Iron Grip: The Oppression
from the trailer
of Iron Grip : The Opression
is a 2006 Total Conversion
for Half-Life 2
by indie game developer Isotx,set in the steampunk
fictional universe of Iron Grip. It features urban guerrilla warfare by combining elements from two different genres. A player can choose one of two sides in this game, the Rahmos City Guard or The Resistance
. The Rahmos
side is a Real-Time Strategy
game, generally played by a single player (or a very small number of players in large games). The Resistance side is played as a cooperation of several players, each playing a First-Person Shooter
in a very similar manner to Half-Life 2
. Available here
In 2008, it received a full-blown stand-alone sequel (built in a heavily updated version of the older idTech3 engine), titled Iron Grip : Warlord
. It's more of the same concept
(Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits guerilla fighters
vs. The Empire
), but adds a more Tower Defense
feel to the RTS element of the game. As in Opression
, the sequel is aimed primarily at co-op gameplay between human players, but offers various other multiplayer modes as well.
The third game in the series, a Free-To-Play multiplayer TBS
called Iron Grip : Marauders
, is currently available on Steam
since September 30, 2011. March Of War
, also by Isotx and also on Steam, incorporates many of the same themes and styles of the Iron Grip
series (the main difference is that Steam Punk
has been switched out in favor of Diesel Punk
Provides Examples Of:
- Aerith and Bob / My Nayme Is
- All-or-Nothing Reloads : Averted by the shotgun in Warlord, which can be forced to fire even while not fully reloaded yet. Otherwise played straight, especially by the assault rifle and musket.
- All There in the Manual / Expanded Universe : And how ! To their credit, the creators seem to be taking the World Building of the games' setting pretty seriously.
- Anachronism Stew / Schizo Tech / Retro Universe : Besides being steampunky, the setting is a (surprisingly believable) mishmash of The Middle Ages, bits of the The Renaissance period and Thirty Years' War, the Napoleonic era and both World Wars. Just◊ take◊ a look◊ at the◊ clothes◊, armour◊ and weaponry◊ of the◊ various◊ soldiers◊. One might say that the entire setting deliberately adheres to the "Purely Aesthetic Era" trope...
- Bittersweet Ending : Your against-all-odds victory in Warlord is paradoxically also a crushing defeat. Even the brief victorious cutscene reminds you of it. It's still a victory in the long run though, since it was all part of a wider cunning plan...
- Captain Obvious : Literally ! The captain of your brave and grizzled guerilla squad in Warlord often exclaims at the start of each level : "We are losing the city..." Though in all honesty, this is a glitch that sometimes happens while starting a new round in a multiplayer match.
- Cool Gun : Lots, all with an artsy (but also practical) steampunk design.
- Constructed World
- Continuity Nod : Warlord indirectly references Opression in many ways : The premise and style of gameplay are nearly the same and some of the weapons from Opression make reappearances - e.g. confiscated Rahmos heavy machine guns used by Atelians; the rocket launcher is explicitly stated to be a newer and improved version of the one from Opression, etc. Also, there are plenty of hints that the events of both games are taking place concurrently, or at least in a very close time frame.
- Crapsack World / Hopeless War : Oh. So. Much. Both Opression and Warlord explore the theme of "what it feels like when a small country is caught between the grinding forces of two superpowers".
- Crystal Dragon Jesus : The Trithinite faith that originated in the south of the Kathos subcontintent (the primary stage of the setting). Not much is shown of its theological nature, but its history seems to mirror the developments of both Christianity and Islam in several ways. There is also some mention of a concept similar to the belief in reincarnation. Though not their original faith, Trithinism was embraced by the Fahrongi to the point where it became their state religion◊. and an excuse for waging crusades against all unbelievers... On the other hand, the Fahrong missionares spreading the faith tend to be quite sensible, goodwilling and non-militant people.
- Custom Uniform : The resistance fighters in both games.
- Darker and Edgier : Warlord, compared to Opression.
- Days of Future Past : Seriously, Feudal Steampunk.
- Decapitated Army : A major gameplay mechanic based around troop morale concerns the number of the attacking army's living officers. Killing an officer results in boosting morale for the resistance fighters while simultaneously lowering the morale of the attackers. If the attackers manage to destroy/occupy the resistance's stronghold/focal defense points (and keep it that way), the morale of the guerillas quickly starts to diminish. The Keystone Army trope isn't played completely straight, since both sides only give up once their morale drops to zero - not purely because of the amount of dead officers or captured bases.
- Expansion Pack World
- Fackler Scale of FPS Realism : Somewhere in the middle, since the RTS element forces a more arcadeish approach. The weapon-wielding is pretty realistic and each firearm has accurately portrayed drawbacks (e.g. heavy machine guns and bazookas need to be properly deployed before shooting; crouching and the use of iron sights is encouraged for more accurate aiming), but there's also bunnyhopping, quick running and other Acceptable Breaks from Reality. It's also possible to achieve occasional No Scope shots with Warlord's Sniper Rifle (they're really inaccurate though).
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture : Rarely played straight, since the various countries and ethnicities inhabiting Theia tend to be one giant - yet still believable - Culture Chop Suey of various cultures and civilizations from many different geographic areas and eras of human history. As far as possible analogies go :
- Fantasy Gun Control : Completely averted. Technically also a subversion, thanks to the presence of lots of archaic melee weaponry - in tone with the series theme of "warfare with early 20. century tech in an otherwise medieval-esque world".
- Forever War : Petty conflicts and major wars between the Theian nations have been dragging on in one way or another for entire centuries. Many have their roots in millenia-old disputes.
- Gallows Humour : Seen most frequently in Warlord, where members of the Atelian resistance constantly quip tongue-in-cheek comments on their current situation (especially when their Last Stand seems to be going to hell). The Fahrong commanders act in a similar fashion, belittling their soldiers and bossing them around all the time... and spouting Bond One Liners after killing a member of the resistance.
- Genghis Gambit : Present in Warlord, nicely subverting the very reason for which you're defending the various locations. Atelia is a very disunited country and the local leaders have problems convincing the populace to rebel against the Fahrong occupation. The titular warlord of the game, Sahrab, proposes the idea of defending some of the already doomed cities with guerilla warfare for as long as possible, only to sacrifice them afterward : The constant resiliant defence will eventually piss off the Fahrong armies and force them to carpet bomb the besieged cities, blowing them to smithereens along with the local populace. Surviving Atelians will become outraged and finally eager to drive the Fahrongi out of the land. Needless to say, the Atelian rulers are utterly desperate, so they try to pull off this idea - hoping it might be Crazy Enough to Work.
- Grey and Grey Morality / A Lighter Shade Of Gray / My Country, Right or Wrong : The games are not primarily story-driven, but they offer this a lot.
- Grim Up North : Theia is a much more mountainous planet than Earth, with dramatically rugged terrain, unpredictable weather and a more colder global climate overall.
- Hold the Line / Last Stand / The Siege : The basic premise of both games in the series. They nearly revel in these tropes (especially Warlord).
- This◊ piece of concept art speaks for everything - it's even titled The Last Stand...
- Hollywood Tactics : The Rahmos and Fahrong empires sure love storming your cities in the most over-the-top fashion possible. Needless to say, it rarely pays off.
- Hyperspace Arsenal : Played straight both in Opression and Warlord.
- Improvised Weapon : But of course ! Comes in handy when you're a tiny band of partisans fighting against armies numbering in the thousands.
- Kill It with Fire / Stuff Blowing Up : The resistance fighters from both games are really in love with this trope - whether it's a good old Molotov Cocktail, home-made bomb, dynamite, anti-personnel mine, satchel charge, stacks of fuel-filled barrels (for the enemy to hit) or a trusty flamethrower. In Warlord, due to the somewhat wobbly AI of your team bots, this can often result in an unintended Incendiary Exponent.
- La Résistance : The FPS side in Opression is called, unsurprisingly, "The Resistance".
- Large Ham : The constantly grunting Fahrong officers from Warlord.
- Low Fantasy / Planetary Romance : Theia is a fictional, very Earth-like planet, with the only differences being somewhat altered laws of physics (to enable Rule of Cool technology) and a few giant creature species of the Sea Monster variety. Theians are, for all intents and purposes, normal everyday humans. Flora and fauna is generally Earth-like, if quite a bit smeerpy. Magic and Psychic Powers are completely non-existant in the setting. Even Magitek gets averted.
- Medieval Stasis : Averted. "Schizo Tech and Anachronism Stew Stasis" would probably be more appropriate. Things like motor vehicles, mechs, aircraft and zeppelins haven't always been a part of the setting and were invented fairly recently. However, it's also implied, that "fairly recently" means they have been known for several centuries and that actual progress towards breakthroughs in technology takes a fair amount of time when compared to Earth. This is all possibly justified by the Little Ice Age-like atmosphere of the whole setting.
- More Dakka / Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better
- Nintendo Hard : If you're playing alone in standard single player or multiplayer mode (supported only by allied bots with weak AI), Warlord becomes a pretty serious offender. The "easy" difficulty is truely pretty easy, but the "medium" one feels more like "hard". And it gets pretty insane from there, resulting in Harder Than Hard Tower Defense. The two highest difficulties even lampshade this, being appropriately named "Brute" and "God"... Playing co-op is usualy easier, since human players can obviously construct better and more cunning defences - thanks to some good old fashioned teamwork, of course.
- Not So Different : Rahmos and Fahrong.
- Occupiers out of Our Country / Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters
- Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits : The resistance fighters in Opression. Nearly all of them have a Dark and Troubled Past. Some are Anti Heroes or Knights In Sour Armour. Here's the Cast Calculus :
- Real Is Brown : While some of the maps/levels play this straight (e.g. "The Spiral" from Warlord), most of them subvert it in some way, while still remaining gritty and delapidated in appearance (in a reasonably varying way).
- Several levels in Opression are not so much Real Is Brown as "Real Is Cold-looking Dusky Winter Blue Hue".
- Red Shirt Army : The Rahmos Conscripts◊. Seriously, lone Resistance members can kill these guys in droves.
- Refuge in Audacity / Rule of Cool : This game series is pretty guilty of both...
- Religious and Mythological Theme Naming / Animal Theme Naming : Most of the vehicles and weapons in the series :
- The Rahmos empire from Opression uses the "Raccoon" armoured car and the standard "Dingo" tank
- The "Chimera" shotgun, "Salamander" flamethrower and "Falcon" Sniper Rifle from Warlord
- The Spider Tanks of the Fahrongi are known as "arachs" and have names related to various species of spiders or arthropodes.
- In addition to these, they have the "Scarab" series of armoured cars.
- A Zeppelin From Another World in one of the Expanded Universe stories bears the proud name of "The Sedales Serpent".
- Shout-Out: As Naka Teleeli and friends will attest to, one of the units in Warlord (specifically here at about 49:54) looks a bit like a Tachikoma.
- Silliness Switch : Warlord has an option in the Settings menu that turns on "Christmas content". In practice, it replaces the usual ingame soldier and vehicle models with hilarious Christmas-themed doppelgangers. Minigun-toting Santa Claus officers FTW !
- Sky Pirate : Some of these appear in various Expanded Universe stories. Marauders has the player become the leader of a group of them.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism : Quite far towards the cynical end of the scale...
- Spider Tank : Warlord features several of these, deployed by the Fahrong empire to storm your cities and strongholds as much as possible. They include the Recluse◊, Warweaver◊ and Widow◊ "arachs". The Widow is quite literally a gigantic self-propelled artillery piece.
- Standard FPS Guns : Played mostly straight in both games, though not without a few subversions. Some of the guns have rather novel secondary firing modes (e.g. the shotgun and flamethrower from Warlord). One of the starting guns in Warlord is a simple Atelian hunting rifle, and though it looks pretty archaic, it actually fills the role of a typical war FPS marksman rifle.
- Standard Sci-Fi Army : The units appearing in the series cover most of the traditional cathegories. The guerilla fighters (Kathosian townsmen, Atelians) are mostly irregular infantry, contain a lot of civilian units thrown into the mix, have very little in the way of vehicles, but own some packhorses and mounts. The standing armies are predictably more numerous, have very varied infantry, armoured cars and trains, tanks, stationary and self-propelled artillery and Awesome Personnel Carriers. The Fahrongi Spider Tanks sort of count as Mecha. Air forces are used only by wealthier countries or Sky Pirates and are generally well-equipped with fighters, small bombers, Cool Airships, Drop Ships and Gunships. The closest thing to a Super Soldier unit are the Fahrongi officers - members of a specially bred caste of Fahrong society, who also undergo a Training from Hell organised by their country's Church Militant. In addition, they serve the role of a Political unit, boosting morale of the troops (this is also a gameplay element in Warlord). Both Fahrong and Atelian armies use suicide bombers as a variation of the Terror troop cathegory.
- Steam Punk / Diesel Punk : In spades ! The whole setting could be summed up briefly as : A mostly rustic world of nearly endless winters + industrial Punk Punk + zeppelins + Earth Is a Battlefield
- Tank Goodness : Most of the armoured vehicles in both games aim for Rule of Cool at least as much as a realistic visage. See for yourself...
- The Empire : Rahmos in Iron Grip : The Opression and the Fahrongi-formed Confederation of Nallum in Iron Grip : Warlord (who are essentially Rahmos Expys with a "religious fanatic" streak to them). Both represent the RTS side (the opponent).
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized : And how...
- The Squad : Your tiny group of guerilla fighters in Warlord.
- The War Sequence : As insane as it sounds, every single level (multiplayer map) full stop, from start to finish ! Clearly present in Warlord (making it border on Nintendo Hard for unexperienced players), less so in Opression. The general approach to gameplay required from the player could be described as : Defend your turf in the most Crazy Awesome way possible !
- Tower Defense : More pronounced in Warlord than in Opression (which is more about cunning guerilla attacks).
- Used Future : Although The Verse of the games is not set in the future (more like A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away...), it still fits this trope to a tee. The overall look of all the military and civilian tech makes it often hard to decide whether it's truely old, rusty and battered or deliberately steampunkish-looking...
- Urban Warfare : Most of the maps take place in occupied or besieged cities or fortresses. A lot of them are... not in very good shape...
- Vestigial Empire : Kathos was once The Kingdom, until Civil War between the heirs to the imperial throne broke out. The war ended in an indecisive stalemate, with competing brothers Mercos and Garados usurping different parts of the empire. The brothers replaced the former capital of Torun with two newly founded cities, both named after them. Several millenia of ludicrous infighting later, Kathos is a balkanised region of wealthy and powerful, but ultimately quarelling city states. Thanks to another Civil War and Stupidity Is the Only Option, they all fall prey to the new superpower, Rahmos - becoming the aptly named Rahmos Protectorate States.
- Videogame Flamethrowers Suck : Both averted and played straight. The flamethrowers in Warlord are really powerful and can deal massive damage to infantry - the Fahrongi flamethrowers, that is (with the Fahrong flamethrowermen taking the Goddamn Bats trope to spectacular new levels). The Atelian "Salamander" flamethrower is nearly as powerful and has a unique secondary firing mode : It can spray some of its fuel on the ground to create lightable patches of burning fire. Sadly, it's severely disadvantaged by its small and fast-depleting fuel tank, making it Cool, but Inefficient. Your best bet is to crouch behind the corner of an alleyway and start squirting flame on a fresh new row of incoming enemy soldiers. The Molotov Cocktails are still the better incendiary weapon for all occassions.
- War Is Hell : Not discussed, but shown more than enough.
- World of Badass : Warlord, full stop.
- X Meets Y : Iron Grip : The Opression is pretty much the Real Life historical Warszaw Ghetto uprising, Warszaw uprising and Budapest uprising... IN A STEAMPUNK LOW FANTASY SETTING !
- Zeppelins from Another World / Cool Airship : Whoa...◊ Once◊ again◊ - in spades ! They're more like a cross between a rigid airship and a WWI dreadnought. Several missions in Opression involve the Resistance trying to complete their objectives before Zeppelin-Dreadnoughts turn the entire area they're in into a crater. Warlord reuses the premise, but it's played with / subverted in an interesting fashion (see the Genghis Gambit above).
- Zerg Rush : The basic tactic of the attacking armies. The Fahrong ones from Warlord take this to ruthless and unbelievable levels...