Title Shogo - Mobile Armor Division Game Type 3D Action Company Hyperion Software (www.hyperion-software.com) Players 1 (multiplayer over network) Compatibility Amiga with PowerPC accelerator(min 160 MHz), WarpOS4+, 64Mb RAM, Warp3D, 350 Mb hard disk space, 6x CD-ROM, graphics card or AmigaONE with 64 Mb RAM, 350 Mb hard disk space HD Installable Required Submission Seppo Typpö (firstname.lastname@example.org) Profiled Reviewer Review Since Doom hit the streets one of the biggest game genres has been the first-person shooter, (know as 'FPS') - where the player sees the action through the main character's eyes. While some excellent original Amiga FPS games have been released over the years (the most notable being the two Alien Breed 3D titles) the majority of these '3D wonders' have been converted to Amiga from a PC original. "Shogo - Mobile Armor Division" is the latest FPS that has found its way to the Amiga screens. Originally released by Monolith it was licenced and converted by Hyperion Software and published by Titan Computer. This is the first Lithtech game that has found its way to Amiga - hopefully more will follow in near future now that Hyperion have mastered this exciting 3D game engine. In Shogo the action is divided into Mech (a huge battle robot with a human pilot) and Soldier missions, with a strong emphasis on the soldier side. In one player mode there's an intriguing story which unfolds as the player progresses through the game - making Shogo more like an interactive movie than just a set of missions loosely linked to each other. This review concentrates on the 'single player' mode. I have deliberately missed the multi-player option, the primary reason for this being that I have not had time to properly try it out. The second reason is that I believe any game has to hold its own as a single player game before its any good. I do agree a good multiplayer mode is very important nowadays - hopefully somebody more experienced in Shogo network gaming will write a AGDB review containing more information about that side. Now that the reasons for this omission has been made clear, it is time to proceed with the review. First, a couple of words about the conversion - it is absolutely superb! Despite the heavy hardware requirements Shogo runs fast even on the slow 160 MHz PPC that I have, with a 640x480 resolution, 16 bit BVision 3D accelerated screenmode and medium detail level. On these setting it feels faster than Heretic II did on the same setup. I tried the high detail level on a similar resolution but that slowed things down too much - but even with medium resolution there's plenty to look at and admire. Like all modern Amiga 3D games Shogo supports 3D graphics cards - while the software renderer is quite excellent the added pleasure comes from 3D acceleration - it simply makes the game look even more beautiful. Especially the weapon effects which are amazing - watching a multiple-missile salvo of Bullgut launch and hit its target is a sight to behold. The sound department is well handled too - the voice-acting is well above average and the CD music adds atmosphere to the game. Sound effects are pretty spot on - for example each weapon has their own distinctive sound. This is a game which should be played with your stereo turned to all the way up - despite what the neighbours think. The next subject in this review is the gameplay. The most important ingredient in any game is without doubt playability. In this department Shogo is a mixed bag - it contains some true innovations but also some unfortunate omissions. Luckily the result swings firmly on the innovation side. The Mech missions are the fun part - a huge level of destruction is assured thanks to a wide range of weapons which vary from the excellent sniper rifle (complete with telescopic sight for those long range kills) to the portable mass destruction devices like the Juggernaut or the awesome Red Riot. A shame there's so few Mech missions when compared to the Soldier ones as I think these are really the best part of the game. Walking around, destroying enemies and generally creating collateral damage to the surroundings is seriously fun. Ever wanted to write messages on the street wall with a machine gun bullet holes, or destroy all those annoying neon light commecials with a blast from your plasma weapon? How about blowing up the cars on the street just because you don't like the way they are blocking the traffic? Shogo fulfills your dreams! The Soldier missions differ radically from the Mech ones. Anyone who has played the most excellent Quake total conversion Malice will notice these missions play pretty much the same way - the player is very vulnerable to enemy weapons which means extreme caution must be used when progressing through the level. This can get quite frustrating sometimes - in some levels there is a strict time limit which means the player has to move rapidly to his destination - and at the same time expose the his character to open area gunfights which are usually fatal. Also, enemy soldiers tend to hide behind corners and ambush the player from behind. The player needs to be extremely careful when opening the doors and entering new areas - sudden death might be just one step away. Even when precautionary measures are taken it is still very easy to die. The Mech missions perhaps represent the fun part of this game but the Soldier ones are far more grim. These sentiments are accentuated by the high gore level - although luckily the amount of blood and splatter can be adjusted if you are overly sensitive to blood stains and dismembered bodies. The weaponry the player has at their disposal on the Soldier missions is quite realistic - mostly old-fashioned projectile weapons like the machine gun and automatic rifle. Some sharp shooting is needed to defeat the enemy soldiers. They usually need several hits before they finally 'cash in their chips' - but they also have 'critical hit' points which can be used to speed up the process. For example the automatic rifle allows (with the telescopic sight) one-shot kills over a safe distance. Strangely enough you can kill a soldier (or a mech) by hitting him several times into an arm (or leg) - which is a slightly unrealistic feature. A clever player can use this to his (or her) advantage, but unfortunately so can the enemy. You can receive deadly hits while you think you are safely in cover. Sometimes you may even get killed without knowing who or what hit you, which is bit annoying. The levels in Shogo vary wildly - both in length and in difficulty, from mediocre to excellent. The first mission ("The Approach") is very short and unimaginative; all the player has to do is run through a canyon to reach a dropship. This level is over within seconds - leaving an empty feeling and questions about game's longevity. Things get much better after that though - after leaving the safety of the dropship the action comes in thick and fast and the levels get bigger and more complex, testing the player's combat talents to the limits. The level designs are usually clever - encouraging experimentation and exploration. However there's some very annoying platform trickery to deal with which makes some levels a frustrating experience - for example in one level the player has to make a death-defying jump into a huge chute in order to get on to another platform - resulting in lots of death sequences as the player tries to land the main character on a very small ledge which is way below their current position, and also beyond his normal visual range (which means you can only see the position of the ledge when it is a bit too late). To succeed in missions the player needs to define suitable strategies. Some levels require stealth, others a more direct approach. If the player is accompanied by a friendly NPC that needs to be taken into account when tackling the mission. For example in one tricky level the player needs to cover the arse of one certain gung-ho character as he attacks a guarded facility. Keeping him alive proves to be a very difficult task as this guy literally runs straight into trouble. One of the nicer touches in Shogo is the variable number of missions the player gets to play. Depending on the player's decisions in certain key situations, the story evolves and opens some new missions (and endings). This 'plot branching' adds some lastability to the game, encouraging further gaming even after the game has been completed. The enemy AI is usually pretty good but the AI of the friendly forces in Shogo is somewhat dubious. In a couple of missions in which I was accompanied by friendly mechs they acted like morons, and ended up dead way too soon. On several occasions I wished I had some way to order these guys around - but instead I had to chase after them, cleaning up the mess they usually made. I admit Shogo is not about strategic mech battles but still, it would have been nice if the cooperation with friedly forces had been even slightly more intelligent. Still, all these problems are minor niggles when looking at the big picture. I think Shogo is in many ways a definite improvement over games like Quake. While I think Malice beats it marginally in 'Soldier mode' and, as a cinematic experience, Heretic II (and its Quake II engine) is slightly more spectacular, it is the awesome Mech missions which lift Shogo way above the 'just another three-dee shooter' class. If only the emphasis could have been put more on the mech side it could have been a real classic (a sort of 3D version of Psygnosis' controversial "Walker" game) but that's just my personal opinion - feel free to ignore it. The Amiga conversion is practically faultless so all the critisism in this review is aimed towards the actual game mechanics, not the conversion. Even with its tiny flaws in gameplay, Shogo is a truly excellent title that should find its way into the slowly growing collections of every serious Amiga PowerPC gamer.