This post-apocalyptic RPG with elements of adventure and strategy surely deserves much more attention than it received. It is basically a textual RPG like Rogue or Amulet of Yendor, but much more advanced and complex. Roadwar 2000 is a successful attempt to combine simple and fun gameplay with more complex features that add more depth to the game.
The storyline itself may not be perfect, but it creates a great surrounding for your adventures. A strange and deadly virus is spreading across the USA, and doctors have not yet been able to find a cure. While the country is falling into anarchy, it turns out that some unnamed fanatic sect is behind everything and that they also have developed a vaccine. More and more gangs are being formed, and they are fighting among each other to control the roads, cities, and supplies. Then, the USA is struck by nuclear missiles, with the resulting fallout causing more disease; but even worse, it has made the virus mutate. This mutated virus is now inducing extremely violent behavior in people. The infected are called mutants. To make things worse, the enemy has started an invasion from the south and they didn’t expected a mutated virus that was resistant to their original vaccine. Amazingly, some doctors across the USA finally managed to cure people with some new medicines. Now, each side needs the other's vaccine. The Government Underground Biolab, which is operating safely in isolation, has now sent eight of their agents to investigate the new medicines and bring back some samples, but the growing chaos in the streets has made the return impossible. The only chance for them and the rest of the nation would be a strong and organized gang with enough motivation to help.
You are the leader of a newly formed road gang. You don’t actually get to control your character (nor are you present in action), but you can manage the entire gang. Instead of attributes and personal equipment you will be managing your gang members, gang equipment, and vehicles. Vehicles are very important because their capacities will define how much supplies you can carry and how many men you can have. The game is not very different from other textual RPGs, but it's a bit more complex. You will take care of your men's health and the condition of your vehicles, search for new supplies, new men and vehicles, and fight other gangs. Eventually, you will be able to control entire cities and help your country.
You lead your gang across the map which includes the USA, southern Canada, and northern Mexico, and which is filled with various types of terrain, roads, and around a hundred cities. The game is turn based, with one turn representing one hour. Most of the actions will take place in cities, especially while you are still weak. Cities are the best places to look for supplies and people, then roads, then other terrain types with forest and desert at the end where no supplies can be found. You issue commands by pressing proper letters. You will have to check your gang's status regularly to make sure you have enough of everything. Your men consume food, your vehicles consume fuel when moving, tires are destroyed and ammo is spent in battles, and you need medicines to take care of diseased men... Also, more attractive places like cities, roads, or oilfields means more gangs and people in the area, and that may lead to unpleasant encounters. Winning battles will gain you supplies and experience for your men. Experience gains higher ranks for your men, meaning they will fight better, and it's just like improving their attributes. There are many kinds of vehicles and they vary in mass, structure, speed, capacities for supplies, and crew. There is a limit to the amount of vehicles that you can have, so you will have to think of the best combination of vehicles. At the beginning of the game you can only have six vehicles, while the max number of vehicles you can acquire later on is fifteen. Vehicles can be improved if a special encounter occurs (finding some special shop).
The most important feature in this game is the tactical combat. You will encounter foot gangs, residents, mutants, or some other opponents, but those fights will be automatically calculated by the computer and you will get the final results of the battle. When you encounter another road gang you may choose between abstract, quick, and tactical combat. Abstract combat is a simple calculation like with foot gangs, and quick combat gives you the opportunity to deploy your men in vehicles and also some general fighting strategy for your gang, to be used in more complex calculations. Tactical combat, however, is a turn-based game presented in a top-down view of the battlefield. After deploying your men in the vehicles, and your vehicles on the field, you can issue commands for each vehicle. To move vehicles, you must set their speed and direction, all the while considering different terrain types, obstacles, and the location of the enemy. When you have finished moving your vehicles, it is time for the attacking phase of the turn. After that, there is another interesting feature. You can reallocate your men among the vehicles if they are in adjacent squares. Your vehicle crew can also try to capture nearby enemy vehicles, unless your gang has already reached the maximum amount of vehicles. Capturing vehicles may be hard, but if you succeed it will be a big loss for the opposing gang. Probably the most interesting feature in tactical combat would be ramming. During the movement part of the turn, your vehicle can ram into an enemy vehicle, most likely causing damage to both of them. The outcome of ramming depends on the speed, masses, and armor of the vehicles. It is even possible to completely overrun another vehicle, but only if the ratio of both vehicles' attributes is 2:1 (meaning your vehicle must be twice as large and heavy as the other).
Besides the supplies that you gain in any won battle, victory in tactical combat also increases the number of vehicles your gang may have by one. This means that you will have to fight full tactical combats in order to reach the max number of fifteen vehicles. After that, you can choose quick combat more often since tactical combat takes time.
Your starting position is in a random city in the USA. From there, you have to build up your gang and survive until you are strong enough to do much more than just barely surviving. The beginning is very hard, and you will probably die a lot, so remember to save your position often. Like in other similar games, the random factor is present in most things, but unlike those games, it is much better organized. For example, you have a higher chance of finding supplies in cities rather than plains, and more chances of finding food in farmlands instead of other supplies. If you loot a city too much, the chances of a successful looting will be lowered. In smaller cities you will have fewer problems with opposing gangs. If you are in a city that has been struck by a nuke, mutants will be attacking you often. Since invaders are good soldiers, it is not wise to go into southern cities until your gang is strong enough. A gang controlling a city will fight you if you enter their territory. In northern parts of the map there will be snow during winter months, making travel and searching for supplies much harder. So, although hard, this post-apocalyptic USA at the dawn of the new century is anything but a boring place.
Some special encounters may happen, as already mentioned earlier - like finding a place that will improve your vehicles while searching a city. Also, you may find cronies that you can recruit. These are doctors, drill sergeants and politicians. You need all three to control a city. Once you control one, you won’t have much trouble with residential encounters, but other road gangs may pay you a visit. Doctors lower the number of lost men in foot battles and/or to disease. Drill sergeants lower desertion rates and increase the promotion of your men. Politicians are used for talking with people. There is no shown number of their skills, but instead you can only judge their qualities by the results of their job and your own impressions. You may also encounter the healers that will cure mutant infection if provided with enough remedies. Finally, you will meet agents and scientists that won’t reveal themselves until the time is right – meaning until you control most of the country.
Lack of sound is surely the weakest point of the game. The computer's calculations of battles are also far from perfect, although you will like some of these imperfections, such as your gang winning battles without a single loss. Also, some players may find the game too hard at the start. Despite those drawbacks, this game is certainly more than ordinary.
In games like this you always get that feeling that it could offer even much more, but then you have to stop and check the date when the game was published. This is a very good game, and its interesting and improved gameplay makes it unique. A definite must for all lovers of the genre.
Before the tactical battle, you will be asked for a type of icon that will represent your vehicles during combat. The difference is that the icons will either rotate and show the direction of the vehicle, or will be static and the direction of the vehicles will be shown by a number.
Make sure that you read the manual to get more familiar with the gameplay and tactical combat and to see the list of all commands since the game only shows a few of them. Also, here you will find more info about vehicles.
The game works in WinXP but you should use DOSBox and lower the cycles in order to read all the messages. If you don't want to wait for some calculations, you can always speed up when needed. When saving/loading the game, do not use the option for changing the directory, as this may cause the game to crash.
Dear Abandonia visitors: We are a small team that runs one of the largest DOS Games websites in the world. We have only 3 members of staff, but serve 450,000 users and have outgoing costs like any other top site for example: our servers, power, rent, programs, and staff. Abandonia is something special. It is a library of old games for you to download. It is like an old gaming arcade with all the old games in their original format. Abandonia is a place where you can find great old games and have fun four hours and years. To protect our independence, we are dependent of our friends using the site. We run on donations averaging around 6 USD (5 Euro). If everyone reading this gave the price of a cup of coffee, our fundraiser would be made easier. If Abandonia is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online for another year. Please help us forget fundraising and get back to Abandonia.