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BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Revenge is a real-time strategy game based in the FASA BattleTech universe. Developed by Westwood Studios for Mediagenic, and produced by Scott Berfield, it is a major milestone in the gaming industry in that the game serves as the prototype for what would later become Dune 2, the first real-time strategy title on the PC.
Essentially, The Crescent Hawk's Revenge was the turning point in PC strategy gaming, where a genre formerly dominated by turn-based titles would begin a massive shift towards real-time. Later Westwood titles, Dune 2 and Command & Conquer, would expand this newly-established real-time strategy gameplay.
BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Revenge used a real-time strategy engine that allowed players to pause the game every time orders were issued to a unit. Players could also speed up or slow down time, allowing them to play the game at any desired pace. The combat was modeled modestly well after classic BattleTech rules, much more so than the later Mech Commander, making The Crescent Hawk's Revenge one of the few BattleTech games to closely follow the rule set of the board game.
The main part of the game was a linear campaign of missions, where the player was presented with a tactical battle that could last anywhere from 5 minutes to 50 minutes. The first mission involves a simple battle between a Jenner mech and a Locust mech, serving as a tutorial and story kick-off. Later missions would give the player control of 4 mechs in their 'command lance' and 2 additional lances.
The mechs in the command lance were controlled individually, while mechs in the two other lances were controlled by issuing orders to the entire lance. This is another major strategy milestone, as The Crescent Hawk's Revenge had the concept of allowing the player to control both individual units and groups of units using the same control scheme.
The campaign is noted for its variety, where the player would be tasked with objectives ranging from defending a crashed dropship, to stalling enemy units for a set amount of time, to protecting a convoy that is attempting to load up with ammunition. Campaign missions sometimes had multiple endings and/or different story paths. Additionally, the outcome of a battle could often influence the next few missions, giving the game a sense of persistence that campaign modes in strategy titles often lack.
However, the campaign is also noted as being very difficult, with some early campaign choices making subsequent missions much harder without the player realizing it. While the game attempted to present the player with multiple ways to complete some missions, the methods often varied wildly in difficulty, and the player would not know this until after trying all options.
The story follows the protagonist of the previous Crescent Hawks game, Jason Youngblood, as he heads to the home base of the infamous Kell Hounds mercenary organization. The Hawks are attacked en-route, crashland, and spend a good portion of the early game protecting their crashed dropship and helping the Kell Hounds repel the Kurita attack.
After repelling the attack, the Crescent Hawks go on a long series of missions to rescue Jason's father from his Kurita captors, at which they are successful. Jason is reunited with his father, who has been missing since the beginning of the Crescent Hawk's Inception.
The game then has a major timeskip to the period of the clan invasion. The Crescent Hawks join the Kell Hounds and fight alongside them in repelling the clan invasion, often alongside their former Kurita enemies. The Crescent Hawks, Kell Hounds, and Kurita forces are successful in defending the Kurita capital, and the game ends with the Hawks earning the respect of their new Kurita allies.
Notably, there is also a story crossover between the Crescent Hawks and the original Mechwarrior game. In a short one-shot mission, The Crescent Hawks attempt to save the Blazing Aces, the mercenary group from the original Mechwarrior game, from a Clan attack. They are unsuccessful at saving the main character from Mechwarrior, Gideon Vandenburg, who dies during the attack. However, Gideon has secretly hidden most of the Ace's mechs from the clan, and the Blazing Aces survive despite their leader's death.