BLACK SHADES / Wolfire Games / PC

Black Shades. Neat idea, iffy execution. Look, I don't want to bag on it too much, since it's a tiny freeware game, thrown together for one of those time-limit programming competitions, by a then-inexperienced team of non-commercial developers. But at the end of the day it's just too frustrating to be really enjoyable.

First off, the game kicks you into it with no idea what the hell is going on, so if you don't do some outside reading first you'll be totally lost. Turns out you're a bodyguard of some sort, and your job is to protect a VIP (the only guy decked out totally in white) as he goes on some random stroll around the same block over and over. There's a mob of generic people all around, but a select handful will attack the VIP with everything from knives to a sniper rifle. Your job is to gun them down with the weapon of the day once they reveal themselves, taking care not to gun down an innocent.

Cool concept, but a few things bog it down. Surprisingly, the gameplay isn't really one of them. It plays like a perfectly acceptable old-school FPS and the physics are actually pretty impressive considering this was thrown together in almost no time with almost no budget. There's a few design problems though. The first is that, since the levels are apparently randomly generated, you don't always see the VIP when you start or know where he is or what direction he's going. This dude just trucks along his path at 100 mph regardless of how many men with guns or knives he sees coming at him, so if it takes you even 5 seconds or so to locate him in the later levels, he can already be well into irrevocable danger by the time you even see where he is. And though the levels are random, in each one you're stuck with a particular weapon type, which vary in their aim quality waaay too much. Life is sweet with the machine gun, which instantly mows down anything you even point vaguely in the general direction of. Not so much with the pistol, which might as well be a melee weapon for how close you have to get before your dude places shots with any useful level of accuracy.

Free and only a 3 MB download though, so really, who cares about criticism.

Links :

* Download (Wolfire Games)

Videos :

* Gameplay Video

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