BattleTech

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
BattleTech Game Poster Image
Lead destructive mechs in battle to conquer a space empire.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The main story has themes of honor, loyalty, duty, and doing what's right, even in difficult circumstances.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players can make some negative decisions for their character/squad, but ultimately, they and their allies are generally heroic characters working to save others and end a bloody coup.

Ease of Play

Point-and-click controls and turn-based gameplay give players plenty of time to examine the status of their mechs and come up with strategies and effective plans of attack. Still, there's a lot to manage during combat, including things like mech overheating, ammunition, specific types and location of damage, and even which direction your mechs face.

Violence

Combat between giant BattleMechs. Players use all sorts of sci-fi/futuristic weapons to injure and/or kill other pilots. Damage is shown on-screen in schematics, with players' mechs also showing damage, especially when limbs are lost. Despite the violence, it's mostly shown as sparks and explosions. Blood only shows up during artwork used for cutscenes between missions.

Sex
Language

Profanity, including "s--t," appears occasionally in dialogue.

Consumerism

Based on popular BattleTech tabletop game, which has spun off into role-playing games, video games, books, etc. Supports additional downloadable content, which will be available for purchase from the publisher.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that BattleTech is a turn-based sci-fi strategy game available for download on Windows and Mac. The game is based on the popular BattleTech series of tabletop and role-playing games and will feature additional downloadable content in the future. Players control a small squad (or "lance") of pilots in their large robotic vehicles (BattleMechs, or "mechs") as they battle against each other using a variety of futuristic weapons. The controls and management of the units are somewhat complex, with players needing to constantly monitor things like heat output, structural integrity, and even positioning and orientation of their units. While there's plenty of action -- complete with lots of huge explosions and massive destruction -- there's very little in the way of blood and no graphic violence. Some of the campaign story elements might be thematically heavy for young players, and there's occasional profanity in the dialogue, including "s--t."

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What's it about?

BATTLETECH is a tactical strategy game that reintroduces gamers to the futuristic fantasy world of deep-space empires, political intrigue, and, of course, giant robotic battles made famous in the BattleTech tabletop role-playing games. Players take the lead, commanding a mercenary squad of pilots and their massive mech machines. These teams drop right into war zones to take on enemy forces and fulfill contracts for the colonists and houses of the Reach, a territory in heavily contested outer space. You'll arm your squad, or "lance," with more than 30 different customizable mechs, and you can go head-to-head against friends, compete against opponents online, or jump into single-player skirmish mode to test your strategies against the AI. Gamers can also take part in an epic campaign story, where they'll find themselves embroiled in a violent civil war, with the fate of an entire empire and its people at stake.

Is it any good?

This incredible strategy game based around giant destructive robots uses deep tactical gameplay and amazing visuals to breathe new life into a popular franchise. There's so much more to BattleTech than just moving, punching, and shooting. Its gameplay makes you genuinely feel like you're in the pilot's seat of a robotic behemoth, in the thick of battle, with every decision you make critical to both victory and survival for you and your team. There's a lot of information to take in while sorting out your battlefield tactics. Should you let your weapons systems cool, or do you risk overheating, which leaves you vulnerable if your attack misses its mark? Perhaps you use your jump jets to crash down from above onto an unsuspecting enemy, but what if you blow out your mech's legs in the process? The game does a great job of giving you plenty of options to work with while balancing those choices with a healthy amount of risk.

BattleTech also does a good job of showing off environmental scale. While the camera is zoomed out during planning sessions, the game switches to a first-person view when you're firing ranged attacks and provides a tight close-up in hand-to-hand combat, which shows off the mechanical carnage and destruction. If there's one fault to be found, it's that the game's scale can work against it, especially during campaign missions when players must traverse the landscape to trigger certain key story events. It can slow down gameplay, and without knowing how much is left to do in a mission, you might accidentally leave a heavily damaged mech right in the line of fire when a new event is started. But while this can be frustrating, it does teach players to proceed with caution. Plus, replaying these missions means being better prepared the next time around. All in all, BattleTech is an amazing tactical experience that's a beautifully detailed return to all the things that made the franchise great.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. How does the fact that the combat is between large robots and clearly unrealistic affect the impact of the violence?

  • Discuss positive themes like honor, duty, and loyalty. What are some positive behaviors that can come from adopting these traits? Can they ever be taken too far and cause a negative impact?

  • What can strategy games like BattleTech teach about using strategic actions to overcome obstacles?

Game details

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