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Game Info:

BATTLETECH
Developed By: Harebrained Schemes
Published By: Paradox Interactive
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Available On: Windows, macOS, Linux coming soon
ESRB Rating: N/A
Genre: Turn-based Strategy
Mode: Primarily singleplayer, with a multiplayer mode also
MSRP: $39.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Paradox Interactive for sending us this game to review!

In high school, I had a very good friend and his older brother who introduced me to the board game BattleTech. I clearly remember the hexagonal map laid out on the table with trees, lakes, buildings and other environmental obstacles, as well as the intricately painted robotic giants. I also remember creating mechs with various loadouts including ER PPCs, Large Lasers, and other powerful weaponry as I rolled the dice to calculate hit locations and damage totals. It was a lot of fun back then and I haven’t had a chance to do anything like it since, until now.

Much of the BattleTech lore books are written from 3050 and onwards, while this game takes place in and around 3025. You and your mercenary Lance are quickly pulled into a conflict of factions where you choose to help a friend and fellow student of your mentor, who is the rightful heir to the throne. When her father dies, her uncle quickly steps in, seizes power, and attempts to take the princess’s life. With your help, she barely escapes. When the time is right, she starts a war to regain her kingdom and you and your Lance become her ace in the hole.

In BATTLETECH, there is a ship mode in which you prepare for your missions and a battlefield mode where combat takes place. You get to manage many aspects of your mercenary Lance including which pilots to hire, how to fit and arm them, and prepare your MechWarriors (pilots), as well as various ship upgrades. You can also take your ship to many different star systems where you can look for new contracts to work as a mercenary-for-hire. The jobs themselves vary from helping out a local government to assisting pirates in their dirty work. As you gain victory in combat you will often recover salvage which can lead to gaining bigger and better mechs.

BATTLETECH
Highlights:

Strong Points: Excellent representation of the classic BattleTech board game; very nice graphics and sound; very engaging ‘one more turn’ gameplay
Weak Points: Can be too slow-paced for some; performance could be better; I ran into a game-crashing bug until I determined that G-Sync for windowed-mode applications was the cause
Moral Warnings: ‘They’ offered as a gender identity; most common curse words used, including ‘*ss’, ‘sh*t’, ‘d*mn’, and ‘hell’; references to ‘gods’ and skinny dipping

On the battlefield, rather than a direct hex-grid conversion of the tabletop game, this does much better - you directly move to various points on the map and fight other enemy units on the field in a turn-based fashion. When you create your character, you give them a background which has a small impact on the story. You create them as a ‘he’, a ‘she’, or a non-conforming ‘they’. Your Lance has up to four members, while your enemy can sometimes vastly outnumber you. It takes careful environmental, weapons, ammunition, and heat management in order to be successful.

BattleMechs typically range in weight from 20-100 tons. The armor, firepower, and movement range of each mech type can vary drastically. While there is conceivably a place on the battlefield for light mechs in the 20-40 ton range, in reality once you get heavy mechs, you don’t go back. Each weapon, from Long-Range Missiles (LRMs) to Auto-Cannons (ACs) to Lasers all require precious tons to equip on your mech. And let’s face it: firepower is king. And assault mechs in the 80-100 ton range carry lots and lots of guns.

Combat itself is typically broken up into two phases per turn. The first is the movement phase, during which you can move, sprint, or use your jump jets. Not every mech has jump jets, especially since they cost precious tons and generate heat. But they can be quite handy, as you can go up or down steep inclines or jump over obstacles for a potentially massive tactical advantage. When you sprint, you can go nearly twice as far, but doing so takes up the second combat phase, which is the action phase.

During the action phase the most common one is most certainly attack. But it’s not alone. You can do a melee attack, brace for impact, or do a precision shot. Brace for impact is handy because it lowers received damage by half from the front and sides. The precision shot costs morale, which is something you earn by defeating enemies. But the benefit of this is that you can target any part of the enemy unit in which the strikes will hit. Destroying an enemy mech is accomplished in one of three ways: killing the pilot, destroying the center torso, or immobilizing it. Getting a powerful enough shot to the head is extremely fatal - but is also extremely unlikely. Knocking out both legs can often work quite well and has the added bonus of usually offering extra salvage. I find precision shots to the center torso as the most effective way of shutting down an enemy BattleMech as quickly as possible.

BATTLETECH
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 73%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 6.5/10
Sexual Content - 8/10
Occult/Supernatural - 8/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

On the ship, you can allocate experience points to skills for each of your MechWarriors. As they level up skills, you can choose to specialize them in various areas. These areas are Gunnery, Piloting, Guts, and Tactics. Most of the combat bonuses are passive, but notable active skills are multi-target and sensor lock. Multi-target allows you to hit up to three enemies at once, while sensor lock grants your teammates the ability to attack far away targets, as well as makes them easier to hit. It’s not uncommon for a faster mech to act as a scout with sensor lock while the rest of the Lance pelts them with LRMs.

Visually, BATTLETECH is a fun game to watch. It looks nice with good details, and the sound effects when things explode are also well done. The voice acting is rare, but all that is there sounds great. It does look much better on high settings, but it scales down to work fairly well, even on lower-end hardware. I played BATTLETECH perfectly well on both my high-end gaming systems maxed out, and on my GPD Win 2 with all settings on low. The cutscenes are drawn rather than rendered and look fantastic.

BATTLETECH takes place in a universe full of violence, death, and betrayal. Blood is shown in some cutscenes, but most of the game lacks any. When fighting other MechWarriors, it is a fight to the death. Your pilots can and will die, and managing their health is an important part of the game. Curse words like ‘*ss’, ‘sh*t’, ‘d*mn’, and ‘hell’ are present in the game, as well as ‘gods’. Most of the violence is in the form of robotic limbs being destroyed or falling off. Death of enemy MechWarriors is common and a fact of life. There is also a reference to crew members skinny dipping in the pool.

As soon as I found out that the BattleTech board game was getting a proper PC adaptation, I leapt at the chance to review it, and I’m glad I did. While a bit slow paced at times, BATTLETECH is a blast to play and most definitely worth your time. Multiplayer is still active also, which is great to see. I wouldn’t give it to children because of the language, but I can heartily recommend it to others.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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