the far-off world of Terra Nova, a hostile colonized planet with little
water or regard for physics and hit detection, a civil war between the
North and South armies of the world rages on for centuries. Battles
are fought with armored mecha troops known as Heavy Gears. It's a brave
new world. It's a whole new era for mankind. It's Canadian.
the vast majority of robot games, most of the action takes place from
a cockpit view, depriving you of peripheral vision and ensuring you
slam into things a lot. (More on this later.) With a tap of the "C'
button, you can zoom out to a behind-the-Gear point of view. This allows
me to see everything, except now the crosshairs seem to be following
my neighbor's mouse. Other innovations include Gears being able to do
fairly sensible things like sidestep and pick up dropped weapons from
the battlefield. And kneel. All the Gears also have little wheels built
into their feet, which were designed to give them extra speed on flat
terrain but thanks to the half-assed programming, allows them to drive
straight up mountains. In fact, all of my missions, story mode or campaign
mode, always start with the following keystrokes: "W" to turn
on the wheels. "0" to accelerate to max speed. "L"
to switch everything to wireframe- er, "Low Light" vision.
This has the added bonus of turning everything that isn't the ground
blue for easy shooting. Sometimes if I'm burdened with squadmates I'll
use the option that point out hostiles.
Gear doesn't demand a lot of you mentally. If you can peck at the keyboard
with one hand while jerking the mouse around with the other, you'll
figure out all the commands by trial and error. The AI in this game
is piss-poor. You can overcome any obstacle by driving in circles around
it at high speed while shooting in wireframe mode. The enemies, while
able to make use of natural (and I mean that in the loosest sense, as
the rocks look more hi-tech than many of the buildings) cover, are just
as likely to accelerate into said cover at high speeds, critically damaging
and even killing themselves. When you get within a certain distance
of a Gear, it randomly chucks grenades in a sort of panic, making them
look a little like they're having a seizure or attending a heavily armed
rave. The largest problem by far is the fact they can't lead their shots
at all. Just keep moving at high speed with your torso twisted 90 degrees
and they'll never hit you. Of course, you'll probably run into something
which brings me to squadmate AI.
may remember the disembodied head friend from Miracle Girls, or maybe
the Jekyll-and-Hyde routine of Earthworm Jim's pal Peter Puppy. None
of those sidekicks were particularly helpful, in fact, they were downright
subversive. The squad mates you'll be assigned in Heavy Gear are the
worst of the worst in the 'With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies'
school of sidekickdom. They don't just muscle in on your kills, they
dash in front of you as you take careful aim at something. In an intense
firefight, you can count on them to simply stand there at attention,
looking back and forth like they might have heard something. Then they
go out with a pathetic "Help meeee!" when they finally get
hit. My theory is that they're not actually in your army, they're just
volunteer firemen or something. If the current terrain has no random
rock pillars in it, then odds are if you suddenly slam into something,
lose a leg and all your sensors, that was probably your squadmate covering
your six. Keep 'em flying, dickweeds.
are a host of collision problems in this game: Even if you point the
crosshairs at point black range into a clearly-defined body in wireframe
mode, the bullet generally passes harmlessly through the torso. Also,
missed shots have a tendency to keep scaling off into the distance regardless
of whether there's a mountain or the ground in the way. Maybe it's the
fourth-dimensional ammo the CNCS uses.
story mode follows a Northern soldier, Ranger Smith. Er, Scott. In a
series of Wing Commandery FMV sequences, he rises in the ranks, is hated
by his subordinates, kidnapped a few times, and ultimately has to have
a shootout with his butch Southerner girlfriend. I think. All I can
remember clearly is the commander going slowly insane and sending me
on progressively boring missions into enemy territory after his son
or nephew or something fails an Escape from Prison Camp check (DC 20).
Mode, the better of the two main play modes, lets you pick North or
South and run missions to spread your influence across the map. I'm
not sure if there's a way to definitively win, but I think I moved the
South border up, just a little. After about 1,231 successful missions,
you'll get new Gears and parts. After about twenty minutes of poking
around the "MOST VERSATILE DRAG-AND DROP CONSTRUCTION TOOL EVER"
I discovered you can cheat by highlighting a part and tapping the arrow
keys up to add more armor or horsepower. As I said before, you're not
being asked to be a Schwarzkopf here. The Army is just looking for a
few good men who can drive in circles without getting motion sick. Though
you might be tempted to take a smaller, faster Gear on reconnaisance
missions, trust me; there's no reason not to pick the biggest Gear available
and load it down with heavy ordinance.
are also nonhumanoid artillery mecha called Striders; both models at
your disposal are about as manueverable as your average continent and
almost as fast. The only advantage the offer you is the ability to weigh
them down with UNGODLY amounts of armament. At least the Southern one
has the little wheels.
heard Activision made this when they were at odds with FASA over the
MechWarrior liscense. It showed some potential, I can only wonder what
HG2 plays like as it features a brand new engine and varied environments
(including deep space for once.) I only hope it reverses the AI of the
enemies for the AI of the squadmates, who may in fact be double agents.
and did I mention this game features tiny infantry who can take a few
autocannon rounds? Just step on them and be done.