Shadow Watch

9_1Visually based on comic books, Shadow Watch features all the spiffy trimmings of the squad-based combat genre.Lurking in the dark alleys of our planet’s shadier nations, a conspiracy to stop the launch of the first international space station is underway. Hired to investigate, and quite possibly break more than a few kneecaps, is one of the best-kept secrets of the 21st century: the Shadow Watch. Taking command of this elite fighting force, your job will be to travel the world and get results quick.

There are six highly specialized members in Shadow Watch: Gennady, the expert on gadgets; Maya, the sniper; Rafael, demolition expert; Lily, martial artist; Bear, shotgun-toting muscle-man; and Archer, leader of the operation. Each member is vital to succeeding in any one of the game’s three dangerous locales: Hong Kong, Rio De Janeiro, and Baikonur, Russia. If one of the six members dies, it’s curtains for the whole crew, and you must start the mission over.

Rendered in the classic isometric view, gameplay is easy to learn, and easy to master. You issue simple orders: walk, run, duck, shoot, open doors, cover areas, and pick up key items (provided you have Action Points left). All the commands are assigned to cleverly placed hot-keys..

Like a comic book, the physics are intentionally exaggerated: body armor is near-impossible to penetrate, and bar stools and other small objects provide adequate cover for an adult male. The heightened reality of the game world is a pleasantly fun change of pace from the ultra-realism trend in games these days. Still, it omits crucial unit functions such as picking up or dragging fallen teammates.

5_1As you make your way through the levels of Shadow Watch, each of your characters gains different experience points for their actions, thus earning them access to useful skills such as First Aid, Martial Arts, and Pick Locks. Ability advancements like Shot Accuracy, Better Armor, and More Action Points are tied into certain skills. Shadow Watch might not have the ins and outs of a classic such as X-Com, but it certainly has its odd brand of charm. It might be the comic book feel or the cool audio, but the game simply works in its own way.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 4 MB Video, Win95

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