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Video Game / Machines: Wired For War

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Strong AI, some murderous tendencies

And so it is that you find yourself created, suddenly aware of your own existence, and aware of the purpose for which you were intended.

It is time to serve your controller in the final stages of the Machine War.
- Machines Manual

Machines: Wired for War is a 1999 Real-Time Strategy game for PC. It is little remembered today, apart from a hardcore group of online fans.

In the game you take the role of a semi-autonomous computer fighting for the controller of the red machine race in the final stages of the machine war. This war was started because two races of terraforming robots met up after five hundred and sixty years, and decided the other had gone insane.


Machines provide examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: This system has encountered an unknown error, war commencing...
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Works out at (roughly) one of each unit, defence and building type, plus a few mines.
  • Artificial Intelligence: The units, the controller, the player...
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Commanding units are often heavily armed. In fact, they're the only mobile units that use the long-range Pulse Rifles and Pulse Cannons. The rifles are, asides from their use by Commanders/Commandants, employed solely on a defensive turret. The strongest of all Commanders is the ominously-named Assassin Warlord.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: B-bombers and Eradicator units - slow to move/turn and can be destroyed by quicker moving units with ease. However they can be devastating against buildings and other slower units.
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  • All There in the Manual: The reason you're here, the backstory
  • Artificial Stupidity: used and averted, the drones can be quite aware of their surroundings but also have pathfinding issues.
  • Bad Future: The machines have been Terraforming for over five hundred years and fighting for another five hundred years, with no word from humans. It's explicitly stated that mankind is extinct.
  • Body Armor as Hit Points: Health is only reduced when Armor is destroyed (apart from 1 HP damage per hit), however armor heals over time, health doesn't.
  • Bottomless Magazines: standard implementation.
  • Charm Person: The appropriately named Judas Warlord can do this using its unique Treachery weapon.
  • Combat Medic: Certain variants of the Commanding units (fitted with Healing Chargers or Superchargers) are the only mobile units capable of healing other Machines. Still doesn't stop them from packing some pretty formidable armaments.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: Somewhat averted, all resources have to mined and transported to a smelter before construction can begin. There is also no society to worry about.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The computer can build units without resources. (Resource consumption is real-time rather than paid at once at the beginning. For the computer, production goes on even at 0 BMU's while it stops for a human player. This doesn't affect building construction, however.) It can place building blueprints without paying the 5 BMU placement cost. It can launch a nuke for free while it normally costs 500 BMU's.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: You're the red machines, fighting the blue machines... all units are otherwise identical.
  • Critical Existence Failure: The machines will fight to their last hit point and explode on death.
  • Death from Above: Get to the top of the tech tree and you will be rewarded with the Ion Cannon which can launch a devastating attack on any place on the map in mere seconds.
  • Dumb Muscle: Gorillas. They would be the ultimate destructive force... if they weren't so incredibly thick.
  • Drop Pod: Part of the terraforming effort and the start of your base.
  • Drop Ship: Flying APCs with built in teleporters and atrocious pathfinding issues
  • Easy Logistics: Armour heals on its own and health can be restored on the battle field.
  • Event Flag: "Hey, we've got a devastating Ion Cannon ready for firing! Why not use it when our enemy crosses a certain point on the battlefield?"
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The Machines aren't really evil per se, but most of the combat/military units sound the part, as their synthesized voices are often quite deep and menacing. Reapers certainly sound like they enjoy their job.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Humanity developed this but it proved fatal to cell based organisms, so the plan was to send the robots to terraform suitable planets and humanity would follow in sleeper ships. Except the humans never turned up.
  • First-Person Shooter: You can zoom in and individually control one of your units, with one useful perk; it lets you fire on enemies from further away than the unit would normally. Now, remember that you can form squads. This means you can also lead them in person. This means, much like Dungeon Keeper 2, you can go tearing around the map with a warband in tow, trashing anything that crosses you. Have fun! Just don't forget about your base.
    • Awesome, but Impractical: You can do it with everything. Even the basic Locator surveyors which walk sideways, like crabs. Have fun navigating the map when you can't see where you're going.
  • Gatling Good: The autocannons mounted on turrets and two Reaper variants, as seen above. The standard Reaper mounts one autocannon; the Wraith Reaper mounts two.
  • Glass Cannon: Eradicator units are slow to move/turn and can often get destroyed before they can fire their weapons.
  • Ground Punch: The Gorilla has this as its main weapon.
  • Grow Beyond Their Programming: the original machines were meant to just terraform their assigned planet, but started terraforming others and developing weapons of war to continue their mission.
  • Hack Your Enemy: The Judas Warlord treachery weapon reprograms enemy machines.
  • Hulk Speak: The Gorilla's vocabulary is inversely proportionate to its size. It being the largest two-legged unit...
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Averted, energy weapons and kinetic weapons are both good. If you don't research each type equally you may end up with lots of short range high damage weaponry or long range low damage weaponry.
  • Kill Sat: The Ion Cannon, the last stage of energy weapon research that allows you to destroy weaker buildings and units anywhere on the map.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Gorillas, and any time you get a pack of missile-launching Knights, Knight Templars, and/or Warlords together.
  • More Dakka: Wraith Reapers are this to their normal Reaper cousins, packing two guns and thus twice as much firepower. Same case with the Knight Templars and Knights, the Templars either adding a third Heavy Plasma Cannon or third Missile Launcher (and upgrading the range of their missiles) to the Knight's frame.
  • Night-Vision Goggles: All commander units have green coloured night vision that makes buildings and units more obvious.
  • No Recycling: Aversion - units can be recycled, buildings can be deconstructed and debris can be collected.
  • Nuclear Option: If the game goes for long enough, you can research and build the Nuclear Launcher. However, it's a case of Awesome, but Impractical as you then have to pay a lot of money to build the missile, wait for it to be built and when launched, it takes a while to reach it's destination. When it does, though...
  • Regenerating Shield, Static Health: Units regenerate their armour (slowly) but require the use of a healer unit or bunker to regain health.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: All Buildings and troops have this option.
  • Sphere of Destruction: The gravity collapse weapon of the Eradicator units.
  • Tech Tree: Both civilian and military units/building need to be researched. The military tree is split into 'energy' and 'kinetic' weapons, with the most power units towards the top. Extra special units require both paths to be researched.
    • There is also the option to steal enemy research using a spy unit, saving yourself time and resources.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Factories and APC's have them built in.
  • Terraform: The machines are a little too keen at this..
  • Worker Unit: An entire sub section of 'civilian' units. Dozers (building and repairing stuctures), Transporters (carrying raw materials to be processed), locators (find resources sites) and technicians (researching). More advanced versions need to be researched/stolen and built to climb the tech tree and create new buildings and units.