Title Shadoworlds Game Type RPG Players 1 Publisher Krisalis Software Ltd. Compatibility OCS/ECS 1MB (AGA with WHLoad installer) HD Installable Yes with WHDLoad Patch Submission Dave Higton Review This game was the sequel to Shadowlands, though it took a Sci-Fi rather than fantasy setting. The player controls a team of four, much in the tradition of 1st person perspective RPGs (i.e. Dungeon Master), the difference here being the isometric view point. The graphical system was very innovative for its time, featuring a technique referred to as "SUPERPHOTOSCAPING" - the highlight of which was the real-time lighting. The intro sets the Aliens-style theme - contact with a weapons research facility has been lost after they found something alive in a meteor shower. Four soldiers are promptly despatched to deal with the situation. The player gets to choose his team from a nice selection of manga style portraits. Their stats and background details are set - the only customisation you can do is in naming them, but there's still an interesting and varied selection on offer. Strange that your band of future soldiers sets off on their mission unarmed, though (no nuking the site from orbit for them). It wasn't, however, all roses. The intro animation highlighted the first problem - it was totally silent. This lack of sound carries through into the game itself. The only music is on the character selection screen. In-game there are a few reasonable sound FX (i.e. doors opening, switches being pressed and, of course, the crackle of laser fire), but not anywhere near enough. The silence may have been deliberate - to add atmosphere and tension to the situation, but personally, I found it made the game feel a little too empty. The control system actually looks quite good, to begin with. The four characters you selected are represented by their portraits, at the bottom of the screen, along with a single "Control Character" panel, in the middle. You select a character by clicking on its portrait, then command it by selecting a limb from the "Control Character" panel and then an object or position in the game area. For instance - if you want a character to walk to a point alone, you click on the right leg and then where you want him to go. The left leg makes the whole group follow him. Arms are for taking, throwing, using or operating and the head is for looking. It's very easy to understand and doesn't take too long to get the hang of. Unfortunately it's let down by crap character AI. Your very stupid team won't go through a door, unless you have perfectly aligned them with it - nor will they make any attempt to move around objects. This all leads to control being very fiddly indeed. Combat is also tricky. You need to keep your characters wide apart for fear of them shooting each other. In fact it is generally a better idea to only take one character into a fight at time and keep the others back. The darkness, also, doesn't help - many of the weapons are "area-affect" in nature and if you don't notice a chair, table or some other object close to your character, then you may well be killed by your own shot. The weapons are pretty cool (once you find them), but there aren't really enough of them. The best are the bigger two-part kind. You find various barrels and various stocks - which can be mixed and matched to create whichever variation you prefer. For instance: a flame stock with a cannon barrel, is a flame-cannon, but if you put a rifle barrel on instead, you get something more akin to a flame-thrower. The only problem with using the damn things, though, is that whenever you pick up a new object, it goes into the characters hand - forcing you to keep delving into the inventory to get your guns back! I guess I should say a little more about the graphics engine - it was after all the main selling point for both Shadowlands and Shadoworlds. Whilst the lighting system does add atmosphere and is quite impressive, it is unfortunately, a little overused. This has often been the case with real-time lighting engines. Pitch black levels may look cool when laser bolts streak down the screen, but they tend to be rather unattractive the rest of the time and make playing the game much more difficult than it should be. I would have preferred to have seen a little more restraint - with the darkness in specific places to conjure up particular challenges, not simply used everywhere. It is particularly strange on jungle levels - these would have looked much nicer (and more realistic) with a bit more light. Frustrating, repetitive and a little dull - Shadoworlds is not, however, without merit. It does have a lot of atmosphere and does have a slicker game engine than you'd see in many A500 games. Generally speaking, though, I'd recommend going for one of the 1st person Sci-Fi RPGs, instead. Captive and Hired Guns in particular - as both had faster and easier gameplay, more variety and more weapons. If you're not bothered about a Sci-Fi setting, then try Legend - another isometric game, it lacked the lighting engine of Shadoworlds, but was much more fun and generally more attractive to look at (and I seem to remember that the puzzles were pretty good, too).