Hammer & Sickle

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posted 11/29/2005 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
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GamingNexus: The game is billed as a tactical RPG, what exactly does that mean?  Is it turned based game play or real time?
Mario Kroll:
Hammer & Sickle is a real-time game during normal world exploration. Once you enter combat, your decision making becomes tactical and action is turn-based. You, your party members and your opponents begin to take actions that consume action points and play out in sequence based on each character’s initiative. This allows for a faster paced game as you learn about your environment and investigate the main conspiracy. It also slows things down and allows you to make carefully considered tactical decisions based on the combat at hand. We feel that’s a great balance between speeding things up when you want to get on with the story but also allowing you to think before you get your character or your party killed simply because you can’t click fast enough.

GamingNexus: Given that you are in the spy game what is the role of the NPC’s in the game?  How do you interact with them?
Mario Kroll:
Interaction with NPC’s is through a dialog system. Whenever there’s an NPC that you’re able to talk to (not everyone is friendly or interesting enough to talk with <grin>) there will be an icon designating such. When you walk up to them and start talking, you’ll hear and see their comments, to which you can choose a reply from a list. This allows you to decide what sort of attitude you’ll take towards the NPC. If you’re a smart-Alec back to them, then they’ll probably not be very helpful, but if you’re too much of a suck-up, they might likewise be turned off from talking to you. It all depends on their personality, which you’ll learn more about the more you talk to them. Lastly, as the game progresses, some NPC’s end up joining your party to become playable characters that can make or break you in the game.

GamingNexus: What are the RPG elements in Hammer and Sickle?
Mario Kroll:
Hammer & Sickle allows you to customize your character’s appearance, equipment and skills to start. So you can choose from one of six character classes – Sniper, Scout, Soldier, Grenadier, Medic or Engineer. Each class obviously has unique benefits associated with it, and as you play the game, you’ll earn experience points to increase your skills. We have a fully fleshed-out skill tree, just as in other RPG’s, so your character truly develops as you play the game.  You also, of course, will be able to collect a wide range of equipment and weapons. The other component is the interaction with NPC’s in the game world. How you respond to them determines not only the makeup of your team or party, but also affects who will help or hinder you in the game.

GamingNexus: How many missions are in the game? About how long do you think it will take to get through the game? Can you describe how the missions are structured?
Mario Kroll:
At last count, we had over 40 potential missions. The missions are broken up by maps, with most maps having a number of alternate paths and optional plots that can be explored. The second map is a good example – while it’s one map, there are eight missions within. There’s plenty to do on each map, and each “mission” leads into the next, creating a chain of events which affects the overall outcome of the game. 

It’s hard to pin down a number of hours that the game will take, because it’s so open-ended. Here’s an example of what I mean:  on one map, “Joe” the gunrunner (I won’t give away his real name, don’t want to spoil the game for you), asks you to kill off his rival. If you do it, he’ll sell you any weapon he has available and pay you a handsome sum. However, when you meet up with his rival, the rival says “Tell you what, you let me go, and I’ll pay you the same, leave Joe alone and give you another job to make more money.” So it’s up to you; do you take the quick route by killing the rival? Or do you keep him alive, finish the mission he gives you, and see what Joe has to say after all this? Or do you ignore them both and move on to another task? Whichever you choose, it’s going to open up more “routes” through the game and the final objective of avoiding nuclear annihilation.

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