Playstation Developer:InfogramesPublisher:InfogramesPrice: £34.99

Introduction

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You 'orrible lot!

In Hogs of War, there's one single rule of thumb - Swill is everything! He who controls the swill, controls the universe.

Scientists have uncovered a new source of swill on the island of Saustralasia located in the South Pigsific. Don't worry, the 'pigisms' get worse! There are 25 regions in Saustralasia, all laden with wonderful swill.

There's one small snag to all this - there are various continents hell bent on ensuring the swill becomes their own. The only solution therefore is war.

You get to choose which continent you will represent. Are you going to be British and take on the leadership of Tommy's Trotters? Or perhaps you feel a German side to your nature, and want to lead the Sow-A-Krauts to victory.

Choose your team. There's a war to be won.

Pork Scratchings

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The pig roster

Let's put this simply; Hogs of War is hilarious. Even reading the manual has you laughing to yourself. The humour continues with an excellent intro, showing the British sergeant de-briefing some hapless new recruits. Rik Mayall (star of such fine pillars of British comedy as The Young Ones and, er, Bottom) provides the voiceover for not only the video, but all the voices throughout the game.

Then it's down to the business of choosing which side you're going to represent. You also get to name the team of heroes, and the piglets themselves. This is great, as you can name your pigs after family members, much to their chagrin!

Hogs of War can be played either in single player mode versus the computer, or up to four players can take it in turns in multiplayer. I recommend the latter option highly. The amount of arguments this game produces is funny in itself.

Before you begin the missions, you can opt to play through the training level. The sergeant bellows his instructions to you, and your little obedient piglet does the rest. The unsteady handling of the sniper rifle is one amusing moment you'll discover.

The game is a 3D rendered turn based strategy. Each team takes it in turns to mount attacks upon one another. Once one pig has made his move, the enemy then gets a chance. This continues on until all pigs have made a move, returning to your first pig to begin over again.

Once all the pigs on either side have been eliminated, the mission is complete. Success means progression to the next mission, failure means you'll have to start all over again.

Slaughterhouse

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Academy training in the cold snow

Playing Hogs of War couldn't be simpler. When it's your turn, you get a certain amount of time to take your move. Your allotted time is more than enough in the first missions, but as you get further into the game you get less time to make decisions. Panic moves can be quite fatal! The enemy then gets the same amount of time to carry out their move.

With your pig selected, you simply walk around the landscape, looking for enemy pigs to slaughter. Standing still will provide indicators as to where the enemy and your teammates are situated, along with how much health they have. Once you have chosen your target, select the weapon you'd like to use and let rip.

Normal hand weapons rely on you pointing in exactly the right direction. A more accurate option is the use of the rifle and sniper rifle with their sights and zoomable sights respectively. That said, rifles are only really useful for finishing off a weakened enemy.

For more damage and satisfaction, use of the bazookas, mortars and hand-grenades comes highly recommended. In the top right corner of the screen is an angle slide. This can be moved up or down to decide what trajectory the bombs are going to take.

Later on you will be able to mount vehicles, disguise yourself, order air-attacks and much much more. It's this variety as you move through the missions, that keeps the game fresh from start to finish.

When a mission is completed, you will receive a certain amount of promotion points. These can be used against any pig, to promote their rank. When you first promote a pig, you can select what class of war-pig they are going to be. The classes are Heavy Weapons, Medic, Espionage and Engineer. All have their uses, so make sure you have one of each in your squad.

Graphics and Sound

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Cowardly planning a mortar bombing

The 3D landscapes of the game are all very nicely done, with your polygon-based pigs looking really cute and prone to disaster! The expressions on their faces are good too, with a frightened pig looking just that.

There are a lot of nice little touches in there too. In a cold environment, steam puffs from their snouts and you can see them huddling to keep themselves warm. If pigs of the same team get near each other, they will salute. If you get close enough to an enemy pig, they will cower, appealing to your better nature no doubt.

There's not a vast amount of landscape detail; a few trees, small buildings, bridges, but nothing too complex. The static objects are all well designed though. The result is that the game never becomes too cluttered, and hence runs smoothly with only the occasional dip in frame-rate.

Sound has to be Hogs of War's biggest selling point. Rik Mayall's various character voices are excellently done. From the rather camp sounding French pigs, to the business like Russians, all providing great amusement. The little bursts of the Sergeant radioing in are a nice touch.

What's impressive is the variety of one-liners, accents and dramatic death throes that pop up throughout the game. Check out the Geordie pig in the British team, and also the French taunts. If you don't laugh, then you must be dead already!

The music within the game is very good too. The 'Monty Python' theme plays at the main menu, and you will hear little excerpts from this in places during the game too. Tunes that suit the nationality of the pigs play too. Sombre tunes based around minor chords for the Russians, and over-the-top Chinese style for the Sushi Swines team!

Conclusion

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INCOMING!

I freely admit that on a number of occasions my sides were aching with laughter when playing this game. It's been a long time since a game has done that. The last one would have to be Cannon Fodder. In fact, Hogs of War reminds me a lot of that old Commodore Amiga classic.

Like Cannon Fodder, you find yourself becoming particularly attached to one or more of your team members. This member is always the one that gets the promotions and merits, but at the expense of his comrades. When that character dies, you are stupidly torn between reloading in the saved game, or carrying on without them!

It's great when a game has you making these 'really important' decisions. I can heartily recommend this game to anyone. It even had my family in hysterics too, watching me play!

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