In 2009, following George W. Bush's eight year term in office, David Jefferson Adams is elected the 44th President of the United States of America following a disputed election and a tie vote in the Electoral College (and subsequent tie-breaker by the United States House of Representatives), becoming the most unpopular president in U.S. history. A dramatic amount of civil unrest and rioting springs up all throughout the United States, resulting in domestic terrorism. In response, President Adams uses the Homeland Security Act and declares martial law on many areas of the country.
During the election of 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States disqualifies all the presidential candidates from holding office, effectively awarding Adams with a second term. The public reacts violently when incumbent Adams accepts his next term.
During the Inauguration Day in Washington, D.C. on January 20, 2013, a low-yield tactical nuclear weapon is detonated in an apparent groundburst, presumably having been concealed there in advance. The yield is sufficient to destroy most of the city, killing Adams, his cabinet, and most of the U.S. Congress. The United States plunges into chaos.
The European Union parliament meets in an emergency session, and votes to send peacekeepers to the greater DC area to secure international interests. Separatist sentiment begins to rise in America. On national television, the governor of California declares home rule, and secedes from the Union on April 15, 2013. Texas follows a few days later, taking neighboring states with them, and re-forming the Republic of Texas. By 2014, all hopes for a peaceful resolution are gone, and the Second American Civil War begins.
Early in the war, the Russian Federation militarily annexes Alaska, using the expanded operations of the European Union as an excuse. The invasion is personally led by President Nicholai Vladekov, an ex-general and former Soviet hardliner, claiming that Alaska was never really part of the United States, and that Russia was merely reclaiming its former territory. Later, INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organization) reveals the results of its investigation regarding the Inauguration Day bombing. President Vladekov had been dealing weapons on the black market for several years, and masterminded the D.C. bombing so that Russia could regain its military dominance, and more easily control Europe. Protests throughout Russia force Vladekov to declare martial law in Moscow.
After the former contiguous United States is unified under one faction, the Independent Commonwealth of Hawaii agrees to join the new government. Vladekov refuses to cede control of Alaska, so the faction's forces marshal to invade the state and drive the Russians out of the New World. The result of the war depends on whether or not the invasion of Alaska was successful, and how high the faction's reputation is.
The game is based on a hex grid system. The various factions left over when the country broke apart (see below) wage warfare in numerous territories. The amount of income the player gets each round of attacks is based on how many territories he controls. When attacking a territory, the player selects which of his units to deploy to that area on the Deployment screen. If a unit is deployed to one area, it cannot be redeployed to another until that round of attacks is over. Each side can choose to either manually place their units on the battlefield where they want them to be, or have the computer do it for them automatically, with the Manual and Auto buttons on the deployment screen.
In each area there are various forms of terrain, each with its own effect on how a unit moves. Roads enable much faster movement, but decrease the unit's defense score. Forests, mountains, swamps, and other such terrain greatly decrease unit movement, but most increase defense. Cities do not have much of an effect on a unit's movement (unless a road runs through it, in which case it is increased), but increase the unit's defense. If not crossed by a bridge, rivers heavily hinder unit movement, slowing down infantry, requiring a whole day (turn) to cross for some vehicle units, and completely blocking other units, which must search for an intact bridge. Two units, enemy or allied, can never occupy the same hex at once.
Combat itself takes the form of one unit directly engaging another, without outside interference from any other units which might be in the area. The attacking unit always fires first. If the defending unit is still alive following the first strike, it will retaliate against the attacking unit. Each unit can only attack once per turn and retaliate once per turn, unless a sidebar power enables another attack. Air attacks are always retaliated against, provided that the unit has an anti-air score and will not get killed by the air unit's attack first. Each unit type has three statistics for attacking: effectiveness against infantry (EI), effectiveness against vehicles (EV), and effectiveness against air units (EA). If the attacker's effectiveness stat against the unit type of the defender is higher than the defender's armor rating, damage will be done according to Attacker Effectiveness # - Defender Armor #. If not, no damage or extremely low damage will be done. Some units are specialized to only be able to attack a single type of unit. If enough damage is done to a unit, it will be destroyed.
The objective of the battle is either to destroy all the enemy's units or capture enough objective towns to control the battlefield. Objective towns can be identified for both their Objective Point worth and position on the Map screen, and can be made visible on the main battle screen using the Objective button (flag).
On the left side of the screen are the Sidebar Powers. These powers recharge over time, and the amount of time until they are usable again is shown over their picture/button. In the campaign, depending on the his political rating (judged by how much Collateral Damage (see below) he inflicts), the player will get more powers of varying type.
In battle, if the player clicks on one of his own units, a bar will appear in the lower right corner. This bar shows all the immediate stats for the unit, including EI, EV, and EA stats, their armor rating (how much attack power a unit can shrug off before it takes damage), their health rating (how much more damage the unit can take until it dies) and their gas level. Gas is required for vehicle and helicopter units to move- moving one hex drains one point of gas. If a unit runs out of gas, it can still attack within its range, but it cannot move for a turn or so until it is resupplied. Infantry, obviously, do not require gas.
There will also be a question-mark button next to the basic stats. Clicking this gives the player a more detailed setup of stats, including its Movement rating (the tire; how many hexes a unit can move per turn), its Attack Range (the target; how many hexes away from itself the unit can attack), its line-of-sight (binoculars; how far away from itself the unit can see), and its Collateral Damage rating (explosion; how much damage the unit will do tho the surrounding environment when it attacks).
As units survive multiple combats they also increase in rank. Higher ranked units gain bonuses to their attack, defense, and health.
There are three general types and nine general classes of units. The types are Infantry, Vehicles, and Aircraft. The classes are One-Time Use units (classified as infantry), Infantry, Light Armor, Medium Armor, Heavy Armor, Artillery, Anti-Aircraft, Helicopters, and Aircraft. Each class has a variety of specific units, varying in effectiveness with cost.
One-Time Use Units
These are units which, when used in a battle, are not usable again in another battle. These include defensive towers and bunkers, fixed artillery, and some form of militia. (Though they can be bought again for another battle.)
The basic footsoldiers. There are three varieties of infantry units, each with its own specialized purpose. Commando-style units are effective against infantry and vehicles, but have no air capacity. Heavy units are less effective against either type of unit, but have an anti-air capacity. Engineers are the weakest in direct combat, but have the ability to construct and place barbed wire, dragon's teeth (an anti-vehicle barricade), and hidden mines that damage enemies which move over them.
Light, Medium, and Heavy Armor
All three of these are varieties of armor, with simlilar abilities and differing mainly in cost to attack points. Armor is a primarily anti-vehicle class, but some varieties are more effective against infantry.
Though they cannot attack within one hex of themselves and have low defense ratings, artillery have the longest range ratings of all types of units. Including both conventional artillery and mobile rocket systems, artillery are the heavy pounders of an assault force but require protection, as they either lack anti-air defense entirely or have low ratings in it.
Basically chopper killers. Anti-air units have low or nonexistent ratings against armor and moderate to nonexistent ratings against infantry, but against air units they excel. In addition, each anti-air unit has a "radius of protection" around it; any Airplane unit attacking another unit within that radius gets attacked by the AA unit as well as the defending unit.
With the longest line-of-sight, the highest movement status, and unimpeded by terrain, helicopters make both good scouts and firefighters. They can move from one front of attack to another with high speed, and are effective against most types of units. There is only one problem with them - they cannot capture objectives. Only ground units can do that, which delegates choppers to the role of support. It's good to have some AA supporting them, too - though most helicopters have an EA rating, it's never high enough to be a big threat to aircraft, and if an enemy spots a chopper the player can be assured they'll send planes after it until either they or it are dead.
These are the backbone support craft, the ace in the hole. Aircraft do not move along the field like other units- they are based at an Airfield and are called in via the Air Strike command menu. There are two types of aircraft: fighter and bomber. Fighter craft have no ground attack stats- they are only good against other aircraft. But they are good at what they do. Fighters can also "patrol" an area from around a hex visible to the player, lending their line-of-sight to it and their protection to the units below- if an enemy aircraft tries to attack a unit within the radius of the fighter's patrol sweep, it gets automatically attacked. Patrols reset after one turn of both the player and the enemy. It should be noted that fighters always cause damage to other fighters in battles, even if the other fighter shoots them down; however, a patrolling fighter attacking another craft coming into its patrol radius (if not directly attacked itself) does not suffer retaliatory attack. Bombers have no air attack stats- that is why they are bombers. One strike from a bomber will kill most units, and others will be heavily damaged. But bombers have to worry about anti-air, fighters, and the defending unit, so the player should make sure that he has cleared out the area of serious threats before sending them in- two AA units can bring down a bomber and the things are too expensive to lose.
There are seven playable factions in Shattered Union, each with at least one unit unique to that faction and its own set of sidebar powers.
The California Commonwealth is primarily made of the former states of California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Though wealthy in natural resources, the population is mostly clustered on the Pacific coast. Californians are viewed by the rest of the country as shallow, but with an eye for color; however, they are also creative and resourceful, dangerous as enemies and not hesitant to employ rather controversial tactics, such as the Jackson flamethrower tank.
The Confederacy is made up of the former states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky. To the Confederacy, the war is an attack on tradition, and the acts of all other factions are treasonous. Though viewed by the rest of the factions as backwards and stubborn, the Confederacy is actually quite progressive, employing highly advanced armaments like the energy-focused Lee tank, and has little in common with the first Confederacy, apart from geography.
Great Plains Federation
Made up of all or parts of the former states of Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota, the farmers and herders of the Great Plains banded together in an attempt to preserve the integrity of the U.S. heartlands. Though generally viewed as ultra-conservative dirt farmers with a stubborn streak a mile wide, the members of the Federation are generally more tolerated and tolerant than any other faction, as they were often familiar with or members of them. The Great Plains faction's special unit is the FCS Grant 400 mm self-propelled howitzer.
New England Alliance
The NEA is made up of parts or all of the former states of New York, New Hampshire, Ohio, West Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Members of the Alliance are driven and feel a strong sense of purpose in the war. Though only comprising three territories, the NEA has one of the highest population densities in America, and possesses a lot of industry, producing such powerful units as the Bragg rocket tank. Prior to the secession, New Englanders felt that they were not given a strong enough vote.
Made up of parts or all of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, Pacifica came into being when refugees from San Francisco were forced from their homes by Californian militia. With nowhere else to turn, the region formed a defensive pact. Pacificans are often viewed as tree-hugging technophiles with no grasp on reality. However, the Pacificans see the war as a struggle against aggression and have put their technology to use in units like the Stuart gatling tank, preparing themselves to fight to the end.
Some people argue that the Republic was just an excuse away from re-forming since Texas joined the union. Made up of parts or all of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri, the Republic is ferociously independent and a step away from anarchy. Though regarded as beer-swilling cowboys and gun toting rabble, Texans are also known to live by no-nonsense rules and take a dim view of traitors and bureaucrats. The Texans see this as their only chance to remain the lone star state. Texans are surprisingly advanced as far as technology goes, employing such weapons as the monstrous Hood plasma cannon tank and experimental cybernetic infantry. The flag of the re-formed Republic is similar to that of the old Republic of Texas. Notably, four smaller stars now surround the larger one, clearly representing the new holdings from other states. Also, the new Republic has its flag colored in various shades of metallic gold and yellow.
The European Union Occupation
The breakup of the U.S. compounded the growing instability in the world due to the loss of such a large and prolific goods market. In a rush vote, the E.U. sent in a "peacekeeping" force to secure international interests and reestablish the union of states before the chaos spreading across America spread into the rest of the world. The E.U. peacekeeping force now resides in a single territory made up of parts or all of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, but American resentment has grown since the E.U. decided to expand its role in the war. None of the units employed by the E.U. are the same as the American units, though their purposes are little different.
Though they possess no medium armor, only one class each of Anti-Air, Artillery, Helicopters, Fighters, and Bombers, and only two classes of Heavy and Light Armor, the Russians are still by far the most powerful faction that the player will face. Their units are deadly, heavily armored, and have long ranges and movement stats, and since the player crosses them only once, in Alaska, they have no compunctions against throwing everything into the fray. The occupation of Alaska, led by General Vladekov, was not supported by the Russian Federation, but victory or defeat in Alaska could lead to a political swing in Russia.
Shattered Union generally garnered average reviews from most critics. It received a 7.9 from Gamespot, 7.5 from IGN, 7.9 from Worth Playing, 7.8 from Gamezone, 72/100 from GamingTrend, and a C+ from Game Revolution. Thunderbolt was slightly more positive than others, granting an 8/10, while Game Chronicles and GamingExcellence were more negative, giving it a 6.5 and a 5.5, respectively. The gameplay was praised as being "simple but deep", and the concept was well-liked, while criticisms included unbalanced AI and a total lack of any diplomacy features.
Variety and Gamasutra reported that Jerry Bruckheimer is creating a movie adaptation of the video game to be distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. J. Michael Straczynski is set to write the script.