This is a Real Time Strategy game with a twist.
Hooligans - Storm over Europe literally caused a storm when the first plans/demo's were unleashed upon the European market. We all know Hooligans are mainly a European phenomenon having its roots in The United Kingdom. The Thirteenth Production being a Dutch developer got strong opposition from the Dutch Soccer Association (KNVB) and the British BBFC resulting in the game being banned from stores such as EB, Dixons, Bart Smit and so on.
Hooligans - Storm over Europe is a real-time strategy game set in our time and deals with a modern day problem. The game revolves around units which the player controls, the Hooligans. These are the so-called 'supporters' who just love to travel and most of all love football,… right! You as a supporter and leader of the most fanatic supporting side, have your heart on the right spot and follow your team as it plays in the euroleague. It is the intention to make Hooligans a game that is a worthy RTS and at the same time make it a hilarious game, with absurd situations and behavior, complete chaos and mayhem and game play that is just a little different.
Here the object is to become the most notorious group of Hooligans in Europe. You must kill, maim and destroy the opposing Hooligan teams. You muster and control your faithful troops by administering drugs, alcohol and of course a good dose of violence every now and then. They must become true followers of your faction, for better or worse. Not only good strategic skills are required but also a good political mind set and managing capabilities to keep your troops happy and violent. During the European football season you will travel through Europe to visit several venues where you will do battle with the opponents teams. Whoever is victorious and catches the publics attention in the media will end up the most notorious and frightful bunch of Hooligans in Europe and the world! A title that every Hooligan with his heart in the right spot loves to fight for! Ask not what your team can do for you, but what you can do for your team!
Hooligans is a pure bred RTS game where you control your troops and hover over the game field. You select your characters, click on places on the map and send them off to perform various tasks. So far the game is like many other titles in its genre. Unfortunately the developers wanted to stay away from the usual aliens, goblins or futuristic soldiers and keep it simple. They chose rioting .... hooligans! This, even though it was a deliberate choice, making the game a commercial risk.
The first few missions are the usual "get to now the game" type of quest where you learn the controls and how to recruit new people, "raise" money in order to do so, get to a train station nearby (avoiding the opposing team's hooligans) etc....
There are actually 2 ways of recruiting new people first by just entering a bar (which will then indicate the bar is "yours" by putting your logo in front of it) and buying everybody a generous round of beer. The more beer, the more drunk followers will team up with your gang. The other option is to plain and simple BUY their services. The difference between both recruitment options is that you can control the "bought" recruits with specific movements/assignments whilst the other one's are more "followers", people tagging along because you bought them a round of beer. The followers will engage in fights when they occur and that's about it. They are usually weaker than the hard core bikers, ravers or fat bastards you can buy.
You start off the game with a little money which is quickly spend on some beer so the only way to make some quick cash is ... riot and loot local stores. Send tour troops to the store, right click over the store and a little menu option will pop up with a Euro sign to loot it or a fist/brick to just destroy the place. Some stores have more cash available then others (by just moving the mouse over a building you will see how much it has in its register) but the more cash the more likely the opposition will be fiercer... for example a gas station has a few thousand Euro, while a clothing store only a few hundred .. the clothing store is a push over and no opposition whilst the gas station manager will come out and blast into your gang with riot gun as soon as you attack it ... you choose ;)
Your troops have different strengths but you can also ARM your troops with chains, lead pipes, guns and so on that can be bought in a weapons store, which of course requires more money yet again.
During the game you not only battle with rival gangs/hooligans but you also have "run ins" with local street cops, regular pedestrians and the riot police. Attacking a cop or engaging the riot police is not very advisable since they will either show you the power of the stick, shoot you or if you are an easy target just arrest you (handcuff and escort you to the riot car for lock up).
Apart from "stimulating" your hard core hooligans with beer you can also "treat" them with some indulgence of the flesh. That's right ... buy them a "round" in the local whorehouse. Or purchase some heroine to give them an extra boost.
Be Warned! This game is not a push over at all ...This is a REAL strategy game with a huge twist. Building big gangs is not always the best answer, nor is plundering every store on the map. Hit and Run, Hide and Seek are sometimes better tactics to achieve the maps goal. Not every level (there are about 15 of them) is about beating up the rival "firms" (that's how the different gangs are calling themselves) or scaring old ladies in the streets. There are also more 'noble" goals such as protecting your soccer teams bus arriving in town for an "away" game or freeing some of your firm members incarcerated, wrongfully of course, by the police. Sold out game? No Tickets? No problem .. rob a local Italian bank so you can afford tickets on the black market.
Since soccer is played all over Europe there are home and away games that need to be attended. Along your raids you will pass through countries such as France, Germany, Italy and so on. Especially Holland seems to be a favorite place for your "firm" including a visit to one of your rivaling firm's drug plant which was too good to pass up, no need to say it became a lucrative trip.
Game AI & Graphics
The game runs on a in-house developed 2D engine and runs great at 1024*768. You play the game from an isometric point of view which reminds us of titles such as Jagged Alliance 2 or Commandos 2. There is also a multi player option where you can battle it out amongst maximum 4 players in 4 different maps.
The game is tied together with hired actors (or real Hooligans, i have not figured it out yet) in game movies that tell you the preliminary story of the upcoming level with rather graphics scenes and language. I loved it! The clips are loaded with humor and foul language in a thick British accent (thank god for subtitles).
The A.I in the game is quite well done and worked out. The action at times is totally chaotic with tons of characters all over the map and it is virtually impossible to play a map the same way twice in a row. Sometimes the riot squad will engage you by themselves, sometimes they wont ... It all depends on the circumstances. For example if you send a certain part of your gang into a battle with a cop or the riot squad, you can run and hide but next time they will remember you for later reprisal actions. The cops or riot squad have their stick and fire weapons at their disposal but it depends on YOUR actions wether they will "only" beat you unconscious or shoot you down. If you loot a store and there is a cop nearby, the alarm will trigger his attention. The riot squad also has tear gas they can fire at you to render you unconscious from afar.
Earlier we mentioned that you can recruit "followers" by buying them drinks and others briberies. You cant really command them to go places or do certain things, they will just follow you while being drunk or in the mood (that mood can be stimulated by the gang leader chanting). But as easily as they seem to follow you, they will as easily desert you in the middle of a fight. Sometimes they randomly assault people in the street or fall down on the ground, drunk off their ass.
Ever since the ECTS (Electronic Computer Trade Show in London) last year the interest in publishing Hooligans was well on track with several companies. Then Sept 11th changed not only the landscape of NY but also the way certain companies looked towards games. In the aftermath most of the promising publishing "talk" were put on hold or totally perished. While there are no ripped off limbs nor any other gore, apart from reddish blood spots, in the game Thirteenth Production has of yet not found a publishing deal and was forced to distribute it under their own label DarXabre. This is just to point out that the game is maybe not available in your local game store it can be ordered through this website!