Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Haegemonia: Legions of Iron

Go To
Haegemonia: Legions of Iron (spelled Hegemonia 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 series.

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 at the end of Episode 2, when a fighter squad blows up an Interstellar Trader.
  • 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 volcanic and barren climates, respectively, and will 'form in the other direction. Ironically, although the Kariak really like volcanic planets, their own homeworld, Raki II, is a Gaia planet.
  • 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.
  • Beam Spam: Pretty much every battle where Kariak ships and their Ion weapons are present. Especially if a military space station is involved. The Solon Stations and their ships also use their own, even more advanced Ion weapons, which look like lightning bolts and sound like an electric discharge.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: At a certain point your commander will get a message from an unidentified Darzok. This is the only time that a Darzok is shown to attempt communications and your commander will be rather incredulous at it as well. This event has no bearing on the game and is never mentioned again.
  • Colony Drop: Stray asteroids headed for inhabited planets sometimes happen as random events (and is scripted to happen in one mission). Not destroying the asteroid before it impacts the planet will annihilate the surface population.
  • 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.
  • Energy Weapon: 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. The Solons also used Ion weapons, but they're vastly more advanced and lethal. When fully upgraded in The Solon Heritage, Kariak Ion weapons become green.
  • Expansion Pack: The Solon Heritage is a stand-alone expansion that earned the ire of many fans for not including a campaign, especially since the original game ends on a Cliffhanger.
  • 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.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: Blaster-type guns are usually mounted like this, most evidently visible on corvettes.
  • 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.
  • Nuke 'em: Mid-tier missile weapons are explicitly nuclear, but their actual level of damage is more akin to tactical nukes. The actual heavy-weight missiles are the torpedoes.
  • Orbital Bombardment: The only way to force a planetary surrender, although the process can be sped up by simultaneously having spies run propaganda missions on the planet to raise unrest.
  • 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 are guaranteed hits against stationary targets. Averted if the target has ECM which can neutralize inbound missiles, but some missile upgrades grant missiles ECM resistance.
  • 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.
  • Pre-Meeting: If you invade Khiirzask I in the first mission of Episode 3 (something you're not supposed to do, as it's much more difficult than just accomplishing the normal objectives), its evacuating governor tries to communicate with you. Unfortunately his message is not translatable by human tech yet, and so it' completely garbled except for the sender's name: Hut'Yerokh. Several missions later, in Episode 5, when the Kariak have a civil war between the government and Mohr'Tehp's faction, Hut'Yerokh leads the loyalist Kariaks and asks for Jack/Nillea's aid.
  • 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.
  • Stone Wall: Military space stations are immobile, but tough and absolutely ''loaded' with guns to the point where they can easily take on any other unit in the game one-on-one and win.
  • 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.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors
    • Of the three energy weapon types in the game, proton weapons have good all-around damage and innate shield-piercing ability, ion weapons have higher damage and at higher levels can briefly short out enemy shields, and quantum weapons have the highest brute-force damage paired with area-of-effect damage. Missiles are less effective against ships due to slow projectile travel times, but inflict high damage and torpedo-class missile weapons out-devastate everything else in the game when targeted at planets.
    • Weapons also come in three varieties. In theory, cannons are the fastest but also weakest, turrets are average and blasters are slowest but hardest-hitting, making blaster-armed ships disadvantaged against fighters. In practice, only blaster corvettes suffer from Crippling Overspecialization of not having cannons or turrets, and even they can hit fighters from time to time. Anything bigger is bound to have more than one weapon and more than capable of tearing fighters to ribbons.
  • 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.
    • In the expansion pack, spies become capable of un-terraforming planets.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Haegemonia