Friday, March 4, 2022

BRIEF: Space Hulk (1993)

      
Space Hulk
United States
Electronic Arts (developer and publisher)
Released 1993 for Amiga and DOS, 1995 for PC-98
 
The title of this game reminded me of one of my experiences working in Trinidad in the late 2000s, just before I started this blog. On my first lunch, my local hosts took me to a roti place. In Indian cuisine, roti is just the flatbread, but in Trinidad and Tobago, roti refers to the entire meal, which usually sees the flatbread used as a wrap for a kind of thick, spicy meat stew (what Brits would call a "curry") made with chicken, beef, or goat.
   
Only skilled and experience Trinis can eat roti without making a huge mess, so my hosts suggested that I order it "buss up shut," which means that the roti comes shredded, and you use bits of it to scoop up the meat and sauce. (It's a bit like assuming that you're going to make such a mess with a taco that you just go ahead and order a taco salad.) I loved it. Not as much as I loved aloo pie--which I loved so much I wrote a song about it--but it was a close second. On my third or fourth trip, I finally got around to asking one of my hosts about the etymology of "buss up shut."
         
Blah, blah, blah, long anecdote. Here's a screenshot from the game's mission selection.
     
"You know, like de Hulk," he said. "He buss up shut!" The entire table of Trinis had a hearty laugh while I remained as confused as ever. Eventually, a Trini dictionary clued me in: "Buss up shut" is the uniquely Caribbean way of pronouncing "burst up shirt," which with a few more words and clarification means, "bursts out of his shirt." The idea is the shredded roti resembles the tattered remains of Bruce Banner's shirt after he gets angry and becomes the Hulk. Whoever thought that up has a unique gift for metaphors.
  
Thus, now I have a cemented connection in my mind between the term "hulk" and Trini food, which you can get approximately nowhere in Maine. Because of this game, I'm staring out my window at a frozen river thinking of eating bake and shark on Maracas Beach. I like to think that there's some Trinidadian out there, sweating under the Caribbean sun, who fondly remembers the time he visited Maine in winter, saw snow for the first time, wore a sweater, and ate lobster stew next to a fire.
      
Each mission begins with a voiced briefing.
      
That's my "Hulk" anecdote. On to the game. The box cover shows someone in a giant exosuit, like the first Iron Man or the Atlas mechs from Mass Effect, gunning down a bunch of aliens. I thought the "hulk" in the title must refer to the suits themselves, which look appropriately Hulk-sized, but instead it refers to the derelict spacecraft aboard which most of the action takes place. The alien enemies are known as "Genestealers," and I guess that they lack ships of their own, so they take over human ships, then fly them back towards human colonies and use them to attack. Space Hulk consists of a couple dozen missions where "space marines" land on those ships and exterminate the Genestealers inside.
   
The game is set in Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 universe, the sci-fi cousin of the fantasy Warhammer universe. Both campaign settings have included role-playing games, including computer role-playing games, but they are in origin focused more on wargaming than role-playing. Space Hulk is based specifically on a 1989 board game in which two players waged war across a large, modular map.
      
Aliens gotta alien.
       
The Amiga "Hall of Light" database thinks it's a "dungeon crawler," and I kind of get where it's coming from. It features tiled movement through textured terrain along with real-time combat like Dungeon Master. But its similarities end after a cursory appearance, and it meets none of my RPG criteria (as many commenters correctly offered). Not only does the squad of space marines not gain abilities or experience, they're not even consistent in number or composition between missions. Combat success is based solely on the player's reactions and strategies and not at all on any intrinsic attributes, and the characters' equipment is defined by the mission and largely unchangeable.
     
An alien explodes in blood as I shoot him.
    
Other than ruling it out as an RPG, it's hard to classify exactly what Space Hulk is. A lot of sites have it as a "tactical" game, and without question there's a tactical element to it. You have one or two squads with multiple marines, and you have to figure out how to deploy and use them to have the most success against large swarms of Genestealers. But with everything happening in real-time, it's far more of an action game than a strategy game.

I found it hard to get used to the process of squad control. This is no "blobber"--each marine occupies its own space and can move around the map independently of the others. But you can only control one marine at a time (although you can see the viewscreens of all of them). The rest operate in something called "Overwatch" mode. They'll move along paths that you set on the game map, and they'll shoot any obvious threats along the way, but they won't notice anything subtle or engage in any advanced combat tactics. For me, they basically just acted as multiple "lives," increasing the chances that I could complete the mission successfully even if I lost some marines.
        
Plotting a marine's movement on the tactical map.
      
Combat is pretty hard. Enemies frequently stage ambushes and attack in continuous waves. Some of the scenarios give you melee weapons, but in all the ones I tried, if an enemy got within melee range, I was a goner. Some of the enemies look like the aliens from Alien, and when they're not attacking you, you can hear them growling and scurrying nearby. The game doesn't have many commands--you basically just select the marine, move forward or backwards, turn, and fire--but I nonetheless kept panicking when I saw a wave of enemies coming down a corridor or appear in the view screen of one of my other marines. I often turned the wrong way, or overturned, or switched to the wrong marine, or otherwise proved once again that I'm not that good at action games. Honestly, my squad sometimes did better if I just let them shoot enemies and didn't touch the controls myself.
      
Despite not being good, I completed this mission!
       
The entire game is mission-based, which can be a fun game structure when the length, difficulty, and objectives are varied. You can choose a particular mission or play 21 of them strung together in a "campaign." There are also a large number of tutorial missions to ease you into the game even though it's not all that complicated. The missions begin with voiced dialogue explaining your objectives. (Each mission also begins with a voice that sounds just Hulkish enough to avoid violating any copyrights saying: "We bring death.") These are all features I wouldn't mind seeing in more RPGs of the era.
    
Space Hulk had a sequel called Vengeance of the Blood Angels in 1995 and a turn-based remake in 2013 that launched a host of expansions and sequels through 2018. I'm not sure if we ever get a Warhammer 40,000 RPG, but there are a few fantasy Warhammer games on my master list, starting with Shadow of the Horned Rat in 1995. That may not make it, either, as it appears to be primarily a strategy game.
   
If nothing else, this brief outing helped solidify the distinction in my mind between Warhammer and Warcraft. And it made me hungry. Maybe I'll try some curried chickpeas tonight.
 

92 comments:

  1. For various vague reasons to do with their shared origins, I would probably classify Space Hulk as a cousin of sorts to the X-Com series.

    I haven't played this version in years but I seem to remember that it's not entirely action-based. I thought there was an orders phase in which you had a limited time to set actions, and it was only when you ran out of this time that you had to resort to direct control. Perhaps I'm misremembering, or thinking of the sequel.

    There are 40K tabletop rpgs, but no computer adaptations, as far as I remember.

    Shadow of the Horned Rat is a tactical wargame, as I recall, although the units can earn experience. Although the tabletop Warhammer fantasy rpg is quite popular, I don't believe it's ever been directly adapted as a computer game.

    There was a Warhammer fantasy online rpg, but I don't know if those count for your project. Mordheim (fantasy; 2015) and Necromunda Underhive (40K; 2020) are sometimes described as "tactical rpgs" but I'm not convinced.

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    1. You're not wrong about the "orders" phase. I just didn't get into the game long enough to figure out the right balance between that phase and the control phase. You think it's possible to play the game entirely by telling the mechs where to go and letting them do the fighting?

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    2. I think you need to combine the two modes, at least in some missions, to be successful. I never got the hang of it myself, but you can see roughly how it works in this longplay: https://youtu.be/WwOBxoaiJfU?t=2188

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    3. (I thought I'd left this comment already but I don't see it. Feel free to delete if it doubles up!)

      It's been so long since I played this, and I don't know how much I'm projecting my familiarity with the board game (which is all about issuing orders, and plays a lot like X-Com), so I can't be certain if it can be played entirely from the orders screen. I *think* it can, but you have to be very efficient with the limited time you're given to issue the orders.

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    4. Well, that definitely goes along with what I said about the game being hard to classify.

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    5. yes, you definitely have to use pause, especially in later missions where you need to protect multiple entry points and advance simultaneously.

      The most annoying thing I remember is the computer controlled marines often miss & seem to jam their weapon more often than if controlled by the player.

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    6. If I remember correctly, the "Pause" option had a bar which started to deplete while it was active and started to refill when it was unactive, so you need to reach a balance between pausing, using the available "freeze time" to assign orders, and then unpause to refill your "freeze time" bar while your Marines were moving and firing.

      The boardgame has an "Overwatch" mechanics which lets you fire while the enemy is moving inside your line-of-sight. I don't remember if the computer game has an "Overwatch" button or the Marines are considered to be always overwatching. In general, the game tries to capture the "Aliens" move feeling, with the Marines trying to set corridors of fire to blast the enemies and prevent them to reach melee range. I think that the only Marines with reasonable chances to survive melee combat with a Genestealer is those armed with Lightning Claws.

      The first edition of the boardgame has the added interest of the game background being previous to the later "codification" of the Warhammer 40.000 setting in the miniatures game, so you have some "early installment weirdness" like Marines being much less "awesome" (they were something closer to the Sardaukar from "Dune" or the Mobile Infantry from "Starship Troopers) and the Imperium of Man was slightly less grim-and-gritty. The Genestealers were later retconned as being part of the Tyrannid Swarm, but in the original "Space Hulk" they were just an alien race that could be considered a mix between the xenomorphs from "Alien" and the Deep Ones of the Cthulhu Mythos (they are still it, but now they serve as an scout/infiltration/subversion force for a larger faction).

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  2. So, I've been wondering for a while now. Is there a reason why the upcoming list of games isn't updating with new additions? Just an oversight or should we be worried?

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    1. I'm contemplating doing some things different, but I don't want to commit to anything just yet.

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    2. I was wondering about the same. So, you are doing it on purpose and the reason is sort of a surprise. Fine. I love surprises.

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  3. You got the years very wrong. I'm not even sure there ever was a port of a 1986 game to the PC-98 in 1998. Even NEC were riding the Windows train at that point.

    Not really surprised you didn't mention this, but this is potentially the first game to have a licensed song in its soundtrack. Granted, its just the intro, and its basically Games Workshop licensing it to themselves, but hearing an actual song, with lyrics out of a DOS game is kind of cool.
    Space Hulk, while I haven't played it extensively, is definitely indicative of these late pre-Doom FPS titles. Chaos, you don't understand what you're doing, and then your character dies in a horrifically graphic way while a voice booms out from your speakers screaming "YOU SUCK". Quite a few felt like they took something from Dungeon Master, either in the perspective or in the gameplay. (Bram Stoker's Dracula on DOS takes a lot from Dungeon Master's level design, not surprising considering it came from the guy behind Bloodwych)
    Space Hulk's particular claim to fame is that its arguably the first tactical FPS. Not bad considering they probably thought at first to make it a straight board game adaptation like Space Crusade, I think it was called?

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    1. Mobygames claims the PC-98 version is 1995, so I'm assuming a database somewhere (or our host) made a typo.

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    2. I checked the comments for a Space Crusade mention and, yeah, it's pretty much a 1:1 adaptation of the board game. There's character development of a sort, as your commander can increase in rank after missions and that allows them to have more equipment and single-use orders, but I'd say we're still talking BRIEF territory overall.

      It's also very close (same developers) to HeroQuest, the board game adaptation Chet really didn't care for, so I can understand the omission.

      Regarding the licensed music, didn't Bitmap Brothers beat them to it? Xenon 2, Gods, and Magic Pockets would've been out by now. (Unless you mean CD audio?)

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    3. Oh, yeah--thanks. I was messing with Forest of Long Shadows at the same time and must have had 1986 stuck in my head.

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    4. Yes, the Bitmaps got there earlier.

      You could argue that the Activision Ghostbusters game was even earlier, as it played a kareoke version of the Ray Parker Jr song on the title screen, at least on the C64 port. You had to sing the lyrics yourself, but at least it told you the words.

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    5. I meant that it was cool hearing an actual song with lyrics coming out of a platform not usually known for having songs with vocalists on it. I'm sure there's a TGCD or FM Towns game that beat it to the punch in that respect though.
      I said potentially on the licensed song front. My thoughts were of people actually singing in it as opposed to a soundchip imitation of the song. The first one on that front would be the Seikima-II NES game or one of those weird Journey ones. I don't even remember if those Journey games HAD music in them, which is funny.

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    6. The Journey arcade game (1983) played Separate Ways from a cassette inside the cabinet. A year earlier, Journey Escape for the Atari 2600, played a snippet of Don't Stop Believing as an intro song.

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    7. leave thisone to the strategy addict

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  4. Oh man, your anecdote makes me think of the Malaysian dish roti canai, which similarly is a roti (though actually I think more of a paratha?) with a delicious curry. The one nearby Malaysian restaurant closed like 15 years ago, though, and when I've tried it at different places in other cities, it hasn't been nearly as good as those folks managed to make it.

    I think there have been some semi-recent Warhammer action-RPGs (a Fantasy one called Chaosbane, and a 40k one called Inquisitor, per some quick googling), but it's been hard to keep up with the orgy of licensing Games Workshop has been conducting for the past 10 years. Shadow of the Horned Rat (and its sequel, Dark Omen) is definitely an RTS, though, albeit with units that gain experience. It's no more an RPG than Panzer General, though.

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    1. To me it sounded pretty much like roti paratha... Yummy!

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  5. The campaign mode lets you select a squad and its equipment. Unless a squad is wiped out completely, it gains experience (as a squad) and can be used in subsequent missions. More experienced squads have better odds in combat.

    However, you have to play about half the campaign missions before you can select a squad and weapons. Before that, the emperor chooses these for you. I never got that far with the game. And even with squad selection, equipment and squad-level experience, I wouldn't consider it an RPG.

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    1. Oh, that's interesting. The manual didn't give even a hint of that. I thought the emperor ALWAYS selected your squad and equipment.

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    2. Tell me more about the nature of gaining experience and "more experienced squads have better odds in combat." Do either of these things result in a set of statistics or attributes that you can actually see? Are the better odds in combat tied solely to better equipment, or are they somehow stronger, faster, or more accurate?

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    3. I never made it that far myself, but the manual says this: "Once you have used a sergeant and his squad, they become more experienced, increasing their shooting and close-combat capabilities. The experience is portrayed by feathers underneath the skull — the more feathers, the more experience"

      No visible stats, just a squad experience marker.

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    4. Well, bollocks. That might be enough. And the text manual I found doesn't say that, so now I wonder what else it lacks.

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    5. God, I'm sorry. I did not intent to make you play this any longer. I still don't think it qualifies :P

      Here's the manual I used: https://www.starehry.eu/download/strategy/docs/Space.Hulk-Manual.pdf

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    6. I also think that "Space Hulk" doesn't qualifies as an RPG under any meter.

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    7. As I mentioned at Patreon... at some point you can't strictly codify what a CRPG is. I think at that point you can make a decision as to what counts and needs to be played. No point in spending more than a BRIEF on a game that is dicey and frankly, not fun to play!

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  6. Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate from 1998 is definitely a CRPG. It is a squad level, tactical, turn-based combat game. You don't get to create the roster, but you can select who goes on missions, some of their equipment and they gain experience and levels which improves their attributes. Better attributes do give better combat results.

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    1. And just checked your master list and this one isn't on it. Go figure.

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    2. No web site lists it as an RPG. It won't appear on my list unless it appears in one of the major databases or someone like you tells me about them.

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    3. Isn't Chaos Gate basically an X-COM-alike? X-COM was probably my favorite game in the 90s, but despite meeting Chet's three criteria I have a hard time believing it's an RPG. X-COM itself might deserve a BRIEF, but doing them for all its sequels and genre-mates seems like it'd be unedifying and exhausting IMO.

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    4. It plays a lot like the X-Com ground assault play, but there is no research, base building/management or fighter combat. It is strictly landing in your zone and completing the mission, which always involves combat. It even has psychic powers (magic) - I think psychers gain more abilities they level up. I think there is a main quest to the game but I didn't finish because I scratched my disc beyond my ability to repair it when I was nearing the final mission.

      Anyways, Chet, if it's just me, feel free to reject it when you get there but I do think it qualifies.

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    5. Your squads gain xp which improve statistics. There us no economy but there is an inventory and what you find on mission gets added to it. I would agree, pre-ARPG Dawn of War 2, Vermintide 2, Inquisitor, and Chaosbane, Chaos Gate was the only Warhammer RPG. Shadow of the Horned Rat and Dark Omen are no more RPG than Space Hulk is

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    6. Chaos Gate is not a RPG, it is a Tactical game with RPG element. The only units which you can control the progression of are the spellcaster, and only because you choose the spells.

      The game is definitely awesome, and becauuse it is awesome people are bending the definition to fit it in (like for say Star Control II). But come on, if it is a CRPG then Close Combat is a CRPG...

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  7. Where can we listen to your song about the aloo pie? Is it jazz?

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    1. I should have said that I wrote LYRICS for a song. I don't know how to compose music. I have a base melody in mind but it's not very interesting. Whether it's jazz would depend on how it's played.

      The double-entendres are deliberate.

      ****

      I was lonely and said
      In old Trinidad
      When she suddenly caught my eye
      A beautiful girl
      Holding an aloo pie

      I caught the aroma
      Of aloo and channa
      My troubles, they seemed to die
      As I opened my lips
      And tasted that aloo pie

      (Bridge)
      Spicy and tan
      And fresh from the pan
      Flavors that swizzle and swirl
      Saucy and warmed
      And perfectly formed
      Do I remember de pie or de girl?

      Taste disappears
      With passage of years
      But I'll remember until I die
      The face of the girl
      Who brought me that aloo pie

      ***

      The idea is to slur "face" a bit in the last stanza so that it could be heard as "taste."

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    2. I'm hearing the melody to "Home on the Range" to this. Well, until line four at least.

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    3. stepped pyramidsMarch 4, 2022 at 3:45 PM

      I love it. You have good taste in food, too.

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    4. I"d say it's a great poem!

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  8. Oh, and while it's probably not going to be relevant, there are some strong gameplay similarities to the British C64 game adaptation of Aliens. It shares the first-person perspective and multiple controllable characters, and offers a similar split between issuing orders and taking direct control over the squad.

    Quite fitting given how much influence the Space Hulk board game drew from the film.

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    1. Originally Space Hulk was intended to be Aliens but the licensing fell through somehow.

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    2. That's interesting, I've never heard that before.

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  9. SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK!
    (Ref. https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/space-hulk-space-hulk-space-hulk-space-hulk) There is a definite fan base for Space Hulk, primarily for the tabletop game but always excited to see video game adaptations :) This one was a real favorite of mine back then. I was high school age so the over the top machismo of 40k and setting from the Aliens were just the thing to get my attention.

    I wonder how one would *roleplay* Space Marines. "Praise the Emperor, we go and kill the foul aliens!" and then repeat that until the character dies.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. here was a pen-and-paper RPG called "Deathwatch" (from Fantasy Flight Games) in which all characters were Space Marines, and the current Warhammer RPG ("Wrath and Glory" from Cubicle 7) lets you play with Space Marines. Both games (specially "Deathwatch") try to broad the Space Marines characterisations beyond "pray the Emperor and kill aliens"; a party of Marines from "Deathwatch" could be considered like a party of Paladins which all worship the same pantheon, but each one is devoted to a different god, so, using the Greek pantheon as an example, a Paladin of Athena and a Paladin of Ares would both recognize Zeus as the supreme ruler, but each one would have a different point of view towards how wage war (similar to the differences between an Ultramarine and a Space Wolf). So, even all Marines/Paladins coming "from the same mold", you can still have different characterisations and divergent points of view.

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  10. Unrelated, but I am SO looking forward to X-Com

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  11. Shadow of the Horned Rat is also stupefyingly difficult.

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    1. It’s obnoxiously hard.

      IIRC, I had to pick a specific set of battles, win each one with very few losses, power level the Amber wizard, and reload if he didn’t learn ‘flock of doom’ on level up. On top of that, there was a nigh-impossible fight that I couldn’t win until I discovered a way to cheese it. I probably wasn’t very good at the game, but I sure had a lot of perseverance back in those days.

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    2. Did you play on console or PC? Because winning that game with a controller was more satisfying than beating any Souls-like

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    3. It really is, and to have a real hope later on you really need to win each mission as perfectly as possible. Losing units early on ends up with a bit of a death spiral.

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    4. Geeze, I remember that game. I couldn't get far even with a strategy guide. It's too bad, because it was really an interesting and potentially fun idea for a game. Maybe someday it'll get a remaster, seems everything else is...

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  12. I would sort of argue that Dawn of War 2 (its campaign) has experience gains, gear, stats, skills, even has a branching story mode (it's more realized in its expansion.) Guess that's as close as we have to a proper CRPG (although in real time and with tactical elements - cover, line of fire, etc...)

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    1. Neither real time nor tactical elements make it less of an RPG! The more tactical elements the better, I'd even say.

      I wasn't a fan of DoW2's campaign though because I expected a proper RTS campaign with base building and everything.

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    2. I did too, at least in the beginning. But it grew on me. I played it in French, and the French VAs poured a lot of soul into it and it made it really enjoyable. The story, at least for a 40k enthusiast, was really enjoyable too.

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    3. Yeah, I kind of wish they'd named it something other than DoW2; it was a good game but very different from the original. At the time I was quite upset as well.

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    4. I'm playing through DoW2 these days (just short sessions of one or two missions at a time) and it's not a bad game. Great setting and story if you like WH40k, and the gameplay is decent enough.

      But when I first tried it many years ago, expecting a regular RTS campaign, I bounced off it hard. For my current playthrough I approached it knowing it's more of a tactical RPG, and with these expectations I'm having fun with it.

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    5. You're really making me want to play this again...

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    6. Opposite: I am so bad at RTS (never got further than the fourth mission at ANY game of that kind in the easiest difficulty) that I embraced DoW2 with open arms. And yet it was too much of an RTS.

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  13. I had this game. It never quite made it as exciting or gripping enough.

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  14. The 1993 has another game much like this. Hired Guns. It has more RPG elements and gameplay is somewhat less hectic. Perhaps it will qualify for a complete playthrough.

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    1. Hired Guns is an odd one. It looks like a dungeon blobber rpg, and it even plays like one, to an extent, but it turns out it's more a sort of weird first-person-shooter. It's less of an rpg than Captive II was, and that was borderline.

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  15. As soon as you started describing the game's cover art it was clear that you never played a 40k game before :p

    It's a pretty cool setting, but mostly has strategy games on PC, along with some action games. Some of those have RPG elements but there are no "pure" CRPGs in the setting yet, even though there are a couple pen and paper RPGs in the setting that would make for cool CRPG adaptations (Rogue Trader for example).

    I guess Inquisitor qualifies because it's a Diablo style RPG, but I've grown really tired of the subgenre.

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    1. Dawn of War 2 has "RPG elements" in that its campaign mode is an unusual take on action RPGs, but it also has two other game modes that are different genres.

      But, since I've only ever played two 40k games, the other being Inquisitor, I can't say whether the other ones with RPG elements would "really" count as RPGs or not.

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    2. DoW2 is a curious case of an RTS with a campaign that dumped all the classic RTS gameplay and made it exclusively about hero units who level up.

      Kinda like if you cut out basebuilding and unit recruitment from Warcraft 3 and just have heroes in it.

      Technically it's still an RTS... but it's also an RPG at the same time.

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    3. Yeah, pretty much. I actually really liked Dawn of War 2, especially since you can play the campaign in online co-op with friends, but I admit if I went into it expecting a real-time strategy game, I would have been disappointed.

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  16. It seems you have been all around the world, Chet.
    ...have you ever been in Slavic countries? =)

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    1. I'm not that well-traveled internationally. I've been to all 50 U.S. states and about 2,500 of our 3,000 counties, but outside the U.S., most of my experiences are repeated trips to specific countries. I've never been to any African or Asian nation at all, and as for Slavic countries, my only experiences are five trips to Ukraine and one absolutely pathetic trip to Prague.

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  17. Interesting to see some Warhammer: 40k content! I never really played much Warhammer (a few table top games in high school in the 90s) or got into the lore much, but I have been playing the 2018 release "Warhammer 40k: Mechanicus" which is lots of fun. It's a tactical turn-based game, very X-com like in mechanics. It had a surprisingly well written story (in between the tactical missions) and since you can choose how to upgrade each of your "characters" (you start with two Tech Priests, and can get up to 6 if you go on the right missions, and you can unlock up to 6 slots for troops that you likewise can earn from I think 6 classes).

    I don't know if it counts as an RPG - I view it more as a tactical game.

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  18. I would say both Space Crusade and Rites of War are both borderline RPGS. The former is based on your Sergeant who gets better as you survive and complete missions. The latter is a Panzer General engine title where every unit gets better and many can evolve into new and better forms like a bunch of Space Elf Pokemon. They aren't "true" rpgs as we might know it but there are elements of RPGs. I would put them in the "Braunstein" category. More than straight wargames, less than straight rpgs.

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  19. Those 'Warhammer'-humans always seemed somewhat fashist to me.They hate and seek to destroy nearly everything and everyone in the universe, often even factions of their own kind. And then I watch the news and think to myself 'could be worse'.

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    1. I think Warhammer, a lot like, say, Judge Dredd, is an exercise in the writers desperately hoping their audience will eventually have a "Wait, are we the baddies?" moment. But they never do.

      More optimistically, it's an exercise in a kind of absurdist "How bad do things have to be in order for being the villains to be justified?"

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    2. GW is completely aware that the Imperium of Man is a fascist dystopia. The setting began as a satire of how dark and gritty sci-fi and fantasy had gotten, where they jumped from "black and white" morality straight through "shades of grey" all the way to "everybody is a different shade of black, morally speaking". That's the whole "grim darkness of the far future, there is only war" thing from the tagline.

      There are no "good guys" in the setting (the orks probably come closest, as they just think their brutal wars are good clean fun rather than some sort of holy crusade), and the majority of the fans get that. The relatively small minority who actively stan the Imperium (or Tau, who are just as bad in less blatantly obvious ways) are looking for an excuse to be awful more than anything else, and GW has started taking pretty strong action against this strain of fan in the last five years or so.

      Delete
    3. Are any of the necromunda families 'good'?

      Delete
    4. The future of 40k is so bad that the Imperium is the best thing humanity has. Literally everything wants to kill us, so it's an all-out defensive war against the rest of the galaxy.

      There's a couple of good people in it, too. Roboute Guilliman is a pretty good guy, as is the Emperor himself (who wouldn't approve of the ridiculous bureaucracy and default "let's kill all aliens, no exceptions, never make an alliance even if that would be better for both of us" attitude). IIRC Guilliman even managed to work together with some Eldar at some point.

      But yes, the only race that's "good" as in "enjoying a life that isn't constant suffering" are the Orkz. They're not morally good, in fact they don't even think about stuff like morality. They're not creating anything that could be considered good or valuable
      No, all they do is fight - but they really love it. Fighting is all they live for, and in a universe of constant war, that means they're basically in paradise. It's hell for everyone else, but the Orkz? They like it.

      What is a potentially galaxy-ending threat to all other races is a fun challenge to the Orkz. If I had to live in the 40k universe, I'd want to be an ork.

      Delete
    5. Wasn't the intent of the setting to have a universe so bad that the Imperium does qualify as the good guys? I mean, from what I understand, you have a bunch of aliens who kill and eat everything they see; Chaos gods, who if you so much as know their name, could cause you to be turned into one of their servants, enough people know it and an entire planet becomes theirs; And the closest thing to a friendly non-human are the Eldar, who are all basically one bad thought away from becoming servants of Chaos. Oh, people basically go through hell whenever they go warp speed, and human planets are getting invaded all the time? I don't think the writers are very good at writing if they're supposed to be just as bad as everyone else.

      Delete
    6. Fun fact: when the Tau were introduced into the setting, many Warhammer fans thought they didn't fit... because they weren't completely genocidal maniacs! Believing in the greater good of all life and even working together with other alien races?! No way, you can't have friendly aliens in Warhammer!

      Delete
  20. Incubation: Battle Isle 4 is another tactical game with RPG elements that might be worth adding to the master list.

    The curious thing is that Battle Isle 1,2,3 are turn based top down military strategy games, and BI4 is extremely different, but set in the same "universe"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think the earlier Battle Isle games have enough of a plot to qualify as a "universe" :P

      Delete
  21. Blobber is a stupid term coined and propagated by the homophobes and racists of RPG Codex who also have a slew of cutesy images to systematically push their hatred of Jews with.

    Don't associate with them or their terms. Cue people like JarlFrank who makes fun of you on there and has for years to defend them.

    Do you seriously want to align yourself with the crowd that has stupid images of Jews clutching bags of money posted daily?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a massive seethepost. Blobber is a great utilitarian term, and the Codex is the best forum on the internet. Deal with it.

      Delete
    2. RPGCodex is not going to make it into the lyrics of my personal version of "My Favorite Things," but it ranks slightly higher than anonymous commenters telling me what language to use on my own blog.

      Delete
    3. (not the same anon as above)

      Well, maybe "the Codex is the best forum on the internet" for someone who chooses "Happyadolf@hotmail.com" as his email adress:
      https://draft.blogger.com/profile/08139422412722665286.
      I'd consider that at best very bad taste or quite twisted "humour", but it also leaves room for other interpretations.

      And yes, posting such allegations without substantiation, e.g. links, and at the same time trying to impose on the blog owner what language to use, is not very helpful either.

      Delete
    4. @Addict : Not sure when was the last time you checked out RPGCodex. They might know quite a bit about CRPGs. But with thread titles like this:
      https://rpgcodex.net/forums/threads/jews-jewing-again.137618/

      and regular posters like this:
      https://rpgcodex.net/forums/members/ol-willy.27885/#info
      (nice signature block)

      posting stuff like this:
      https://rpgcodex.net/forums/threads/jews-jewing-again.137618/#post-7223762 or this:
      https://rpgcodex.net/forums/members/ol-willy.27885/#profile-post-65300

      (and there are many such examples)

      I can understand some people are sensitive when it comes to this "best forum on the internet". I wouldn't put them even slightly above someone complaining about this, but YMMV and it's your blog.

      Delete
    5. A significant fraction of internet memes and terminology comes from the cesspit that was 4chan. Doesn’t mean using those terms is some sort of implicit endorsement of 4chan’s culture.

      Delete
    6. What is this now, a cancel culture witchhunt? How incredibly pathetic. If you don't like the place, don't visit it. This is just petty.

      Delete
    7. What a great response, Jarl. In fact, it feels like those very sentences would slot perfectly into any number of "bash the addict" threads on RPG Codex. Feel free to quote yourself the next time one pops up.

      In the meantime, I don't care if "blobber" was coined personally by Josef Mengele. It perfectly describes what's happening in those games, and it's part of my official glossary.

      Delete
    8. I think it's problematic that people post as "Anonymous". Isn't that what they do on 4chan?
      (Which incidentally makes me wonder how it's possible to even have a "community" when everybody had the same nic.)

      Delete
    9. I got good news Chet, the current CRPG Addict thread on the Codex barely contains any bashing, it's mostly people talking about the currently played games, genre definitions (because we love arguing about that over and over again), and the state of the genre in the currently played year (1993). The people who don't like your blog mostly ignore the thread.

      Delete
    10. Yeah, what Jarl said. I can't remember any recent bashing either. The thread isn't all that active these days, though.

      It's enjoyable how much butthurt the Codex's lack of Stalinist moderation - that is the norm in like 99% of other discussion forums these days - causes all over the 'net considering how small the site actually is.

      Delete

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