War & Pigs
War. War never changes, it's always the same thing. Everyone just wants more swill, never satisfied with the swill they have at home. Hogs of War see's you battling your way across the totally real and not made up continent of Saustrilasia, fighting all manner of blatantly evil enemy pigs in a variety of scenarios. Most of which are voiced by the late Rik Mayall. The gameplay is basically Worms but put into the third dimension. However where these two things differ is the scenarios and the customisation.
Unlike the randomly generated environments of the early worms games Hogs of War tasks you with defeating the enemy on a predetermined battlefield. About 30 of them. Each with all the benefits of a full 3D environment including land formations of different heights! A wide array of different combat situations awaits. The game also provides challenges with rivers that will drown the unwitting swine, minefield's that will reduce your hog to pork scratchings and the infamous edge of the level from which no pig has ever returned. Sometimes featuring alternative targets and medals to find too. The enemies can be parachuted in or lined up in formation as the level begins, some can turn into trees and hide on the minimap, conceal themselves in bunkers or even snipe from towers. There's also artillery, pillboxes, vehicles and MASH tents. This of course makes each level a new and interesting as most levels can play out various different ways depending on your choice of customisation on your hogs.
Each victory on the battlefield grants you a promotion point allowing you to push your hogs into specialisation, be it heavy weapons, engineering, espionage or medical with each one increasing the health points and the abilities as the upgrades increase until you reach the rank of Hero and can pretty much do anything.
Whilst lacking in the zany weapon variety in Worms, Hogs of War allows for rifles, rocket launchers, bazookas, mortars, various grenades, shotguns, dynamite, land mines, healing darts & grenades, knives, flame throwers, machine guns, Jetpacks, homing missiles, pistols, bayonets, bare trotters, cattle prods and if you're pressed for weaponry you've always got the chance to call in an airstrike or steal weapons from the enemy. Unfortunately most of these work in the exact same way they did in Worms, with the bazooka and mortar being just as reliable, look in a direction, guess a trajectory, guess the level of power to apply and hope your shell lands roughly in the right country as the hog you aimed at. The rifles too are a bit on the shaky side. Literally. The aiming on the rifles feels like it's taking place during an earthquake with the amount of shaking present. Other weapons are a blast to use, being strategic with the dynamite is endlessly fun, placing it at just the right angle can cause an enemy hog to be launched in the direction of water, making them swim to shore and hopefully ending their lives before so, or more sadistically, land in a minefield. It's all about the damage. Each hog has a health of 50-200 depending on rank, which can be depleted surprisingly fast. Hence medics.
The game allows you to choose from different nationalities of pigs with whichever ones you don't play as becoming your enemies, some being extremely stereotypical and vaguely racist, if you offend easily then this will wear you down quite quickly, whilst I don't approve of the portrayal of some of these, the less offensive ones can be amusing. I love a good chuckle at an over the top rendition of the British as someone who is British, but bare in mind this may not apply to you. This and the games difficulty is what holds the game back.
So death is an inevitability on the grounds of warfare, but death is also punished. Obviously you can't win if all your hogs die but scraping through the battle losing just one or two can come back to haunt you later on as well. I never learnt exactly how many times you can afford to lose a single hog before that hog is removed from your squad and replaced by a blank new slate with all the upgrades gone and lost forever, but for 30 levels with increasing difficulty it feels like whatever number of times it is, is too few. The difficulty curve is something you'd expect Tom Cruise to climb with suction cups, once you hit the latter half, unless you picked up all the additional promotion points available in the game and never lost a single hog from your squad then you'll be outclassed. Walking into combat against 5 paratroopers, winning isn't impossible, but fighting back against heavily armed, high health opponents with pin point accuracy does indeed increase the challenge.
The game also offers multiplayer which is fairly exciting but I personally found the multiplayer maps to be a bit disappointing.
I don't talk a lot about technical limitations but this is an oddity I noticed from my time with the game: it doesn't run on the PS3, the first few levels are fine but by level 5 the game is marred so badly by slow down that it becomes unplayable. Put it in an original Playstation and you're fine though. Maybe this is just the English release of the game, but it sure is strange.
For the single player experience Hogs of War has a fair bit to offer but it's far from perfect, still if you like hearing Rik Mayall do silly impressions as things go boom then you might as well give it a go.