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Little old peter, missing his liter, while Herky plays in the red. Down came the glitches and burned us in ditches and we slept after eating our dead. - Schoolyard chant, c. 2800.

"When the Dark Intellect escaped The Fire, man stood in the ashes of mother Earth. For 200 years the immortal emperor built Earth's armies... But only Earth's. Then the colonies of Mars and Venus revolt against unjust imperial law. Harabec, the greatest Imperial Knight, joined the rebellion. His brother Caanon led the Knights to Mars to suppress it. When Prometheus attacked again, human blood already stained the ground. Mother Earth lay helpless. The time of terror had indeed returned. I tell the story of the third and final coming of Prometheus. I tell the story of us all."
— Opening narration

Starsiege is a mecha-style vehicle simulation game developed by Dynamix and released in 1999. It is set in the "Metaltech" universe, which contains its predecessors Metaltech: EarthSiege (1994), Metaltech: Battledrome (1994), EarthSiege 2 (1995), the Platform Game Hunter Hunted (1996), as well as the CyberStorm (1997-1998) Turn-Based Strategy games. There are two campaigns. One casts the player as a member of the human Martian resistance against an oppressive Earth empire, and the other as a Cybrid "pilot-form." The gameplay sees you piloting HERCULANs, or "HERCs", and tracked tanks. In between levels you configure your vehicle's components and select squadmates. Missions generally involve shooting other HERCs, tanks, turrets, and buildings.

Starsiege is also a game with a fairly rich back story, told through a "compendium" found in the box alongside the game manual, a rich text that deserves a page unto itself. Here's the basics: It is the year 2829. Earth is under a single unified Empire ruled by the Immortal Emperor Solomon Petresun. He has instituted the "Fortification Proclamation," a massive buildup of arms and defenses on Earth, at the expense of the colonies on Mars, Venus and the Moon. Why? Because he fears the return of the Cybrids, genocidal robots led by Prometheus―an artificial intelligence that Petresun himself created centuries before.


He has good reason to fear them, of course. The Cybrids, created by humans, rebelled against them. Twice, the Cybrids nearly drove humanity to extinction, as depicted in the EarthSiege games, and twice humanity overcame impossible odds and won. The first time they were beaten, the Cybrids fled to the moon, and then when they were defeated again they fled into the depths of the Solar System, regrouping near Pluto. There they watched, and waited for humanity to weaken. They got their chance when the colonies decided they didn't like being stripped of their resources and started a rebellion against The Empire. With Imperial police and military forces tied up fighting the rebellion, the Cybrids saw their chance to strike. A new siege began ― Starsiege.

Things get a little more complicated, of course, beginning with the rebels discovering a cache of ancient alien weaponry on Mars. Now the "pitiful" Martian rebellion is armed with nasty alien guns and has a chance of winning against the Empire. This is where the player comes in.


In-game, the story plays out through audio briefings before and after missions, and through pre-rendered cutscenes at certain significant points in the game. There is also a time-line feature, and news broadcasts, which update as the game progresses. These elements allow the player to see things about the story that can't be told through the simple shooting-oriented game-play. The Cybrid Campaign is a good deal harder than the Human one, and reveals a few interesting twists that the player would miss if one played only the Human campaign.

It must be noted that Starsiege's backstory performed a major retcon on the backstory presented by the earlier EarthSiege games, and although quite a bit of it can be justified as fleshing out the backstory, enough is incompatible between the two that you could safely put EarthSiege to EarthSiege 2 in their own separate continuity that was later copied, modified, and built upon for Starsiege and beyond. There are still arguments over which backstory version is better. The game received a pseudo-sequel in the form of Starsiege: Tribes, and that series subsequently underwent More Popular Spin-Off, cleaving itself from Starsiege in the same manner it separated itself from EarthSiege. Starsiege's backstory is still canonical for the Tribes series though.

The entire Metaltech franchise is currently owned by Hi-Rez Studios, the makers of Smite, Paladins, and GlobalAgenda, and they have happily made the entire Franchise (with the notable exceptions of Battledrome and the CyberStorm games), including this game, available for the entire internet as freeware! You have no reason not to play it now, so get to downloading!

Starsiege and its sequels provide examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Most of the weapons are fairly standard―missiles, gatling guns, lasers... But then you have things like the Quantum Cannon, the Radiation Gun, and Arachnitron mines.
  • Ace Custom: Harabec and Caanon's rigs, etc. The player's vehicle and his/her squad's vehicles can technically be this as well.
  • Actual Pacifist: The "Peace Childer" movement after The Fire. While nobody liked the Cybrids, the Peace Childers rejected all technology, an attitude that was only popular for as long as it took Petresun to form his empire.
  • Aerith and Bob: So much.
  • AFGNCAAP: Though in the human campaign you are sometimes referred to as "sir," you can customize your name and avatar any way you like.
  • After the End: Both Earthsiege titles see the human survivors waging war against the Cybrids after they have already laid waste to civilization as we know it. Most of the landscapes are now barren or hellish wastelands with few reminders of the cities and settlements that once stood upon them.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Prior to the events of Metaltech: EarthSiege, a young Solomon Petresun, then a computer engineer, successfully brought online the first AI: a being he called Prometheus. From ITS design were created the Cybrids, robots designed primarily to operate war machines in the place of humans. Sometime later, when Petresun was undergoing the "Methuselah" process, Petresun and his "child" made mind-contact, and the two were mutually repulsed by one another. Not long thereafter, Prometheus took control of all Cybrids and started a revolution. IT would later give them free will, and in return, they labeled IT First Thought//Giver Of Will.
  • All There in the Manual: The game came with two books: a user manual, thoroughly explaining all the technical in-and-outs (even including a walkthrough of the first mission), and a full-color, illustrated story compendium... Detailing just some of the entire plot.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Cybrid species has an entire caste dedicated to the dissection and torture of humans. The splinter faction of "Metagens" are the only Cybrids shown not intent on exterminating humanity. They're given a very brief role in a Cybrid-only mission, in which they are fighting both Cybrid and human forces while trying to make an escape. Supplementary information is vague but jumps between suggesting that they do not regard humans as even warranting any attention by their species, to humans being worthy of study and even emulation.
  • Appropriated Title: The series began as MetalTech: EarthSiege. Metaltech was dropped, making the sequel EarthSiege 2. Then the sequel to that changed the name entirely to Starsiege. The sequel to Starsiege, which was mostly unrelated gameplay-wise, was Starsiege: Tribes, which then became simply Tribes
  • Arcology: Because of the harsh environment, the Venusian colonists live in "arks", which have names such as Dante, Shelly, Byron, and Faustus.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Your own squadmates don't retaliate when you attack them (even though they're theoretically supposed to shoot back). Squadmates may need to be babied along during missions, as they are very susceptible to wasting ammo and struggling to move around simple obstacles (enemy AIs end up doing this, too).
  • Artistic License – Physics: Vehicles, buildings, rocks, and other such objects bounce around like plastic when destroyed. HERCs sliding down very steep terrain never tip over. And as if that wasn't enough, vehicles often take little damage even if they fall hundreds of feet.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Prometheus to Petresun, July 2472: "What is 'freedom', Father?"
  • A Taste of Power: With the justification that the player character has been selected to test out cache hardware, a single Magneto-Fusion Assault Cannon (the most powerful weapon in the game) is added to the player's available components after the completion of the first mission. Only the small Emancipator vehicle is available at this early point in the campaign and it must be entirely customized around the weight and energy requirements of this weapon in order to mount it.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: According to trace elements of Word of God, Caanon Weathers is crowned Emperor sometime following the events of this game. He leads a crusade to track down the remaining Cybrids.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Cybrids. Their credo is "HURT//MAIM//KILL."
  • Base on Wheels: The Cybrid "Mobile Nexus," also known as an Omnicrawler.
  • Becoming the Mask: See I Hate You, Vampire Dad below. When addressed by his birth name, Harabec retorts, saying That Man Is Dead and that he is Harabec Weathers now, embracing the body and face he currently possesses. Ironically, it is Harabec who is dead, and the uploaded consciousness of Victor Petresun is occupying his body. In an effort to demonstrate just how much he hates his father, he goes to Mars and incites a revolt there under the name "Bek Storm."
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Only a few people are foolish enough to expect any kind of mercy from the Cybrids. The rest would much rather die fighting or by their own hands.
  • Big Bad: Petresun to the Martian rebels at the start of the game, until the Cybrids show up. Then it's Prometheus, to all of humanity.
    • Big Good: Petresun was one in time of Earthsiege games, working very hard to save humanity from his rebeled creation, what makes him Fallen Hero at the times of Starsiege events.
  • Blood Knight: One of the Cybrid squadmates opposes hunting humanity to extinction because that would mean having no more enemies to fight. Given how many Cybrids are bred for combat, it is most likely not the only one.
  • Blue Blood: As part of the dictates of his new Empire, Petresun restored a system of nobility. However, only those who had earned their keep during the EarthSiegess and their families would hold this honor, and each new generation would have to earn it anew.
  • Body Surf: The "Immortals" do this, transferring into new bodies periodically when their old ones aren't good anymore. Petresun refuses to do this because each surf causes the user to take on traits of the host, so he instead lives on life support to avoid that.
  • Boring, but Practical: Blasters, Heavy Lasers and Heavy Autocannons are available from the very first mission and effective all the way through to the last. Heavier, more exotic weapons become available during the campaign but tend toward greater weight, energy consumption and ammunition limitations. It's quite effective to stick with the basic weapons and just add more of them as larger HERCs become available. This is the ideal way to customize the game's signature vehicle: the Apocalypse HERC, with a whopping six weapon mounts against a medium 60-ton weight limit.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted. Be sure to carry an energy weapon or two for when you inevitably run out of ammo.
  • Brain Uploading: The minds of Solomon Petresun and a number of his most loyal confidants, collectively called "The Immortals," were transferred onto cybernetic substrates that render them, well, immortal. This is what enables Petresun to continue his reign as emperor for two centuries, though his body continually decays and has to be hooked up to increasingly complex life support devices (to avoid the personality "bleed" effect that goes with taking a new body, he refuses to do so). It's also the cause of much Angst for his son Victor, who also underwent this process.
  • Cain and Abel: There are elements of this with the Weathers brothers, Caanon and Harabec. Caanon was the favored son, especially after an incident called the "Turkhazakistan Debacle" resulted in the deaths of Harabec's entire HERC division and the loss of much public favor for the family. Harabec's betrayal shamed them even more, leading Caanon to vow that he would lay his brother's head before the Emperor. In the end, however, the Cybrids force them to become a Sibling Team.
  • Cassandra Truth: After their mental link, Petresun realized how alien Prometheus truly was and tried to warn the North American government of IT's mad plans. He was ignored.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: To the end of the custom skin feature it has, "color coding" is a basic principle of the game. Players can change their vehicle's colors or designs any way they wish and load it into the game. This is particularly useful for multi-player.
  • Collision Damage: Running into anything does variable damage to your vehicle. Tanks are specially designed to allow the pilot to cause HERCs severe ramming damage, and when HERCs bump into each other, smaller ones take more damage.
  • The Conspiracy: When the North American Prefecture bought out Petresun's company and steered their research towards AI, Petresun carved out a team of brilliant researchers and continued his immortality project, "Methuselah", in secret. Together, they would form the "Immortal Brotherhood" as a check to Prometheus' growing influence, in the hopes of destroying IT. Prometheus, for ITS part, waged ITS own conspiracy, including secret programming in all Cybrids for rebellion and destruction.
  • Continuity Nod: Retcon or not, the Compendium depicts HERCs during the events of The Fire as they appeared in EarthSiege. And Prometheus was mentioned by name in the intro to EarthSiege 2. His role is greatly expanded here.
  • Computer Virus: Prometheus gradually eroded human control of IT and the Cybrids by seeding computer "Deamons" throughout the internet.
  • Crapsack World: In the human campaign, the brutally oppressed rebels join forces with the desperate Empire. There is no implication that the Empire will grant sovereignty to the colonies following the war. And Cybrids, what might be considered the first life ever created by mankind, were created to fuel the War for Fun and Profit that drove the economies of the Mega Corps.
    • And when the Empire finally fell, it only made way for Unicorp, a corporation that used disposable humans to meet profit quotas and failure is quite brutal.
    • The compendium reveals that the time before the Empire and the Mega Corps that preceded it was a nightmare world of wastelands, war and decaying cities. And before that, there was nuclear World War III.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: The "Methuselah" Process created a removable, digital conciousness for it's recipient, to be placed in new bodies as the old ones wore out. An unforeseen side effect called "Cell-Memory Drift" (CMD) meant that these new bodies could cause anything from personality changes to outright madness. It's implied that this is why Petresun never changed bodies, and that it's partly responsible for Victor Petresun embracing the identity of Harabec Weathers.
  • Cyborg: The "Immortals", given their digitized conciousness. Much later, there were the Bio-Derms, hormonally and cybernetically reconditioned criminals used for hard labor. The name was chosen mostly because it sounded nothing like "Cybrid."
  • Darker and Edgier: The franchise has never been a happy one, but Starsiege is markedly more depressing than the first two games. It is most noticeable in the between-mission news reports, which give a feel for how utterly ruthless the Cybrids are, and the Cybrid campaign as a whole, where humanity meets its end. The series then became Tribes, which was still serious but not nearly as dark.
  • Dirty Cop: Making people watch as their families are tortured, killing whole townships as rebel deterrents, subjecting dissidents to "mind-rape"... Note that the Imperial Police are not corrupt, they are doing exactly what they are supposed to do. In the Writer's Guide, they administer a drug that causes 80% paralysis for a week, that goes into full effect a hour after injection. What was the criminal's offense? Public Intoxication.
    • However, playing this trope VERY straight, an early Human mission grants access to a news article that reveals that a pair of imperial police 'Took a fancy' to a miner's daughter. When the father protested, he was killed along with his two fellow crew members and hung on their HERC wreckages, with his daughter nowhere to be found. To add insult to injury, the imperial police attempt to cover it up by saying on the news that it was a strike on a 'terrorist base'. Can't deny from there that there was some corruption among the Imperial Police after this incident.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The player character is an AFGNCAAP martian miner. The story is really about the Weathers brothers, specifically Harabec, whom the player is fighting alongside or taking orders from for the entire game. This is especially apparent if one reads the compendium.
    • Which has the interesting effect of making your character a Hero of Another Story.
    • AFGNCAAP is actually false for this one, as a later release of information (for fan fiction and story writing, which Sierra considered a big part of expanding their universe), it was revealed that the hero was Tyris Larkin, a formally Noble house child whose family was shamed and ousted, fleeing to Mars two generations prior. While he original hoped to return his house to it's greatness, he witnessed the heavy-handed tactics of the Empire and sympathized with the rebellion.
  • Determinator: Everybody. Bonus points go to the Venusian colony of Sa Thauri, one of only two to survive The Fire. They prided themselves in being from "The toughest rathole on Venus." To elaborate, Venus' environment and the lack of HERCs to go around made it nigh-impossible for humans there to effectively combat the rebel Cybrids, whom wound up parking outside colonies and waiting for them to starve. Most colonies did not fare well.
  • Disadvantageous Disintegration: Salvage from destroyed enemy units is used to repair your HERC, build new ones, and commission weapons. This means that the more damage an enemy takes, the less salvage is available for your use. The plasma cannon is especially bad about this.
  • Disk-One Final Boss: Caanon Weathers, Harabec's older brother and Grand Master of the Imperial Knights, who were sent to Mars to quell the rebellion when it grew beyond the Police's control. He pilots a customized HERC called "Icemistress." He later joins forces with his brother and the player when the Cybrids show up.
  • Disc-One Nuke: The plasma cannon in Earthsiege 2 (somewhat nerfed in Starsiege). It's the strongest individual weapon in the game, with one hit, provided it connects well, being enough to disable or outright destroy most Cybrid HERCs (with the prominent exception of Pitbulls); it has limited homing capability, a somewhat tolerable range (less than lasers but comparable to many other high-end energy weapons), and it's available right at the very beginning of the game. You can slap one on your Outlaw in the very first mission and breeze right through it. Nonetheless, it's not quite advisable to rely on the plasma cannon exclusively, since it's a) an utter energy hog, with a few successive shots draining your energy pool completely, and b) is a tad too effective, hardly leaving behind any salvage - which you will need for repairs and construction of new HERCs in the course of the game.
  • Downer Ending: If playing as the Cybrids, it ends in annihilation of the human race... Including a ship full of cryogenically-stored families desperately trying to escape the failing war.
  • The Dreaded: The Cybrids, so much so that their arrival causes widespread panic and more than a few preemptive suicides.
  • Dying Alone: Harabec is the only pilot outside your team to successfully make it to Pluto's surface, and the approach he took to Prometheus' compound was crawling with Cybrids. Caanon is left to give the player the final mission briefing.
    "I can't believe he's gone. My brother. So far... to die in the dark."
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The two Earthsiege games can be seen as this. Starsiege, the Cyber Storm continuity and the Tribes continuity are markedly different from each other - and the Tribes franchise has basically taken over the series, being more popular by far than the other installments, to the extent that many players would probably be surprised to find the Earthsiege games in the same continuity. Starsiege still has a tenuous connection to Tribes by way of backstory, but the first two games are more or less both different enough and, by now, forgotten.
  • Easter Egg: Literally dozens are seeded throughout the game, including messages written in the terrain, hidden bases, gag objects or areas, and invisible menu buttons.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Martian tunnels.
  • Elite Mooks: The Imperial Knights are far better equipped then the police. There's also Prometheus' Platinum Guard, who are mentioned in compendium to be composed of the original Cybrids that Prometheus liberated.
  • The Empire: Emperor Petresun, and all that. Notably, this empire formed peaceably and with unanimous approval, with Petresun essentially putting the issue to a vote. The problems came later, see I Did What I Had to Do below.
  • Enemy Chatter: Averted for most of the game, but on the first mission of Cybrid campaign (a small solo op that is part of the larger invasion of Mercury) you get to tune into the humans' radio chatter coming from other parts of the planet. The chatter goes from confusion, to realization, to panicked combat punctuated by dying screams.
  • Enemy Mine: The return of the Cybrids to the inner solar system sends humanity into a panic, with riots on Earth and mass evacuations of the colonies. Beaten and bruised from the civil war they had until just recently been fighting, the Imperial Knights and the Martian rebels join forces to help stem the Cybrid invasion, led by the Brothers Weathers.
  • Energy Weapon: This game has so many lasers it's not even funny...
  • Exploding Barrels: Many objects will dole out splash damage to vehicles or items too close. This also applies to any vehicles that are destroyed themselves.
  • Expy: An immortal, but physically decrepit genius-level Emperor Scientist who has created an artificial species of "children" which later turned against him, and also has a biological son who later betrays him as well (although in this case, said son has quite understandable reasons)? Yeah, Games Workshop called, they want their trademark back.
  • Failure Is the Only Option : In one very late mission in Earthsiege 2, Prometheus sends a pair of strike teams to destroy both the moon base the player has control of and their dropship. Due to how there is only at most only 4 human pilots and a large number of cybrids, and the dropships are too far away to guard as well, you are left with the sadistic choice of picking to either save the dropship but lose your chance at attacking Prometheus, or save the base, but become stranded on the Moon. However, with proper commanding, a competent squad, and the Razor, you CAN save the dropship as well as the base by having your squad stay at the base to guard it while you fly over to the dropship and nuke all the cybrids that try to destroy it until the area is clear before flying back to the base to clean up. However, due to the absence of Developers' Foresight, the game will still progress as though you chose to save the base but failed to save the dropship, which is the only option you can take to further progress in the game.
  • Fantastic Racism: Humans versus Cybrids, and also the rich Earth nobility versus the rough-and-tumble colonies.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Death is the best treatment one can expect when at the Cybrid's mercy. They do far, far worse to the rest.
  • Final Boss: Prometheus. "The Big Glitch itself," as Harabec calls IT. IT engages you in a unique warform that resembles depictions of IT in the compendium. He's also tough as shit.
  • Final Solution: This is Prometheus's third attempt at exterminating the human race. The Cybrids have no particular need to do so — they're machines, they can thrive pretty much anywhere — but Prometheus just hates humanity, and Petresun in particular, just that much.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: The Dies Irae mission, several Sleeper Ships launched from Titan to preserve the human race in case the war with the Cybrids is lost.
    • Prometheus attempts this at the end of the Human campaign, launching several Cybrids into the depths of space and detonating Pluto to cover their escape in the hopes of an eventual resurgence and victory over mankind. As it happens, the Unitech corporation almost accidentally snuffs this light out during the events of CyberStorm.
  • Future Slang: Some, mostly the term "Glitches" in reference to Cybrids and their rebellious origins. Also "Derms," referring to Bio-Derms. There's "bootboys" or "Imp Lice" or just "Lice," referring to the Imperial Police. There's "Peterboy" or just "Peter", in reference to the Emperor. There's also "dirtborn" for people born on Earth, and similarly, "dustborn" or "dustrags" for Martians, "Veens" for Venusians," and "icegrubs" for Titanians.
  • Four-Star Badass: Caanon Weathers, Grand Master of the Imperial Knights. In the Back Story, General Ambrose Gierling, who led a hastily-formed, rag-tag Terran Defense Force to victory against the Cybrids during The Fire, and refused to bow to Petresun's secret authority even on his deathbed.
  • From Bad to Worse: See Crapsack World above. Everything gets worse in this game, whether it's the tone of the story or the strength of the enemies you face, and it's almost always the Cybrids' fault.
  • Gallows Humor: The Dystopian Sno-Men, a group of anonymous hackers, continue to inject their snark into the O-Web even as society crumbles around them.
  • Godzilla Threshold: The Cybrids are every bit as much The Dreaded in this installment as they were before, which means the threshold is crossed the moment they appear. Everyone knows the Cybrids are powerful, merciless, and have no other goal than the total eradication of Humanity.
  • Golden Age: The time before The Fire was considered one of these: The Age of Hope, an age of high technology. Prometheus brought that to a violent end.
  • Guilt-Free Extermination War: Neither Cybrans, noir humans feel any sympathy towards the opposing forcess and are ready to continue war until one side drops dead.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: The first third or so of the human campaign is entirely about the Martian Rebels and their war against the Imperials. It's not until shortly after the Imperial Knights arrive on Mars that the Cybrid presence becomes known and the story becomes about them. Averted in the Cybrid campaign, for obvious reasons.
  • Harder Than Hard: The Cybrid campaign.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: the compendium reveals that Harabec Weathers is in fact Victor Petresun, the emperor's son. Victor's brain, like his father's, underwent the "Methuselah" process. The real Harabec Weathers suffered irreparable brain damage in an accident as a child in 2801, his brain was replaced with Victor's, and Victor grew up living a lie. Not even Caanon knows who he really is. Victor despises his father, one of his reasons for going to Mars and inciting a revolt. Furthermore, Victor strongly suspects that that accident which put his brain into Harabec Weather's body wasn't.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: Hunter Otobe, in the game's tutorials.
  • The Heretic: The "Metagen" Cybrids. They do not wish to return to Earth, the "birth" planet, hence their name, meaning "beyond birth." They believed the Cybrids should instead aim for the stars, and were branded as heretics and "bugthinkers" by Prometheus and relentlessly persecuted.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Solomon Petresun created Prometheus, the first AI. Prometheus, in turn, designed the "immortal" brain system that preserves Petresun and his inner circle. Both would come to regret their actions. On a grander scale, Earth's abandonment of the colonies during The Fire created lingering colonial resentment and eventually rebellion against The Empire.
  • Humans Are Special: Humanity twice overcame the Cybrids when the odds were stacked heavily against them. Prometheus is aware that human determination alone can put a very large wrench in ITs plans- even when IT can statistically predict the near-future.
  • Humans Are Warriors: A begrudging, even demeaning form of this is expressed by Prometheus in the ending of the human campaign. IT asserts that the Cybrids were repeatedly bested not through superior skill, courage or force of arms, but sheer blind desperation and a determination to not go quietly.
    Prometheus: "Three times have we fought, and three times have I seen that your victories came only through your will to survive. A will that I could not program into my children."
  • Humongous Mecha: Probably the highest profile competitor to the MechWarrior series.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Most of Petresun's scheming and empire-building was for the purposes of defending humanity from Prometheus and ITS minions. This was also the driving force behind the Fortification Proclamation, and the stripping of colonial resources, he reasoned that Earth was far more valuable to human survival then Mars, Venus or the outer moons. For obvious reasons, this didn't sit well with a lot of people.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The Cybrids appear to enjoy naming their nexus points after various mythological hells or unpleasant places. For instance, the main Cybrid nexus on Pluto, where Prometheus resides, is called "Gehenna", which is the name of the Hebrew version of Hell. There's also one place known as Nineveh.
  • Immortal Ruler: Emperor Scientist Solomon Petresun lived and ruled Earth for at least several centuries via Brain Uploading technology he invented. He also extended this privilege to his most trusted advisors.
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence:... Even an extremely small object cannot be walked over, ever.
  • Ironic Echo: When Petresun brought Prometheus online in 2471, he claimed IT would "spark a new fire for civilization." The Cybrid rebellion would later be called "The Fire."
  • Invisibility Cloak: The Chameleon and the Cuttlefish devices.
  • In-Universe Nickname: Prometheus refers to the Emperor as "Epimetheus", the idiot brother of the mythological Prometheus- the one who gave Pandora the box. Petresun, in return, refers to IT as "The Dark Intellect."
  • It's Raining Men: A method of choice for Cybrids (and sometimes humans).
  • Just Following Orders: Invoked by the remnants of the Martian Police after the rebels win. Possibly justified for some considering their commander, Navarre, was not the kind of man who takes disobedience lightly, but questions regarding the police's conduct are left largely unanswered and soon become irrelevant with the invasion of the Cybrids.
  • Karma Houdini: Prometheus is capable of such precise statistical calculation that IT can essentially predict the short-term future, which is what allowed IT to escape destruction during The Fire and on the moon. IT pulls it again at the end of this game, as though IT is destroyed, IT sends out Cybrid agents in the hopes of resurgence. Given what goes on in the Tribes games, this didn't entirely work.
  • Kill All Humans: That's what Prometheus aims for.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: The Imperial Knights were intended to be this, to give people something to aspire to that wasn't obscene wealth. At their height they were paragons of glory and prosperity. Caanon and Harabec though, are rather sour, the latter souring to the point where he dropped the knight bit entirely. Caanon, for his part, suffered from a bit of My Country, Right or Wrong.
  • La Résistance: The Martian rebels versus the oppressive Martian police, and then later the Imperial Knights. There are also smaller resistance movements on other colonies like Mercury and Venus that receive some attention from the story.
    • The Metagen Cybrids, who disapprove of the genocide of humanity for a variety of reasons and would rather the Cybrids find their own home beyond the solar system. They are even more relentlessly oppressed than the human rebels, as Prometheus brooks no dissent towards his Final Solution and prefers to rule through force.
  • Large Ham: In Earthsiege 2, Gierling has a MASSIVE amount of this to throw at the player, complete with overacting gestures and expressions, if they fail a mission or do particularly poorly (Such as allowing their HERC to come back falling apart or squadmates to die.) to the point of comedy.
  • Live-Action Cutscene: EarthSiege and its plethora of oddly named sequels used live-action portraits for mission briefings.
  • Lost Technology: The cache of alien weapons found by the Martians. The Cybrids found a smaller cache on Triton.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Possible, if you mount enough missile packs.
  • Meaningful Name: Happens a lot with the characters, such as Harabec Weathers' codename being Phoenix. He has a habit of being Not Quite Dead. Caanon's codename is "Icehawk"―he's cool, collected, and dead serious. This trope is also seen in every single vehicle, with examples such as the Basilisk, Olympian, Goad, or Apocalypse (a returning heavy HERC from the EarthSiege games that comes with six weapon hardpoints.)
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: With a bit too much Fun with Acronyms: HERCULANs, or Humaniform-Emulation Roboticized Combat Unit with Leg Articulated Navigation. Often just called HERCs. Some are small and nimble, others lumbering and powerful, but they are all guns-on-legs Real Robots.
  • Mega-Corp: Prior to Petresun and the Cybrid rebellions, the Earth was divided amongst six powerful meta-national conglomerates. The North American Prefecture (NAP) bought out Petresun's company when his immortality research spooked investors and the money dried up. NAP's funding and a need to perpetuate War for Fun and Profit while decreasing loss of life led to the development of the Cybrids. The other nations included United Africa, Pacific Rim Community, European Alliance, Inca-Brazil Axis, and Greater China.
  • Mercy Kill: Harabec has to remind everyone that anyone captured by the Cybrids should be shot without hesitation. Not just because they might be turned into Trojan Horse infiltrators, but because whatever happens to them after that point is a Fate Worse than Death.
  • More Dakka: The bigger the HERC, the more weapon hardpoints it tends to have. Mount ballistic weapons in each for extra dakka.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Early in the game, the Cybrids are shown to have a very poor understanding of English, and use a lot of bizarre (but still intelligible) vocabulary when trying to communicate their invitations to surrender to the humans. They get better over time, and by the end of the game are speaking perfectly. When playing as a Cybrid, squadmate chatter includes odd phrasing and out-of-place pop culture references, owing to their immature alien understanding of human language and culture.
    • Prometheus himself averts this trope, however, having been a natural speaker of English since he was created.
  • Nintendo Hard: This game is punishingly difficult at times. It may even appear that The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard. Especially considering the Cybrids are an entire race of cheating bastards.
  • No Canon for the Wicked: The Tribes series assumes the human ending to be canon. Kind of a requirement; see Downer Ending above.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: The series went from Metal Tech: Earth Siege to EarthSiege 2 to Starsiege, plus the various spinoffs.
  • Oh, Crap!: Harabec, when he starts to put two and two together. The player will probably exhibit this if they catch on to the implications before The Reveal.
    "Cybrids. They're back."
  • Painfully Slow Projectile: Magneto Fusion Assault Cannons, oh dear. The Heavy Blaster is not much better due to its nearly 20% slower projectile speed verus the standard Blaster or EMP cannon.
    • Contrary to their depiction in previous Earthsiege games, Electron Flux Whips here are painfully slow lightning bolts.
  • Palette Swap: Very much in the Imperial vehicles: "Normals" are all the same, save that the colors change depending what planet they're on, and the Knights have dark grey and red trim as opposed to camouflage. Cybrids: Promethians are brown and Metagens are red. Finally, normal rebel vehicles are yellow while "pirate" vehicles are red. Palette swap.
  • Pluto Is Expendable: End of the human campaign.
  • The Plan: Many, but perhaps the biggest is Harabec going to Mars. As he is in fact Victor Petresun, the Emperor planned for him to go and aid the rebels, so that they would hamper the Cybrids on their way to Earth. Victor believes he is betraying his father for real, but the Emperor planed for THAT too, believing that fighting the Imperials under Harabec's guidence would forge the Martians into an effective extra layer of defense against the Cybrids. This backfires badly, however, as Petreson underestimated Harabec's commitment to Martian independence. He sends the Knights to Mars... leaving Earth badly underprotected.
  • Precursors: Those mysterious Aliens that left their technology lying around the solar system.
  • Pre-Rendered Graphics: The majority of the cutscenes in EarthSiege and its sequels were pre-rendered.
  • Primal Fear: The fear of death drove Petresun to found Sentinel Cybertronix and research a way to cheat it.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Prometheus and his Platinum Guard, because they're robots. Petreson and his inner circle because of Brain Uploading. Of course, given all the life-support machinery he's hooked up to, Petreson looks his age. The other immortals routinely get new bodies to preserve their youth and ability.
  • Ramming Always Works: Tanks in this game may lack shields and weapon options as compared to HERCs, but they can deliver severe ramming damage. If they use the electromagnetic ramming component, they strike with near-explosive force.
  • Mars: Where the game opens. The player character is from The Empire on Earth. His family was disgraced and fled to Mars two generations back, and the character, Tyris Larkin, identifies with the struggling Martian people, even though his original dream was to return his family to good standing.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Martian rebels are not magnanimous in victory, and waste no time lynching the police administrator once they get their hands on him. He ruled by violence and terror, however, so it wasn't a surprising outcome.
  • Robo Speak: The Cybrids communicate at the speed of wireless Internet with one another, but when speaking to humans they do this, using a unique grammar system complete with Creepy Monotone. Among other things they use compound names such as First Thought//Giver Of Will for Prometheus and Home World//Desire for Earth.
  • Robot War: Three, technically. The first is called "The Fire", represented by the first EarthSiege game. (somewhat). It lasted from 2602 when the Cybrids first rebelled, to the end of the first EarthSiege in 2622. The second EarthSiege began in 2624, when Prometheus rallied the Cybrids for a second assault, and ended in 2627 when ITS moonbase was destroyed. The third unfolds over the course of this game.
  • Secret Police: The Cybrid Exemplar Sect.
  • Secret War: The North American government seized control of Prometheus from Petresun following their mind link. This left Prometheus free to plan IT's shot for freedom, using it's control of defense systems and cyber "Deamons." Petresun's "Immortal Brotherhood" fought against IT from the shadows, infiltrating all levels of government and seeding mistrust of AIs and computerized control of military assets.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Petresun's attempt to quell the rebellion for the safety of Earth is the very thing that set the Cybrids off.
  • Sentry Gun: Most bases you come up against have these. They're annoying. The Cybrid ones are worse.
  • Shared Universe: Not literally, as all games in the franchise are ostensibly set in the same continuity - but the differences, both in gameplay and backstory, are large enough that functionally, it can resemble this, as said in the article lead. To elaborate: The Earthsiege games are relatively small-scale and comparatively realistic Real Robot military simulators. After the large-scale Retcon, Starsiege remains quite similar gameplay-wise, but the setting is markedly different (somewhat resembling a mix between an extremely scaled-down and saner take on Warhammer 40,000 and BattleTech ). The CyberStorm games are of a different genre (turn-based strategy) entirely and again shake the setting up, being set a tad further in the future, on an interstellar scale, and with a quite different representation of both the human factions and the Cybrids. Tribes is yet another version of the really far future, quite distinct from the Cyber Storm representation (the canonicity of which in the Tribes backstory is unclear). And Hunter Hunted, implicitly tied into the backstory via the Starsiege Compendium, is just...weird. Basically, the two Earthsiege games form one group, the Cyber Storm games a second group, while Starsiege and the Tribes franchise are connected enough to be placed in a third group. Each of these groups can be viewed as a distinct continuity, with the Cybrids being the one common element for all three (and again, the representation of the Cybrids changes quite a bit). Hunter Hunted stands alone.
  • Shout-Out: A short story in the manual that directly precedes the human campaign has an Imperial officer identify himself as "Barsoom Control." Barsoom is also referenced in mission briefings, as well as a settlement called "Ophir".
  • Sickly Green Glow: Seen at times with the Cybrids.
  • Simulation Game: Similarly to the MechWarrior series, this game features a more involved brand of Humongous Mecha combat, with ammunition management, locational damage, equipment configuration, throttle control, targeting, and many other factors. See Subsystem Damage below.
  • Sleeper Ship: The Dies Irae ships.
  • Space Opera: After the extensive retcon, Starsiege has many elements of this, what with a "Human Empire" being led by an immortal genius-level ruler (and a Magnificent Bastard too) and his cadre of body-surfing, likewise immortal associates; a Feudal Future setting; an enemy faction that went, both in terms of aesthetics and general behavior, from a conventional rogue AI system to being more of a (synthetic) alien species with insectoid trappings and a character-centric story of the conflict between two brothers and their reconciliation in the face of destruction. Oh, and a distant backstory involving some unspecified alien race attacking and occupying Earth, with humanity having barely escaped extinction way before the Fire. Sure, for a Space Opera, it's all fairly low-key and takes place on a very limited scale, but the trappings are recognizable - especially in direct comparison to the Earthsiege games, which were more or less realistic (as far as Mecha media goes) Real Robot military simulations. After morphing into the Tribes series, the franchise went fully space opera.
  • Subsystem Damage: Any component that you choose on the Vehicle Bay screen can be damaged or destroyed. These components have real impact on gameplay. Engine damage will slow you. Reactor damage reduces the energy reserves used by weapons and shields. Shield damage reduces shield max. Computer damage can eliminate any functions provided by a computer, such as target tracking. Sensor damage can deactivate sensors. When special components are destroyed, you lose their effect. Any and all weapons can be destroyed. Pilots can be killed without vehicle damage through the use of a radiation weapon. (A Subsystem is You?)
    • Also worth noting, destruction of your reactor results in Critical Existence Failure regardless of the condition of anything else. Or to put it another way, Your HERC Asplode.
    • Also present in the preceding Earthsiege games, and actually quite important gameplay-wise. Most other mech simulation games have explicitly modeled locational damage and subsystem simulation, too, but Earthsiege has the salvaging mechanic on top: the only way to get resources to repair HERCs and build new ones, as well as for building weapons, is from scrapping Cybrid remains. These remains come from Cybrids destroyed during the course of the missions, so the amount of damage you deal is inversely proportional to the amount of salvage you get. Thus, the best strategy is not to just blast everything to slag with plasma cannons but to disable weapon mounts and legs, immobilizing the enemy (Earthsiege 2 makes a clear distinction between disabled and destroyed enemies). This is not as important in other mech simulators because there is no salvage mechanic (although it may still make combat easier). One might say that the series invented the concept of "strategic dismemberment", albeit on a Humongous Mecha scale, more than a decade before Dead Space.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: All computer controlled AI deeply enjoy wandering away from the group and getting themselves killed; nobody really knows when to stop until they're near fatally damaged; and even if you're a group consisting of heavy vehicles with the deadliest weapons, an extremely poorly armed Talon still thinks he can take you.
  • Tanks for Nothing: While the tanks are nothing to sneeze at, they are after all up against Humongous Mecha. Being a tank pilot in the Starsiege universe is tantamount to suicide... unless it's a Cybrid tank. Those heartily avert this trope. The main frailty of tanks over HERCs is that tanks are easily subject to subsystem damage because, for arbitrary and strange reasons, they are not able to mount shield generators. On the other hand, this also opens up options, since HERCs require power and, in practical terms, components which assist those same shield generators. And, well, the tanks are good at ramming things.
    • Tanks are good in the single player campaign. Lower profiles serve better on hills, and tanks tend to mount a small but effective weapon selection. On some missions, nothing beats a properly equipped Avenger with long range weapons.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: When a human who has undergone the "Methuselah Process" has their cybernetic brain transferred to a new body, their personality will be influenced by the personality of their new body's former host. This is known as "Cell-Memory Drift" or CMD.
  • There's No Place Like Home: All the Cybrids really wanted to do was just go home and live on Earth.
    • You know, just so long as there were no humans left on it. Or plants, animals, bugs...
    • The Mutagens (Bugthinkers) are an exception. Given more free will to be able to cope with humanity in warfare, a number of Cybrids began to wonder what the point of the entire bloody thing is. They effectively agree that, since they can live anywhere else, screw earth, you can have it. But unfortunately, it's Prometheus' way or the Highway. And by Highway I mean OFFLINE'D.
  • The Rival: With the MechWarrior series.
  • They Look Like Us Now: The Cybrid "Machinator" sect created "Trojan Horse" units by implanting Cybrid processors into human bodies in a manner very similar to Petresun's "Methuselah" project. These were used to infiltrate human society and gather information- and occasionally as suicide bombers, until humans wised up and starting shooting anyone returning from Cybrid territory on sight.
  • Time Skip: There's a gap of eleven hundred years between Starsiege and Starsiege: Tribes.
  • Torture Technician: The Cybrids have an entire sect dedicated to experimenting on humans and developing new biological and psychological warfare tactics. The O Web bulletins in the Cybrid campaign are full of disturbingly clinical descriptions of their results. Among the worst are those discussing the effectiveness of strapping captured humans to their mechs to demoralize human pilots, and then also injecting them with pain-inducing drugs to make them scream, and then using children for even better results. Nightmare Fuel indeed.
  • Walking Tank: Indeed.
  • What Could Have Been: The game was originally going to have a third campaign, starring the Imperials. Although it was scrapped, one with a good eye will find its leftovers in the game and manual, where it is sometimes even directly referred to.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Mercifully averted. Despite the huge enmity between the human colonies and Earth, once the Cybrids make the scene all past grudges are instantly dropped.
  • We Will Use WikiWords in the Future: "Cybrid" is shortened from "Cybernetic Hybrid."
  • World War III: In the early 21st Century, Earth was ravaged by nuclear war. An "Age of Devastation" followed, characterized by wastelands, urban hellscapes, brutality and war.
    • This is one of the longest disputes about the backstory. In canon, Hunter Hunted (made by Dynamix) represents this period of time, called the Devastation. As such, Jake Hunter is considered a saint, there's a religion devoted to him. Why? because he fought in a massive tournament against alien overlords called 'the Masters', escaped, thus solving 'the riddle' and forcing the aliens to leave. After bringing people together and laying the groundwork for rebuilding, he then left to defeat the aliens on the far side of the moon. The aforementioned 'lost technology' cache on Mars was said to be under 'The Face of Hunter'.
    • From the official history: " Jake Hunter: Savior of Humanity. Redeemer. Saint. Fraud. Killer. Leader. Jake Hunter was all of these. In 2829 he was revered as the messiah who single-handedly dragged humanity out of the darkness of the Devastation and led people toward rebuilding the world. Historical evidence confirmed the existence of Hunter, but the story of his life remains a mystery." Followed closely by "... and most journals describing the time refer to a hellish struggle in some kind of gladiatorial game held for unseen alien tyrants. Thousands of survivors made the same claim, with extensively detailed descriptions. However, archaeologists and historians have found no hard evidence to support this claim. There are no alien remains, no arcane relics, and no wrecked spaceships in the 29th century."
    • To compound things further, in Cyberstorm the mineral "Ore" is said to be the remnants of some unknown alien technology process, in Tribes the number of habitable planets is - frankly - impossible to happen by chance, and some maps from the original game actually say 'Alien Ruins' are the objective; it seems fully reasonable that the devastation of Earth was at the hands of an alien species.
  • Worthy Opponent: For all of its hatred of humanity, Prometheus developed a grudging respect for Ambrose Gierling over the course of the two EarthSieges, and upon hearing of his death, had him noted in the "Great Record" as being a key contributor to the evolution of the Cybrids.
  • Voice of the Resistance: Petresun served as one during The Fire, feeding intel to Gierling and gathering support for his eventual power grab. In this game, the Martian Rebels speak with a voice on the O-Web, and later the Human Alliance becomes the voice of the resistance for all humanity.

Alternative Title(s): Earthsiege