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Video Game / Roadwar 2000

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Roadwar 2000 is a Turn-Based Strategy game published in 1986 by Strategic Simulations, Inc, set in a post-apocalyptic United States after civilization has collapsed from a combination of biological and nuclear warfare. Road gangs, cannibals, and mercenaries run amok in The Road Warrior-esque barbarism while a still-extant plague has mutated from the radiation and is now turning survivors into psychotic zombies. Even worse, the terrorist organization who caused this apocalypse is also invading the fallen United States, clashing with both the road gangs and the mutant zombies.

The player begins as the leader of a small road gang, engaging in both foot battles and vehicular combat with hostiles while searching the ruins for food, fuel, ammo, vehicles, and other vital supplies. At first, the player's only goal is to survive and expand their gang by any means possible, but when their gang has dominated enough territory, they will be contacted by the remnants of the US government, who need their help to find the eight scientists who can finish a vaccine for the plague and bring civilization Back from the Brink. A quest that will take the player across North America has begun!

This game contains examples of:

  • After the End: Civilization has collapsed in North America, and it's up to your gang to help bring it back.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Some of the groups you encounter can be peacefully dealt with (even if that means just leaving their tile when they show up and warn you to leave), but the exceptions are more numerous — Invaders, Mutants, Cannibals, Satanists, Renegade National Guardsmen, Survivalists, and the named road gangs will always attack you on sight.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: After you're tasked with locating the eight scientists, you'll find some of them almost on accident, just from continuing to explore the continent. When you have found six of them, you are provided a locator that points you in the direction of the last two, sparing you from having to scour all 120 city tiles on the map.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The instruction book featured two examples. One a diary describing the breakdown of society, and the other a few entries from the diaries of various road gangs describing their lethal misadventures.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: Most of the potential recruits for your gang come from encounters with Street Gangsters (intelligently-led marauders), Armed Rabble (pillaging scumbags whose only redeeming quality is that they aren't Cannibals), and the Needy (starving wretches who would give their lives for a mouthful of food). Despite their dubious natures, all of these recruits will loyally follow you everywhere unless you let them starve or you hassle the Reborn.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The Invaders are described as posing a threat to everyone, but they especially despise road gangs for their "undisciplined tactics".
  • Artificial Stupidity: In detailed vehicle combat, opponents are much too fond of ramming, even when using motorcycles and other light vehicles that are too fragile to survive ramming.
  • Artistic License Biology: Contrary to the narrative presented in the manual, plague bacteria do not have an insect-like pupal stage, much less anything resembling cocoons.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Construction vehicles have tons of structure points and loot capacity, lack any tires to shoot off, and can easily plow most other vehicles off the road. But their tiny crew capacity and lack of missile protection makes them extremely vulnerable to gunfire.
  • Bittersweet Ending: After securing the eight scientists and winning the game, you are declared President of the United States as you are clearly the best candidate to spearhead the "reconstruction" of America... but everything is still in ruins, and with the Invaders, Mutants, and road gangs still out there, said reconstruction is obviously going to be long and painful.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • For most enemy vehicles, the safest/easiest way to crash them is to shoot off all four tires, rather than ram them or pound them with gunfire until their crew or structure have been reduced to zero.
    • Only in this game will you search for vehicles to add to your fleet, and feel elated to discover a plain old bus — with its high structure, massive loot and crew capacity, and the ability to fire a whopping 26 guns at any enemy to their sides!
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: In foot battles, things are so abstract that the only difference between combatants (on either side) is their level of competence and how many guns their side has. Neither you nor any of your enemies have any special abilities or tactics to speak of, other than the Mutants' ability to make your gang sick.
  • Crazy Survivalist: Survivalists are one group you can find ruling a ruined tile, and the fact that they are always violently hostile suggests that they are very much this trope.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Zig-zagged. Your vehicles can happily operate without problems if they have even 1 point of structure left... as they lose tires, however, maneuvering becomes increasingly difficult.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: After you're tasked by the Government Underground Biolab to find the scientists and save civilization, neither the Bureaucrats nor the Lawful National Guard (both of whom are remnants of the pre-apocalypse government) have any interest in helping you, despite that you explicitly have a badge to denote your standing as a GUB agent. Nor do they care how many marauding road gangs and Invaders you've wiped out.
  • Early Game Hell: You start the game with only eight gang members and one sports car, and you better hope you can find some more vehicles and recruits fast, because if your first encounter in the ruins are Cannibals or a hostile ruling group, then you're done.
  • Everyone Has Standards: The Reborn, a sect of pacifists who wish only to live in peace, control a rare few ruined cities, and command so much respect that taking their cities is among the few acts that will cause your gang to desert you. Even more amazingly, this respect seems to extend even to the hostile Invaders, the faithless Renegade National Guardsmen, the crazed Mutants, and the psychopathic road gangs, all of whom could easily sweep the Reborn aside, yet you can still find the Reborn in charge of a few tiles.
  • Evil Counterpart: Downplayed with the Renegade National Guard. Yes, these renegade soldiers have abandoned their posts to rob and terrorize anyone who crosses their path, but from your gang's point of view, the only difference between them and the Lawful National Guard is that the latter will bother to give you ONE warning before attacking you for loitering on their turf.
  • Fallen States of America: While you'll face potential violence almost everywhere you go, it's clear that at least some remnants of America's civilization persist, as a small minority of cities are ruled by Bureaucrats, Lawful National Guard, or even the Mob. This doesn't stop you from having hostile encounters in these areas (including with the lawful rulers themselves, if they catch you looting).
  • From Bad to Worse: The Invaders' plague was already doing a great job of destroying civilization before the Invaders switched to nukes... and then the Mutants appeared.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The Invaders who created the plague only wanted it to be a normal epidemic that would wreck America so they could take over, and never intended for it to mutate into a zombifying pathogen that would create a threat to their ground forces (and everyone else). But here we are.
  • Hollywood Satanism: Satanists are another group you can encounter in the ruins, and are described as psychopaths who are eager to find victims for their rites. You never actually see these devilish rites in-game, but the Satanists always attack your gang on sight, leaving you no reason to give them the benefit of the doubt.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Cannibal gangs are a surprisingly common threat in urban and highway areas. Adhering to the taboo of this trope, even the instruction manual goes out of its way to describe them as the near-mindless scum of the earth. (Your own gang can score Food from defeating the Cannibals, but the game never addresses the possible squick factor of this.)
  • Invaded States of America: Aside from Mutants and Mad Max-style marauders, you'll also have to contend with Invaders from an unspecified (but terrorist) nation.
  • Late to the Tragedy: You start with a small gang, and it is not at all clear what this gang has been doing (or where) during the year it took for the United States to collapse.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Mercenaries are yet another group you can encounter, and make the best category of recruits for your gang. Despite what the word "mercenaries" implies, they never ask for payment to join you.
  • Nuclear Mutant: The Mutants are omnipresent near devastated tiles, and are specifically a result of radiation (with some help from The Plague). Contrary to the 1950's version of the trope, they're not giant monsters — they're zombies.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Bureaucrats who control a few cities will attempt to charge you a portion of your loot just to enter their tile, and take very poorly to any looting you attempt while you're there. Thankfully, they're among the easiest groups to defeat.
  • The Plague: A prominent element of the backstory.
  • Plague Zombie: The Mutants are a combination of this and Nuclear Mutant.
  • Pop the Tires: A 100% valid tactic in vehicular combat, and often easier than boarding, ramming, or simply eliminating all the vehicle's crew or structure with gunfire. Hilariously, losing all tires is an instant crash, but a car can keep driving (albeit very poorly) if it has even one tire still intact.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: The Government Underground Biolab doesn't care what your gang does (or who you do it to), as long as you can bring back the scientists.
  • Suicide Attack: The Invaders started the plague in this way, infecting a few suicide agents with it before sending them throughout the (pre-apocalypse) United States.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: The Invaders' plan to conquer America. First, a plague. Then, nukes. Then, finally, a ground invasion!
  • The Unreveal: It is never revealed what nationality the Invaders are or exactly why they hate America so much. Even in a bizarre encounter where you end up taking a plane to a deserted Invader base and discovering their plans to hunt down your gang with "death squads", these questions remain a mystery.
  • Vehicular Combat: One of the main features of this game, presented in the turn-based tactical glory that SSI honed over all their other 80's strategy games.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: While the game is generally okay with you exterminating everyone you meet without provocation, the Reborn are the one exception. They're pacifists and you can take over their cities without a fight... but a large portion of your gang will desert you for doing so.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: The entire map is open to you from the beginning, and you are given no restrictions (or guidance) on where to go next.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The zombie apocalypse was actually Late to the Tragedy, as civilization was already on its way out when the Mutants started appearing. They're more a threat for you — as the game progresses, more cities get nuked, making it harder to keep your gang away from the Mutants. (And Imperator Furiosa help you if one of the scientists you're looking for is anywhere near a devastated tile...)