During the early to mid-90s, a freeware game sparked a new genre of gaming: turn-based strategy. Scorched Earth had you control the turrets of a fleet of stationary tanks and battle another fleet of tanks. Fast forward towards the end of the century; Worms has established itself as a universally-loved classic, Square had released the critically-acclaimed spin off Final Fantasy Tactics, and turn-based strategy had been integrated into the action/adventure genre in the combat aspects of games such as Hybrid Heaven. To this day, the Worms series remains as popular as ever, which is why it saddens me that Hogs of War never got the sequel it deserved. It had been announced for April 2009, but the financial collapse of Infogrames laid waste to those plans.
Hogs of War, released June 8th 2000, is a story about an army of porky privates (always with the anthropomorphic characters) with one aim: to conquer the aptly swine-shaped isles of Saustralasia and claim its rich source of swill, ordered to do so by the grizzled pig-incarnation of Rik Mayall. Battling as one of England, France, Germany, USA, Japan, or Russia, the campaign mode is comprised of 26 hilarious and simultaneously frustrating missions. Hogs is unique in that you can assign each pig to a class with promotion points depending on whether you want to bazooka the enemy to kingdom come, utilise your tactical knowledge to spy on the opposition, or make use of a delectable array of explosives. The 3D element was a great idea, perhaps crudely executed graphically, but everything aside from jumping worked very well (my expectations would be too high to expect a pig to execute a picturesque leap across a river on its hind trotters anyway).
The best part of all this is the dry wit and over-the-top stereotypical comedy ladled across the game. The names of the Russian pigs, for example, all end in “ski”, and the plucky Brits have names typically associated with the comical representation of our armed forces, such as Ginger and Nobby. Rik Mayall adds his sarcastic two cents throughout the missions and in the cut-scene comedy skits, and this is accompanied by accents too daft to be considered offensive. I live in hope that, one day, someone with the technical nous picks up where Infogrames left off and creates a worthy sequel. Kickstarter, anyone?
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