At the time, it was said that the final release, MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries, was actually “MechWarrior 3”, but had to be released under the former name because the BattleTech licence had changed hands (Microprose released “MechWarrior 3” shortly thereafter). In this light, should Mercenaries be included in this month’s coverage?
I think it’s worthwhile to talk about the Mechwarrior 2 trilogy as a whole (MW2, GBL, and Mercs). They all use the same engine and mechanics, but especially Mercs receive some significant gameplay system additions that has inspired subsequent Mercenaries titles.
Mechwarrior 3 was not released until 1999 and developed by Zipper Interactive, because it had undergone severe development difficulties when FASA Interactive had tried to make their own Mechwarrior 3 using the engine from the Virtual Pods.
FASA owned the Mechwarrior/Battletech license and were unhappy with how Activision had been handling it with the problems with developing MW2: The Clans. That’s why it was not renewed and instead Activision “pivoted” to the less successful Heavy Gear 1 and 2. That’s why they brought it in-house with publishing agreement with Microprose, but FASA had their own problems, so around 1998 they moved the MW3 project over to Zipper Interactive who crunched the actual MW3 game in under 2 years of dev time.
Of course it is worth talking about Mercenaries. It was not my intention to put this into question. Rather, the other way around: is Mercenaries part of a generic MechWarrior 2 discussion or is it worth being treated on its own? After all, it is a standalone game (not requiring the original) with greatly enhanced gameplay, a totally different scenario etc.
I think the fundamentals are close enough that it warrants being covered along with MW2 and GBL. While you get more Mechs and weapons, and the mission structure is different, there are so many similarities in terms of things like gameplay, graphics, and sound that it’s still Mechwarrior 2 at heart.
Of course, I’d be happy to do a separate episode on just Mercs2, but there are lots of other DOS games to get through!