|There has been a lingering drought of
quality games in the FPS genre recently. But lately, several games have been released that
were actually quite good. Half-Life (need I say more), Shogo: MAD (colorful and fun), and
now Requiem. I'm not even going to address their merits with respect to multi-player
games...that's much easier to pull off than an effective single-player experience. What
sets these games apart from the rest of the pack is their story and premise. Half-Life had
the nerdy Gordon Freeman as our hero, Shogo had the wise-cracking Sanjuro Makabe, and
Requiem has the badass angel Malachi sent to Earth to do battle with The Fallen.
Though the premise is original (from a gaming point of view), it may not be politically correct. Just keep this in mind: it's a game. What is the premise you ask? It is the near future, and mankind is preparing to launch the first interstellar spaceship, the Leviathan. Chaos ensues between Heaven and Hell. A group of angels (The Fallen) have decided that mankind should be exterminated. They have descended to Earth and use the human governements (uknowingly) as their pawns. They plan on taking control of the Leviathan to spread their terror to the stars. But the Man Upstairs has other plans. He calls upon you (Malachi, pronounced mal-a-ki) to descend to Earth, clean up the place, and kick some Fallen butt. Along the way you get some help from interacting with resistance fighters and some characters.
You start the game with few divine powers, because you are stripped of them after passing through Chaos to reach Earth. As you progress through the game you gain more powers; some offensive, some defensive, some interactive, and some maneuver based. These powers working using a system similar to Jedi Knight, using a Divine Power gauge that also increases through the game. This power is regenerated after use...this is not a mana driven system similar to Heretic and Hexen. These powers are what make the game. Some of them are downright awesome. My favorites include Warp Time (slow down time of enemies), Resurrect (bring enemies back to life to fight for you), To Salt (turn them into pillars of salt), and Apocalypse (when using this, run away fast!). In all you have 20 powers...quite a variety.
Some of these powers can become a little unbalancing. At times I had 7-8 resurrected enemies following me about, killing anything that moved, watching my back. You lose these allies when you make a level transition that is very similar to those from Half-Life. Warp Time is a little too powerful as well. When your divine power increases, you can use Warp Time over and over again without your gauge hitting zero. Effectively your enemies stand still while you run circles around them and pick them off. The secular weapons (guns) are pretty ho-hum. Nothing about them really stands out from the rest of the crowd. Again, it's the divine powers that steal the show. One tip: many people finish the game without finding the operational rail gun. It is hidden in the complex RIGHT before you board the ship up to the Leviathan...check each room and door.
I always thought this game was being developed using the Quake 2 engine. Guess I was wrong. It uses the EAT Engine...intersting name. It's a propietary engine and the acronym stands for: Emotive Animation Technology. This is Dilbert-speak for "skeletal animation", the same method Valve used to create motion in Half-Life. The animation is impressive, nearly equaling that of Half-Life. The characters are fluid and life-like. Their lips move when they speak, they gesture with their hands, and act in a non-rigid manner. All in all the graphics of the game are gorgeous, and the power effects are very cool. On the other hand, the engine mechanics are very blocky. You cannot smoothly slide along a wall, or sneak around a corner without getting hung up on some invisible vertex. Clipping is also a real problem. Many times bodies will fall through a wall to have their feet jutting out, or powerups they drop disappear into walls never to be seen. Several times I was actually shot by enemies in adjacent rooms who knew I was there and could somehow shoot through walls. These engine problems were more of an annoyance than anything. The game in general was rock solid and didn't crash or hang once while I played through it.
The creature AI is above normal. They will not just sit there and wait to be killed. They will hide, pursue you, shoot you from LONG distances (and hit you), and they will come running from rooms that are quite a ways away to support their comrades. One VERY annoying feature is the enemy respawning. You can clear out an entire series of rooms/corridors, and have groups of enemies spawn behind you and kill you with no warning. I actually saw enemies appear out of thin air!! I can't count how many times I died because of this. It's all supposed to be event driven, but it doesn't quite work like it should.
The story and level design is extremely linear, you can't really get stuck because there's only one way to go...forward. Regardless of this, I found this game to be pretty dang hard. I played it on the medium setting, and was schooled many times by the computer. When you finally reach the Leviathan things get ugly, with a capital U.
This is a pretty decent 3D shooter, and it kept my attention to the end. If you can look past it's non-politically correct premise, and enjoy a good single-player experience with some awesome angelic powers, you should like Requiem. If this game did not have the angelic powers, it would be a dud without a doubt. To top it off, 3DO is offering a pretty good rebate on it, so in some places it can be had for $20. It's a game with a dark message, and Malachi is the delivery man.