|The first time somebody asked me if I had
played Shogo-MAD I wasn't even sure
what type of game it was. But I ran into more and more intriguing previews on the
net and finally broke down and downloaded the whopping 40+ meg demo. After about two and a
half hours of downloading on a crappy modem connection, I finally launched the demo. To my
surprise the graphics were awesome--and walking around a city in a 30' mecha was pretty
darned enjoyable, too. I was also impressed to see that the missions were not only mecha
based--you could also do some destruction on foot. So when the full version of Shogo-MAD
was released I didn't hesitate to grab a copy. What initially drew me to this game
were the graphics and the fact that it seemed to have a decent storyline--something which
has been lacking in far too many FPS (First Person Shooters). In Shogo, you are
Sanjuro, a commander in the UCASF. You and your brother, Toshiro, grew up in a military
orphanage under the supervision of Admiral Akkaraju. You begin the story with the guilt of
having your lover, Kura, your brother, Toshiro, and friend Baku supposedly die in a freak
accident during a mission. To make matters worse, Kura's father is Admiral Akkaraju, who
nevertheless gives you another shot to prove your worth (even though you're dating Kura's
sister Kathryn!). It seems that a probe launched by the United Corporate
Authority(UCA) has found an organic compound named Kato on the planet Cronus.
The Kato compound can be used to fuel ships at incredible speeds, making space
colonization feasible. Cronus quickly becomes colonized and the megacorporations begin
building mechas, among many other things. However, problems arise (of course) from mining
disasters and a revolt begins. A rebel group called The Fallen tries to push the UCA out
of Cronus. Though they fail at first, The Fallen have now become more organized and
powerful under the leadership of a certain Gabriel. Your mission is to destroy Gabriel and
restore order to Cronus.
As I said before, I really enjoyed the
graphics of Shogo-MAD ; from its awesome weapon effects to the flowing clouds in the skies
above the cities, the mecha-based missions make you feel like you're actually piloting a
30' mech in all its destructive glory. Gotta be a little careful of the parked cars
though, run over them and BOOM you're in a world of hurt! But it's particularly the
weapon effects that make this game so distinct from other FPS; from the Sniper Rifle to
the massive Missile Launcher, the weapons light up the screen in amazing explosions. I was
actually stunned when I found out that Monolith didn't
use the Quake 2
engine but their own Lithtech engine; the overall rendering is very comparable to Quake
2's. Even though I favored the mecha levels because of the awesome weapons I got,
the engine did a great job with the standard human perspective too. Overall the graphics
weren't quite as pretty as Unreal's, but
the weapons quickly made up for it.
I'm always a little worried when I attempt to set up the controls for a new FPS, but I quickly and easily configured my keyboard/mouse preferences. I've played a lot of FPS in my day and the feel of control in Shogo-MAD is just fine by me, especially when you're in one of the huge mechas. One unique feature is the vehicle mode, which you can initiate with the push of a button. You can then travel at least twice as fast--but at the expense of being unable to fire your weapons. Vehicle mode definitely makes exploring speedier, especially since none of the mechas move superfast. The on-foot action is on par with most of the top FPS out there, but not nearly as fun as the mechas.
Now for the down side. The most important feature of FPS to me is the multiplayer support. Let it be LAN or internet, it must have some sort of deathmatch. And Shogo-MAD does a great job with its LAN support. I launched a server and my friend's computer instantly recognized and connected without a hitch. But how's the internet play? Well, let's just say they'll hopefully have a patch available soon. Though I tried the Monolith's beta patch, it just didn't seem to help net play. I found a couple of servers, but when I tried to connect to them my machine would just freeze up. I'm sure Monolith will have this problem fixed soon, but it is disappointing to be limited to the single-player and LAN experience out of the box.
Bottomline, Shogo-MAD is one of the best first person shooters available at the moment. It provides a great single-player experience, some nice graphic effects, and a unique perspective in the form of the mechas. But internet play is unfortunately limited. So if your'e a fan of FPS and are in the need of the single-player experience, go and pick up a copy of Shogo-MAD. However, at least for the moment, the game's multiplayer is definitely not ready for prime time.