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Video Game / Colony Wars

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There are so many ways a war can turn; just one mission can make a difference.

A trilogy of space combat games by Psygnosis for the Play Station; the original Colony Wars told of an epic civil war between two factions of humanity, the Earth Empire and their Colonial Navy against the secessionist League of Free Worlds. The player steps into the role of an anonymous League pilot during what will turn out to be the final phase of the war one way or another, as the technologically inferior League fights to throw off the oppressive Empire. Unusually for a game with Multiple Endings, the canon ending isn't the best one; the League is able to push the Empire all the way back to Sol, but is unable to take the home-system and instead seals it off, condemning what remains of the Empire to civil war over the tiny scraps of resources left.

The second game, Vengeance, takes place one-hundred years later. The player now controls Mertens, one of many pilots united by the charismatic leader Kron under a new Navy hell-bent on re-building the portal device needed to establish interstellar travel outside of Sol and take vengeance on the League. It's not quite that simple, and the game's subtitle turns out to have a Double Meaning.

The third game, Red Sun, takes place concurrently with Vengeance and follows Valdemar, a worker on a mining colony far removed from the re-newed conflict. One night, a mysterious man known as "the general" appears to him in his dreams, recruiting him, whether Valdemar likes it or not, to fight a more alien threat to civilization than the Navy and League's seemingly endless conflict. Red Sun ends before showing a resolution to the conflict of Vengeance, so there is no canon ending.

This series contains examples of...

  • Ace Pilot: The Widowmaker
  • Artificial Gravity: A close look at the Navy ships of the Vengeance timeframe will show you how much they've fallen back in technology despite rebuilding into a cohesive force; their ships have rotating sections to provide gravity, and Mertens, along with his friends, can be seen floating about their quarters in one cutscene. Even the original League didn't need to build their ships like this.
  • All There in the Manual: A large amount of backstory for Red Sun (and by extension the other two games in the trilogy) can be found in the form of an incomplete wiki on the official site.
  • The Battlestar: Technically every capital ship since they all launch fighters and all have ship-to-ship weapons, but mostly Dreadnoughts on both sides, Navy Titans, and the Super Titan.
  • Beam Spam: Ships would constantly fire beams at each other, but to avoid breaking the mission scripting, beams didn't do actual damage to anything except the player.
  • Book Ends: The first act of the first game is titled "A new threat". The very last ending is named "A new threat?". Subverted; it turns out the latter bookend isn't canon.
  • Civil Warcraft: In one of the branches of the original, a group of disgruntled League pilots break away and form a group called "The Faction", which allies with the Navy.
  • Cool Ship: Mostly in-universe:
    • The Dark Angel fighter was first used by the League to pull off a Big Damn Heroes moment. It's actually an average performer, but its history and distinctive look make it an important symbol.
    • The Hydra bomber proved so effective against Navy ships that the designer had to go into hiding because he was in danger of being assassinated by Navy loyalists as retribution wherever he went.
    • The Eclipse stealth fighter; it's very clear from the ship database that the Navy has at least a resource advantage if not an outright technology advantage during the original colony wars, as their ships are always a little bigger and a little better armed. Despite this, the Eclipse is fielded by the League and the Navy has no equivalent.
    • The Navy Super Titan is a ship that appears either in a cutscene if you lose in the beginning of the game to destroy the league fleet as they are retreating with one large continuously firing beam that hits a ship and destroys it then moves to another ship to destroy; or you face it in the final battle over Earth. The Super Titan dwarfs all League ships including the League battleships. Oddly enough it has stats similar to the regular Titan per the ship statistic database, but is twice as big and is ten times as fast (making it faster than all fighters in the game). Also odd in that despite the computer verbally stating "No Information Available" regarding its origins, it still has the general stats of the ship listed which the League somehow acquired. It is the final boss of the game, where three League battleships join you in fighting the Super Titan but all get destroyed one after the other with one shot by the Super Titan's beam weapon leaving you to fight it alone.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: If the player fails enough to get the worst ending in either the first game or Vengeance, the League/Navy is soundly defeated. It's much more brutal in the second game, where the Navy is defeated almost as soon as they emerge from Sol, the League plans to destroy the entire system to prevent another recovery and uprising in the future like what happened when Sol was just cut off from the Portal Network,and Kron goes through with a plan to destroy the system first to take as many as he can with him.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: The first game's plot would vary wildly depending on player performance; three of the five endings had satisfactory outcomes, the other two saw the League defeated. It's possible to be locked out of all but the 'worst' of the good endings very early on, and the page quote would appear on the chapter-selection screen unless the player had a perfect run. In Vengeance, there is only one story path with bad endings depending on what part of the path the player fails on, but there are "doing poorly" branches to the path that will put you back on track if you succeed on them. Red Sun has a completely linear plot.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: Due to the nature of the branching storyline system, unlocking new branches can requires deliberately failing otherwise easy missions.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The title of Vengenance ostensibly refers to the Earth Empire seeking revenge on the League of Free Worlds for trapping them on Earth during the events of the first game. But after The Reveal, it becomes clear that it also refers to Kron's quest for revenge against his former League comrades for betraying and abandoning him.
  • Drop Ship: Several missions in Vengeance are played on planetary surface using a heavily armed dropship named Spook.
  • Earth That Used to Be Better: By the time of Vengeance what little we see of Earth in the intro is war-torn cities occupied by gangs and neo-tribes. Despite this the planet is still capable of launching ships to space and contribute to the Navy one Kron riles the masses up.
  • Earth That Was: As far as the Empire is concerned, the colonies exist to feed resources back to the wealthy on Earth, who apparently still live there as little more than a status symbol. In the final mission of the first game, the League takes on the largest ship the Navy has in the vicinity of Earth; the entire planet is a sickly brown.
  • Enemy Mine: Some time after Red Sun takes place, the League and Navy run afoul of a hostile alien species (different from any of the three of that appear in Red Sun) and call a truce to face the threat. When Kron insists that the Navy must continue fighting the League, most of the Navy deserts him.
  • The Epic: The first game. The story takes place over the last stretch of the League's war for independence, and the entire League knows it, though they're all faceless. The narrator is very emotional about key events, and he also sounds so much like James Earl Jones that many people who played the game when it was new still don't know it wasn't actually him.
  • Escape Pod: Some missions require rescuing friendly escape pods, some require destroying the enemy's.
  • False Flag Operation: Early in Red Sun, the Navy attacks Marjorie's Kitchen in stolen League ships to give themselves some moral high-ground. Diva, who works for the League, knows there are no League forces anywhere near Marjorie's Kitchen, so she and Valdemar quickly deduce what's going on.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Anyone who plays Vengeance after the first game will realize something is wrong when Mertens describes the League as "jealous terrorists" in his opening narration.
    • The opening cutscene of Vengeance shows a fighter crashing to Earth, seemingly just to establish the mood. But after The Reveal about who Kron really is, it becomes clear that the cutscene actually shows Kron crashing to Earth during the first war after being betrayed by the League.
  • Forever War: The original colony wars lasted a really long time. The end was very sudden to the point where the narrator mentions that he never dreamed of being around to see the League reach Sol.
  • Fisher Kingdom: The Draco system, where the two suns cause crews to grow close bonds or hate each other depending on which sun their ship is closer to. The narrator mentions believing this to be an exaggerated tall tale from crews that had previously seen action in Draco, until seeing it for himself.
  • Golden Ending: Perhaps to avoid Cutting Off the Branches, only the most time-consuming and successful story branch in Vengeance concludes with a "good" ending, with all the others branches ending unambiguously poorly.
  • Informed Ability:
    • The Eclipse stealth fighter in the first game is told per ship database dialog that the ship jams enemy sensor signals to appear invisible to radar. Also the opening cutscene, three of those Eclipse fighters surprise Navy fighters responding to two Dark Angel fighters on an attack run against a Navy frigate, causing them to attempt to run. However during the last mission when you are flying an Eclipse vs. the Navy Super Titan, the Super Titan's guns can easily track you and shoot at you, though it isn't established if the Super Titan has some sort of anti-stealth sensor technology for that ship (and if so, why wouldn't that tracking technology be on all of the Navy's ships).
    • The manual of Vengeance states that your wingmate Klein is depressive and that he might break down during intense moments. Neither of these two aspects are apparent during the actual game. If anything, he dies only because the Widowmaker genuinely outflies him.
    • Mertins, Becks and Klein are also described as extremely close in the manual. Mertins barely has a reaction when he kills Becks, and has none at all to Klein's death or avenging him against the Widowmaker.
  • Kangaroo Court: In one of the bad endings for Vengeance, Mertins is put through one of these. Not by the League, but by his own side, as The Watch is taking over the Navy.
  • Kill Sat: Strike cannons, giant energy guns with a small cockpit attached to one side and an engine on the back. Frequently used to even the odds in capital ship engagements, and one functions as a traditional Kil Sat to destroy a land-based research outpost.
  • Living Ship: The Red Sun initially looks like a normal, if expensive and powerful, capital ship. Then it starts growing, until the original hull looks like nothing more than a too-small shell over a mass of tentacles.
  • Missile Lock-On
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Red Sun contains an extremely blatant caricature of Bill Gates. The alien crew of the Red Sun politely ask him to let them eat the population of the space station he runs. When he refuses based solely on the fact that there's nothing in it for him, they kill him and do it anyway.
  • Older Than They Look: Hinted at in the games, spelled out on the old website; the lifespan of humans has increased greatly. In the first game's fluff database, the information suggests that the League has existed and has been fighting the Empire for centuries, with the history of the war described in "phases." Despite this, the narrator lives to see the end of the war, but describes himself as "very young" before it started. Kron is a more blatant case, as it's spelled out that he fought in the original war's final battle and Sol is sealed off for a century before he rebuilds the Navy and breaks out, but he looks thirty.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: Interstellar travel relies on "battle platforms," massive space stations built at the edge of a system that contain the machinery needed to open a portal, or "warp hole" to another system. The League wins their independence by fighting the Colonial Navy back to Sol and destroying the battle platform, sealing the system off from the colonies. It seems to be a Portal Network in the first game, but in Vengeance, the new Sol platform opens a warp hole straight to what the Navy believes is the League's home system.
  • Portal Cut: Happens to a Navy Titan in an early mission in the first game.
  • POW Camp: In the worst and second-worst endings for Vengeance, we see Mertins end up in different ones after the Navy is soundly defeated. Neither of them look like the League is terribly concerned about treating their prisoners well. In the worst ending, Kron gets to skip the camps entirely and is tortured in public, although you're not likely to have any sympathy for him if you see this ending after you've already seen the better ones.
  • The Reveal: The climax of Vengeance features the surprise revelation that Kron is actually a former League officer who was betrayed by his comrades and abandoned on Earth during the last war, which paints the entire story in a very different light.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying: When Valdemar destroys the Red Sun, he narrates that it seems insignificant because, though mass-extinction is averted, the League and Navy are still shooting at each other. Then we find out that everyone else knows exactly what he did and how important it was, as he turns to enjoy the parade being thrown in his honor.
  • Self-Plagiarism: In between Vengeance and Red Sun, Psygnosis released a very similar game titled Blast Radius.
  • Shadow Dictator: The Watch.
  • Shout-Out: One mission in Red Sun requires you to head to LV-624.
  • Sink the Lifeboats: If in the first game you attack friendly ships (either by accident or by choice), the League automatically activates the self-destruct countdown on your fighter and once the countdown completes, your ship is destroyed and you are automatically ejected into space. A cutscene plays afterwards where a computer voice describes how most captured League traitors are sent to a hard labor prison mining facility where high rates of death is noted (and that despite their help in securing the Earth Empire's victory, all League traitors were never released from captivity by the Navy), while you are watching your escape pod being fired upon by multiple League craft taking immediate revenge upon you. Two odd things about this, first that while the League had the foresight to create a remote operated self-destruct mechanism to deal with traitors or others commandeering their fighters, it doesn't prevent you from ejecting safely from the exploding ship; and why those ships that suddenly showed up to fire upon your escape pod after you turned traitor weren't there helping you during the mission. The League fighters during the cutscene never actually hit your lifepod and are shooting around it, so it is unknown if your escape pod will eventually be destroyed by them or if the League pilots are harassing a traitor who will eventually be captured for trial and sentencing.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Vengeance ultimately reveals that Kron was once one of them. He's actually a League soldier who fought in the first war, but he was betrayed and sent to his death in a mission on Earth when the League realized how dangerous and unhinged he truly was.
  • Space Friction: Fighters can turn on a dime, but stop almost completely when the engine is let off.
  • Space Opera
  • Standard Alien Spaceship: The alien ships are organic-looking pod-like vessels while their battleships resemble the Kadeshi motherships from [[Homeworld]] of all things.
  • Standard Human Spaceship: Averted in the first game for both sides and played straight for the Navy in the second, owing to a century of civil war and technology regression.
  • Standard Starship Scuffle: If two bigger ships are duking it out, chances are that they are sitting next to each other using beam-spamming while firing smaller energy shots at nearby hostile fighters.
  • State Sec: The Watch which is tasked with rooting out traitors within the Navy, as time goes by they become increasingly ruthless and power-hungry.
  • Stealth in Space: The Eclipse fighter is invisible to enemies so long as its moving. All ships seem to have cloaking devices, but can't shoot while cloaked.
  • The Emperor: The Tsar in the first game is this to a t, ruling over the oppressive Earth Empire.
  • The War of Earthly Aggression: In both games the plot is kicked off by the Earth/Sol system launching an attack on the colonies, first due to the need to secure vital resources for Earth, then out of revenge for being left to die by being cut off from the former.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: The bad endings certainly are. Among the good endings involves overthrowing The Empire, blowing up the Big Bad's giant not-a-Star-Destroyer and returning to Earth, as well as rooting out Les Collaborateurs, bankrupting the Imperial Navy and winning independence in exchange for helping the repair efforts on Earth. Or, alternately, sealing off Earth from the rest of the universe, leaving the inhabitants to starve slowly or kill untold numbers in a bloody civil war. That last one is canon.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Drake, the mysterious Intelligence Corps person in Vengeance who helps Mertens throughout the war. Who he is, or why he's helping Mertens is never addressed.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Red Sun is built by hungry aliens who plan on using it to eat all life; before the final battle to bring it down, the General tells Valdemar that if he doesn't succeed, the fully-grown ship will use the energy of the nearest warp hole to reproduce and send its offspring to every corner of the galaxy.
  • What the Hell, Player?: If you fire on your allies enough times, you get called a traitor and your ship self-destructs, ending the mission, though strangely not the campaign.


Video Example(s):


Colony Wars

Far in the future, it is the savage Earth Empire who threaten Humanity's colony worlds.

How well does it match the trope?

4.8 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheWarOfEarthlyAggression

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