While the gameplay isn't quite as unusual as the premise, S.W.I.N.E. is a solid real-time strategy game with plenty of humor, all wrapped up in a beautiful shell.
The box cover for Stormregion's S.W.I.N.E. will be enough to give you an immediate impression about what to expect. There's a giant pig's face smoking a cigar and a line on the inside flap that reads "when good meat goes bad," which says a lot about the whimsical nature of the game. S.W.I.N.E. is actually a real-time tactical combat game that pits the war machines of the peaceful rabbits against those of the militaristic pigs. While the gameplay isn't quite as unusual as the premise, S.W.I.N.E. is a solid real-time strategy game with plenty of humor, all wrapped up in a beautiful shell.
The single-player mode of S.W.I.N.E. lets you play as either the rabbits or the pigs. It's recommended that you play as the rabbits first because the pig campaign is more challenging and immediately starts you off against the most powerful weaponry. The game offers clear objectives for each mission, although the whole premise seems strangely similar to the early events of World War II. The pigs aggressively attack the pacifist rabbits, who are unprepared to fight the more advanced weaponry of the pigs. The rabbits and pigs even speak with French and German accents, respectively, though these accents are so awful that it must have been a deliberate way of contributing to the ridiculous nature of the game. Add to that the fact that the buildings look like early-20th-century European architecture, and it's easy to draw a comparison between S.W.I.N.E. and WWII. Cutscenes attempt to contribute to the storyline, but most of the time you'll see video sequences that don't make much sense. They are amusing but are not really relevant to what's going on in the mission you just played.
As a real-time strategy game, S.W.I.N.E. plays very similarly to the games in the MechCommander series, or other sci-fi-themed tactical combat games such as Ground Control. There is no base building or resource gathering--instead you have a limited number of units in each mission. You're given a few units at the beginning of a campaign and can upgrade or purchase new units using "strategy points" awarded to you after every successful mission. You have an opportunity to buy new units before missions, but there's no real point to this because you can purchase them during the actual mission and have them delivered to any location. You'll quickly learn to use this latter option, since you'll never know what to expect from a mission until you're in the thick of it. For example, buying a minelayer on the fly after realizing you need to defend a location will make you glad you saved your strategy points. Strategy points are also used by command vehicles to call in air strikes. Using these powerful attacks as a last-ditch effort may mean the difference between success and failure.
You'll find that the rabbits and pigs have more in common than just bad voice acting. The two factions are virtually identical in terms of their units. This makes the pig campaign somewhat disappointing; playing as the opposing faction in other real-time strategy games is usually a welcome change of pace due to the availability of different units and the possibility of different strategies. Beyond that, the variety of units--at least within each side--is sufficiently good. You have light-caliber machine guns, vehicles, various tanks, artillery, rocket launchers, and other specialty units to play with. You not only have to keep track of your units' health, but also their ammo and fuel. Running out of either of these in the middle of a battle isn't going to make your day. Fortunately, you can purchase resource trucks to repair, refuel, and rearm your forces.
The artificial intelligence in S.W.I.N.E. makes for a good challenge throughout the single-player game. The computer doesn't actively seek you out, but that doesn't mean it will act passively when you encounter it. If you engage an enemy unit, any others in the vicinity will come to assist it in attacking you. Losing units can be absolutely catastrophic during these missions, so you had better scout an area thoroughly for hidden units or you'll have a group of enemy tanks attacking your artillery from the flank. The interface and pathfinding in S.W.I.N.E. are good, so you'll never have to worry about having to guide each and every unit through the rough terrain. There are also behavior settings to have your units hold position, chase after enemies, or retreat out of enemy firing range if engaged.