Shogo - Mobile Armor Division

Title           Shogo - Mobile Armor Division
Game Type	3D Action
Company		Hyperion Software (
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 ( Profiled Reviewer

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

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

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

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

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.

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