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Video Game: Shattered Steel

"In the future, you don't rebuild. You reload."

Shattered Steel is a Humongous Mecha Simulation Game developed by BioWare (yes, that BioWare) and released in 1996 by Interplay Entertainment. Some time later it received a Mac port by now-defunct Logicware.

It is the year 2132. Space is being colonized at a rapid pace, with huge mining and manufacturing companies leading the way. The wealthy Core Worlds rely on the seedy Frontier Worlds for resources needed for production and expansion. The mining companies once had massive paramilitary security forces, though a war between two big companies over a resource-rich planet ended in armed intervention by the Core Navy and heavy sanctions being put on the extent of the MegaCorps' military power. It became necessary to hire heavily-armed and armored mercenaries to protect their interests, whether against rival companies or raids by Space Pirates.

You are one such mercenary. Armed with your Planet Runner, a bipedal war machine that puts the firepower of an entire armored division in the hands of one man, you have been hired by a Mega Corp. to investigate reports of pirate raids at their facilities on the planet Lanios III. However, nearly immediately you discover that the aggressors are not pirates, but a hostile alien race bent on our destruction. Cue Stuff Blowing Up and steel getting shattered.

The game has up to 16-person multiplayer over a local connection. It is also notable for being one of the earliest games to allow real terrain deformation; you can make some really deep craters with your guns, if you can spare the time and ammunition.


Shattered Steel provides examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The smooth-talking AI who narrates your mission briefings goes rogue early on and joins the aliens, to be replaced by a soft-spoken, female-voiced version.
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: Planet Runners. They're squat, reverse-legged machines with lots of exposed components and weapon mounts on the swiveling "head" and on the "shoulders". well, knees, really. The two largest ones, the Retro and Shiva, stand upright but still lack anything resembling arms, having only large weapon pods.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Played straight with the Energy Weapons, which draw power from your mech's reactor and gradually replenish their ammo. Averted with ballistics, where the only way to find more ammo is to find another gun.
  • Cliff Hanger: The game ends with the player character's ship orbiting the Alien home world, with a destabilized portal meaning no one was able to follow you.
  • Critical Encumbrance Failure: You can't begin a mission if your Runner's equipment exceeds its weight limit. However, during a mission it's possible to pick up weapons that will put you over the limit, drastically slowing you down.
  • Deflector Shields: You have regenerating shields protecting your mech. Divert power to them to make them replenish faster.
  • Energy Weapon: Plenty, with rapid-fire laser guns available for both your primary and secondary weapon slots, in addition to the heavier-hitting plasma guns.
  • Escort Mission: More then a few, unfortunately. However, none of them are particularly difficult and some aren't even critical to finishing a level, but reward you with stationary turrets helping you against enemies.
  • Expy: The first flying alien enemy, the Wasp, lacks any organic appearance at all. It instead strongly resembles the Hunter-Killers from the Terminator series.
  • Gatling Good: Every ballistic primary weapon.
  • Glass Cannon: Every Planet Runner. You can mount thick shielding, but once those are depleted even the heaviest Runners can't take much punishment.
  • Gunship Rescue: Friendly gunships occasionally fly in to lend a hand. Their firepower can and will turn the tide.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Don LaFontaine, the "In a World" guy, narrates the opening cinematic.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Lasers recharge over time, but machine guns have a higher rate of fire and don't suffer from the same clipping problems that lasers do. It appears that guns work on a Hit Scan principle, whereas lasers are tied into the game's physics engine.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Retro and Shiva Runners have four secondary weapon mounts, all of which can be equipped with missile racks.
  • More Dakka: You gain access to dual 30mm autocannons as a primary weapon early on. Later autocannons include 50mm and 70mm, as well as 150mm and 210 Howitzer cannons as secondaries. On the Shiva mech, the last and largest Planet Runner, you can quad-mount any primary weapon.
  • No Fair Cheating: Built-in cheat functions can be found in the options menu, such as God Mode and unlimited ammo, but turning them on prevents you from progressing through the campaign.
    • Averted with the actual non-menu cheats; they can't give you gameplay-destroying cheats like invulnerability, but you can play with your weapon loadout at will and litter the level with very powerful allied units that'll make short work of anything nearby and make passing the mission a triviality.
  • Nuke 'em: You can equip a one-shot nuclear missile to one of your secondary hardpoints- assuming your Runner can carry the damn thing. Don't get caught in the blast. The result of the nuke is a large flaming crater where anything, including enemies, buildings and the hill they were standing on used to be.
  • Organic Technology: The aliens are apparently organic-mechanical hybrids. They salvage anything useful from the battlefield following their raids, including human remains.
  • Overheating: It's possible to direct power from your reactor to different systems: Weapons, Shields and Propulsion. Use too much power, especially in propulsion, and you can overheat your reactor and blow up as result.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The demo of this game borrowed a few midi tracks from Descent II, another Interplay game, most notably the creepy briefing music heard in Descent II's demo.
  • Red Shirts: Your AI buddies have a habit of getting dead if you don't back them up.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: They need our resources and cannot be reasoned with.
  • Spider Tank: A common alien enemy. Other models include raptors and scorpions (their stinger shoots a nasty lighting blast, watch out!)
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Often.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: The aliens use "Teleportal" gates to get from planet to planet and across the surface of planets quickly.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: Blowing the heads off enemy mechs causes them to twitch uncontrollably or blunder around harmlessly bumping into things.
  • Weak Turret Gun: Autocannon turrets occasionally aid you against enemies. They're not really "weak", but have little health. The aliens' energy turrets, however, play this completely straight.
  • Why You Should Destroy the Planet Earth: Never revealed.

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