Haegemonia: Legions of Iron
for the US market) is a 4X
computer game, developed in 2002 by the Hungarian developer Digital Reality
. It is similar to other space strategies like Homeworld
and is considered to be a Spiritual Successor
to the developer's own Imperium Galactica II
, while borrowing many concepts from the Master of Orion
The player is in charge of an interstellar empire and must colonize or conquer planets, research new technology, build ships, and wipe out enemies. The game takes place across multiple systems connected by wormholes
. Colonies can build structures, ships, enhancements, and orbital defenses
. Terraforming projects increase the population cap of a planet with "Gaia" as the ultimate planet type for humans. Certain resource-rich asteroids can be mined using special space stations that are moved into place and then lock down to initiate the mining process. Military stations can be used to protect key planets or wormholes. Various ships of a Standard Sci-Fi Fleet
can be built, although the game imposes a very low Arbitrary Headcount Limit
on squadrons (7 fighters, 4 corvettes, 2 cruisers, 1 battleship, or 1 support ship per squadron). The same is true for noncombat ships (e.g. traders, spies) and space stations. The only way to capture an enemy planet is by raining Death from Above
with "blaster"-type weapons until the colony surrenders or is wiped out. No ground combat is present. Squadrons earn experience by destroying enemies. Hazards can be present in some systems, such as Asteroid Thicket
, pulsars, or black holes. Occasionally, heroes will offer their services and can be hired. A hero can be assigned to a ship or a planet, with the hero's special stats determining any increases in performance. Like squadrons, heroes level up. During the campaign, a number of heroes and squadrons can be transferred to the next mission. Spy ships are invisible to the enemy but also lack any sensors to allow them to be scouts. Their main strength is in their ability to steal information/credits/technology from the enemy or perform acts of sabotage. Certain heroes are master spies and are at their best aboard a spy ship. The hero/ship's level determines which actions they can perform. Each mission, the player is allocated a set amount of research points (RP) that is usually not enough to research all the tech available for the mission. However, research is carried over to future missions. Additionally, some tech is race-specific and requires a spy stealing it first (it appears in the tech queue as 90% researched). There are four weapons tech trees in the game: proton, missile, ion, and quantum. It's virtually impossible to fully research all four, so the player is forced to pick one and improve it.
The player is given the option of two campaigns: Earth and Mars. This, for the most part, only affects Act I, which involves a civil war between Earth and its Solar System colonies (mainly Mars). Act I ends when one side destroys the orbital defenses over Earth/Mars and peace is declared, forming a new unified empire. Around that time, wormholes are discovered that allow travel to other systems. From this point on, the only differences between the campaigns are cosmetic (Earth/Mars ship models) and a different Player Character
/hero (although the opposite number can be hired). Humans begin to colonize other systems with the newly-formed Legions of Iron
(under the command of the player, of course) settling and protecting the frontier. The main challenge in this part of Act II is fighting Space Pirates
. Then First Contact
happens in the form of a Kariak fighter squadron appearing out of a wormhole and destroying an unarmed transport ship, sparking the Terran-Kariak War. After beating them and signing a peace treaty, the attack is revealed to be the a case of Poor Communication Kills
(they thought humans were Abusive Precursors
who attacked them long ago). After a while, a new race is discovered, calling themselves the Darzok. However, the Darzok civilian government is quickly overthrown by a military junta that proceeds to stage a surprise attack on the human-Kariak alliance. The war is complicated by a rogue Kariak general who instigates a civil war with the loyalist faction in the Kariak Empire. After dealing with him, the allied forces use an experimental wormhole beacon to send their combined fleet into the heart of the Darzok Empire and take out their HQ (a massive station). The game ends with on a Sequel Hook
with humans discovering that the Darzok were merely puppets for Abusive Precursors
who were previously responsible for wiping out the Solon, a race of Benevolent Precursors
, and are now determined to do the same to humans.
A stand-alone Expansion Pack
called The Solon Heritage
was released before the developer ceased to exist. Unfortunately, the lack of a campaign means it wasn't received well by the fans. The expansion adds a number of techs, several new ships, and multiplayer maps.
The game contains examples of the following tropes:
- 2-D Space: Averted, as ships can move "up" and "down" from the ecliptic with controls similar to Homeworld, but they always orient themselves "horizontally". Also, all stellar objects tend to be on the ecliptic (this can be justified, at least), so there's little reason to actually utilize 3D movement.
- 4X: Of the real-time variety, although you can pause to give orders in single-player.
- Absent Aliens: At least a third of the campaign involves no knowledge of aliens whatsoever. Averted when the Kariak show up.
- Abusive Precursors: They are revealed to have been behind the Darzok attack. They are also implied to be responsible for the destruction of the Solon.
- All Planets Are Earthlike: Averted. Most planets are either lifeless rocks or barely habitable. Terraforming technology can eventually turn them into "Gaia" type. However, the Kariak and the Darzok prefer arid climates and will 'form in the other direction.
- Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Only a small number of squadrons, unarmed ships, and space stations are allowed per mission.
- Asteroid Miners: One way to boost your income is to build a mining station and deploy it over a resource-rich asteroid (there are usually one or two in a system). Once the asteroid is depleted, the station can be scrapped (or un-deployed in the expansion).
- Asteroid Thicket: Damages ships flying through it.
- Bag of Spilling: Averted for the most part. Researched technology carries over from mission to mission. A certain number of squadrons and heroes can be carried over to the next mission as well with all their experience. However, any colony improvements will be gone if the next mission features the same systems.
- If any technologies are stolen from the enemy via espionage, they appear in the list at 95% completion and can be finished for a reduced price. However, if a technology is not finished in the same mission it is stolen in, the partial completion is lost and it must be researched from scratch or stolen again.
- Critical Existence Failure: Small ships are just as effective with 1 HP as with full "health"; ships of cruiser-size or above can get some of their weapons blasted off if the attackers are specifically ordered to target those.
- Deflector Shields: Standard-issue for all ships once the faction researches them. While substantially increasing longevity, their reliability is less than perfect: initial shields only block 40% of incoming shots and while that rate increases with subsequent upgrades, proton weapons penetrate shields on a regular basis while larger ion weapons have a small chance of shorting the shield out altogether.
- Expansion Pack: The Solon Heritage is a half-baked stand-alone expansion that earned the ire of many fans for not including a campaign, especially since the original game ends on a Cliff Hanger.
- The Empire: All factions in the game are described as empires. Yes, even Space Pirates.
- False Flag Operation: The intro shows fighters of an unknown configuration ambushing and destroying the Martian ambassador's shuttle on the way to the Moon. The colonists blame Earth, while Earth claims that Mars deliberately killed their own ambassador to make Earth look guilty.
- Frickin' Laser Beams: Ion weapons look like blue beams of energy. Despite the fact that they hit almost instantly, they still miss just as often as all other types.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: During the war with the Kariak, your spies can be used to perform various intelligence-gathering and sabotage operations against them. The problem is, humans know little to nothing about the Kariak at this point, including their language. It'd be kinda hard for a human spy to blend into the Kariak society in order to steal or blow up stuff.
- Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: One mission has the player destroy several giant space jellyfish. It's not clear where they came from, but they never show up nor are mentioned again.
- Guide Dang It: A good number of missions are like this, especially when side quests are given. A few involve taking action long before the quest is even added in order to have a chance of completing it.
- Imported Alien Phlebotinum: Spies can steal race-specific tech. Additionally, one mission involves getting past automated defenses of a Solon space station in order to learn its secrets. By the end of the campaign, the Darzok can build probes that temporarily prevent travel through a wormhole. Humans steal that tech, manage to build identical probes, and then further develop the tech to be able to create temporary wormholes on the fly.
- Kill Sat: Colonies can build defense satellites.
- Market-Based Title: The main title is spelled "Hegemonia" instead of "Haegemonia" in the US due to the root word "hegemony" being spelled thus in American English.
- Mighty Glacier: Battleships are slow but powerful, armed with "blaster"-type weapons only. While blasters tend to be too slow to effectively shoot at fighters, fighters also can't really do much damage to battleships before lucky blaster shots swat them out of the sky or turret-armed backup arrives to make short work of them.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: A cutscene shows a captive Darzok in comparison to a human or a Kariak. They are large, four-armed, and very strong. The captive manage to break its bonds and self-destructs.
- Orbital Bombardment: The only way to force a planetary surrender.
- Organic Technology: Darzok ships have semi-organic armor that slowly regenerates when damaged. Spies can steal the tech.
- Our Wormholes Are Different: Wormholes are naturally-occurring space phenomena that allow rapid travel to other systems. The only other way to travel to other system is via an experimental technology that creates temporary one-way wormholes to "wormhole probes" which only becomes available in the latter stages. Wormholes can be blocked by Darzok-developed probes or natural events.
- Player Character: Either Captain Jack Garner of Earth or Captain Nilea Cortilliari of Mars, depending on the campaign.
- Point Defenseless: Missiles can sometimes be destroyed in-flight by EMP waves.
- Poor Communication Kills: When the Kariak first encounter human ships, they compare the designs to those of their ancient enemy and, finding them similar-looking, proceed to attack an unarmed transport ship. They don't bother even attempting communication until they start to lose badly.
- Space Pirates: Between the civil war and the war with the Kariak, these will be your main antagonists in the campaign.
- Space Police: Some of the function of the Legions of Iron is keeping the colonies and space habitats safe from Space Pirates.
- Space Station: Several types can be built, including mining and military. Stations remain mobile until locked down. They cannot be unlocked once locked, though, except in the expansion. Besides a formidable array of weapons, military stations also repair nearby ships.
- Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: The list of ships includes: fighters, corvettes, cruisers, battleships, and support ships. The expansion adds several new types, including a troop transport.
- Subsystem Damage: To an extent. Ships can be set to fire at either the hull, weapons, or engines.
- Targeting the hull has no special effects, it just decreases HP.
- Targeting weapons can blow off weapon-bearing parts of cruiser-sized and larger targets, like the cannon-armed outer rings of human military bases. It does not do any extra damage but does decrease the volume of return fire. Destroyed parts automatically respawn if the ship or military base stays out of combat for a while to repair itself.
- Targeting the engines will significantly decrease the target's top speed. This is especially noticeable in the Episode 1 trader interception missions and while chasing spies.
- Terraform: Similar to Imperium Galactica II and Master of Orion 2, planets can be terraformed with certain colony projects. Barren, lifeless rocks can eventually become paradise Gaia-class worlds.
- Units Not to Scale: Planets are very small compared to ships and stations. Military stations, when compared to planets, look to be the size of Asia.
- The War of Earthly Aggression: This is how the war at in Act I is viewed by the colonists.
- We Will Spend Credits in the Future: Billions of credits (BCs), to be precise.