Shadow Company: Left for Dead

Shadow Company: Left for Dead lets you play the part of a mercenary, the gameplay being a cross between Commandos and Myth. The mercenaries are the standard array of stereotypes with their own skills and personas. They have several skills which you must consider, including Handguns, Stealth, and Demolitions, which can be increased or decreased during missions. It adds a bit of role-playing flavor to the game as you drill through the 9 mission campaign.

There are two ways to acquire weapons and ammo: buy them or kill for them. However you procure them, there is a huge variety, including everything from knives to 60mm rockets. War is not cheap, so you have to scavenge all the weapons you can carry from the battlefield both for your stockpile and to barter for needed goods. Later on you can sell the extra gear you found for cash and upgrades.

0_1Shadow Company has the sort of flexibility that you don’t usually see in commandos games. Have to rescue a prisoner? You can take a full complement of eight soldiers and storm the place, or complete the same mission with a single well-camouflaged infiltrator and a set of fence cutters. The kicker is that both ways are equally effective, and you aren’t punished because your playing style doesn’t match that of the developers. In one mission you can even win by letting loose a herd of caged animals and let them devour the guards.

The 3D engine, on the other hand, is a hit and miss. Being the early days of 3D, the visual detail is nowhere near as detailed as in the Commandos games or their many clones (Robin Hood, Desperados, Beyond The Law, etc). Controlling the view with the mouse takes practice, because it changes zoom and angle simultaneously, but using the keyboard is cumbersome. The rest of the interface is sharp, with the important displays, like health and ammunition, at the bottom of the screen and other relevant information, like your current objectives, only a keystroke or two away.

There are a few other low points to the experience, such as annoying bugs, including one that causes one of the mercs to get stuck in a building and unable to move. Unless you’re quick, saving every few seconds, this kind of bug really wrecks a game. It also exited to the desktop while loading a game a few times, but there is nothing that makes the game too unenjoyable or broken.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Win95

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