A Mech is generally considered to be a large, piloted, mobile vehicle. They've appeared in many forms but generally hold three distinct attributes: They're big, they're tough, and they wield devastating firepower. While mechs are classically portrayed with bipedal or quadrupedal attributes, some mechs forego legs entirely for tank-treads or wheels, potentially offering a more stable platform for firing large-caliber weapons. This trend is rare and usually only exists in games which allow for the complete customization of the vehicle chassis. Mechs tend to wield any form of weapon imaginable, and are generally standardized with initial weapon load-outs to fall within one of three ranged categories:
Mechs designed around long-range combat tend to focus on using missiles and over-sized sniper rifles of both the energy and projectile varieties. They generally have less armor due to their combat profile but typically make up for it with devastating firepower.
Medium-range mechs usually engage with automatic weapons and, in some cases, will carry a backup melee weapon. They usually are balanced between weaponry and armor, so they can stay maneuverable while in combat.
Close-range mechs tend to carry devastating close-range weapons and several powerful melee implements as well. They are heavily armored behemoths and can often wade right into the thick of combat, coming out clean on the other end.
While Mechs are complete fantasy considering current technology, they still attempt to adhere to some kind of real-world physics. Giant robots that are more magical or unbelievable in nature are usually considered Super Robots.
Mechs have appeared in games for decades, and as the industry has evolved so too has the complexity of Mech designs and customization.
Arguably one of the most popular franchises featuring giant walking robots, Battletech features a vast roster of BattleMechs and assuredly made the term "Mech" popular among western fans unfamiliar with Japanese mecha. Mechs are classified into 4 distinct groups governed by their weight. The heaviest of which, are Assault Class, and can mass up to 100 tons and stand about 60 feet tall. These machines have been used for centuries to war across The Inner Sphere (what Battletech calls known space), 'Mechs are responsible for both the greatest victories and the most horrible atrocities in human history. MechWarrior 4, which was released in 2000 (not including expansions) is the most recent MechWarrior game to date. It infamously "borrowed" several designs from Macross, most notably the "Marauder" (a Zentraedi Glaug).
Sometimes abbreviated 'AC', the titular Armored Core mechs' designs vary wildly as the games allow players to customize them with a wide selection of parts and weapons. This level of customization allows players to produce unique mechs to deal with any potential situation. Each piece of equipment the player includes on the mech provides it with unique abilities and skills, producing combinations that cater to the player's particular combat style.
Called 'Gears' or 'Striders', the mechs of the Heavy Gear universe are armed with a variety of weapons including laser cannons, ballistic autoguns, missiles pods and melee implements. These can move very quickly about their desert landscape by changing the mech's locomotive configuration from a standard bipedal walking mode into a rolling mode, giving its feet high performance wheels, not unlike inline skates.
Celebrated for decades by fans the world over, Macross was one of the establishing sources of mechs; specifically the transfoming variety. These mechs are able to change between three forms: a plane, a bipedal robot, and a hybrid of the two. Each form has specific benefits and detriments, and the Macross franchise spawned many games based around the usage of these mechs.
Possibly the earliest source of Real Robots, the Gundam version comes in the form of the Mobile Suit. These can take any of several hundred forms, evolving from the two standard Mobile Suits of the original series (Gundam and Zaku) into huge weapons of mass destruction, lithe female designs, powerful monstrous forms, and even some with robotic, angelic wings.
Produced by Dynamix in 1994, Metaltech: Earthsiege sets players as the pilot of a HERCULAN (Humaniform-Emulation Roboticized Combat Unit with Leg-Articulated Navigation) war machine. These HERCs, which were essentially nothing more than mobile heavy weapons platforms, are used in a global battle against a menacing race of AIs called Cybrids, who, oddly enough, are currently in control of the planet.
One of the most realistic mech-games ever produced, Steel Battalion shipped with a massive 40 button controller with individual control sticks and foot pedals. Called Vertical Tanks (or VTs for short), the mechs of Steel Battalion are similar to those in Earthsiege, and have no articulated arms, instead sporting massive weapons ports.
Smaller than the average mech, Lost Planet's Vital Suits are not as massive as some mechs but they still pack enough heavy fire power to do some real damage. VS units are found through out the Lost Planet campaign, usually abandoned with a variety of weapons to choose from dotted around. The player customizes their VS by attaching weapons to mount points on the suit. There are a variety of VS's available, from small single weapon designs that serve only to mount a bigger gun to, to full on transforming battle tanks that fully enclose the pilot.
Zone of the Enders
In Zone of the Enders, players do battle in an Orbital Frame called Jehuty. This Orbital Frame is a highly agile humanoid robot piloted by a human in the cockpit, aided by the Frame's AI, ADA. Its weaponry consists of a beam sword, homing lasers and various sub-weapons, mostly projectiles. The player fights boss battles against other orbital frames, some with similar features, and others that are much, much larger.
These mechs appear in the Front Mission series. Pronounced "van–ser" the word is a portmanteau of the german words 'Wanderung' and 'Panzer', translating as walking tank or armor. It is named appropriately so since the design of the Mechs resemble huge, lumbering tanks with limbs. They can wield many weapons and equipment. It consist of five parts, the body, the legs, the left arm, the right arm, and occasionally the backpack, which is used to carry items, radar, or repairs to other Wanzers.
Patlabors (Patrol Labors) are law enforcement mecha from the Mobile Police Patlabor series of games and anime. In the fiction of the series, they were created for specialized police units to combat crimes committed with other types of civilian labors. They have two arms and legs, and a cockpit around the upper chest/neck area. Although the Patlabors have no built-in weapons, they are able to carry oversized versions of standard police firearms such as revolvers and riot shotguns. Though labors are able to walk on their own, the Patlabors are typically transported to a crime scene on the beds of special trailer trucks, for public safety reasons.
Iron Brigade (formerly Trenched)
Mechs in Iron brigade are called "Mobile Trenches". These "Trenches", like those in armored core, are extremely upgradeable. Items found on the battle field in the form for pickups can be used to upgrade or change the layout of your "Trench". These pickups include; weapons, armors, and items which can give you "Trench" a new ability. This upgradeability and customization allows you to change your "Trench" to suit different situations or playing styles.