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Previews

MechWarrior: Living Legends

Preview: Big stompy robot Crysis mod

Perhaps it's no wonder MechWarrior landed on its feet in this mod for Crysis, given the size of their giant metal hooves. The closure of developers FASA Studio in 2007 should have spelled doom for the duelling droids.

But keeping an army of stompy robots down isn't so easy, especially when the BattleTech fanbase stands at an estimated 25 million, some of whom carry Crytek business cards.

Like the Battlefield games, Living Legends is large-scale multiplayer combat with vehicles, but here the 'vehicles' are Mechs: gigantic walking weapons platforms. Part FPS and part sim, its mix of mechanised combat and soldiery brings it closer than ever to the complete BattleTech package - the MechWarrior universe established by the tabletop rulebooks of the '80s and '90s.

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The gist of it is this: if you're caught in open terrain by a Mech, you're crab meat. Lure one into the confines of city streets, however, and it's a whole other story. Imagine guerrilla tactics versus 17 storeys of motorised steel. Or taut ground/air battles which swirl around a single pair of epic units.

Or spawning 20km out from the heat of battle, towering over the distant hills, wrapped in the contrails of air-to-air missiles. Living Legends already promises maps of up to 64km2.

Much of it does sound a bit BF2142, which is understandable. DICE's game is one of several on this team's collective CV, others including Rogue Warrior and the forthcoming Aliens FPS. Prior mod work includes Battlefield mods such as Eve of Destruction, US Intervention and, inevitably, BattleTech 2142 - enough to give these 25 guys from around the world sound knowledge of what their audience wants.

"We wanted to do something that hasn't been done within the BattleTech universe," explains creative director Daniel 'Kamikaze' Tracy, "and that means a mixed-arms game. So we've found ourselves sat on the line between satisfying the fans and bringing new players in. From the very beginning, our goal was not to recreate MechWarrior 2, 3 or 4. But we understand that some prefer the old style, hence Solaris Arena, our gladiatorial game mode."

Assuming it makes the suggested release date of November 2008, few are likely to object to such a comprehensive suite. Microsoft certainly haven't: the holders of MechWarrior's IP have given this project their full support. Given how spectacular it sounds, perhaps that's hardly surprising.

Website: http://www.mechlivinglegends.net/

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