Vast selection of units
Fun online campaigns
No music / sound
No built-in campaign
MegaMek is a turn-based strategy game based on the classic boardgame Battletech. To be precise, it is a 99% conversion of the original level 1 and 2 BattleTech rules. The game is developed as an open-source project, so it is sure to be improved and expanded constantly.
In terms of graphics, MegaMek surely doesn't stand out from the majority of freeware games. In fact, the graphics do their job nicely, but that's about it. On the one hand, every Mech has its own picture, and you can even distinguish the different weapon setups on them. But on the other hand, there are absolutely no animations. The hex maps look decent, and important information is easily readable, but again, graphics-wise there is nothing out of the ordinary here. Also, there's no music throughout the game, and sound is limited to a simple 'bling' to indicate the beginning of your turn.
Having said that, let's take a closer look at the gameplay. For anyone not familiar with the BattleTech rules (like me), I will try to give you a short summary of them: Before the battle begins, each player gets to choose from a large variety of not only Mechs but also a selection of vehicles and infantry. Each unit is assigned a BattleValue(BV), and in order to keep battles balanced, you can compare the combined BVs of you armies. One feature I missed in MegaMek was the possibility of building your own Mechs. In other BattleTech-based games this is a thing that adds greatly to the fun.
Like BattleTech, MegaMek takes place on maps consisting of hexagonal tiles. The game comes with a built-in map editor, so you won't have to stick with randomly generated battlefields. When you first enter the battle map, players alternate turns deploying their units. After that, the real game begins. One round consists of three phases - Movement, Firing and Physical Combat - and in each phase, players alternately give one command to one unit at a time. There are a myriad of factors you need to consider when planning your moves, for example ranges and firing arcs of your weapons, forests blocking line of sight, terrain elevation and many more.
One thing which is a bit disappointing about MegaMek is the lack of a single-player campaign. There is the option of playing against bots, but although the A.I. is a challenging opponent, it can be really slow when calculating the movement of its Mechs. This happens especially when there are lots of light Mechs (which have more movement points to spend) under its control. Also, there is no matchmaking tool, so when you want to play, you need to arrange a game with a friend. Fans have developed an alternative to that, though: There are online BattleTech campaigns based on the MegaMek game, the most popular being MegaMekNET. It offers the possibility of arranging games and adds a lot of interesting features to the game.
To sum it all up, MegaMek is a nice game with the potential to become a great game. For players of the BattleTech tabletop game, MegaMek is also a great play-aid that does all of the complex ToHit-calculations for you in a few clicks. So if you like challenging strategy games, and if the lack of ultra-sweet graphics and sound doesn't bother you, you definitely should give MegaMek a try!
Review by: Wastelander
Safe for all ages
Windows or MacOS