A World Gone Sane: Strategy and Story In Hostile Waters

I'm not taking the minutes again, Oliver. I didn't declare war on the world to take bloody minutes.

Strategy games seldom come with a premise more creative than “what if aliens?”, or “what if robots?”, or perhaps “what if alien robots?”, and while this often works – their appeal tends to come from systems and details instead – it does leave a gap for more imaginative fair. Take, for example, Hostile Waters, Rage Games’ 2001 release inspired by the 1988 naval/aerial action strategy hybrid Carrier Command.

The central premise of Hostile Waters’ setting is essentially this: What if the Occupy movement had won?

Set in the distressingly near future of 2032, it immediately rejects the usual “near future” dystopia in favour of the precise opposite – an honest to god utopia. The people of the world rose up to overthrow the “old guard” – the greedy, megalomaniac bankers, politicians, and warmongers who held the world in check for so long – and via the wonders of nanotechnology, established a universally prosperous global society, free of poverty, disease, and war. It is, as narrator Tom Baker puts it, “a world gone sane”. The year that they carried out this revolution? 2012. Chronology fans might have already noticed something spooky about all this.

In the bright nano-future, there will still be business formal. Utopia, my arse.

Of course, the game proper kicks off when the old guard, known as the Cabal, reappear, launching missiles at an unsuspecting world, demanding to be put back in charge. The world, as a whole, has forgotten war, so the few who remember it resurrect a unique carrier to invade the island chain the Cabal are hiding in, shove their collective face in, and restore the world to peace and harmony.

That, of course, is where you come in. As the disembodied pilot/commander, your essence was captured on death in a “soul chip”, and is now plugged into the carrier, which also doubles as a vehicle manufactory, allowing you to build and direct a fleet of smaller vehicles to gather resources and creatively ventilate the enemy. Additional soul chips, imbued with the personality and skills of other dead soldiers, can grant independence to any vehicle, each of which you can outfit as you like, and commandeer at any time.

Hostile Waters thusly used its setting to justify its central gameplay contrivance, but it achieved a lot more than that. It established meaningful stakes, exploiting real world concepts with almost alarming prescience. Rare it is that a strategy game has a more compelling motivation than “defeat everyone because you want to win”, but here it’s made clear exactly what the enemy are. They’re not just pointlessly threatening to blow up the world, they’re something far more insidious.

Behold, the world's first non-infuriating escort mission. Will it catch on? No. No, of course it didn't.

They’re a group that’s seen how happy and productive and equitable the world is without them, who have been proven beyond doubt to be absolutely bad for everyone but themselves, and they’re still determined to force themselves back into power, just because they feel entitled to it. They’re a human, social force personified, their evil proven not by threats of their presence, but by what the world has become in their absence. It’s remarkably effective. Argue all you like about how realistic the setting is, but in the timeline of Hostile Waters it is beyond doubt that these people are evil and must be stopped.

The game achieves all of this with very economical storytelling. We never really see much of the world, busy as we are fighting to protect it. There’s no need to show the Eiffel tower or Great Pyramid, nor to have the villain light a cigar with the first folio while jumping up and down on the last ebola vaccine. Instead, our first glimpse of utopia comes as our commanders, Walker and Church, bitterly reminisce about the war – the last war ever – and talk with horror and self-loathing about what it means to kill someone, even as they swear to do it again. They’re not only our commanders, they’re our link to the world – the main humans in the game, seeing as everyone else is a soul chip. The player, unnamed and literally bodiless as it is, is not the protagonist at all.

There are several ways to assault a base, which the enemy don't rebuild. It's a bit like the enemy are defending a Command and Conquer base while the player's economy is closer to that of Sacrifice or Total Annihilation. Anyway, any confusion can be cleared up with enough rocket strafing.

If the Cabal are the low animal brute we used to be, Walker and Church are the struggle and hope to grow beyond them, and the challenge of their reappearance is not only military; it’s a personal, dark reflection of their own flaws. I’d be remiss if I didn’t link to the defining moment of the game. It’s through these characters that the game is elevated beyond its basic form of “gather and fight”. Their low-key characterisation, courtesy of none other than Warren Ellis, makes the fight more personal and important than any of Starcraft’s imperious rumblings (entertaining though they are) or the superficial cultural touchstones of Total War.

Finally, and least pretentiously of all… gosh, it’s fun to blow stuff up yourself. I guess I’m more Cabal than I’d like. Because here’s the thing about most strategy games: you don’t do anything.

Hovering over the villains, cloaked, cleverly reconnoitring and not, for example, giggling and wishing soul chips could drop bags of poo.

There comes a point in any job where I’m tired of researching things or solving problems. That’s when I want to take a break with some filing or washing up, something tangible. To get my hands dirty. And let’s face it, strategy games are essentially jobs. After a while, they get distant and repetitive, and you lose sight of what they’re about. Hostile Waters understood that. You only have enough soul chips to drive a few vehicles, so you’re encouraged to get stuck in everywhere. Coupled with the game’s mix-and-match attitude to weapons and equipment (you can attach any weapon to any combat vehicle, and finding your own combinations of equipment, chassis, and pilot is about fun as much as efficiency. Want a helicopter with a flamethrower? Do it. A laser tank? It’s yours. An EMP cannon on a cloaked chopper? What the hell!), there’s always something to dig into.

Charging into the fray alongside your lackeys connects you with them in a way that’s quite neglected in most games today. That personal relationship is often missing, as the fashion now is to turn every unit into a sack of stats to tediously pick through in an attempt to foster individuation. More often than not, this has the opposite effect. Units become sources of micromanagement and each fight becomes needlessly complex busywork, inducing apathy and resentment.

Eat world peace, suckers! They may not look much in stills, but the explosions and weapon effects never stop satisfying.

Hostile Waters has none of that. Each soldier has a personality and preferred vehicles and weapons, and crucially, they’re right there next to you, reporting sightings, covering your back, complimenting and swearing and snarking with each other. You see nothing unless they do, and you’ll soon learn who they are. Patton’s all about the artillery. Borden’s an all-rounder but loves her hovercraft. Sinclair is a liability, but stick him in a turret with a laser, and enemy aircraft will become convenient resource deliveries for your coffers.

I’m hesitant to reveal more about the troops, because I use them in different roles to the strategy guides, and I don’t know whether that’s because the guides are wrong, or because Korolev once swooped in with a glorious rocket barrage to save my neck and I’ve overvalued her as a pilot ever since. Though you’ll hear it repeat ad infinitum, their vocal feedback is helpful, and while losing a vehicle costs resources, any “dead” troop can simply be loaded into another soul chip immediately, reducing the frustration and reluctance to risk a useful character that any Jagged Alliance veteran will recognise.

I don't know what that yellow thing is. Some kind of alien superweapon, I think?

As is oddly common in games, the end of the first act sees an enemy base bloom into a bionic … thing, kicking off a sudden lurch into an alien invasion story. Unusually, this twist works, raising the stakes thematically and developing your relationship with the villains. It works on a systemic level as well, by increasing the mission variety. Some missions lend themselves to slow scouting and probing followed by massed assaults, but the game is at its best during the alien-heavy missions where you struggle with constant pressure to hold and advance a front line, choosing how much of the logistics and the fighting and commando raids to entrust to your troops, and how much to do yourself.

Hostile Waters doesn’t let you get bored. While the graphics are now lo-fi and the environments repetitive, its variety of toys and playstyles means there’s always something else you could be doing. Let Ransom handle that defence and take a little downtime to manually hoover up resources. Sneak behind enemy lines to blow up radar towers. Systematically obliterate the whole enemy island, or have your troops swarm the main base while you fly in low and airlift the objective out.

It is unique among strategy games for its imaginative plot and sociopolitical theme, but it sacrifices nothing to achieve this, and remains a highly playable, criminally overlooked example of game design.

Hostile Waters is available on both GOG and Steam.

53 Comments

  1. Awesomeclaw says:

    I think there’s something special about an RTS which lets you jump in to the action – Battlezone 2, Urban Assault, and Hostile Waters are some of my favourite strategy games. I guess I just enjoy shooting things myself rather than telling someone else to do it for me :-P.

  2. Premium User Badge

    INCSlayer says:

    My Name Is Ransom!

    I use the main Theme from Hostile Waters as my Ringtone.

  3. TΛPETRVE says:

    Had good times with Hostile Waters back in the day. Nicely enough the game is regularly offered for free over at http://www.indiegala.com. Usually their giveaways are complete and utter shite, but this one is definitely worth a grab.

  4. geldonyetich says:

    As the disembodied pilot/commander, your essence was captured on death in a “soul chip”, and is now plugged into the carrier

    Just a nitpick here: I think it’s implied that you, the commander, are not on a soul chip. Just the soldiers you command. That’s the reason why, if you pilot the bomber you get at the end of the game, you have to leave the carrier to do it (it doesn’t have a soul chip slot). Otherwise, you say back at the carrier, where it’s safe.

    That said, yeah, the story of Hostile Waters was unusually good. A little pretentious, maybe, but good. It helps that they hired an established writer (Warren Ellis in case anybody missed that from the article) to write their game’s plot.

    • Sin Vega says:

      My interpretation was that the player/commander is fused with the carrier – they talk about the other carrier in similar terms, and on the unit build screen, if you hold the right mouse button and scroll, you can look around the commander’s “chair” and see that you’re completely sealed in with the engine.

      That said, I may have got it wrong, or it might contradict itself a little.

    • DrakusXVIII says:

      It is stated in one of cutscenes that commander must be a real living human, not a chip
      And he’s in the carrier all the time- it’s possible to switch between vechicles smoothly, so he can’t be piloting only one at a time,
      he sits inside the carrier just controlling ‘drones’ remotely(when switching between vechicles and having one destroyed screen becomes like white noise on tv-sth like signal lost,so it’s definitely ‘RC’)

  5. Jekadu says:

    Hostile Waters is a fantastic game. The fact that they manage to make the twist at the end of the first act not only work but make it an intrinsic part of what makes the story and game so good is amazing.

  6. TheAngriestHobo says:

    How exactly does nanotechnology eradicate war?

    • ThornEel says:

      By killing everyone.
      For this kind of world to happen? They simply put Joy in tap water.

    • Premium User Badge

      Phasma Felis says:

      Nanotech doesn’t automatically fix scarcity, but it is an important part of the toolkit for stopping scarcity, and scarcity is the reason most wars happen. The official reasons may vary, of course, but ultimately it’s difficult to convince happy, satisfied people to fight and die.

      (Someone will say that “defense” is just as common a casus belli, but ultimately the people you’re defending against were probably originally motivated by scarcity.)

  7. bouchacha says:

    Holy crap I was JUST thinking about the story from this game. I love the game itself, but the story has remained me with me over the decade as the perfect example of cartoony claptrap. The minutae and minute by minute writing are fantastic and excellent, but the overall theme is absurd. Warren Ellis essentially wrote out a future where communism in the 19th century sense (I don’t use this word pejoratively in the least) finally succeeded and you end up with more or less a stateless society where scarcity has been eradicated completely through the use of nanotechnology. The second half of the “Remembrance” video posted above sums up the utopia really well.

    So why would anyone in their right mind fight against this heaven on earth? Because they’re mean! The few lines spoken from the Cabal about their motivations don’t even pass the smell test. One member of the Cabal is upset that other people are giving stuff away and not making a profit anymore, even though we established that scarcity has been completely eradicated and gold can be freely made from dirt. This is despite having even the Cabal’s standard of living unquestionably be far superior than under the old order.

    It made me question Warren Ellis’ intelligence. While he can fully imagine what a utopia could look like and absolutely make it desirable, when you ask him why we haven’t yet achieved it in reality he shrugs his shoulders and basically says “I don’t know man, maybe it’s because the people in power are not nice?” That’s like the definition of a cartoon villain, complete with mustache twirling.

    • ThornEel says:

      That’s too bad. This game sounds absolutely great, but this sort of crap is exactly the kind of detail that would break it to me.

      • Premium User Badge

        tigerfort says:

        The idea that some people get upset when they’re not in charge is totally foreign to you? Seriously? How can I get to your planet, it sounds lovely?

        • Rorschach617 says:

          Maybe ThornEel is the guy in charge on his planet? :)

          But that’s the moral of Hostile Waters. Most people, if you give them (no choice) a utopia where everything is great, they will just get on with their lives.
          But there will always be some people who think that everyone else is enjoying themselves in the wrong way, and if only they were in charge…

          • ThornEel says:

            Oh God no! I an neither competent nor insane enough to even think about ruling this bugged mess of a world.

            The problem is not that Bad Guys want to Rule The World!
            The problem is that magically fixing scarcity won’t magically make the entire world peaceful. Former rulers wanting to Rule The World! back the only villains? Them being united in the first place? How does that work? George W. Bush, Saddam Hussein (game is from 2001) and Vladimir Putin suddenly being the best friends because those peasants need to be curbed?
            I’m the first one to kindly ask anyone dumb enough to propagate the Religion=War meme to please stop polluting humankind’s gene pool; but not all conflicts are driven, or solely driven by resource scarcity. Ideological conflicts exist, and eliminating resource scarcity won’t simply make them all go away. Some people will want to hurt me because I’m not sharing their ideology or way of life, or because they decided that mine is hostile to them.
            And then there are the people who just want to have power over others, or simply like being violent jerks. Those won’t magically go away either.

            And then there is this small detail about XIXe Century communism to be proven unsustainable outside of tiny self-selected, highly motivated communities. It simply doesn’t scale up.

            Then there is another problem with post-resource-scarcity: it’s very, very easy to make weapons. Think 3D-printed assault rifles are bad? You’ve seen nothing yet.
            So for thing to work, you need both some serious cultural checks, and an extensive police/judicial system. Which implies the existence of a developed government, and people in charge (unless the reins were given to expert systems and other AIs, but that’s a whole other can of worms.) There are so many things that can go wrong with it, having such an utopia magically fall in place is wishful thinking at best.
            And then resources are the only form of scarcity. Manpower is another (rule of thumb: you still need people to take care of people, if nothing else, and for the look of it, so is R&D here), energy is another: do you put it into space colonisation? Blowing cyclones out? Mantle-boring? And those are simply the nice, benign examples I can think of right now; reality is always messier.

            The problem here is not the existence of utter jerks like the Cabal. The problem is that they are their United Jerkforce Brotherhood are the only bad guys.
            (In fact, after watching the cutscene linked below, it’s even worse than I thought. the Modern Warfare series feel almost believable in comparison.)

            So I don’t know what world you people are from, but be sure to never cross Earth’s path. We are not nearly as nice as you.

          • Rorschach617 says:

            Ideologies do have an effect, but, in my opinion, religions and beliefs are more usually hijacked to promote conflicts caused by scarcity.

          • Rorschach617 says:

            Of course, that does not remove the possibility that the old nation states have been surplanted by a new “benign dictatorship”, one that provides all these benefits (free food, free goods, free entertainment) with the one caveat that if you want do not acquiesce to this “Golden Age”, well, there are islands where you can be sent to.

    • Premium User Badge

      tigerfort says:

      You are aware it’s well-established that a significant number of people actually prefer relative wealth to absolute? That is, if you give people a choice between:

      a) making £100,000 per year, in a society where everyone has that much
      or
      b) making £75,000 per year when everyone else gets £50,000
      (with a pound having equal value in the two scenarios)

      then you’ll get a large chunk of the population chosing (b), even though they’re worse off that way themselves. Because some people just can’t get over wanting to be the monkey with the most bananas.

      • Captain Deadlock says:

        So well-established you have a horde of evidence-based sources for these assertions easily cut and pasted. Oh wait, no you don’t.

        • Premium User Badge

          tigerfort says:

          Here, have a research paper from Science.

          • cpt_freakout says:

            Yeah, because these studies don’t become dated by the minute (and the place they’re based on).

        • Premium User Badge

          tigerfort says:

          Or if you can’t read that (I think it’ll be paywalled), how about this summary?

        • Lohengramm says:

          I like your hostile assumption that evidence doesn’t exist before even giving someone the chance to provide it. Well done!!

          • Herring says:

            He has an opposing viewpoint. If there were facts to refute that viewpoint, he obviously wouldn’t hold it. Therefore those facts don’t exist.

            QED.

            :)

      • bouchacha says:

        I am aware of that phenomenon and that it is well-established, but I don’t believe that’s necessarily an accurate representation of the motivations of the Cabal. Just watch of the Cabal talking to each other and see if you can take them seriously. I couldn’t, especially in the context of a society that truly has fully eradicated scarcity.

        • golochuk says:

          I have a hard time believing these people could convince existing leaders to trust them with any authority in the first place. They’ve all got “BACK STAB” tattooed on their knuckles.

          • Rorschach617 says:

            Thing is, thats how leaders get to be leaders in the first place. All the dictators and coup leaders were loyal little soldiers until they got their chance to be the boss.
            Heck, even in democratic societies, name ANY political party, and you can bet that behind the charismatic, son-of-the-people leader there is a crowd of functionaries looking to make the next step up.
            Except in Britain, where the Prime Minister is neither charismatic or a son-of-the-people. He still has George Osborne and Boris Johnson sharpening their knives :)

      • WJonathan says:

        Certainly envy is still one of the seven deadly sins, but I can’t help wondering how many of those choosing the lower income aren’t reasonably cynical towards the question itself. Let’s never forget that any nation’s paper currency is inherently worthless unless the wealth of the nation itself can somehow back it up. By suddenly offering to double everyone’s income, I’d be suspicious of the generosity of my government. A hundred thousand of many South American currencies will barely buy you food and shelter; their citizens aren’t any “wealthier” with with more money.

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        That’s a different question, though, about the value of *money*. Money derives it’s value from artificial scarcity – if you suddenly just gave everyone loads of money, without changing everything else in the world, then you would devalue the money. Having £100,000 when everyone has £100,000 is, basically, the same as having £0.

        • LexW1 says:

          That’s semantics on your part. The money is there just to show a value of wealth – if you want to use a different measuring unit, go ahead, the psychology is the same – a significant fraction of people would rather have 20 apples and everyone else have 15 (or less!), even if everyone could have 30 apples if they worked together.

  8. Jubaal says:

    Hostile Waters still remains my favourite game of all time. I wish they had released a skirmish mode or multiplayer/co-op option too.

    I still live in hope that someone will do a Kickstarter for Hostile Waters 2….

    I drive tanks son!

    • LexW1 says:

      It’s definitely in my top 10, I remember it knocked Carrier Command out and completely and I didn’t think that would happen. It’s too beautiful, daring and elegant to be repeated, though, I suspect. So many parts of it are just things no major dev would dare attempt, and no indie dev would think of.

    • AlexHeartnet says:

      A multiplayer patch was made for the game, but never went public. It was completed on the same day as Interplay collapsed as a company, and apparently the rights to it or something got lost.

  9. drucifer says:

    I won a copy signed by the author back when it came out. I honestly didn’t realise it was signed until about 3 months later.

  10. Ancient Evil says:

    I actually laughed out loud when the author posed the question: “What if the Occupy movement had won?”, and the very next sentence implied the answer: “Utopia!”

    Don’t take it personally, though, I don’t begrudge you your beliefs. In fact your starry-eyed idealism would even be admirable if one could set aside how sad that story always ends.

    • Sin Vega says:

      There’s nothing about my beliefs in this article.

      • Ancient Evil says:

        Not in the vast majority of it, no. It’s first and foremost a well-written piece about an interesting video game. But I’m not sure how to read the second and third paragraphs without coming away with a certain implicit perspective. Perhaps it was unintentional.

        I realize my post came across as condescending, but my interpretation of those two paragraphs came across to me, subjectively, as rather absurd so I impulsively fired off my comment. Maybe I read it wrong. In any case I probably should have kept it to myself.

        • Sin Vega says:

          No harm done, and you weren’t rude or anything. I’d much rather people misunderstand each other a bit and express it reasonably than that they said nothing.

        • LexW1 says:

          I’m not Sin and he’s kinder than I, but yes, that’s extremely condescending. Thankfully you realize that which is better than most people manage.

          More to the point, Sin was using a very short shorthand. The forces that won clearly weren’t Occupy, who were a simple-minded lot, but people with ideals of fairness and equality, who don’t think someone’s right to have a golden palace comes before someone’s right to eat or have a safe home, just because the current law (written largely by the inhabitants of golden palaces) lets the guy have the golden palace. They were also clearly ready to fight, and did fight, and won.

          • Will the wtf says:

            Yeah. I want to add that there is a big difference between naive overambitious idealism and apathetic pragmatism. Progress has got made. I don’t think that doomed 1 step forward, 2 backward disaster is the net affect of all optimistic efforts. These movements can be cautious and self-critical aswell as urgent and serious about making a change. The greek development of hellenic, free speech public forum based democracy. Even if it was still exclusive to women and most people, it was the idea in its primacy, it was opening doors, heading that way. The Putney debates, mate. Magna Carta pales in comparison. The declaration of independence was quite something. There’s always back and fourth. Just because the game isn’t pure dystopian doesn’t mean we should all get behind the ‘Its unrealistic, I shall not enjoy it’ train. I expect I’ll be persuaded to stop believing in anything at some point and then I might aswell be dead, but until then, check out that Yanis Varoufakis headed up democracy in europe movement, with a draft manifesto and everything, and a rave-up to kick it off in Berln in February. Its going to be awsum. But now we are into a different argument.

            As for the article and author’s implicit political views, I just think its talking about the fiction on its own terms, on its own merits, not from some standpoint of immediate disgarding anything with chutzpah, but being sympathetic to whatever to let you in on the thing. It seems like that would be the diminutive narrowing perspective you wouldn’t want corrupting your reportage or consumer advice. And you reacting against the conceits of the fiction is valid and great and shows you care and yes come participate in the conversation: Get down to it, I say, and don’t get distracted shooting the messenger.

            Perhaps occupy is a less perfect match than was presumed. Perhaps the factions could be more nuanced. But totalitarian soviet socialists would just be boring. Though I would like to see what areas are given to the individual freedom to organise in an entrepenurial enterprising way, and how much that is just banned or unnecessary with the socialist successes. Perhaps they would split over ecological developments as they emerge in the anthropocene, how much we should stabilise Earth and how much we should let historically natural, renewing but disruptive processes like ice ages continue. Nanotech medicine in the air. Bloody 6 lane hover highways everywhere pwning the hedgehogs so people are probably in poorly designed cities where they still have to commute for hours every day… Once we have so much control, do we try to spread socialism to Wildebeest or inthe name of wild sublime multiculturalism remain complicit, standing by and filming their healthcare disasters. The future of gamergate madness and the post-modern father not just telling you what to do, but insipidly saying you have to choose freely to do it. The screening of thoughts in an intimate, networked, transparent way being regressive and ordering in just the same way as mass surveillance is. Also they can commute faster and faster but so industrial revolution booms and they get pushed to live further and further away. Super gene therapy powers taking critical charge of evolution like Gattaca and Jamariquoi, inevitably eugenics hidden in objectivism, and the back and fourth on that. All those 3D printed bionuclear weapons and colonizing space that already had an indigenous claim by poets. And there’d be the people who want meaningful work VS the people who idolize idleness in a world of artificial intelligence being no more artificial than classically evolved and grown intelligence from a basis of chaos. There’d be the decay of knowing what you’ve got, of forgetting the levelling deterrent of hardship and dossing around wasting what your grandparents fought for. There’d be open source constitutions and legislature having mod community divisions depleting momentum like happened to Infiniminer. Those Sky Scrapers really don’t seem futuristic, they seem mint imperial. I’d hope the bad guys aren’t as bad as pithily scripted as all that.

            I do like your point a lot. I’d hope they aren’t just all malicious dickheads or so competent in their maliciousness we call them evil, because I don’t think that’s a good enough critique of right wing philosophy. There’s more to it, and more good in it than that, even if a new robber baron cabal is running off with us again. With well done baddies you can find yourself problematically sympathising with some of their leaders who manage to be earnest and kind and magnanimous and optimistic even with all the wrongdoing they propogate, and the tragic farcical failure they are to have neglected reasoning, or even been bound to turn out that way from the way they were raised. But personally it still seems more genuinely futuristic than a lot of ‘futuristic’ games that just map current socio-economics up to a higher altitude – that’s not realistic or authentic to what I want from sci-fi.

  11. NephilimNexus says:

    Earth vs Trump: The Game.

  12. Werthead says:

    Just finished SC2: Legacy of the Void, where the terrible, terrible writing seriously irritated me. It stands in contrast to Hostile Waters, a very well-written, actually quite subtle game which rewards multiple replays. Heck, I might have to go and replay it now.

    I always thought that in this time period, 1999-2001, we got three games that each nailed the 3D RTS paradigm in different ways: Homeworld, Ground Control and Hostile Waters. Each did a really good job of it, but for whatever reason (each game is slow paced, and of course HW has no multiplayer mode at all) it didn’t catch on with the mass audience. None of them sold brilliantly (although HW and GC did at least well enough to get sequels) and it’s notable that all of the later, more successful 3D RTS games were really just 2D games with 3D models (WarCraft 3, StarCraft 2, C&C Generals, C&C3, Star Wars Empire at War, Star Trek Armada etc). The inability for the RTS genre to move into true 3D in a way that really resonated with a mass audience is almost certainly why the genre pretty much died on its feet.

  13. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Seems like an interesting game.

  14. Wednesday says:

    HOW HAVE YOU NOT MENTIONED PAUL DARROW.

    Y’know…because he is in it, and he is great…

    • Kerr Avon says:

      I know. The ‘facepalm factor’ is strong in this article, isn’t it? I’m waiting for the RPS article on Star Wars Empire at War and the Old Republic now with similar omissions of Lord Darrow. To somehow re-balance the ignorance, if you haven’t already, go here: link to hcsvoicepacks.com and scroll down to the ‘MinuS’ Paul Darrow voicepack. Well Wednesday, what do you think?

  15. Marclev says:

    Up there with Homeworld as one of the best RTS’s ever. The level towards the end where you have to protect a city against the aliens is one of the most desperate and intensive battles I’ve ever seen in any game.

    It’s a game that doesn’t need a remake so much as a graphical overhaul as the gameplay is still as good as it gets.

  16. bill says:

    I saw the headline and I knew this was going to be by Sin.

    I love this game, although I did think the story went a bit off the wall at the end.
    I played it for the first time about 4 years ago and I didn’t think the graphics had aged too badly. They’re colorful and have a very slightly cartoonish vibe that means they didn’t age as much as full realism might have.

    My only real problem with the game is that some of the big later missions devolve into a bit of a grind as you try and take out dozens of anti-air towers one by one.
    But on the other hand, the game also often allows you to come up with creative solutions like sneaking in a single cloaked unit to achieve the objective.
    Plus the direct control and the great wingman personalities are awesome.

    I have a feeling that there are a few RTS games that are liked by people who don’t like RTS games. (Such as me, who mostly got fed up of RTS games at about Warcraft 2).

    My top RTS games of all time would be:
    Hostile Waters
    Homeworld
    Kohan
    all games that did something to break the RTS mold, and there seems to be quite a big overlap between Hostile Waters and Homeworld fans. (Kohan fans are harder to find)

  17. Pharoah Nanjulian says:

    No-one seems to have mentioned Tom Baker! Didn’t he do the narration in spine-tingling fashion?

    One of my top games.

    I always enjoyed when Patton complained the gun given to him wasn’t big enough. And of course: “With twin-vortex technology, the Scarab really gets your landscape clean!”