The rate the Battletech series of games is growing, it was only a matter of time before an enterprising company like Infocom brought out the computer game.
Subtitled "The Crescent Hawk's Inception", you play the 18-year-old Jason Youngblood. Fresh out of school and wet behind the ears, you have to prove yourself at the Mech Training Academy. A 'Mech' is, and I quote from the back of the box, "20 lethal tones of massive fighting power primed for battle". As a lowly grout, you're only allowed to polish the chrome and refill the air freshener in the cockpit. The aim of the game is to become a Mech warrior and defend your state in the eternal war which covers your planet.
The game is split into two distinct components. The first is pure RPG. You wander around the city, visiting your barracks, the lounge, Mech repair shots, armouries and, best of all, the Comstar building. Here you can trade your measly allowance into stocks, which, if you're lucky, will grow into a big enough nest egg so you can afford some decent weapons and battle training.
When you step into a Mech for a training exercise, Battletech becomes a strategy game. Combat rounds are divided into three movement and firing sections, but all you have to do is to indicate where you want to move and who you want to fire at. The computer does the rest.
A nice cosy little routine of alternating between the city and the academy builds up in the early stages of the game, but all this is abruptly shattered. To say any more would be to spoil the scenario, but suffice to say that everything changes very radically. You're likely to find yourself using the save facility almost immediately, because one of Battletech's strongest features is the way you can easily get drawn deep into the game.
This is as accessible as most shoot-'em-ups and avoids most of the pitfalls this sort of game falls into. Don't expect blinding graphics or aural excitement, but you'll probably spend more time on this than most games.