Hank Marvin in 3D isometric adventure game shocker!

Shadoworlds logo Amiga Computing Gamer Gold

Krisalis * £25.99 * 1 meg * Mouse * Out now

Cast your minds way back to April's issue of Gamer and you might remember Shadowlands, a brilliant adventuring role playing game reviewed by yours truly. I gave it 94 per cent and a Gamer gold.

Well hold on to your bits and pieces, because here for your enjoyment and entertainment is Shadow Worlds by Krisalis.
It's a sort of a sequel - I say 'sort of' because it doesn't follow the storyline from the original, although it does use the same game routines. Saving grace is that it has different graphics because it's set in space.

Space, the final frontier and all that business, but in Shadow Worlds things have changed. There is no need for Captain Kirk to run around chasing Klingons or for Luke Skywalker to battle with the Empire, because now there is universal peace.
Yep, aliens hold quiet and pleasant coffee mornings and every man, woman, child and squidgy blob are happy in the knowledge that they are united as one. There's a "but" coming up very soon.

Peace, love and happiness crusades across the universe, but (there it is!) mysterious forces are at work in the outer reaches of the galaxy.
Someone in the government decided to open himself a nice little weapons development centre. Everything was quiet, in fact a little too quiet - last week all communication with the centre dropped off and the crew working there have disappeared.

The event is definitely not good news for the authorities who are trying to keep the peace, and a centre full of unguarded weapons is a bit like giving a camera to Madonna and asking her to take pictures of the landscape.
So they decide to send in an expendable task force. That's you and four companions. They are a bit of an odd bunch, ranging from dribbling psychotic serial killers to beautiful 'wouldn't hurt a fly' clairvoyants.

There you have it, Shadow Worlds story all told. But what about the actual game? You control your four warriors using the mouse. At the bottom of the screen are graphics of your four brave warriors and an icon of a figure.
This is used to control the movement and actions of your men/women. Clicking on the legs means you can move either an individual character or all of them at once.
Clicking on arms allows you to pick up and drop objects and also manipulate objects while clicking on the head allows you to look at objects and enemies and also read the computer monitors which are liberally dotted about the place.

Your view of the playing area is at a funny angle, but works well. You actually look down and across at your warriors, which enables you to see everything around them.

What I've forgotten to mention is the light. No, I've not turned into an American evangelist, I'm talking about light as in torch or lamp. In Shadow Worlds it is called Super Photoscaping, and the light actually works in real time.
For instance, the light on your helmet will move around the room as soon as you move your man. It is powered by batteries and as they aren't Duracells they only last for a short time.
As your batteries run out the helmet light gets dimmer, which makes the game that little bit more interesting. You also have to use the light to solve puzzles and problems along the way.

Right, time to put on my Brian Walden impression and ask lots of questions and query the quality of Shadow Worlds. Is it any good? Is it let down by bad playability? Is it fun to play? Does it whiff of stale cheese?
The answers would be yes, no, yes and definitely not. Shadow Worlds is more or less a director's cut of Shadowlands. Tiny bits and bobs have been added, and it does vary slightly due to the different theme.

It does, however, play almost exactly like Shadowlands, but seeing as that was absolutely brilliant there are no worries on that score.
If you loved Shadowlands then you'll kill for Shadoworlds. It really is one of the best isometric adventure games around at the moment. The only reason I'm giving it 90 per cent and not 94 per cent is because it isn't al that much different from the original.
But it's still worth a Gamer Gold.


Shadoworlds logo

Teque's space-bound sequel to the fantasy role-playing bonanza Shadowlands has arrived, and this time no-one can hear you scream.

Six months ago we were all impressed by Shadowlands, the clever light-tracing isometric game set in a fantasy world of clerics, fighters and thieves. A strange mix of puzzles and role play, it was heaps of fun. Now the same programmers, Teque, take us into a future world where things look just as bright, but a lot more dangerous.

One of our labs is missing
This is Shadoworlds. In the aftermath of a cataclysmic galactic war which has forced man to see the error of his ways and relinquish violence forever, there's still one weapons research space-station at the edge of the galaxy, but you've suddenly lost contact.

So now it's up to you and your handpicked team of hard guys and gals to infiltrate the bases of the station's planetary system: to beam from one world to the next and find out what has happened. On going through the front door of your first port of call you find out that a bunch of villainous androids and aliens are guarding the premises.

And so into action with your select troop of space warriors, where we find one or two things have changed during the passage of time from the fantastical past to the far future. The ability to split your party into however many pieces you want still makes the Shadow series one of the most flexible fantasy role-playing systems around, but Shadoworlds differs from its predecessor in a number of significant ways.

First, ardent fans of Shadowlands will be outraged when they boot up only to discover that controlling the team just ain't what it used to be. Gone are the separate character contorl icons; now there are four faces for selecting a party member and one 'human figure' icon whose anatomy controls all the characters' actions. This means that the party needs to be told what to do one at a time, which slows things down a helluva lot (particularly when it comes to combat).

You will also find that it's now possible to display all four characters' inventories at once so you can easily exchange objects between them. It's still possible to scroll through each inventory from the main screen via a character's hands, though. The more compact inventory screen has been achieved cleverly, partly through the removal of food and water which are now replaced by simply the 'fluid level'. In true space-age fashion, our heroes pump themselves full of nutrients by directly injecting them into the blood stream - how jolly appetising.

Being resident in a future age, you now have the considerable advantage of automatic weaponry. Such high-tech fire-power lends a new atmosphere to the Photoscape system as pyrotechnic dum-dum shells explode in a blossom of light against walls and, regrettably, people. Also, rifles and other instruments of destruction can be 'customised' to a certain extent by swapping their stocks or barrels around. This produces a wealth of new weaponry offering a wide range of destructive effects that can all be hurled against the enemy to good effect.

Instead of the character generator, which gave Shadowlands such flexibility, a number of pre-generated recruits are available for drafting on to your team. Each has skill specialties and personality quirks, which does give your characters a little more personality of their own (some are rebellious while others can crack under the strain, for example). Just pray that the hard nut of your party doesn't sit in a corner eating risks when the going gets really tough.


The whole game boasts an excellent quality of design

Artificial unintelligence
Rock-hard these gallant space warriors may be, intelligent they are not. They just don't seem to be able to negotiate things like small gaps or doorways when they're in formation, and quite frequently start blowing their friends away when you order them to fire - the American military, in suitably understated style, dub this kind of idiocy 'collateral damage'. However, the impressive graphical quality that gave Shadowlands such a good atmosphere remains gloriously intact.

The whole game boasts an excellent quality of design that is not only very functional, but is also a pleasure to behold. No detail has been forgotten, either within the game environment or in the information displays, which have changed from an ornate and mystical design befitting a fantasy world into one of futuristic simplicity. The title screen also has that 'wide-eyed' Japanese look to it which gives it a trendy Akira feel.

The Photoscape system adds a huge amount of realism, spilling torchlight through doorways as they open and flashing explosions across the walls when a shell makes contact. Shining a beam into dimly lit corners can even trip photodetectors (which open doors or activate teleports). Teque have done their almost to incorporate Photoscape fully into the gameplay and have done so with great success.

Shadoworlds does for its predecessor what Bullfrog's Populous 2 does for Populous: develops on a worthy theme without losing sight of the original's playability and feel. It has successfully continued the Photoscape system with a game of great depth and atmospheric quality, but does stumble slightly when it comes to the fluidity of gameplay and the realism of its characters.

A few little tweaks here and there would have brought the whole experience up to Format Gold quality, but even as it stands, I shall still be playing Shadoworlds until the cows come home (or, at least, until the next better version).


ICON DO THAT
Surviving at the outer edge of the galaxy means knowing your icons, so here's a helpful guide to the main controls.
Shadoworlds: Head Shadoworlds: Left arm Shadoworlds: Right arm Shadoworlds: Left leg Shadoworlds: Right leg Shadoworlds: Skull Shadoworlds: Back of helmet
HEAD
Highlight and click on a flashing object in the game window in order to read it. Or hold down the mouse button to toggle your head-torch.
LEFT ARM
Utlises the object in your left hand or swings a punch if nothing is there. Highlight and click on the flashing object you want to manipulate.
RIGHT ARM
Operates switches and picks up items. Highlight and then click on the flashing object or switch in the game window that you want to take or operate.
LEFT LEG
Moves the character as part of designated team formation. Click on the character's destination and the team will move there in formation.
RIGHT LEG
Moves characters individually. Click on the character's destination and he or she will dutifully separate from the main party and go there alone.
SKULL
This icon tells you that the character is a little less useful right now. That is to say, dead. And no-one even heard him scream - space, huh?
BACK OF HELMET
Faithful to the style of Shadoworlds, this volte-face view shows that the character has wandered off to do his own thing on another level.

Shadoworlds logo

Der Vorgänger "Shadowlands" wurde aufgrund seiner Photoscape-Technik als Revolution in der Geschichte des Lichtspiel-Abenteuers gefeiert - gegen diese Lobeshymnen muß nun der Nachfolger ankämpfen...

...da er selbst kaum bahnbrechende Neuerungen vorzuweisen hat: Der Hersteller heißt jetzt Krisalis statt Domark, die Story entstammt dem SF-Milieu und nicht mehr dem Fantasy-Genre, die Maussteuerung wurde etwas komfortabler gestaltet, und auf die Zauberei hat man ganz verzichtet - das war's. Automapping sucht man immer noch vergeblich, und die Kämpfe laufen nach wie vor weitgehend automatisch ab, Als kleines Trostpflaster darf man sich nun allerdings wesentlich häufiger mit den 15 verschiedenen Monstersorten rumstreiten, wofür allerlei Ballermänner und sogar ein hübscher Flammenwerfer zur Verfügung stehen.

Die Vorgeschichte scheint man sich von dem Film "Aliens" ausgeborgt zu haben: Eine Raumstation im Planetensystem Magma 6 meldet sich nicht mehr, also sollen dort vier Helden mal nach dem rechten sehen, denn der lauschige Winkel ist immerhin das Entwicklungszentrum für die gefährlichsten Waffen des Universums! Das Quartett läßt sich individuell zusammenstellen oder standardmäßig vom Programm übernehmen, eine persönliche Gestaltung der einzelnen Charaktere ist aber nicht mehr drin. Mit diesen junges, Mädels und/oder Cybors erkundet man nun die insgesamt 14 Iso-3D-Labyrinthe von Magama 6, wobei erfahrene Schattenländer trotz aller Vereinfachungen gegenüber Neu-Beschatteten natürlich leicht im Vorteil sind.

Wie gewohnt, erfolgt die Auswahl der diversen Befehls-Modi (Team-Formation, Einzel-Steuerung, untersuchen, aufnehmen, benutzen) durch das Anklicken von Kopf und Körperteilen des Helden-Grundrisses am unteren Screenrand - allerdings ist es jetzt nur noch einer, man muß sich also nicht mehr durch die gesamte Crew klicken. Es wurden noch mehr Details verbessert, z.B. blinken die benutz- oder aufklaubbaren Gegenstánde im Raum auf, sobald der entsprechende Befehls-Modus aktiviert ist.

Außerdem ist das Spiel etwas schneller geworden, Probleme mit dem Echtzeit-Ablauf gehören somit der Vergangenheit an. Nichtsdestotrotz hätte das Scrolling ruhig noch flotter ausfallen dürfen, vor allem, weil sich an der Sparsam animierten und wenig detailreichen Grafik gegenüber "Shadowlands" praktisch nichts geändert hat. Was andererseits aber auch bedeutet, daß die Lichtverhältnisse von unübertroffenem Realismus sind, nur daß jetzt nicht mehr Fackeln, sondern Hightech-Taschenlampen, Deckenstrahler etc. dafür verantwortlich zeichnen. Sound gibt's jedoch nur wenig, und was es gibt, ist wenig berauschend.

Bleiben noch drei Dinge zu erwähnen: Erstens wird kaum nachgeladen, zweitens benötigt man für Spielstände eine unformatierte Disk, und drittens wird das Game demnächst auch komplett in deutsch erhältlich sein. Wer also den Vorgänger mochte, darf unbesorgt zuschlagen - für alle übrigen könnte ein kleines Probespielchen Licht in die Schattenwelt bringen... (mm)


Shadoworlds logo

Take a fully trained team of exploreres and fighters and then stumble around a space station for a bit in this sequel to the hit RPG, Shadowlands.

It's been explained on more than one occasion that, here at AMIGA POWER, the reviewer's opinion is what counts in the end. The rest of the team have their say, of course, but ultimately, if a reviewer really doesn't like a game, he's completely at liberty to say so. Whatever anyone else might be telling him.

In the case of Shadowlands, however, Mark's been intolerable. "Look at those shadows - aren't they terrific?" he said. "What a great weapons system" he said. "What do you reckon to those puzzles, eh?" he said. "You'll probably be giving this a pretty high score, won't you?" he said. "Say about 88?"

In fact, to escape the pressure from above, I've had to take my Amiga, my copy of Shadoworlds and my word processor, and withdraw to an undisclosed location on the outskirts of Bath. From here, I hope to be able to tell you just what I think of the game.

Shadoworlds is the sequel to Shadowlands, which was reviewed by Mark in AP11. (He gave it 87%). While Shadowlands was set in a traditional environment, replete with wizards, warriors and magic potions, Shadoworlds plumps for a more universally-appealing sci-fi setting with an Aliens-like plot.


I suggest you rush out and buy it immediately

Having picked your team of four soldiers from the selection available - there's no 'character creation' facility like in the original - you're put ina dark, deserted space station and told to discover what's happened to its crew.

Finding the solution will involve solving puzzles, fighting baddies, and masses and masses of exploring and mapping. You'll have to wrestle with door switches and teleporters, and at some points you might even find yourself down on the surface of the planet the space-station is orbiting.

Integral to all this is the 'Photoscaping' system, which gives a nice graphical effect and means you'll have to use torches and flares to find your way around the space station.

Now, Mark covered the good points of Teque's light-and-dark RPG system in his Shadowlands review. He pointed out how objects have weights, and characters have strengths, and these all work together to give a realistic, intuitive 'game world'. He extolled (at some length) the virtues of the much-simplified role-playing system, which cuts out all the wisdom/dexterity nonsense and replaces what numbers remain by simple bar-graphs.

He got really rather excite about the way the lighting effect doesn't just look nice, but is involved in the solutions to some of the puzzles, too. And he thought the help system was just wonderful.

Now, seeing as how that stuff's already been covered, and how I'm not quite such a big RPG fan as Mark, I'll use what space remains for a different purpose - the other side of the story.

One: The characters are so stupid. One of the game's selling points is the way you can make characters walk around in formation, to save moving them all individually. But trying to get a formation of troops to walk through a narrow doorway is farcical. They jostle each other around for ages, then a couple of them might eventually get through, with the others getting jammed somewhere behind the walls, unable to figure out where to go next. And one character's quite happy to shoot another who gets between him and a baddy. You really don't want to have to worry about that kind of thing in the heat of a frantic battle.

Two: The control system. It's meant to be really simple to use. But to get a character to, say, move from one point on the screen to the other involves the following steps: First you need to select the character you want to move by clicking on one of the pictures at the bottom of the screen. Then you have to move over to the generic figure in the middle and click on its leg. Finally you click on the point on the screen you want to move the character to. If you want to dodge a laser bolt, this is plainly ridiculous. Why not dispense with the first step by having a full figure for each character? Plus, it's really hard to see which character is currently selected, of which character is which on the screen.

And battles are made even trickier by the limited range you can give orders over. If you've got one of your characters and a monster at either end of an otherwise empty screen, you've got to talk your character to within a few feet of the monster, though whatever it might be throwing at you, before you're even allowed to take aim. Very irritating. With all that business with the controls, to worry about as well, you really haven't a chance.


A universally appealing sci-fi setting

Three: fluid levels. The one hangover from fantasy RPGs in Shadoworlds I could really do without is the need to keep checking on your team's fluid levels, topping them up if they run low, If you let them run out, your team dies. (Fluid, in Shadowlrds, is a nutrient solution that combines food and drink). Consequently, I found I spent far more time worrying about fluid levels than solving puzzles or shooting baddies. I don't remember seeing Sigourney Weaver, locked in mortal combat with an Alien, suddenly turning to her colleagues and saying, "Sorry, lads, I haven't had a drink in twenty minutes. You'll have to manage without me." I could go on. Shadoworlds is full of similar flaws - flaws which could easily have been eliminated by slightly more thoughtful playtesting.

And now for the exciting twist at the end. You might have got the impression from my opening comments and the rather dejected tone of the paragraphs that followed, that I wasn't terribly impressed by Shadoworlds. Well, you couldn't have been further from the truth. I thought it was fab. I've had enormous fun reviewing it, and I suggest that you rush out and buy it immediately, even if you don't normally go for this sort of thing. It's just that its (relatively minor) shortcomings annoyed me so much that I'm going to have to knock a couple of points off the devastatingly high score I'd otherwise have given it.
I hope Mark doesn't mind..


BIG, BIG GUNS
Spells are a thing of the past (literally). In Shadoworlds, combat takes place with guns. Your party sets off on its quest unarmed (for some reason), but soon comes across a variety of weapons. The simplest are light sabres, and small arms like pistols, which take up one slot in your inventory. Best of all, though, are two-handed weapons. These are found in halves - barrel and stock - and can be mixed and matched to make custom artillery. Fix a cannon barrel onto a laser stock and you've got a laser cannon. Swap the cannon barrel for a machine barrel, and you've got a rapid fire laser. Simple, huh?

Shadoworlds logo CU Amiga Screenstar

An Advanced Military Research Centre overrun by alien scum? It's time for Dan Slingsby to run the other way.

IN THE SHADOW
Shadoworlds is essentially Shadowlands with a new scenario, a tweaked control system and a lot more firepower. This time around, you're in control of four intergalactic space cops sent to investigate the mysterious silence emanating from a Weapons Research Facility, the only one of its kind in the galaxy. To make matters worse, your men haven't got any weapons (they've been banned throughout the Federation, stupidly enough!), so you've got to scavenge for them once you reach the station.

For those not familiar with the first game, Shadoworlds is an pseudo-RPG with some arcade-style gameplay thrown in for good measure. Everything is mouse-driven throughout, with the inventory screen merely a mouse click away. Some lessons have obviously been learnt from the first game and everything is a lot more straightforward. The on-screen sprites have been cleaned-up and are more distinctive than before. The spells of the first one have been replaced by an awesome assortment of weapons, with 12 different combinations possible. Each one comes in two parts and combining different elements will result in different effects. For example, a flamethrower will either spew its deadly load in a continuous burst of fire concentrated blasts around the screen depending on which attachment is used. How well you can actually use such armaments depends not only on your dexterity with the mouse, but also on each character's tech level which improves as the game progresses.

TRICKS AND TRAPS
The same combination of pressure pads and light-activated doorways are on offer, as well as a variety of levers and pulleys. Even the oracle of the first game makes a reappearance, this time dressed up as an on-board computer vehicle which, when activated, will give vital clues as to how to progress. The most notable improvement is in the control system - in the previous game there were just far too many needless mouse clicks to get your characters to do anything. Here, there's just one action portrait to control all four men. Another improvement is the speed of the game - at times it looks as if your men are practising the 100 metre sprint. Everything is much more action-orientated, too, with an incredible number of alien nasties to blow away.

Merely switching the action from the original's dungeons and temples to the corridors of a space station isn't a massive leap in the imagination, though. Admittedly, you do get to transport down to three different planet surfaces for a bit of exploration, but the rest of the game involves trudging through the endless corridors of the space station. It all becomes a bit samey after a while. The game's puzzle elements have been cut down, but there are still plenty included. The new space helmets worn by your intergalactic troops can direct light in a 360 degrees arc so, predictably, many of the puzzles they encounter are light based.

X-RAY VISION
The actual space station looks a bit like the one in Audiogenic's Wreckers, with screen after screen of tunnels and subways. If you suffer from claustrophibia, then this certainly won't help. Fortunately, the game's developers, Teque, have seen fit to do away with the crude line-based cutaway walls of Shadowlands and replaced them with a wire-mesh effect which is much less confusing and lets you see what's going on when one of your characters moves behind a wall.

There are a lot of neat touches throughout the game. Some of the alien beasts are very detailed and the water and apples of the first game have been replaced with fluid bags which dispense nutrients through an intravenous drip. The in-game music is suitably eerie and atmospheric and the variety of pick-ups and equipment keep things from getting dull. There's always something new to discover or collect.

Overall, I was highly impressed with Shadoworlds. It's got more of an arcade-bias then the first game and the action is relentless at times. Fans of the first game won't be disappointed with this sequel and those that were put off by the plodding style and over-emphasis on puzzles of the original should definitely give Shadoworlds a look. They might just be pleasantly surprised.


UNDER ORDERS
Shadoworlds features a multitasking control system. This allows the player to issue an instruction to more than one character at the same time, e.g. it's possible to have one character firing a weapon at a creature, another opening a door, a third collecting an item, whilst the fourth is resting - all at the same time. Just issue the series of instructions to the characters and each will execute their own commands.