I've fought demon spawn, mutant cyborgs, pig cops, storm troopers, mech warriors, and more hell-bent aliens than you can shake a controller at, all from the bandwagon that is the first-person perspective. What, as I pull yet another "like Doom, but not a Doom-clone" from its jewel case, could I possibly go up against this time that hasn't been done before? Is there anything that I haven't blasted, shrunk, disemboweled, or just plain vaporized in 3D, true, faux, and otherwise?
Well, apparently, I'd forgotten about hallucinogenic-induced '70s album cover art. But after having played Shadow Master, it too can be added to my list of waylaid first-person foes.
Hackneyed plot aside (an extreme evil has used up all of its planet's natural resources and is coming to - gasp - take ours), this game is actually pretty decent for a 3D shooter. The game combines intense graphics with an incredibly huge volume of enemies, which you must put on the endangered species list with your requisite array of firepower. The graphics have a very unique look and were inspired by the works of British fantasy artist, Rodney Matthews. The resulting landscapes and creatures differ from anything you've seen before. These incredibly bizarre worlds provide the backdrop and set the tone for the entire game.
Strapped into the cockpit of a heavily armed ATV, you travel through seven worlds and battle wave upon wave of nightmarish monsters and butt-ugly bad guys. And conquering each level is no easy task, with a seemingly unending supply of enemies going from moderately plentiful to completely overwhelming. And that's just for starters. As you move up in levels, it becomes a challenge of enormous proportions, which perhaps is the game's biggest downfall. On each planet, you'll have certain objectives that need to be accomplished, from the ubiquitous elimination of all enemy forces to the ever-popular find-a-way-out. Accomplishing such simplistic objectives is made incredibly tough by the sheer number of hungry phantasms the game throws at you (and that's before you get to the end level boss). Still, there are those of us who don't buy video games for the engrossing characterization and the slowly unraveling plotlines; we just want to kill something - make that, kill a lot of things. For those who prefer the rush of wanton slaughter and who feel that the accomplishment of objectives is best handled with raw firepower, Shadow Master is more than a Doom-clone art show; it's a furious fighter that'll give that quick fix for any first-person fan.