Hogs of War (PlayStation) review
"Pigs are fantastic animals. Where would we be without all the brilliant things they invented: sausages, ham, pork, bacon, and, if this game is to be believed, large quantities of weapons. Yep, the porkers are going to war, and it's up to you to help them. War has never tasted so good! "
Pigs are fantastic animals. Where would we be without all the brilliant things they invented: sausages, ham, pork, bacon, and, if this game is to be believed, large quantities of weapons. Yep, the porkers are going to war, and it's up to you to help them. War has never tasted so good!
First of all, yes, this game is just like worms. As in the more famous saga of animal conflict, you choose a small squad of humorously-named and wonderfully equipped fighters, and control them one at a time in a turn based battle, moving them around the arena before selecting one of many weapons to try and hurt the opposition. Of course, that description is a very long winded and fatuous way of saying that you try to blast the merry Christmas out of your enemies. On the surface, the only difference between this and Worms (other than the species involved of course) is that Hogs Of War is in full 3D. However, there is a far greater tactical depth to Hogs Of War.
In this game you choose your army of eight (although not all of these can be used in any one mission) bacon-factories out of a choice of six, based on the various forces in World War Two. The names for the armies are groan-inducing for their pig-related puns, borderline racist (Germany, for example, are represented by the Sow-A-Krauts), and all quirkily charming. Ultimately, though, the choice you make only really affects the game in the colour your team wears, and the phrases they cry out.
While it would appear that all we have here, then, is a Worms clone that gained an extra dimension somewhere along the way, spend an hour with the game and you'll see that it is actually (drum roll please) better than Worms! Controversial maybe, Worms is, after all, one of the best party games out there, but Hogs Of War is far more involving than what the wriggling invertebrates have to offer. First off, your various pigs have different careers - medics, for example. While this adds a little to the multi-player game, it really comes into it's own in the single player game. In Worms, the single player modes were, face it, pretty rubbish for the most part. While recent offerings have adjusted that, Hogs Of War gets it right first time. It even has a plot (albeit a weak one)! A new land has been discovered, and the six pig nations all want control of it. This is war. So you get a mission based game where you take on the other nations, all the time drawing ever closer to the final battle on the newly discovered island of Saustralasia. The game becomes more difficult, though, when it becomes apparent that there is a strict limit on the amount of hits your team can take - if three or more of your pigs are killed, the first pigs to die are gone forever. Although your team is big enough to contain 'substitutes', you really don't want to be losing members early on. The missions themselves are varied and enjoyable. One memorable example is a mission where your pigs parachute into a ruined farm with the intention of wiping out the two man (so to speak) enemy patrol in the surrounding hills. However, it turns out to be an ambush - the farm is surrounded by mines, and there are more enemies hiding in the hills. So while your brave pigs were planning on attacking the enemy, they find themselves cornered in the ruins, with enemy fire raining down on them from above. Better get your thinking cap on if you're planning on getting out of this with all your men in tact. The fact that this is a fairly early mission shows that the game has a fairly steep learning curve, and the later missions are suitably manic - the last mission took me nearly a week to complete! Thankfully help is at hand. Throughout the game you are awarded medals, which are used to promote your pigs. Although they all start out as grunts (like I said, the game is full of bad pig puns), they can follow careers - using the medic example again, giving one medal could turn a grunt to a medic, a further two makes him a surgeon and so on. Eventually, though, your pigs can ascend to Commando level, and then to Hero. Proficient in all the careers, and able to swim (more crucial than it sounds, believe me), you'll need to have at least five Heroes in your ranks if you want to capture Saustralasia.
Multi-player levels are just as much fun (if not better). Although there aren't many arenas on offer, they are all designed near-perfectly, and offer a lot of variety - one, for example, is set around a mountain with several gun turrets. Control of these turrets is key to success in the game, and leads to some fantastic moments - when playing this stage against a friend there was a remarkably tense moment when we both used jetpacks to place a soldier on top of the turret but ran out of time before we could get in and take control. This led to both of us using the rest of our army to try and shoot the other's man off the turret before control of that man was regained and all was pretty much over... There really is so much fun on offer in the multi-player levels: I still maintain that nothing is more satisfying than controlling a guided missile as it flies halfway across the map to strike your mate's best pig squarely in the rear end. The fact that the multi-player levels can be played against the computer means that there is enough fun on offer in Hogs Of War without the single-player game, so the fact that the designers made the single-player game as involving as they did shows that this is so much more than a lazy and rushed Worms clone.
Presentation wise, this game is a bit of a mixed bag. The FMV sequences are superb (right up there with Resident Evil and Silent Hill, although not quite up to Square's standards), although the in-game graphics are quite jagged and blocky. Similarly, the pig voices in the game are really quite amusing - all blatantly stereotypical of course (there may even be a 'Get orfff moi laaaand!!!' in there somewhere), but you haven't lived until you've heard a dying pig with a fake Russian accent say in a sad tone 'I feed on violence, and now I am full up' before exploding. Marvellous. Commentary is provided by washed up used-to-be-funny man Rik Mayall, who shows up in the multi-player game to utter words of 'encouragement' and condemnation to the player (a particular favourite being an insult to the navy blue team suggesting where a certain bodily function should be put....). However, the sound effects in the game seem to be a bit muffled - the explosions and gun fire all sound as if they are being listened to through a blanket or something. Still, the rough edges of the game's presentation are easily smoothed over with the game's fantastic gameplay.
Hogs Of War was dismissed as unoriginal and a blatant copy of Worms when it first came out, and this is, in all truthfulness, a completely accurate assessment. However, it really is a fantastic game anyway, and should hold a place in anyone's Playstation collection. It manages to give you a terrific multi-player game, while still delivering a cracking single player experience. What more could you want?
Community review by tomclark (March 06, 2004)
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