Clanners breed humans with warriors genes and where the Clans came from. How the Clans favored honor and pride, more so than winning. Perhaps my 5th grade mind was entangled with visions of Samurai striding the battle field in huge war machines, who would rather die on the field then live to be old and of no use. And loved every second of it.
As soon as it was released, I rushed to the store to pick up Mechwarrior 3. Again, the intro movie made me cry tears of lead and have an explosive erection.
Die, Clanner …
This was the game that allowed me to see the side of the Inner Sphere. Stuck on a enemy planet by myself, salvaging what I could to try and make a successful campaign against the Clan Ghost Bear. This was the first game that I delved into becoming a better pilot. I had joined up with an online Clan, and had countless battles across multiple worlds. Leagues in their own right don’t have much of a Canon baton to wave when it comes to the overall arc of a series, but it makes for some incredible matches. In all honesty, I never really was any good, that is, until the next release in the franchise. Mechwarrior 4
I’ll hold them off as long as I can …
As far as story goes, it followed the inner squabbles of the Inner Sphere, but in all honesty, I played through the campaign once, and delved straight into League play. Joining up with a Merc group, the 328th Honor Guard, we scoured the leagues and dominated some of the toughest teams. With the Release of Mechwarrior 4: Black Knight we started to lose ground on our league, and by the release of Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries, we were all but finished.
Mechwarrior: League Play
I remember what it felt like to go through the tests to get into the 328th, it was very very intense, and after a series of brutal tests (Face an Atlus with an Uziel? FUN!), they let me in as a lance mate of Bravo Lance. Basically, I was to run light scout mechs, usually a Cougar, and try to wear the enemy down, as well as attach some BAP to assist Alpha Lance with their missile salvos. It was all right to run around, but I longed for more fire power, and through a month of active duty, I had earned enough reputation and respect to get into a medium mech, the Uziel, My most favorite mech I’ve ever piloted. I could get into how I loved how it handled and had just enough speed and enough firepower to do some real damage, but I’ll spare you. We waged real campaigns against real opponents for fictional planets, but we all loved it.
That was when I was about 15-years-old. Now I’m 21, and I’m still fantasizing about organizing my own Mechwarrior league.
In any case, with time, the Mechwarrior simulators got old and I longed for something more. A new Mechwarrior game, or and expansion, ANYTHING would have been great. Something preferably delving into more story, because I absolutely LOVED the war torn galaxy and the combat. Everything was unbelievable but so real! Then, while perusing through my local book store, I saw it, and God put a smile on my face. I saw something that brought a tear to my eye and yet another explosive erection.
I’m pretty sure you’re NOT supposed to jump up and down with glee in a quiet book store, but I didn’t care, I saw a whole shelf of Mechwarrior books and was introduced into the term BattleTech. I picked up By Blood Betrayed and loved every single freakin’ second of it. I picked up Roar of Honor next and loved every second of that book. I then began looking into exactly what Battletech was, and tried to find exactly where it all started. I picked up a few of the Dark Ages figurines and tried to bribe my little brother into playing with me, but the rules were WAY too complicated for us.
About that time, Mechassault came out and we wept tears of kerosene. My little brother and I loved that game, the campaign, the multiplayer, everything about that game blew us away. With the release of Mechassault 2: Lone Wolf our fanboydom of FASA and Microsoft had reached a peak. I had never spent so much time with any game. And with the addition of being able to fight meaningful battles over planets for your house-OH MY GOD! THERE’S CUM EVERYWHERE! I was back into a competitive group, and back into kicking ass all over the galaxy! I spent many many months trying to win planets for House Marik along with my clan, the 82nd knights, and we were really pretty successful, until, ultimately people stopped playing it …
Now, my Mechwarrior bug still has it’s bite marks on me, but I feel jaded. Mechwarrior as a franchise is pretty much dead in the water. FASA went under, and the rights were sold off. But, thanks to some very dedicated and very awesome people on the internet, a new breath of life has been blown into this franchise with the development of Mechwarrior: Living Legends. I’m still looking out for little bits of the Battletech Universe that have gone forgotten, (BattleTech CCG), but I’m running low on fuel.
I can thank the leagues though, for my extended romp through this universe. I fought battles that actually mean something in the world we lived in, and thanks to the 328th Honor Gaurd, and the 82nd Knights, countless planets were saved from the tyranny of the other guys. And thanks to all the guys I’ve ever played with. Although we were never really a part of the story, we could pretend we were. Well, at least until we had to respawn…
Today (03/30/09) marks the celebration of my girl’s 22nd birthday. I hope she won’t mind that I post this.
I’m really not sure where I’d be without her, but I know that’s she’s a really wonderful girl, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere without her. Much celebration and drinking will be had! HAPPY BIRTHDAY KRIS!