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MechWarrior Retrospective: The Future is Hawken

The first multiplayer game I really got into was an odd one – Microsoft’s MechWarrior series. If you haven’t played it, it’s basically a game in which you pilot a massive robotic walker, called a ‘mech, armed with a judicious amount of firepower. Unlike most FPS games of the time, there was a high level of customisability; given a maximum tonnage, you had to balance engine power, armour and weapons to make your perfect fighting machine. You could act as a sniper, taking down enemies from kilometers away with banks of missiles shot forty at a time, or get in close and rip your opponent’s legs off with a well aimed autocannon shot.

I remember using any excuse to visit my friends with early high speed internet, just so I could bring my PC and play MechWarrior online. I knew my time with Internet was precious, so I carefully devised builds and strategies at home. I never was the best player on the server, but sometimes I got the last kill with a perfectly fired laser volley, and I felt like a champion.

Years later, when I actually had full speed internet at home, I tried to play MechWarrior 4 online, but it was a dead scene. I shed a single tear, and put my joystick away, and waited for the day that a new mech game would be released… But it would be many years, as the MechWarrior license languished in Microsoft Game Studio’s feeble grasp.

Not everyone was content to let the genre wither and die, however. Over the last year, indie developers Adhesive Games have been working on a multiplayer mech combat FPS, in the style of MechWarrior, and last month they released this excellent trailer.

Needless to say, I was pretty excited. I emailed them about it, and soon got the opportunity to interview one of the company’s founders, Dave Nguyen, about the game. He confirmed all of the essentials would be back: giant stompy robots, customisable weapons loadouts, detailed cockpit art, and even new school touches like unlockable weapons and destructable debris.

So I can’t wait to see more from Hawken – it looks like they’re taking it in the right direction, and it could turn out to trump even the MechWarrior games of old. Until it’s out though, I’m gonna keep playing MechWarrior 4 Mercenaries, which was released for free last year. You should definitely give it a try, whether you’re a hardened ‘mech veteran or a newcomer to the genre – and keep an eye out for Hawken when it’s released!

Please let me know what you think of Hawken in the comments below.

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