Welcome to the Eridani Light Horse, one of the premier outfits in the Inner Sphere. Your job is to assist with the eradication of the Smoke Jaguar Clan. Use any means necessary and any means at your disposal. Any questions? Good.
MechWarrior 3 is a quantum upgrade on all fronts from the excellent MechWarrior 2, which is saying quite a bit. The tremendous attention to detail in the graphics, gameplay and virtually every other aspect makes this one of the best games of the 1990s, let alone 1999. It is the graphics that will initially grab you and pull you in. Flowing landscapes and wonderful animation are all well and good but MechWarrior 3 goes one better. Shoot off an enemy 'Mech's leg and you'll see the pieces go flying as the enemy crashes to the ground. Drop a Smoke Jaguar tank and you'll marvel at the intricate explosion. This is good stuff.
But graphics only go so far in terms of making a game good. Fortunately for giant robot fans, MechWarrior 3 has it in other areas where it counts as well. Gameplay is initially difficult thanks to the incredibly complex control scheme. After the training missions, though, things smooth out quite a bit. It's much easier with a good multi-button joystick but MechWarrior 3 can be played successfully using nothing more than the keyboard and mouse. The packed-in reference card is a handy and useful addition.
You will need a decent system in order to run the game smoothly. If you've got the muscle in your system, you'll be rewarded with a game that is visually stunning. However, systems with a little less power can run it also and, even toned down, it looks better than a lot of similar games.
The only real complaint I have is in the tutorial section. Regardless of what I did at certain points, the tutorial would not continue. I would do exactly what was asked and nothing would happen. This sort of problem did not occur in the actual campaign game, though, so it's not serious enough that you should consider passing on the game.
There is a patch available for MechWarrior 3 that addresses many of the problems that were unfortunately present in the initial release. One issue that has been corrected is the unbalanced impact certain weapons had on the flow of the game. The adjustments now make it more difficult for 'Mechs to fall after taking leg damage. Another problem solved is the needed increase in movement of torso twist when using the mouse as the controller.
Other features of the patch include fixes of sound problems (crackling and popping noises eliminated), tightening of environmental locations so players will no longer jump jet through ceilings or fall through the terrain and certain 'Mech movement problems. In multi-player mode, latency has been improved, an option for up to eight players in Team Play is now supported at the MSN Gaming Zone, leg armor has been improved and the chat glitch that appeared after saving your 'Mech configuration has been fixed. Full details of all patch issues are included in the patch "readme" file and at the various gaming sites.
MechWarrior 3 is the type of game that caused many of us to start gaming in the first place. It is nearly a perfect blend of action and strategy, dedicated battle planning and seat-of-the-pants improvisation on the battlefield, adrenaline pumping fury and cool resolve. Miss this one and you miss one of the best and most satisfying gaming experiences available. ~ Steve Honeywell, All Game Guide
If you've got the power to play it, it will knock your socks off. Incredible attention to detail. ~ Steve Honeywell, All Game Guide
Good and evocative but the music doesn't always seem to fit. ~ Steve Honeywell, All Game Guide
It's tough but even when you get your butt kicked, you'll be having fun. ~ Steve Honeywell, All Game Guide
The multi-player opportunities and quick action missions give it some life after you complete the campaign. ~ Steve Honeywell, All Game Guide
Excellent, especially the added technical reference that gives readouts of all of the 'Mechs in the game. ~ Steve Honeywell, All Game Guide