Apocalypse pow!

Feb 7, 2001 at 12:00 am

Welcome to the rip-roaring, blood-douched, relentlessly rigorous military boot camp of the Echo Boomer generation. Rather than clutter your impressionable videogame optics with the realities of Full Metal Jacket, the inexpensive “Hogs of War” represents the more rapid, more brutal of our two, bulk-carnage highs. Yet, instead of frail humans, chubby swine headline the game’s roster, wearing the ever-hilarious hooves of indelibly dense grunts to highly decorated commandos.

Through 25 levels of shameless cartoon violence, everything from poison gas to mass artillery is utilized, all with one clearly defined objective in mind: total obliteration of the enemy. Think of “Hogs” as “Worms” (also an Infogrames franchise), yet placed in a much more strategic three-dimensional plane — a massive flat dominated by the piggies that control the last remaining supply of the world’s most valuable resource: “swill.”

Just ignore the clunky graphics and occasional digital glitches, since the longevity of any game has always been rooted in the fundamentals of gameplay — not just visual elegance. For more durability, indulge in one of “Hogs’” many four-player oink-fests, complete with battle-royal arenas and other equally chaotic stage sets.

3DO also offers a similar excursion for gamers with an itch for sniper rifles and long-range mortars. But “Army Men: Sarge’s Heroes 2,” the latest addition to the developer/publisher’s extensive plastic toy franchise, isn’t as enthralling as “Hogs” or quite as humorous. Here, missions aren’t for tea-time discussion — generally, when damage is implemented, little green limbs fall off.

Aiding the Green Nation in their war to destroy General Plasto and sinister spy Bridgette Bleu usually means pursuance in the oddest of childhood cabanas. The refrigerator, attic, a toy store and pinball machine all play host to violent toyland rumbles. More gothic stages even offer multicolored, limb-replaced zombies for target practice.

Luckily those pudgy porkers and gun-happy green men are just digital incarnations. Otherwise, Earth would be one insane locale for World War III —though, maybe a dash more jocular too.

Jon M. Gibson investigates the triumphs — and pitfalls — of games and other technological poundcakes. E-mail him at [email protected].