MechWarrior 3 was the first MechWarrior game developed by Zipper Interactive. It featured an all new 3D accelerated graphics engine. The game contained over 20 missions, with access to 18 different 'Mechs.
The story opens with a briefing of the Inner Sphere commander’s daring plan to eliminate the most hostile and vicious clan in the Inner Sphere: Clan Smoke Jaguar. The mission, codenamed Damocles, is to attack key Smoke Jaguar installations on the planet Tranquil, including a 'Mech Factory, a starport and a geothermal power plant, and to eliminate Smoke Jaguar forces and leadership on planet.
Two dropships are deployed to release the multi-lance BattleMech force to destroy these installations. However, while in orbit above Tranquil, a dropship is attacked by massive naval laser fire. The Blackhammer is shot down and the remaining dropship, The Eclipse, retreats to safety. The player (referred to only as “lance leader”) had already been deployed from the Blackhammer slightly off target before it was shot down. The Mobile Field Bases, that had been deployed with the player, land on target and the player meets up with them quickly.
It is quickly apparent that the original plan is no longer viable: less than half of the 'Mechs are deployed, with the rest either shot down during the drop or still on-board the Eclipse. Despite this setback, the player must continue with his objectives, and hope to link up with those forces that survived, and eventually, secure a landing zone so the dropship can return to evacuate them.
'Mechs of Mechwarrior 3
Throughout the campaign you are able to command 18 different mechs:
- Annihilator: The Annihilator is a formidable, heavily armoured, short- to medium-range powerhouse. One noted weakness is that many of its various configurations rely too heavily on ammunition-based weapons, thereby making them harder to support in the field. Like an aircraft carrier or battleship, these large assault mechs require smaller mechs (destroyers) to protect their vulnerable backs while they unleash massive attacks against enemy units.
- Avatar: Heavily armed and armoured, the new OmniMech can stand toe to toe with many Clan and most Inner Sphere designs of similar size.
- Blackhawk: The Black Hawk is capable of many tasks, but excels at none. Though versatile, powerful and manoeuvrable, the Black Hawk cannot match the power of heavier 'Mechs or the manoeuvrability of lighter Mechs. Its lack of torso twist capability and extremely sluggish turn rate make it easy prey for faster, more agile mechs.
- Bush wacker: The Bushwacker has good agility and armour protection for a mech it's size, it is to be respected when encountered on the battlefield.
- Cauldron-Born: Opponents named it after the unstoppable zombies of Irish myth, because of its ability to sustain massive damage and still remain operational.
- Champion: The Champion's main assets are its speed and weapons payload - despite being as fast as many medium 'Mechs, the Champion mounts an impressive weapons selection.
- Daishi: No 'Mech is bigger or deadlier. Though the left shoulder mount augments the firepower, it is the bundles of lasers, autocannon and other arm pod weapons that make the Daishi most fearsome.
- Firefly: a scout 'Mech, utilizing its fair speed and jump capability to discover enemies and provide targeting information for artillery. As a recon design, the Firefly carries few weapons, though it has enough to protect itself if discovered performing its mission.
- Madcat: Capable of laying down a punishing barrage of weapons fire at any range, the Mad Cat has become all but synonymous with the Clans and their assault against the Inner Sphere. With decent agility for a mech of it's size, and the ability to carry powerful weapons, the Mad Cat is a well balanced and effective design.
- Orion: It's poor agility makes it an inferior choice, especially in tough internet battles. Like the "Champion", the Orion find itself on the losing end in it's weight class, with the Clan "Mad Cat" being a much better option. The Orion also suffers from being ugly, and as a result it is not popular with pilots.
- Owens: This Extremely fast Mech is a formidable recon unit, but leaves little space for weaponry; on its own, the Owens lacks combat effectiveness. Like the Firefly, the Owens can be an effective harasser mech, but is too weak in too many areas to make a very effective fighter.
- Puma: With exceptional ferocity for a light 'Mech, this design was code-named "Puma" when first encountered in the Inner Sphere. Though fast enough for scouting missions, the Puma can stand up to many Inner Sphere medium 'Mechs.
- Shadow Cat: Though normally a recon unit, the Shadow Cat is deadly in any capacity. High speed and jump capability, combined with speed boosting technology, make this OmniMech extremely maneuverable. In addition, it mounts extensive armor protection and quite a bit of advanced Clan weaponry, making the Shadow Cat an all-around solid design.
- Strider: By trying to do too many things, it stretches itself too thin: the Strider is truly a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none. With customization and a skilled pilot, however, the Strider can be transformed into a true battlefield terror. Like a mean little dog, chewing at your ankle, it goes unnoticed until your leg falls off, at which time the Strider streaks away, in search of other victims.
- Sunder: The Sunder is probably the most effective of the Assault mechs due to it's well balanced and high performance design.
- Supernova: Mounted on a heavily armored chassis is a blistering array of extended-range lasers, fully capable of destroying an Inner Sphere 'Mech before it can get close enough to fire its weapons.
- Thor: The Thor's main advantages over other heavy designs are its mobility and its devastating short- and medium-range capability.
- Vulture: Many MechWarriors have remarked at the sense of foreboding they felt upon looking up to see a Vulture perched on a ridge, firing its long-range missile racks into the battle below. Should the Vulture injure an enemy at long range, it can use its laser weapons to finish off its foe. With good speed, agility, and torso twist capability, the Vulture is a well balanced and effective mech.
MechWarrior 3: Pirate's Moon is the expansion pack for MechWarrior 3, with an all new storyline and 20 new missions, plus six new 'Mechs and a number of weapons. The player has the choice to play as either a pirate (attacker) or as 'Lance Leader' (defender) for the Eridani Light Horse. Unlike in the original MechWarrior 3, your character in the expansion has a voice and speaking lines. This story is essentially what happens to your character and lancemates after the events of Mechwarrior 3.
The additional Mechs are listed here :
- Clint IIC
- Warhawk (Known in the Inner Sphere as Masakari)
- Stormcrow (Known in the Inner Sphere as Ryoken)
- Clan Elemental battle armour
Both MechWarrior 3’s
and Pirate’s Moon’s
online play was praised for its detail and longevity, but it was also notorious for lag
. Even on the best connection an opponent’s visible position on the screen did not match their real location, and players had to fire ahead of their opponents in order to make hits. Depending on latency, velocity and current weapon, players may have had to shoot up to six “mech lengths” ahead of their targets, and this distance could change during gameplay.
In addition, many weapons also had projectile speed to compensate for, requiring even wider shots. Skill in netplay was not just learning how to aim weapons, but how to compensate for the ever-changing lag, which made it very difficult for new players to advance. Though the games offer a wide range of weapons for use in the single-player campaign, many were thus not usable online. Distance fighting proved to be practically impossible because lag was too difficult to compensate for at great distances.