In this game, you play a young man whose reputation has been soiled by an evil usurper. You have five years to build a force of giant robots and great pilots strong enough to attack your foe. Take on mercenary missions for any one of the 5 houses from the first generation world of FASA's BattleTech (Kurita, Davion, Steiner, Marik, Laio). The missions themselves take place from first-person perspective, in 3D-rendered worlds, where you pilot your robot, fighting other robots of the same ilk.
Gameplay, based on Dynamix's excellent physics model used in its early flight sims, is top-notch. Robots move convincingly, and the 3D polygonal graphics are exciting for its time. Add some slight roleplaying, team building, planetary intrigue, and goofy EGA pictures of non-player-characters and you've got a great classic that goes a long way toward immersing you in its world. The role playing was primarily textual - reading paragraphs, choosing between fight or run, and then being killed or moving on accordingly.
The game's main focus, robot fighting, is very exciting. Combat usually lasts under 10-20 minutes because the maps are small, the opponents are few (<5) and the objectives limited to >Mechwarrior 2 and 3), just with less dense graphics and more abbreviated gameplay.
Overall, Mechwarrior is a must-have for anyone even with a slight interest in giant robot games. It sets the standard for other games in the giant robots genre, and its role-playing elements are sorely missing from today's mech games where the focus has shifted to strategy and 3D graphics than plot and atmosphere. Two thumbs up!