Developer: Black Element
Release Date: October 4, 2004
Pre-order 'SHADE: Wrath of Angels': PC
Gamers got their first taste of this first/second/third-person action/adventure horror game at E3 2003 where it was shown in playable alpha form along with the announcement that the game was being planned for release on the Xbox as well as the PC. We recently got another sneak peek of Shade at E3 2004, where it looked to be in fine form. While we could certainly get a feel for the game’s combat in the build shown at last E3, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when we received a beta preview of the game, that we were privy to the game’s many other elements such as exploration, controlling the main character’s demon form, and the environmental puzzles that often stand in your way of progression. Shade: Wrath of Angels has been in development for over three years now and with the help of Tri Synergy it looks like the game is finally going to be displayed on store shelves this October.
The story in Shade revolves around the main character who Cenega is currently calling simply ‘our hero’ whose brother has gone missing on an archeological expedition. Playing the part of ‘our hero’ you’ll travel to an eastern European town where the hero’s brother was last seen. Upon arrival you find a literal ghost town filled with zombies and all sorts of freakish monsters. It isn’t long before your path intertwines with a mysterious spirit who leads you on an adventure spanning four different worlds and as many eras in time. It is up to you to find and collect the scattered pieces of four angels in order to fulfill your destiny and rescue your brother.
Gameplay is similar to a lot of other third-person style games settling in a comfortable balance between such games as Rune and Tomb Raider. You’ll hack-and-slash your way through over 30 unique levels using an assortment of weaponry such as pistols, cross bows, a magical sword, and plenty of other melee cutleries. The magical glowing sword is your main weapon and it will be used not only to slay foes but also to replenish health via various magical hot-spots throughout the game.
Aside from weapons you’ll often be required to use items such as torches to light your way through dark passages. The level of interactivity players will have with Shade is quite impressive. You can move crates, pick up enemy’s dropped weapons, use shards of wood to fight with, pick up torches that can be lit from any fire source, target specific enemy body parts, and watch their limp bodies fall to the ground and react to your movements via a fully functional physics system.
One of the more interesting gameplay dynamics of Shade: Wrath of Angels is the ability to transform into the hero’s demon form for short bursts of time. While in demon form your strength will be substantially increased (allowing you to push crates and make minced meat of opponents) and you’ll have access to a few different magical spells such as a ranged energy attack or a fiery hide that sets nearby enemies aflame should you come in contact with them. As you progress your demon form will earn new types of attacks and abilities. Some of these abilities must be purchased with angel tears that you’ll collect in the various nooks and crannies of the game’s nicely detailed environments.
It looks as if the extra time spent on Shade has paid off quite a bit in terms of graphics. One look at these screenshots tells you that this game utilizes plenty of advanced geometry and shading effects that will be noticeable on higher-end video cards. The end product should look even better as the preview build we got our hands on was still missing some graphical elements that Black Element is hoping to incorporate by the time it goes gold. The sound presentation wasn’t quite up to par with the final release either, as it was missing all lip syncing and the music seemed Spartan at times. But what we did hear we enjoyed. The included orchestrations ranged from dark and brooding to epic in scale. Sound effects were many and quite realistic. Even the voice acting, which is oftentimes laughable in lower budget games is very good here and should stand up well to even the harshest of critics come review time.
All in all, Shade: Wrath of Angels is proving to be an impressive action game adventure with some truly high quality visuals and play mechanics. The final game will feature dozens of levels and nearly half a dozen different ending that will be triggered based on the player’s choices throughout the game. Keep an eye out for this one when it is released early this October.
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