BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception, published by Infocom and created by Westwood Studios offers a unique mix of adventure, strategy and RPG game elements. Stamping the Infocom brand on the box was likely an attempt to lure adventure and RPG fans to the game as Infocom was owned by Activision by this time and a shell of what it once was during the text adventure days. But Crescent Hawk's Inception did offer a solid story based on a well-developed sci-fi universe, so there's that. The project lead, Michael Goldberg, went on to create two more BattleTech games and the designer, Joseph Hewitt, went on to create graphics for legendary games like Eye of the Beholder and several installations of Command and Conquer. So the game had a solid team behind it, for sure.
The first half of the game follows a typical RPG formula: take your character and find ways to increase your experience and skills while also collecting cash. It can feel a little tedious at times but does a very nice job of introducing the story, technology and world.
As was typical for many games of the era, BattleTech was a simple port from DOS that didn't utilize the power Amiga had to offer, so the graphics aren't exactly amazing. Nor is the sound. But, developers did take the time to add mouse controls. The game happens to be quite menu heavy at times, so having a mouse to click through those is quite nice. However, for moving your characters and mechs, they keyboard directional keys are much easier to navigate.
The boxed window system provides echoes of Wasteland: little bitty graphics in the corner to see people you're dealing with and a large text area to the right. The main difference here is the text area can go into a more Infocom-ish story mode from time to time. But then a large map view is also there for moving around from place to place, which should be very familiar territory for adventure fans.
That being said, the missions you are given and the overall atmosphere is pretty cool and the game is pretty fun. There is a really nice balance between advancing your character's skills as a
pilot but - bizarrely - also as a bit of a stock investor. You read that right. The shares you invest in can help you earn more cash (and later in the game some things cost a ton) or lose your shirt. Interesting game dynamic.
The entire game is rather enjoyable. It's only the ending which involves a brutally painful maze with, yet again, ridiculous puzzles you have to slog through. It's this part that will likely lose most folks these days.
But if you're into BattleTech, military science fiction, or frankly simply into RPGs, this is worth a spin.