Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 113 / OCTOBER 1989 / PAGE 114



A suit of armor is more than a metal shell in the thirty-first century; it's a BattleMech, a 20- to 25-ton ton armored robot with a Mech Warrior inside. As Jason Youngblood, you train for your own command of a fighting machine.

Battletech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception, is another in Infocom's new line of role-playing, graphics adventures. While traditional role-playing games put you in charge of a half-dozen gold-hungry, monster-slaying warriors, sorcerers, monks, and dwarves, Battletech starts you off with just one character—Jason Youngblood, an aspiring Mech-Warrior. As the game progresses, Jason can form alliances with other Mech Warriors and add new characters to the party.

Your first objective in Battletech is to guide Jason through cadet training at the Pacific BattleMech Training Facility. Success earns Jason the title of MechWarrior with the Commonwealth Corps and prepares him to command his own BattleMech. The BattleMech is equipped with a variety of on-board weapons such as lasers, short-range missiles, and submachine guns. In addition, Jason can modify his Mech with better armor and more destructive high-tech weaponry such as particle-projection cannons and flamers.

To guide you as you play Jason, the game screen is divided into three windows. The largest shows an over­head view of your characters and the surrounding terrain. A smaller window displays descriptive battle reports and occasional animated closeups of the action below. A third window lists your characters and indicates the strength of their attributes—body, dexterity, and charisma—in small bar graphs.

During Infantry or BattleMech combat, this list of characters is replaced with an action menu. Use this menu to move your character, select weapons, scan for other Mechs, target specific enemies, fight, or flee if you find yourself heavily out-gunned. Throughout the game, all selections are made with the cursor keys or the standard numeric keypad to highlight the desired menu choices. The game doesn't support a joystick or a mouse, but the menu system is so easy to use that you won't miss them.

As you find in most role-playing games, as Jason, you must accumulate wealth so you can buy many of the items and skills your characters need. You start with just 35 money units and, although money can be earned in the Battletech arenas, you gain true wealth only by investing wisely in the stock market. You can spend money on combat classes that will improve your proficiency with bows and blades, pistols and handguns, or rifles and submachine guns. Or choose medical and technical training so you can tend to the wounded and service-damaged Mechs.

I like Battletech partly because you can customize the way you play it. By selecting Change Game Settings from the main menu, you can increase the movement rate of your characters from one space per keypress to two or even four spaces per keypress. This helps Jason move quickly through large open areas. Another option lets you select combat speed. Similarly, you can adjust the frequency of animated outtakes during combat. Also, before most battles you can ask the computer to control Jason's Mech. Although this option may be useful against humans with machine guns, for serious battles with heavily armed Mechs, you're better off controlling the action yourself.

Battletech stands apart from most other role-playing games because it includes several automated, noninteractive sequences. These provide background information and move the plot along. For example, early in the game, Jason is sleeping at the barracks between training missions. He's awakened, it seems, by alarms signaling a hostile takeover of the citadel by Marik terrorists. He infiltrates the complex and is about to attack the Marik leader when he really wakes up. He had been dreaming. Later, Jason finds himself in a weapon store during a holdup attempt; this time, however, it's no dream. Fortunately, Jason has developed the skill and courage necessary to foil the robbers. Out of gratitude, the shopkeeper rewards Jason with some much-needed weaponry.

As you'll discover, when you complete your Mech Warrior training and begin venturing away from the (raining center, the world of Battleech is huge and it can take weeks, perhaps even months, to explore all of it. However, surprising plot twists, along with Battletech's colorful graphics and futuristic science-fiction backdrop, should make your career as a Mech-Warrior an exciting one.

Learn to command your own thirty-first-century fighting machine in Battleech.



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