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Mechwarrior games have captivated the imagination since long before PC and net gaming became hot commodities. Mechwarrior is based on the venerable Battletech series of roleplaying games, owned by FASA. And when I say role playing game, I'm not talking Baldur's Gate or Ultima. I'm talking about Warhammer 40K, dice rolling kind of RPGs. Mechwarrior fans are hardcore - they're not going to settle for a second rate game.
Truth is stranger than fiction
The real life story behind MW2 and MW3 is just as fascinating as the Battletech world itself. When Mechwarrior 2 was released about four years ago, it became an instant sensation. Not only did it feature great single player scenarios and wonderful gameplay, but the game later got patched to support 3D texturing and rendering. The company behind the free patch? Maybe you've heard of it - it was a tiny upstart known then as 3Dfx (with a capital D). MW2 was in fact, one of 3dfx's first flagship games, and screenshots of a patched MW2 helped promote the original Voodoo accelerator. Even though the patch was in excess of 80MB, the people who bought Voodoo spent the time to download it. And this was in the days of 14.4 modems, so you know it took about a million years to download! That 3D patch, and the later Netmech multiplayer upgrade, assured the longevity of the Mechwarrior 2 title.
Zoom in a window is cool
Despite its success, both critically, and at the sales counter, FASA was not pleased with the numerous delays in getting Mechwarrior 2 to market. Add to that the fact that Netmech support (which was supposed to be included in the game) ended up being a for-cost add on, after being horribly delayed, and you can see that Activision dropped the ball in many ways. The publishing license to Mechwarrior 3 was awarded to Microprose, in hopes that they could be more expedient in getting MW3 to market. Also, FASA formed its own in house game development team, called FASA Interactive (who brought you Mechcommander). It was hoped that this duo would bring MW3 to market faster.
Ironically enough, Mechwarrior 3 was beset with even more time consuming delays than its predecessor. Microprose fell on hard times after Sid Meier left, and got bought out by Hasbro Interactive. This January, FASA Interactive got bought out by Microsoft. Somewhere along the line, the MW3 development got passed to Zipper Interactive. So now we have a title that bears the names and logos of five major gaming companies!