Redline (1999 video game)
|Release date(s)||March, 1999|
|Genre(s)||Vehicular combat, First-person shooter|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
Redline is a 1999 post-apocalyptic combination first-person shooter/racing video game for Microsoft Windows. It was developed by Beyond Games and published by Accolade. In Europe, the game was known as Redline - Gang Warfare: 2066. This was the last game Accolade published before being acquired by French publisher Infogrames.
People who have the luxury of contemplating the past call the first decade of the twenty-first century the Golden Age of Technology. It's been only fifty years since that decade ended and things began to unravel, yet there is no one left who remembers that time. No one on the outside, anyway. People on the inside live a long time, I've heard, and people in my gang tell stories about how the Insiders all watched the world fall apart like it was some kind of fireworks show. I guess I'm getting ahead of myself, but I like to think about what it must have like to be alive during that first decade. The Chinese used to have a saying: There is great disorder under heaven, and the situation is excellent. I figure it must have been a little like that.
Back in the nineteen fifties, some guy named Reich told everybody that he'd discovered a boundless source of energy; maybe even the life force itself. He called it orgone, and he built these funny boxes called orgone accumulators. Some people bought them and said they cured diseases and made them think more clearly, but most people thought it was a hoax. Scientists wouldn't look at it because Reich was a psychologist, but he went ahead and sold plans for the boxes to lots of people anyway. At the time no one really understood what happened next, but all of a sudden Reich was put in prison and public burnings of his books were held in cities all over the country. Sometime around the turn of the century, people figured out why.
The boxes worked. Anybody could build an orgone accumulator, and soon engines began to appear that were driven by them, although the source of orgone energy was still a mystery. People built generators, cars, heating and cooling systems, you name it. Free energy. By the time the major world governments and the fossil fuel consortiums that controlled them realized the seriousness of the problem, the cat was out of the bag. Most of them didn't even resist handing over the reins of power, and outside of a few skirmishes in the Middle East and the Houston Riots, a bloodless revolution took place. People learned that orgone and other alternative fuels had been deliberately suppressed for years, and that the Insiders, as the corporations and their puppet governments came to be called, had also retarded the development of environmental engineering technology that could dramatically reduce humanity's pressure on Earth's ravaged biosphere. The rhetoric of emerging world leaders capitalized on people's outrage, and hastened worldwide environmental repair. Some of their plans were a little strange, but they were so optimistic, so sure that they were leading mankind back to Eden, that no one really questioned them. After all, there's nothing wrong with cleaning up the planet.
The revolution started by Reich's accumulators and the realization that many such advancements could have been squelched by the Insiders sent people scurrying to their history books to exhume the theories of every eccentric and discredited scientist of the past century. Most of what they found was harmless delusion, but a few discoveries of valuable suppressed technology were made. The theories of the nineteenth century inventor Nikola Tesla gained tremendous notoriety, and physicists tripped over themselves in their rush to reexamine his work. Tesla believed that he had discovered a way to transmit electrical power through the air as easily as radio waves, and envisioned a worldwide system of power stations transmitting free energy. He was proven correct, but the universal availability of orgone accumulators eliminated the need for his invention. Scientists turned to Tesla's more theoretical work.
What people didn't realize was that the Insiders had for the most part escaped the revolution unscathed; people were understandably more concerned with building utopias than with hunting down broken tyrants. The Insiders were never destroyed, they merely sank beneath the surface like Leviathan and waited for their chance to rise again. Furiously researching the technology they had restrained, they found in Tesla's theories an opportunity to resume their thrones.
Tesla was aware that every object has a resonant frequency; a breaking point where an object vibrates in phase with waves that is striking it. This is why a glass will shatter when the correct note is struck nearby on a tuning fork. The glass resonates with the tuning fork, its structure vibrating faster and faster until it shakes itself apart. This was thoroughly understood in Tesla's day, but he took the idea a step further. He reasoned that the Earth itself must have a resonant frequency, and he set out to calculate it. The Insiders were delighted to discover that while he was a little off in figuring Earth's frequency, he had hit the moon's right on the money.
The leaders of the world's emerging new nations, meanwhile, met at the first United World conference in Singapore to discuss solutions to the planet's remaining environmental dilemmas. It was decided that nuclear, chemical and biological weapon disposal was a priority, as was permanent relocation of the toxic wastes and heavy metals generated by hundreds of years or rapacious industry. As orgone-powered spacecraft were now under construction, it seemed feasible to easily and economically store these wastes on the moon, which was not considered desirable for colonization anyway. A corporation called Renewal, Inc. presented this plan, and indicated they were ready to implement it immediately. It's amazing to us now that no one questioned where Renewal, Inc. had come from, or why they were already so ideally equipped for an industry that had yet to be created. Contracts were signed, and Renewal, Inc. was given access to the most devastating weapons a self-destructive species had been able to devise. To universal cheers, they began hauling it all to the moon.
On April 1, 2012, the Insiders began a series of timed nuclear detonations on the poles of the moon. It took several hours before the moon began to resonate and shake apart, and at that point the explosions were stopped. Plenty of damage had been done already, however, and the Insiders now had all of the aces back in their sleeves. The orbit of the moon was disrupted just enough to wreak havoc on Earth; tidal waves destroyed many coastal cities, weather patterns became chaotic, and clouds of fallout and debris from the lunar explosions circled the globe. Within a year, over two thirds of Earth's population was gone. Those who died quickly in storms or were claimed by the sea were lucky.
Most of the survivors developed some degree of the deteriorating skin condition dubbed "Red-6," a legacy of the fallout and the poisonous air. Wealthy Insiders came out of hiding with treatments for Red-6 that only they could afford. When the search for clean water became the focus of most of humanity, the Insiders immediately unveiled a technique mating salt water purification and deep sea drilling to offer life's most crucial need at a "reasonable" price. Competing techniques for the extraction or purification of water spawned an enormous industry overnight, with the Insiders once more at the helm. They constructed domed cities for the wealthy, where corporations such as O2 sold pure metered air at whatever price the market could sustain. "Designer air," a mildly hallucinogenic but very addictive and expensive luxury, caught on among the wealthy as the Insiders in their greed began to prey even upon their own.
Life outside these cities was barely possible. Tremendous storms raged across what little arable land was left, and toxic debris still engulfed the planet like a diseased blanket. By 2060, the weather was somewhat stabilized, but few Outsiders could expect to live longer than thirty years. Most lived near the domed cities of the Insiders, where they could occasionally breathe clean air or drink clean water in exchange for menial labor or participation in grisly entertainments. You see, we don't much look like the Insiders anymore, and we don't think like they do at all. They have come to see us as a separate, inferior species, and most of the gangs on the Outside would probably agree with the "separate" part. The Insiders started BattleWheels gaming about ten years ago, and it is by far the most popular of their diversions. A lot of the Outsider gangs hate each other anyway, and maybe the Insiders think that if we can be encouraged to fight amongst ourselves we won't make trouble. I'm not sure we could make much trouble against their weapons, but maybe that's what they think.
So I guess most gangs are into the games because they know they won't live long anyway, and there's always a chance that someday you might blow away one of the thrill-seeking Insiders who occasionally join the games. Or maybe it's because there are some Outsiders who have become legends in the BattleWheels arenas, and live on the Inside now. Some gangs just like to watch things die.
I don't need a reason. Let the games begin.
The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where the Earth has been laid waste by an unnaturally close orbit of the Moon, which has also turned the skies a crimson red. A privileged few live lives of luxury in cities under protective domes. Others are forced to eke out an existence on the outside, where fearful gangs battle for dominance.
The player's character is recruited by one of the gangs known as The Company, a gang reminiscent of the pre-apocalypse Mafia/FBI, with their leader Liddy. Under its guidance, the player is sent out on various missions across the battered and charred landscape.
The background story, on the other hand, goes further than that. Basically, it all comes down to the world being separated as The Insiders (the richer part of the society, who live in domed, large and luxurious cities - mentioned by Liddy as "..ever since the world turned to shit and The Insiders built their domes") and The Outsiders (the gangs that struggle for dominance); due to the discovery of a new energy named "orgone" (based on Project Tesla; that not only radio waves, but energy is also transmitted through the Schumann Cavity) which is supposed to be "based on life itself, or like life itself". However, although simple to use, to do it correctly required extreme skill - which is how The Insiders grew to be the higher part of society - through the control of most orgone. The world-famous disease "Red Six" (which gave the name to a gang in the game, The Red Sixers - The Company's main enemy) derived from the generation of "negative orgone" - destructive albeit productive. The negative orgone energy became a serious problem, which is why The Insiders closed themselves off, and how the gangs made themselves in the outside.
Gameplay takes place on foot or within vehicles known as "Battle Rigs". The game requires the player to use both modes of play. When within their vehicle, the player may exit at any time to continue on foot (except during the stage in which the player is locked into his vehicle, and must escape before it explodes). When on foot, the game is a first-person shooter (FPS) with gameplay typical of the genre, battling other enemies on foot or in vehicles with sci-fi weapons of unusual power. When in a Battle Rig, the game is more reminiscent of racing or driving games, with the exception that the player can run over their enemies.
Redline included support to be played online using the MPlayer.com and Heat.net online gaming services. It was available for play for their demo version even before the game was released. After release both the demo and full version were supported. It's now supported by Gamespy Arcade.