Pigs fight with other pigs in the Pig Bay for supremacy over the pig food. With this rather crazy premise, Frontschweine celebrated an absolute surprise success at the beginning of the 2000s. The strategy title from the British studio Gremlin Interactive not only convinced with a lot of wit and charm, but also with a really fun game principle: Worms in 3D, so to speak. So you control your piglets in turn-style over a map, choose from a range of weapons and set your opponents on fire under the pork loin!
Finally, in 2008, a sequel to the multiplayer bash was announced, and Frontschweine 2 should have been released for Wii, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2 and the PC by April of the following year. However, due to internal unrest at publisher Infogrames, who was busy acquiring Atari at the time, the project was eventually quietly shelved. Since then it has been the task of the fans to take care of the legacy of Frontschweine. And she does it with enormous passion: Over the past 15 years, a bunch of community mods have been released, some of which add completely new content to the title. There is a self-organized multiplayer online league with competitive rankings and even a remaster version is currently in the works!
It was announced for the PlayStation 4 in March 2019 under the title Hogs of War Reheated. But that was four years ago now. So what has happened in the meantime? We met the developers for an interview and clarified how the project is currently doing.
Leisure project to full-time job
The story of the Front Schweine Remaster begins way before 2019, at Sheffield Hallam University. A man named Jacob Habgood, who is the lead programmer of the original Frontschweine, teaches in the computer science department. In one of his courses, Habgood used the code base from his former work as teaching material. Which in turn prompted one of his students to port PS1 assets of the game to PS4 as part of his master’s thesis. And so Hogs of War Reheated was born.
From there, the project picked up speed and finally became independent. The hobby project became an officially licensed remaster through an official collaboration with the Frontschweine rights holders. A six-person team of programmers, artists and level designers is currently working on giving the PS1 classic a modern facelift. Leisure time fun turned into a full-time job.
What is extremely important to the developers: Hogs of War Lardcore, as the game is now called, is still explicitly a remaster, not a remake! The game is not being built from scratch. When it comes to the engine, the makers are relying on a complete in-house creation, but it is driven by the original code. The in-game logic and mechanics working under the hood are therefore still the same as they were in 2000.
Graphics of today, gameplay of yesteryear
Basically, the core gameplay of the game has remained completely unchanged. If you could play lardcore now, you would immediately notice that you are playing front pigs. It’s the same feel as it was back then, just slightly refined and with nicer packaging.
Most of the changes can be seen in the optics. For example, the user interface has been adapted to today’s standards.
In-game models for vehicles, weapons and even the front pigs themselves shine in fresh splendor thanks to new rendering technology. Real hardcore fans will probably notice that the game characters look significantly different than they did back then. They are currently still stuck in what the developers call the “Cutesy” phase. So they still look like cute, cuddly newbies, not like hardened fighting boars. However, the design is far from final, according to those responsible. All scenes shown so far are still work in progress. A lot can and will change in the coming months. The same applies to the revised particle and light effects.
If you let your gaze wander a little, you will notice other nice details: A light haze now collects over water surfaces. Individual blades of grass are now animated, no more flat texture. A few butterflies fly around here and there. The levels also have an elaborate skybox, landscapes beyond the accessible map are much more extensive. There’s more going on in the background. This makes the worlds appear even larger and livelier.
Aside from the graphics, there are other technical improvements waiting: loading times are noticeably shorter. Some new functions that were not available in the original provide extra convenience. For example, in the remaster you can save progress mid-mission, close the game, and then continue later. That was overdue!