Requiem: Avenging Angel
Half-Life gets a heavenly makeover.
In comparison to a game like Half-Life, the more obscure Requiem offers a lot that lets it stand toe-to-toe with the vaunted Valve shooter, not the least of which is the odd story behind it. The game casts the player as Malachi, Archangel by trade, and depicts his journey through an oppressive Earth as he battles the forces of Evil.
The game starts off with a surreal bang as Malachi makes his way through the nightmarish world of Chaos to reach the portal to Earth. The journey strips him of most of his formidable angelic powers, making Malachi only slightly more than mortal by the time he reaches the Material World’s mean streets. The world of Chaos, while regrettably short, is a wildly confusing and nightmarish place with lost souls clamoring and crying out for mercy. It’s only a shame you never make a return visit to Chaos, since it’s so damn memorable.
Once you make it through Chaos, you reach Earth – or rather a tyrannical city occupied by the Fallen, lead by an unpleasant Lilith. Throughout the game, Lilith appears as a shadowy illusion that taunts Malachi and transports him to foul places (usually involving a ‘boss’ creature to defeat) in an effort to thwart his attempts to stop her. Ironically, the boss fights are one of the weakest and least interesting parts of the game. Bosses are sadistically toughâ€¦ so tough that you get the impression that defeating them must be a puzzle, when in fact it usually just requires pounding them over and over with heavy firepower.
As a whole, Avenging Angel is difficult and requires Quake-like reflexes in its combat, but aside from the boss matches it really doesn’t matter. The gameplay, weapon balance, level design, look, and overall feel outweigh the cons. This is a game that can arguably stand head to head with Half-Life in terms of innovation and pacing.
For one thing you get both futuristic boomsticks mixed in with your latent Angelic powers (essentially spells). These spells include balls of painful energy, lightning bolts, and the incredibly powerful “Brimstone,” which throws fiery balls of hellfire at the enemy. “Turn to Salt” throws a grain of salt that turns the target into a pillar of sodium chloride, and “Blood Boil” is a close range attack that causes the enemy’s corpuscles to boil from within.
The non-offensive abilities are even cooler. Malachi can resurrect up to two fallen opponents, who will then fight with him. He can heal himself or others, leave his own body and possess that of another, thus using them to fight and take the damage, and even make an enemy fight for him against their will.
Hell Hath Fury
Level design is excellent on the whole, with some distinctive and intelligent missions to pursue, and the game is constantly involving from beginning to end. The big problem there is that the end comes much too soon. Despite having over 80 individual maps, Requiem’s three chapters went by far too quickly. Multiplayer is there, but it’s nothing we haven’t already experienced with Quake 2. In the end, if youâ€™re looking for something with the same retro feel as Half-Life or Sin, but with gnarly spells and faster gameplay, then Requiem might fill the bill.
System Requirements: Pentium 166, 32 MB RAM, 116 MB HDD, Win95
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