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Messiah

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:Michael Damien

GAME DEVELOPER:Shiny Entertainment

GAME PUBLISHER:Interplay

Copyright 2000, Shiny Entertainment

One of the most original 3D action games ever made, Shiny’s Messiah was a game that largely lived up to its hype, but unfortunately was met with mixed results. People who encountered bugs seemed to get the worse ones that resulted in a complete frustration, while those who were fortunate enough not to see any bugs had only praise for the game’s innovations and captivating gameplay.

Although the blurb on the box might make you believe that Messiah is a shooter, it is actually better described as a third-person platformer with some action. Despite the name, the background story of Messiah has very little to do with Christianity: you play Bob, a cute cherub/angel sent by God to do battle with Satan. You do this in Faktur, a dystopian city that is full of sex workers, corrupt cops, and mutants known as cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers, or CHOTs for short. If you ever feel like controlling a plump little cherub as he explores a post-apocalyptic world, here is your chance.

The gameplay is what makes Messiah shine (pardon the pun) above most 3D platformers, even including Shiny’s own titles. You can “possess” people in town if you are sneaky enough, taking over their bodies and skills. This adds a whole new level to gameplay: do you rush through packs of enemies, or do you need a ‘host’ to get by? Keyboard controls are awkward, but are fully reconfigurable although they remain tricky – especially Bob’s flight, which is an aspect of the game I really enjoy, but had a hard time doing right. The level of precision required in some flying scenes is so high that the game become frustrating at these points. Some reviewers have complained that the AI in the game is too predictable, and this is true – although it does not make the game any less fun in my opinion.

My criticism for this game lies around the lack of a good introduction to the game controls, although to be fair the first few “missions” are so easy they give you plenty of time to get used to the interface. I also wish that the controls would allow you to play the game in the first-person mode. We’re allowed to aim, zoom, jump and strafe but there is no forward or reverse motion allowed – a strange omission for this type of game.

Despite a relatively short length, Messiah is a lot of fun while it lasts – so much so that I will definitely replay it one more time just to see Bob in action. If you are looking for an innovative FPS that deserves much more praise than it received, check out this wonderful underdog from an inventive developer. Two thumbs up, way up!



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