You are Gideon Braver Vandenburg. The year is 3024. Unknown attackers have attacked your home planet of Ander's Moon and killed your family, leaving you as the prime suspect. Forced into exile, you start your life as a mercenary, fighting for the highest paying house to make some cash, while searching for clues as to who murdered your family. You have only five years to prove that you are innocent and the rightful heir to Ander's Moon.
Mechwarrior starts you out with just a Jenner and a few C-bills and pretty much let's you go on your own from there. The game is very open and you don't even have to bother with the story if you don't want to. You can just fight for the different houses and stick to the sim part of the game. But that, of course, is only half of the fun.
The story has you hopping from planet to planet in search of clues to find those that have killed your family. Everything is carried out in text, usually leaving you with a few options to choose from, such as fight or run. You'll have to talk to the bartenders and others to find where to head next, ending with a final battle against a group known as the Dark Wing.
You can fight for each of the five houses and negotiate your contracts to get the best deal. Some houses may pay high, but flat out lie about mission conditions. It's not a good idea to take your Jenner in expecting 2 light mechs and finding out there are 2 medium mechs and 1 heavy. Watch out who your fighting against, though. If you attack a house a few times, they won't want to do business with you. Missions range from simply destroying all enemy mechs to attacking stock holds and rescuing hostages. Some contracts are only one mission, while others are campaigns that can be 3-4 missions long.
Throughout the game, you can buy and sell mechs, hire crew, and buy and sell weapoons. To make some easy cash, you can buy mechs for cheaper prices near the mech factories, then head out to poorly supplied planets and sell them fore more. Sometimes, though, parts that you need to replace on your mech won't be available, leaving you with a partially damaged or non-functioning mech. You can hire crew members that aren't very skilled, but the more that they play in the game, the better they will become. On the other hand, you can hire some excellent crew that may refuse to fight in the middle of battle, or even worse, run off with your mech.
Once you have finally negotiated your contracts and drop into a mission, you are thrown into the cockpit of a mech. You have a radar in the middle of your HUD with status lights for your sensors, gyro, engine, and life support system. Also, barely to the right is the heat tracker, which is very important. On the other side of that is your weapons readout. This game has bolt-like PPCs, unlike the Mechwarrior 2 series, where they became floating blue orbs. The game allows you to torso twist, zoom in on targets,jump jet, and destroy the head, legs, arms, and torsos of the mechs. In addition, you can command the other mechs in your lance giving them orders such as move towards a destination and attack encountered enemies, ambush, move to a destination and avoid enemies. If you've ever played Multiplayer Battletech: Solaris, the sim part of the game is very similar.
This game set the standard for the Mechwarrior series, even though many Mechwarrior fans have not had the chance to play it. Despite its age, it still provides some unique features that cannot be experienced in the latter Mechwarrior games.
Game Requirements: DOS, 286 processor (8 Mhz), 640 KB of RAM.