Shogo: Mobile Armor Division is a first person shooter (FPS) brought to us by Monolith, the company that brought us the violent Blood. What sets Shogo apart from other FPS games? The only reason I can really think of is that it's the only anime inspired FPS out there as far as I know. The events of Shogo have you running around on a planet called Cronos, and every once in awhile, aboard the battle cruiser called the Leviathan. You play as Sanjuro Makabe, a Mobile Combat Armor (MCA) pilot, in the United Corperal Authority (UCA), sent to assasinate a rebel commander known only as Gabriel. Like most anime programs, there's more of a personal story behind all this. As the game progresses, friends die, others you thought were long dead, return...You meet new characters, and are betrayed by others. I cant go into it much more, otherwise I may end up spoiling the story...which I may have done to some degree already.
Shogo was the first game to sport the Monolith's Lithtech Engine. Even now, in 2001 (2 years after it's release), with Unreal Tournament, and Quake III out there, Shogo's graphics are still pretty nice, and alot more colorful in my opinion than either game. Since Shogo uses the Lithtech engine, wide open areas, such as many of the MCA outdoor levels, are possible without much slow down at all. This is because Lithtech uses 3D Scalability, which decreases the number of polygons from models at a distance. Speaking of the models, they are well done, especially for the mechs. They are well done, and add to the anime feel of the game.
Gameplay in Shogo is fast paced, especially during multiplayer games. In single player, even though much of the game is "blast your way to point A to do this and that, then blast your way to point B to exit the level", you never get the feeling you're not straying from the story. Cut scenes are handled by the game engine, in a 'letter box' type view which usually consist of the camera panning around a certain area while conversations take place. You get messages from characters quite often, giving you information and what not. You can also drive your character from one of two different endings.
The main feature of this game are the MCAs. They aren't slow moving mechs, like in, say Mech Warrior. The MCAs are just as agile as you are on foot. You can choose from four different kinds, with light armor, heavy armor, and two medium armored ones with with differences in vehicle mode. When going into vehicle mode, MCAs transform themselves into a more...well, vehicle-like shape. This takes away their ability to attack, but makes them harder to hit, and much faster.
The single player levels in Shogo are pretty straight foward, and divided nicely between MCA and 'on foot' modes. In your MCA, you'll be going through some large outdoor areas, as well as stomping around cities. On foot, you'll go through spaceships, bases, and around town. Like it says in the above paragraph, levels are pretty straight foward, though there are two or three times when you might find yourself getting really lost. For instance, in one MCA level, the way to the exit is really narrow, and the two buildings surrounding it were using the same texture, making it hard to spot. I walked past it several times not knowing there was a gap between the two buildings!
The weapons on foot are pretty standard. You have dual pistols, a shotgun, machine gun, assault rifle with sniping capabilities, two types of grenade launchers, and a rocket launcher, called a TOW. You can also get a squeeky toy, which can make people 'cry'. The energy grenade launcher, and a kato grenade launcher are the two types of grenades. Energy grenades are shot at an angle, and explode on impact. Kato grenades bounce around for 5 seconds, or until they hit something, then explode, which is great for shooting around corners.
The MCAs have access to more unique weapons. The pulse rifle, laser rifle, spider mines, the bullgut, sniper rifle, juggernaut, shredder, and red riot. The ones worth mentioning are the bullgut, which is a quad rocket launcher. Spider mines are shot, attatch themselves to something, and explode within a few seconds. The juggernaut is similar to a shotgun, and the shredder, is a rapid fire version of the juggernaut. The most powerful weapon in the game however, is the red riot. When fired, it charges up for a second or two, and fires a beam of energy, that when comes into contact with a surface, creates a huge explosion, completely destroying almost everything caught within it's blast radius. Although using the red riot during multiplayer games is looked down upon, picking it up will usually only give you one or two shots.
One of Shogo's weaknesses is it's short single player mode. I finished it in about 6 hours, and even backtracked a little and saw the second ending. Another one of Shogo's weaknesses, is it's multiplayer modes. No Capture the Flag, or any special modes here...Just plain deathmatch. Pretty dissapointing if you consider how short the single player game is. Also, up until the 2.2 patch (The current version) was released, which unfortuantely still has some bugs and incompatability issues, there were no multiplayer only maps...Only the ones made from the single player levels. Also, when playing in multiplayer, Sanjuro is the only model you have access to on foot. Despite all this, Shogo provides a fast, furious, and most importantly, fun deathmatch experience.
The single player game is short, and doesn't innovate in any particular way and while deathmatch is great, I have to admit, unless you have people willing to play it's going to be hard to get a game. Big robots, great graphics, a nice story, and fast paced action is what this game is all about. You can usually find this game for $9.95. As for me, Shogo has been with me for the longest time, and I even paid a full $50 for it. It had alot going for it in the community, but sadly, this game isn't what it used to be.
(Rewritten : 1/08/02)