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With the likes of indi developed Hawken and the franchise reboot F2P MMO Mech Warrior: Online on the horizon I’ve become increasingly interested in seeing more studios return to the mech game sub-genre and one series I feel was forgotten by most I would certainly like to see return in some form.
The game’s I am referring to are the Heavy Gear titles. Unlike Mech Warrior back in the 90s Heavy Gear’s 1 and 2 were pure action games. Instead of worrying about things like heat and whether or not you were turning your torso independently from your legs you would just run around guns blazing like any other first person shooter.
I still enjoy the Mech Warrior games for what they are; essentially hardcore fantasy simulators but I do still have a part of me that just wants to experience mech on mech violence in a much more visceral and simple manner which naturally is the style of game most modern gamers would prefer as it is a less daunting task of getting in to such games.
What separated Heavy Gear from other shooters was of course getting to play as the giant robotic war machines known as Gears. Smaller in overall size than the mechs of Battletechs universe they were much more personal feeling vehicles, less large walking tanks and more armored suits that would augment the pilot’s direct desires in battle.
Reflecting this more soldier to soldier feeling was their design with every Gear being humanoid in overall structure; having arms with hands, legs, a head and a torso. They were more relatable to the types of mechs seen portrayed in Japanese animation, film and games where there is a need to give more humanization to the machine that in turn makes it a less believable weapon but one that can be more conceptually interesting and visually expressive.
While the core of Heavy Gear’s gameplay was just selecting a gun to shoot with; whether it were a cannon, rocket launcher or laser rifle like the Tribe’s games an emphasis was placed on mobility and the ability to adapt to combat scenarios on the fly. Aside from the heavier forms of Gear mechs every suit had jump jets and the ability to deploy an increased movement mode where your feet would transform to feature wheels and treads and your mech would take on a rigid stance to be more aerodynamic zooming across the battlefield to outflank your enemies or be blown to bits in the process.
Games that featured very similar types of mech designs were the Front Mission titles, another series of mech based games I would love to see a return to but sadly Square is more interested in pumping out terrible Final Fantasy cash grabs.
Heavy Gear might not work as a full priced sixty dollar retail title in the modern market for games but I really don’t see why a well-made game focussed on co-op or multiplayer battles couldn’t work through Xbox Live, PSN and Steam. Activision still holds the rights to the Heavy Gear license in terms of publishing games so in all likeliness we never will see another but if Hawken and Mech Warrior Online prove successful who knows maybe they’ll get the incentive to have one of their many teams develop a new entry in the long dormant series and I certainly would be interested.