Some of you may think of Dune 2 as the mother of RTS games... in some ways, it's true. But not in all - there were RTS games long before the first concepts on Dune 2 were laid out. Crescent Hawks Revenge is one of them.
The game picks up shortly after the events of Battletech: Crescent Hawks Inception (if you haven't played that game, I suggest you do that now), with Jason Youngblood, now a member of the Crescent Hawks, beginning a search for the whereabouts of his father. Of course, things don't go quite as planned - but it's better I'll leave the exact what, who and where for you to discover.
The gameplay isn't quite what you may have gotten used to with any of the modern RTS games - in fact, you have barely any control over specific actions of your mechs. You can order them where to move, what to attack and modes of these actions (eg you can order the unit to fire at will, only in self-defense or not attack at all), but majority is left to the pilots' AI. Surprisingly, this solution is pretty effective. The game pauses when you click on the unit to give it commands, so you can take time planning your moves as you see fit.
That doesn't mean that the game is anywhere close to easy - in fact, you're thrown into deep water straight from the beginning (and literally!). Your very first mission puts you with a damaged Jenner (a light mech that packs a nice array of weapons) against a fully functional Locust (very light mech with thin armor). Sounds simple? You bet. Except, the Jenner's sensors are damaged which makes it hard for its pilot to hit a barn from ten meters. To make things worse, if you allow the Locust to get in two or so shots at your downed dropship it's game over!
That's not the easiest mission in the game, but a good representation of overall difficulty - in other words hard like a Battlemaster's armor! In addition, you can only save your game after you succesfully complete a mission. Because of that, some missions become really excruciating.
Should you, however, exhibit enough wits and sheer determination to make your way onward into the game, you'll quickly find quite a few reasons for liking it. First, the missions and their enviroments are pretty varied - there is very little repetitiveness if any at all - and second, you don't actually have to succeed in EVERY mission to beat the game (altough that does kind of help). Some of the scenarios will remain in your memory for a long - LONG - time, like the one where you stalk a Dragon mech (whe you'll play it you'll understand what do I mean).
Your actions in an earlier scenario may affect you in the future (eg if you let the Locust in the first mission to escape, it will return a few scenarios later - there is a number of such cases). There are times when you have to pass through a block of three or four missions without any repairs to your mechs - obviously, not the easiest thing to do.
The graphics in cutscenes are drawn quite well and in a 256-color palette, but sadly in the actual game they are pretty ugly and limited to sixteen color VGA palette.
Music is pretty scarce - does not appear during the missions, in fact, only during the cutscenes - but when it comes on you can expect it to be nothing short of awesome (check out yourself, the MP3's should already be in the Music section). SFX are limited to a few basic weapon sounds (annoying blips that might have as well come from the PC Speaker) and some digitized speech samples. While nowadays games that don't have digitized speech are extremely rare, back in 1991 it was quite an achievement.
While it may not fit everybody's tastes, Crescent Hawks Revenge is - and will forever remain - a solid piece of gaming entertainment.
It's almost a crime to be unfamiliar with this awesome game, so why not download and play it now - especially when so much fun and challenge fits on the space of a single floppy disk.
Note about the savegame file: As it was not possible to remove the savegames in a normal way, I have changed save names to POSITION ERASED and replaced all savegame data with zeros. If you try to load any of them, game will show you the story just after the first mission and then fail the second mission automatically. If you try to restart the game from the menu that appears then, the game will crash.
Start the new game from main menu and it will start up correctly.
When you overwrite the save slots with your own saved games, the game will load them without any problems.