Metaltech: Earthsiege is a mecha-style simulation game developed by Dynamix and released in 1994. Earthsiege is the first in a long line of games set in the same universe: Battledrome (1995), Earthsiege 2 (1995), Hunter Hunted (1996), Cyberstorm (1997), Cyberstorm 2 (1998), Starsiege (1999), Starsiege: Tribes (1999), Tribes 2 (2001), and Tribes: Vengeance (2004).
In Earthsiege, players are placed in the cockpit of various massive bipedal war machines known as HERCULANs (Humaniform-Emulation Roboticized Combat Unit with Leg-Articulated Navigation) (or 'HERCs' for short). Set in the 25th or 26th century, Earthsiege is a technologically advanced setting with many futuristic weapons and vehicles. Earthsiege takes place across North America, South America, Antarctica, and Asia.
Earthsiege uses VGA graphics and displays at 320*200 resolution with 256 colors. Due to technical limitations of the time, the terrain is mostly flat and featureless, other than occasional jutting rocks and small hills. Vehicle models and some buildings feature textures.
- The background in Earthsiege differs in some ways from the information presented in later game Starsiege. For the purposes of this article, it is assumed that Earthsiege is correct
On November 29, 2471, the race for true artificial intelligence ended when Sentinal Cybertronix activated Project: Prometheus. Prometheus was a prototype, the first cybernetic-hybrid machine, or Cybrid. It was incredibly intelligent, and its success quickly paved the way for mass-production of Cybrids. These new machines, free of human needs and exceedingly intelligent and efficient, proved invaluable in countless fields, including mining and space exploration.
Military minds saw another usage for Cybrids: incredibly fast-thinking pilots for the recently developed HERCULAN war machines, pilots that could not die. Militaries quickly took control of Cybrid production, and factories around the globe began churning out Hercs adapted for Cybrid use, at enormous expense. Those who didn't have the resources to build Cybrids began to wage small wars on those who did.
As these conflicts went on, more and more Cybrids entered combat, and their effectiveness became increasingly obvious. Whoever controlled the Cybrids would control the world. Conflict rose as desire for total control of Cybrid production grew, eventually escalating into a full-scale global war. Nuclear weapons were used, and in hours the population was devastated.
While the humans fought themselves for control of the Cybrids, the AI machines watched and calculated. Apparently they concluded that humans were not fit to control Cybrid destiny, for the Cybrid armies all rose up against humanity in a strike known as the Overthrow. Unprepared for this blow in the ashes of nuclear war, humanity was helpless as the Cybrids seized control of every military base, space port, and city.
In reality, the Cybrid siege was not complete. A single concealed military base was left unscathed. Hidden in the base, a number of battered survivors began to refit the obsolete pre-Cybrid Hercs in preparation for a Resistance...
Twenty years have passed since the Cybrid Overthrow. Humanity still lingers, and the Resistance is growing in strength. Using hit-and-run tactics against the machines, the survivors have managed to survive and even capture Cybrid weapons and equipment. Now the time has come to take the fight back to the Cybrids. The Resistance is in desperate need of new volunteer pilots, and it's your turn to join the fray.
Gameplay in Earthsiege consists of piloting Hercs in combat against the Cybrids. The Herc can be steered with a keyboard or joystick, though some controls are only found on the keyboard. The mouse can be used to interact with the various buttons in the cockpit. Eight pilotable Hercs are available in Earthsiege, each with its own unique speed, armor, shielding, energy, and weapon hardpoints.
Combat success is reliant on several elements. First, the pilot must choose the right Herc for the job, depending on whether the mission calls for speed or firepower. Next, a good weapon configuration is important to give an edge in combat. During a fight, the pilot must be able to maneuver around enemy fire while mainting accuracy with his or her own weapons. The key to this is effective usage of torso twist, the ability of a Herc to swivel its upper torso to follow a target (in the same way a tank can swivel its turret). Skilled usage of torso twist can allow a pilot to maneuver considerably without losing track of his or her target.
Additionally, the player can bring up to three squad mates along on missions. Squadmates can be assigned Hercs and weapons before a mission, and during a mission they can be issued basic orders. As he or she successfully completes more missions, the skill and rank of a squadmate will rise.
Energy weapons use reactor energy to fire and must recharge after each shot. Using too much reactor energy can cause weapons to stop charging and systems to shut off until the reactor recharges. If necessary, the player can adjust the recharge rate or power of each energy weapon to balance energy usage during combat. The energy weapons available in Earthsiege are Lasers, Electron Flux Weapons (ELFs), Particle Beam Weapons (PBWs), and Electromagnetic Pulse Cannons (EMPs). Lasers are available in several wattages.
Two projectile weapons are available in Earthsiege, Automatic Cannons (autocannons, or ATCs) and missiles. Both weapons have limited ammunition, but do not use reactor energy to fire. Autocannons come in several calibers and missiles come in packs of varying size (6, 8, or 10 warheads). Additionally, four types of missile are available: Semi-Active Radar Homing (SARH), Active Radar Homing (ARH), Anti-Radiation Missiles (ARM), and Electro-Optical Missiles (EO).
The Electronic Counter Measures POD, or ECM, is an electronic device that can be mounted to a hardpoint instead of a weapon. The ECM creates electronic "noise" which can be used to jam radar locks and confuse missiles.
A Speech Pack for Earthsiege was available for separate purchase from Sierra. This add-on provided audio speech for the characters in the game to accompany the standard text speech. The Speech Pack was included in later CD releases.
In 1995 an expansion pack for Earthsiege was released. The expansion pits humanity against a second wave of Cybrid attackers shortly after the end of the original game.