Revenge of the Mud-dwellers
Some of you out there, who actually have friends, may remember a great little party game called Worms. In each of the series' three installments, the goal was to take your ultra cute little worms and use a combination of extreme firepower and super high explosives to kick the crap out of your buddies' equally cute worms. Weapons ranged from the mundane (e.g. a bazooka) to comedy classics (e.g. a Holy Hand Grenade) to downright nonsensical (e.g. the little old lady). But it was always addicting, and one of the most underrated game series around.
With the release of Hogs of War, Infogrames has essentially brought us a 3D version of the game. While it brings along some of the positive points of Worms, it fails to capture the same hilarious gameplay, adding little with the new 3D world.
The plot is the standard throw-away excuse to fight to the death: A new supply of swill (apparently, some ultra-valuable resource) has been discovered on the island of 'Saustralasia'. You're one of five ethnic parodies whose job is to drive all other potential swill-seekers off the island.
The game proceeds almost exactly like Worms. During a battle, each pig has a short amount of time to move around, select a weapon, line up a shot, and try to blast an enemy pig to smithereens. Each individual pig has a small arsenal of only four or five weapons, but you can pick up new ones from the battlefield. When your team is the only one left standing, you win.
An interesting addition is the ability to have your pigs specialize. Depending on how you promote your soldiers, you can get everything from medics to spies, each with their own amount of health and specialized weapons. While this is an interesting addition to the formula, you end up with a tiny arsenal. The main attraction of Worms was the mind-bogglingly huge inventory, giving you plenty of options of annihilating your opponents. While there's still enough weapons to keep you from getting bored in hogs, there isn't the same frantic random feeling which comes from a completely pointless and insane set of weapons.
The 3D format of the game also has it's pluses and minuses. In Worms, movement was difficult since the landscape changed as it was pock-marked with random explosions. To compensate, you were given many tools, allowing you to get from point A to point B with relative ease if you used them creatively. In Hogs, the 3D world doesn't change at all from one turn to the next. The movement is limited to "yes, you can get there" or "no, you can't."
The 3D view also causes aiming to become quite difficult, especially with grenades or bazookas, whose curving trajectories aren't easy to see in 3D. But 3D does allow for you to use some clever tactics to smite your enemy.
As the actual pigs and world go, the graphics are only so-so with lots of texture warping and simple models to boot. The animations, on the other hand, can be quite funny. Your pigs trot along on two feet, start hobbling as they get wounded, and cower as they are approached by a heavily-armed enemy. Everything has a nice cartoony look, with lots of explosions and not a hint of gore.
Aurally, this game has lots of little gems. The voices of the pigs are all jokes on various stereotypes, ranging from Russian to British to Japanese. Many of the death quotes are just hilarious.
On the average, the sound is nothing spectacular. Besides the voices, there are lots of booms, bangs, blasts, and other b-sounds to go around. The music can get a little repetitive at times, though.
Pork is generally one of my favorite foods, but it doesn't seem to translate to much of a game. While not a complete waste of time and fairly entertaining,Hogs of War just isn't as good as the Worms series. So unless you need to get every Worm clone on the market (Hmmm, cloning worms...), a rental is probably a good idea.