Content of the article: "S.W.I.N.E. HD Remaster: a game for your RTT desires. Sort of a review"
This has turned out into a longer read than I wanted when I started writing it, sorry. I added headers for better readability. There is a short conclusion at the end if you want to skip ahead.
S.W.I.N.E. was originally developed by the Hungarian developer StormRegion and was first published in 2001. It is a Real Time Tactics game that has often been often overlooked and is not known by many.
StormRegion also developed the more widely known Codename: Panzers. The HD Remaster came out in May 2019, now under the developer Kite Games. They are also behind the RTT Sudden Strike 4.
S.W.I.N.E. stands for: Strategic Warfare In a Nifty Environment. But let’s be honest: it is a satirical game of pigs versus rabbits.
Plot & Single Player
The plot is a satire of WW2 with Nazi Germany vs France portrayed by pigs vs rabbits. The pigs invaded deeply into the territory of the rabbits in a blitzkrieg style attack and have overwhelmed most of the rabbit’s forces.
The rabbits are portrayed as witty and smart rebels that must fight back. As they don’t have enough forces to defeat the invading pigs in a full frontal attack, they have assembled a small backup team from their reserves which the player now has to lead into battle.
The English voice actors of the rabbits try to speak in a French accent but is cringy and very obvious that they aren’t French nationals.
The pigs on the other hand are portrayed as rather stupid ruffians, who overpowered the rabbits by brute force rather than by cunning tactics. The English voice actors of the pigs are trying to fake a German accent, but also aren’t German nationals. Some of their tank designs also reminded me of the German tanks of WW2.
If you don’t like the English voice actors, you should check the game settings as there are several languages available. I personally preferred the German voice actors a lot more as they don’t try to fake a foreign accent but are still fitting to their roles of being pigs and rabbits.
There is a single player campaign for each side. The mission plots of these mirror each other. So, if you play the rabbit mission on a map and have a certain objective you sort of get the opposite version of the same mission on the pigs’ side and have to stop the rabbit forces from achieving their objective.
That being said, small spoiler: the two campaigns seem to play in different timelines. They do mirror each other in many plot points, but in the end don’t match exactly in the outcomes and the stories end differently.
There are short cinematic clips that are played in between some missions that lighten up the atmosphere, but most of the plot and setup for the missions is driven by mission descriptions that are narrated by the voice actors.
In my opinion the plot isn’t that important for the overall game and is not the reason why I enjoyed to play it.
The game excels through its gameplay. This is the strength and gives it a high replay value. The gameplay is comparable to titles like:
- Ground Control
- Codename: Panzers
- Sudden Strike 4
Though the comical setting and satirical plot might make it seem like SWINE is rather casual, this is from the truth. It is rather on the hard or hardcore side of gaming. I would recommend to first start on Easy or Medium difficulty. The game has some challenging missions, so I had to use the possibility to save and reload the game during the missions several times. (Tho admittedly I am not a hardcore RTT player.)
Units must be bought before each mission start and there is no base building. Each unit has Health Points, Ammo (if applicable), Gas and Experience. HP, Ammo and Gas can be restored by using trailers if you bought the corresponding trailers before the mission or if you found and captured them on the map during the mission.
Units who survive a mission are brought over to the next mission, so your goal should be to have all your units survive each mission. Units rank up by gathering XP in battle which increases HP, Damage and Armor. The highest rank is elite. These units have a much higher survivability and are overall a lot more powerful than newly bought greenhorn units.
Unit types: Command vehicle, Scouts, Tanks, Artillery, Heavy Tanks, Rocket Launcher, Tank Killers (which is a faster Rocket launcher but with less rockets), Mortar Units, Mine Layers, and Towing Vehicles. There is no infantry.
Most units have a special ability that is unique to them. For example, The Artillery has to lower their legs to be able to shoot. Tanks on the other hand can dig themselves into the ground.
It is also possible to buy Upgrades to increase sight range, Armor or ammo, et cetera of single units.
Your Main task is the micromanagement of your units and to counter the enemy forces in a Rock Paper Scissors style gameplay: For example, the Tank Killers can advance fast and do a lot of damage at a decent range, but if they are faced with enemy forces it is better to have a row of tanks in between them,
Unit comparison: Pigs and Rabbits both have the same type of tanks with basically the same values. But there are two exceptions: The rabbits don’t have heavy tanks. The pigs do have tank killers in general but once you start playing the pig campaign, they aren’t available to be purchased. There is a small difference with the basic tanks of each side as well, but It is such a small difference it is not worth mentioning.
Besides the single player there is also multiplayer. The number of active players is low, but it is a small and dedicated community. When I had a question in the steam forums, I got answers by several players quickly.
The units in this game have some Way-finding problems which is intensified by the many bottlenecks that exist. Also, the units often block each other and aren’t able to get around other units. To me it felt like this requires more micromanaging than it should be necessary. Two examples:
- If two units want to go opposite ways through a bottleneck and block each other, they might just stop and not move on at all.
- If many units want to go through a bottleneck together (all in the same direction) it might take too long for the rear units, so they decide to take much longer route right through enemy territory. This has led to several reloads for me as I didn't want to lose any unit.
Strangely there seems to be a limit how many savegames you can have. If you reach the limit you need to overwrite previous saves or delete old ones.
SWINE offers around 20-30 h of single player gameplay if you are taking your time with the missions and want to get 100% of the achievements.
If you are looking for a hard oldschool RTT and can overlook the sometimes cringy story lines or voice actors, then this might be a game for you.
The game is available on Steam and GOG at a reasonable price (which I'm not allowed to mention because of the rules of this sub).
I played this game first in around 2004 / 2005ish (when I got it for free on a gaming magazine DVD), but didn't finish the single player at the time. When I saw there is a remaster available, I picked it up to finally finish it and was satisfied by what I got. Since the game doesn't seem to be known by many, I thought I'd share my experiences with it.
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