13 August 2234, its your birthday today. Your (foster) father, Peter, thinks that you're old enough to be a trucker. He gives you his truck as a birthday present and sets you off on your first adventure alone into the dangerous world, which is just a short trip to a neighbouring town and back. However, your birthday couldn't be any more bleak, as upon your return you find your hometown razed to the ground and Peter dying from his injuries. In his last moments, Peter reminds you that you're just an adopted son and that your biological father, famous explorer, close friend, inventor of the masks and somewhat messianic figure Ivan Go, might still be alive. He tells you to meet up with one of Ivan's close associates, Ben Throttle, who may be able to help you find your long lost father. You also develop a thirst for revenge and desire to get back on whoever was responsible for the destruction of your hometown and the death of Peter. From here on, you set off on a long journey to avenge Peter, find your biological father, discover your true self and ultimately the truth behind the calamity that has since turned the Earth into a Death World.
Hard Truck Apocalypse (also known as Ex Machina in Russia) is a unique blend of metal-crunching Vehicular Combat and story-driven Role-Playing Game developed by Targem Games (who later made the Carmageddon-esque Armageddon Riders / Clutch and the sequel to the Codemasters classic 1nsane) and published by Buka Entertainment, released in Russia on 8 December 2005. The game plays like your standard RPG: the player travels around from town to town while gaining coins from jobs and selling items which can be used to by upgrades and groceries and regularly encounter monsters (or in this case, bandits in weaponized cars). The game was a huge hit in Russia, being awarded "Best Game Design" by the Russian Game Developers Conference and some others by the press. It was exported to North America on 19 June 2006, though the reception was entirely the opposite, with big name gaming sites like Gamespot and IGN giving it bad ratings due to unimaginative missions, awkward controls, bad voice acting and repetition.
Nevertheless, a standalone expansion Rise of Clans (Meridian 113) was made. This time, it shifted the focus from a young boy in search of his father in post-apocalyptic Europe to a lone vagrant in the dystopian wastelands of North America who is on a quest to find the mythical city of Edmonton. Probably due to Hard Truck Apocalypse's unsuccessful outing in America, this expansion was a case of No Export for You until the game's Steam release in 2014.
This game provides examples of:
- Ascended Extra: A number of "Mook" vehicles in the first game are made drivable in Rise of Clans. Your character even starts with a Scout, a buggy mainly used by enemies and NPCs, instead of the Van.
- After the End
- Almighty Janitor: You are a farm boy who goes on a miles long journey through many countries, dealing with and solving many problems while taking out bandits and other villains along the way, and ultimately (with the help of aliens) put an end to the contamination, bringing hope back to the people of Earth once more.
- Apocalypse How: Class 5. The aftermath is a Class 3; the poisoned atmosphere killed off all life except plants and humans who wore masks.
- Armor-Piercing Attack: Piercing weapons (e.g machineguns) can rapidly wear down cabin and body armor, increasingly able to hit the chassis directly as they grow weaker. Energy weapons (e.g lasers) on the other hand, directly hit the chassis, completely ignoring cabin and body armor. They can One-Hit Kill enemies that will otherwise take ages to destroy using other weapon types.
- Artificial Stupidity: The only way enemies attack is by driving straight at you while firing all their weapons. They'll even try to climb up steep slopes in order to get you. They will however lock you into a circle when they get close enough.
- A rather jarring case of stupidity is how enemies will use long ranged missiles in close quarters. You can simply lock them into a circle and fire away while they desperately try to lock on you and fail to hit you every time (unless they are dangerously close to you).
- BFG: The more powerful weapons tend to be gigantic, often mounted on top of truck bodies.
- Big Badass Rig: The entire point of the game.
- Body Armor As Hitpoints: Averted. The cabin and body armor protects your truck's chassis. The weaker they get (from taking enemy fire), the more likely enemy projectiles can directly hit the chassis.
- Bottomless Magazines; Most if not all weapons (even the gamebreaking ones) have unlimited ammo, but have to occasionally reload.
- As mentioned below, weapons such as missile launchers require ammo. These are sold separately unfortunately.
- Critical Hit: Introduced in Rise of Clans thanks to the game's refined engine. Parts of vehicles can be shot individually, with the parts that warrant a critical hit being the fuel tanks, the ammo racks and the windshield. Destroying the former two will cause it explode catastrophically, while shooting the latter may instead kill the driver, leaving the vehicle completely intact for looting.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Vagrant is only referred to as such. It even seems that he has adopted the word as his name or is indeed named Vagrant.
- Fragile Speedster: Among the five drivable trucks, the Lorry has the least amount of armor but is still pretty fast. Mooks tend to use buggies which are fast and pretty deadly early in the game, but will easily succumb to the more powerful late game weapons.
- Foreshadowing: When you first arrive in Sowth, you will see a Bulldozer tending the crops. You won't see this vehicle anywhere else until in Vahat, the second to last country you visit, where they appear as Elite Mooks.
- Giant Mook: Urals serve as this in the middle of the game. Cruisers and Belazs later take this role late in the game (they're only found in Vahat). The aforementioned Urals will appear everywhere else, but upgraded.
- Hate Plague: Turns out that the people of Vahat aren't paranoid about bandits, their violent mood swings are caused from the radiation coming from the crashed UFO in nearby Zarmeck.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: The Ural is fast, tough, affordable and has the most diverse collection of cabins and bodies which offer multiple weapon hardpoints and large carrying capacity respectively.
- Lightning Bruiser: The Peacemaker, the last truck you can buy very late into the game, has high armor and speed. With the right cabin and body combination, this behemoth can have Stone Wall armor, absurdly high speed and a lot of weapons mounted. It does have three major downsides: It has absolutely terrible fuel economy (it has a small fuel tank and drinks through it very quickly), small carrying capacity and limited slots for truck/weapon improvements (the Phantom cabin for example has four slots for weapon improvements, but none for truck improvements).
- Macross Missile Massacre: With the right cabins and bodies, you can outfit your truck with lots of missile launchers. They can then be grouped together, allowing you to fire them off all at once. Of course the fun ends when you run out of ammo, leaving you either unarmed or reduced to using a pea shooter...
- The Hail is the best way to achieve MM Ms. This vertical missile launcher doesn't need targeting. Instead, it fires three pairs of missiles at any surrounding targets in rapid succession. Combined with truck improvements that increases reloading and firing rate of explosive weapons, whole packs of enemies can be quickly reduced to burnt out chassis in a dazzling display of missiles shooting up and crashing into them in a 360 degree radius.
- Previous Player-Character Cameo: The player character from the previous game appears in Rise of Clans as the Oracle's emissary and controller of the robots. And is apparently in cahoots with Sam, whom you thought was dead, sort of. Oh and he makes his appearance as a boss, piloting the same gunship that tried to kill you earlier (and to some extend, the same gunship the Oracle used to kill him in the previous game). And he's no pushover.
- Product Placement: Ural and Belaz. Both of these are names of real life truck manufacturers. They are also loosely based on a truck model from each manufacturer.
- Sniper Rifle: Sniper cannon to be exact. Cannons are the de-facto sniper rifle, having long range and are very accurate. Good for taking out enemy barricades.
- Stuff Blowing Up: Explosive weapons (cannons, mortars, multiple missile launchers, mines) are easily the most hard hitting of the three weapon types, specializing in area damage. Most of them have very slow reload and in the case of missiles, mines and certain mortar variants, are ammo dependent.
- Wake-Up Call Boss: While not a boss per se, a Ural will ambush you at a junction leading to Seth in Sacred Forest. Be sure to get your own Ural (or a Belaz if you've got the money) before going there.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Sam has you killed after he has found a better way to get the Ancient's superweapon. Before that, you and Sam were working together to find it.