Shadow Master

4_1Called upon to save your resource-rich world from the mechanized clutches of the evil Overlord, you have to drive your tanklike vehicle through hordes of cybernetic killers and war-torn environments… and what environments they are! If Shadow Master’s only goal was to be the penultimate eye-candy shoot-em-up, it’s a smashing success. The 3D accelerated graphics were great for their time, the environments eerie, the enemies nicely animated, the sounds convincing and the boss encounters theatrical.

Problem is, Shadow Master’s gameplay is quite weak. Its roots in its simultaneous PlayStation version are obvious—the game doesn’t allow reassignment of keyboard commands (a gamepad is recommended), enemies are keystone-cops stupid and the intrusive, inconsistent physics model will have you battling your vehicle as much as you battle your opponents. Most of the sixteen missions are of the standard kill-everything-that-moves-and-find-the-exit variety, with switch hunts and side goals—destroying a reactor, for example—thrown in as appetizers.

Shadow Master also suffers from a horribly console-ish save game feature—you can only save between levels, so death at any point means a cold restart. The problem is crippling considering each level requires some puzzle-solving and backtracking and that many of the bosses require several tries to kill. There’s also no map (except in multiplayer), so you’re generally on your own in figuring out where to go.

Speaking of multiplayer, Shadow Master includes a number of interesting options—teams, team capture-the-flag and the circular hunt in which each player can only shoot one other person. Unfortunately, you’ll have to save it for LAN parties, as the game only supports DirectPlay IPX and serial connections.

System Requirements: 486/66 MHz, 4 MB RAM, DOS

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