Iron Storm: Lore

Now, I wouldn’t call Iron Storm lore-heavy. What lore it has mainly seems like a way to add an off-kilter tone to its tense and bleak vibe: This is World War I, but it isn’t quite right. It’s 1964. There are wrecks of WWI-era tanks, with the big lozenge-shaped treads the height of the entire body, but there are also helicopters. The armies of the world are in some way financed by a stock market; soldiers can be overheard discussing their portfolios, and every propaganda video about developments in the war includes a mention of the impact those developments have had on futures prices.

By 1964, the war has simplified into two sides: the United States of Western Europe and the Russo-Mongolian Empire. This is a world where the Bolshevik revolution was defeated, mainly through the efforts of one Baron Ugenberg, whose banners you can see at enemy camps. (Possibly this was the point of divergence.) Enemies mutter and bark in either Russian or German — the intro tells us that Germany is split down the middle between the two sides, just like in our timeline in 1964, but every German I’ve met has been a bad guy. Perhaps the idea of a split Germany was added to mollify German players. It’s worth noting that the game was developed by a French studio.

I’m mainly going to hang this on the same peg as Command & Conquer: Red Alert: it wants to use historical stylings to evoke certain feelings, but it wants to avoid the complications of actual fairly-recent history. And so it simplifies, turning the most complex of wars into an easily-digestible good-guys-vs-bad-guys story (and, to an extent, shifts the bad-guy status from Germany to Russia, but not as hard as Red Alert did). But it wouldn’t really feel like World War I without a sense of moral unease about the whole thing. And so it adds that back in fictional form with financial speculation on solders’ lives.

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