Shadow Company: Left for Dead
Real-time strategy is currently undergoing a bit of a facelift. The advent of the 3D card has seen the genre transformed, and even traditional real-time strategy games are starting to look old. Developers are ditching dull, flat bitmaps in favour of virtual 3D worlds, and -for most people at least - this seems like the obvious way to go. Eidos' Warzone 2100 has already set a standard for the trend, and now Shadow Company, from Ubi Soft, arrives to (you would hope) follow suit. Commanding a small group of multi-talented mercenaries over a large, wonderfully rendered 3D landscape, the basic aim of the game is to sneak into various enemy locations, complete numerous military objectives while at the same time losing as few of your team as possible. Before every mission there's a thorough briefing and a chance to hire and fire, as well as the usual laborious process of equipping (a la Abomination and Hidden & Dangerous!).
Shadow Companys gameplay is more about stealth and tactics than gung-ho combat - in a way like a three-dimensional Commandos -and is just as hard as Eidos' chart-topper. The first mission begins with three of your men trapped behind enemy lines in Angola, dazed and confused after a particularly nasty ambush and extremely low on resources. Using a combination of mouse and keys the idea is to sneak into an enemy camp, slit the throats of the guards and nick their weapons before moving on to take out a nearby SAM site. Job done, it's back to base to check the bank balance (remember: you're a mercenary so you get paid for killing people), re-equip and hire some more muscle for the next mission.
If that sounds easy, it's because it is. Subsequent missions, though, are as hard as nails and replaying missions due to cack-handedness (or bugs) sometimes becomes tiresome. The game gets more involving as you progress-vehicles come into play quite early on and you soon discover that it's a lot of fun churning up an enemy base with a tank, despite the fact that the view often goes completely whappy when you try to track whatever you're driving. The AI - often the yardstick by which all RTS games are measured - is good in places (such as the enemy soldiers that can be seen dragging their dead and injured off the battlefield), but poor overall (soldiers often don't react to their mates getting shot in front of them, plus all the usual path-finding problems associated with games of this sort).
The best thing about Shadow Company is the atmosphere. With a half-decent 3D card the fogging and lighting effects are jaw-droppingly good: shadows fall correctly, water ripples convincingly, and smoke and fire are a joy to behold. The sound effects are excellent too.
It seems a pity, then, that Shadow Company falls short of the classic we were hoping for. Silly bugs (like the cursor going out of calibration mid-mission, or the stubborn Equip screen that makes kitting out your men more difficult than it should be, plus the ones already mentioned) ruin what potentially could have been a superb RTS game. Patches will probably appear at some point in the near future and they will undoubtedly result in a game worth recommending, but as Shadow Company stands at the moment, it's too unforgiving and unrewarding an experience to appeal to everyone bar RTS gaming masochists.
This 3D strategy game is starting to look decidedly dated, which is hardly surprising since it was released more than a year and a half ago. As the commander of a group of mercenaries, you must embark on a set of covert missions. The lack of units makes stealth more important than brute force and helps set Shadow Company apart from other titles.
In terms of gameplay, it's incredibly atmospheric and tense, and there's plenty of variation from one mission to the next. While this is all quite gratifying, the whole thing is mined by some ridiculous bugs and absurd camera angles. Shadow Company is a fantastic RTS, but you're only likely to really enjoy it if you're the forgiving type.
Processor: PC compatible, P-100
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode
Shadow Company: Left for Dead Screenshots
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