MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat
Quite possibly the greatest mecha simulator ever created. Released in 1996 by Activision for MS-DOS and (apparently later) for Windows.
MechWarrior 2 was a great leap forward from the original MechWarrior game: The game engine new had cool new features like textured polygons (fully 3D environment and enemies, sprites only used for small terrain features and some weapons! This when everyone else was doing "2.5d" games like Doom...), great sound effects and speech from on-board computer (lots and lots of talk by the standards of the day, I hear) and the graphics options also included ridiculous resolutions like 1024x768. ("Mechwarrior 2 supports SVGA graphics that is up to today's standards, and a machine that could run it at maximum detail level has not even been made yet." - from Pelit review)
MW2 was the first of the series to feature The Clans. The game was about the little conflict, or shall we say, running contest between Clan Wolf and Clan Jade Falcon in 3057; the epic story - and I mean epic - about the clan invasion is, indeed, great stuff to read. The latter parts clearly didn't have as good story, and besides, MW3 and MW4 return the player to the Sphere ranks...
And, to crown this all, the great music. The CD sound track is legendary, and the MIDI snippets in menus are pretty nice, too... One of my favorite game soundtracks ever, and clearly the best music in any of the BattleTech computer games. This is, truly, the Clan music. (I mean, bagpipes in MechCommander? Ridiculous Inner Sphere propaganda...) Sound effects were made by Soundelux.
The game was severely delayed; but, as I later found out (I found this game from a bargain bin), it clearly was worth the wait.
Everything was exactly as Battletechy as was humanely possible. the battlemechs ran around and blew each other up, just like in the strategy games. Even dropship landing sequences looked like the real things. The levels also had a lot of "unnecessary" details, like cars in cities... and one city level even had Activision office building in it =)
There were a couple of annoyances: Destroying a BattleMech's leg didn't make it fall (falling over was literally impossible), and some people complained about the fact that "physical" attacks (such as kicking, shoving, punching) weren't possible - but, then again, the Clans considered them dishonorable.
The game had also a netplay option (released later under the name Netmech).
The Windows version asks "Embrace Cowardice?" when quitting... how could I?
('Mech list to come!)
The game was followed up by MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries and Mechwarrior 2: Ghost Bear's Legacy, regrettably I haven't played these. Activision's Battletech license ended there; After a loooong dry period came MechWarrior 3...