Visuals and Aesthetics
Goodies for your eyes!
Mechwarrior 3's graphics are pretty amazing in some areas, and average in others. The sky texturing is nothing short of breath taking. The demo level shows you a dusk (dawn?) scene with clouds and sky painted in a pleasing array of hues. Water splashes up as enemy mechs (and pieces of them) fall down in the shallow lake. Turn in the right direction and you'll see your own shadow on the ground in front of you, adding to the immersive atmosphere. Pieces fall off mechs as you shoot them up and sparks jump up from enemy mech armor when you score a laser hit. Smoke obscures your vision after you volley off rockets. One time a stray bullet took off a chunk of my windshield! I also noticed that low camera angles and such give you an idea of the scale of your mech and how immense it is. Zipper pulled all the stops with the detail level here.
Rocket fire obscures your vision with smoke
One bad thing that struck me was that the mechs themselves didn't have quite the clean, crisp look that I was hoping for. I tried to crank up the resolution past 640x480, but I couldn't seem to do it for some reason. Perhaps any slight blockiness or pixelated look I noticed, might stem from the fact that I was running 640x480 on a large 20" monitor. At least the framerates were nice and steady (on my Celeron 300A with Voodoo2 and 64MB RAM), so I can't complain too much. Also, those of you still without 3D acceleration should be happy - Mechwarrior 3 does have a software mode, so you're not locked out.
The sound effects were pretty good, but could stand to be a little peppier. The machine gun sounds really weak (well it IS weak, so maybe that's why), and the autocannon (a real ass kicker) doesn't sound that much more intimidating. The laser sounds were passable, and the rocket effects were slightly above average, as were the . Hopefully Zipper will go back and tweak those around a little bit more before this game gets released. I also hope that Mechwarrior 3 will have the same quality, pumping soundtrack that Mechwarrior 2 did. The old MW2 music was like the Warcraft 2 music: good enough to pop into your audio Cd and listen to on its own.