Video Game / Hired Guns
Hired Guns is a 1993 Tactical role playing game for the Amiga and IBM PC. The titular player characters are mercenaries in a somewhat dystopian future, hired to perform a clean-up operation on a deathworld called Graveyard.
(This was a distinct change to the original plot, where they were hired to perform a hostage rescue on Graveyard, only to discover it was a trap... leading to the same end goal.)
Hired Guns was incredibly impressive for the time; although Doom came out the same year with 2.5D maps, Hired Guns has a fully 3D world (although still sprites for items, enemies, etc, and based on cartesian grid cells rather than free polygons), with working lifts, tunnels, water sections (with environmental damage to electronic equipment when submersed). It's also clearly descended from the 4-character party ideas of Dungeon Master - every mission allows the player to select a 4 mercenary team from the total group available, and each mercenary has an independantly controllable quadrant of the screen. (In this it is somewhat similar to Space Hulk, which came out in the same year, and also featured multi-character teams with independant view displays on the screen at the same time.)
- All There in the Manual : Takes the "large manual" trend of the period to ludicrous extents, with no less than 3 included booklets providing copious background information left out of the game proper (including a short story setting the scene, more detailed biographies for all 12 characters, details on the technology of the setting, and an in-Universe research report on the game's semi-magical widgets, Psi Amps ).
- Gameplay and Story Segregation : The multiplayer maps are not too concerned with maintaining the strict setting of the single player campaign; some of the harder challenges feature man-sized, and very dangerous, Lemmings as enemies, and bananas as extremely powerful weapons.
- Magic Tool : One of the many Psi Amp functions possible with the right module. Even fixes equipment reduced to useless powder.
- Magic by Any Other Name : The (in-Universe) research notes on Psi Amps presented in one of the three included booklets have the researcher essentially admitting that Psi Amp functions are essentially magic from the perspective of human technology levels. Of course, as the result of the in-Universe Precursors, this is unsurprising.
- Shout-Out : Several to Aliens and other 1980s films:
- The emplaced sentry guns are very similar to those from Aliens.
- Several quotes from characters in the central text feed reference Aliens as well ("I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit" and "Game Over Man, Game over!")
- One enemy type (the Robo Dyne 7000) is inspired strongly by ED-209 from RoboCop. The enemy's name is reminiscent of Cyberdyne Systems from Terminator,.
- The robot character CIM-Lite is basically a fleshless Terminator, albeit on your side.
- Skele Bot 9000 : One of the more ubiqutious early enemies, described simply as "Skeletons" in the manual, and also one of the two robotic characters available to the player. Justified as being intended as terror weapons, more useful for their psychological effect than their actual combat prowess.
- What Could Have Been : As is common for Video Games, especially in this period, the original design differs significantly from the end result. Originally, the setting was supposed to be High Fantasy, not SF (hence the skeletons and demon-shaped things), and Psi Amps went from magic items to mind-powered devices (hence the name) to inscrutable Precursor artifacts.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue : All of the surviving characters get a short description of what they did after the events of the game on completion. The creators intended some of these to also serve as sequel hooks, but this did not come to pass.