" I never once tore a hair from my precious monkey head. "
Title: Heavy Gear: Second Edition by Dream Pod 9
Format: Sci-Fi tabletop
Reviewing Monkey: Mojo Jojo
The Hype: One of the world's biggest giant robot games gets a rehash for a new generation. Unquestionably one of the most complete games ever created, Heavy Gear is a 'bot warfare on a grand scale.
What This Monkey Thought...
Story and Drama: One of the biggest gripes about tabletop strategy games is the lack of depth the almost universally present. Hell, who can forget the complete lack of story involved in the actual tabletop rules for Heavy Gear's greatest competitor, Battletech. Contrastingly, one of the biggest pulls from role-playing is the fact that they almost never tell you how to visually represent your game on board. All that being said, Heavy Gear decides to do it's best to make everyone happy and just combine the two genres into one giant frickin' game. More than just a tabletop strategy game, present in the 2nd Edition rules is almost 50 pages of background, setup, plot, and world to sink your teeth into. It basically involves 2 human factions that are contrastingly trying to live next door to each other and blow the other to smithereens. And, while to be perfectly honest, it's not a story that'll be the next War and Peace, it is a solid enough setting to make sure you can do more than just mindlessly blow people up. 3.75 out of 5
Layout and Presentation: One of my biggest gripes about games in general is the fact that so many of them are laid out "artistically". They try and present it to you how they "think" you'll want to see it, or they'll try and be clever and dramatic in which sections they group together…it drives me nuts. Heavy Gear, on the other hand, is presented exactly the way it should be- logically, intelligently, and with not only a fantastic table of contents but also a comprehensive index. It's everything you want to know about the game presented so you can actually find it. I never once tore a hair from my precious monkey head in frustration and always flipped to exactly the page I was looking for. And, just in case that's not enough for you, there's also a plethora of killer artwork to keep you happy. Primarily done in an "anime" style, the book is so chock full of little black and white scenes that you'll swear there's a cartoon out there somewhere that this book is based on. Schweet. 5 out of 5
Playability: I have to be honest; at first I found the "Silhouette" system a bit confusing. The general mechanics, designed to accommodate both role-playing and tabletop gaming, are a little too arbitrary for their own good. Too often I would forget the order of addition (which stats plus which modifiers) to find target numbers and the layers of pluses and minuses can easily get to be confusing. That being said, once I got the hang of their logic, game play was smooth and transitionless. It's just as easy to run around with a knife in your teeth as it is to jump into a giant battle suite and blow a city apart, and you can go from one to the other without a hiccup. The system itself works on a "best single of dice rolled" concept and essentially works with modifiers on a single d6, so the math involved is painless and the play is nice and fast. 3.75 out of 5
Desired Content: As I said before, the biggest gripe about a given genre is usually the lack of resemblances to its compatriots, and Heavy Gear's all-in-one philosophy is an incredibly cool setup. Start with a single character, role played for depth and intimacy, add a war in varying scales (from 1 on 1 to squads going at it), include a back story, shake vigorously, and there you have it. It's just about everything I've ever wanted in a science fiction game: good role-playing, giant robots, and infantry all in one book! 5 out of 5
|All in all, Heavy Gear is definitely a game for the ages. You may, at times, have trouble keeping up…but hell, what game worth playing doesn't do the same thing? Definitely the kind of polish I love to see come across my desk.|
The Good: Great all in one game.
The Bad: Little confusing to learn.
The Overall Ugly: Some of the most fun you can have vertically.
What it's Worth: Market.