|Crossing Over: Shogo Mobile Armor Division|
October 8, 2012 | Justin Ancheta
Game: Shogo: Mobile Armor Division
Release Date (Windows): September 30, 1998
Release Date (Mac OS): January 10, 2001
CrossOver Profile: Read Here
WineHQ AppDB entry: Read Here
IMG Review: Read Here
Test Platform: MacBook (Late-2006; GMA 950, 10.6.8, CX 12.0)
"Myung Fang Lone: You're as unbelievable as ever, Isamu.
Isamu Dyson: How's that?
Myung Fang Lone: As foolish and reckless as you've ever been.
Isamu Dyson: Ahh, no one can be SMART and reckless."
- Macross Plus
There's something gloriously ridiculous about anime that, even when it's at its most serious, prevents it from ever being taken completely seriously. It's almost as if being an anime is, in and of itself, a license to get away with exploiting as many cheaply-executed, emotionally manipulative and logically outlandish tropes and stereotypes as possible. Yet, despite this, many such anime movies and series can do that while being undeniably charming and surprisingly entertaining. Not many other forms of entertainment can really pull that off to the degree that anime has, being able to cleverly get around the technological and practical limitations of its medium by allowing the viewer to inhabit a special space. A space where suspension isn't so much disbelieved as it is obliterated by a volley of drunken missiles, stomped on by a colossal 50-ft. robot, and squeezed to death between the mammary glands of a schoolgirl to whom puberty has been especially generous. When you think about it in that context, it makes perfect sense: why not put all of that into a computer game? Why not have a computer game about colossal robots and ridiculously overpowered weaponry?
"I know we can make it together!"
1998 was a good year for video gaming, with the computer gaming industry in particular firing on all cylinders, in genres that were starting to truly blossom thanks to quantum leaps being made in processing and graphical technology. RPGs got a major shot in the arm with the original Baldur's Gate, and Might and Magic IV. Space combat sim gamers got Freespace: The Great War. The RTS genre saw StarCraft, Commandos, and Age of Empires take the strategy gaming world by storm, while the FPS genre was being taken into brand new directions with Half-Life, Thief: The Dark Project, and Tom Clancy's Rainbox Six. For those wanting some old-school action, SiN almost scratched the itches of those still anxiously waiting on Duke Nukem Forever, and Unreal showed just what sort of future would lay in store for FPS games to come.
It was a period where, despite the rising trends in the industry, innovation and novelty were still possible, and while a lot could be said against the anime FPS Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, many aspects of it were indeed novel, if not innovative. And a lot could indeed be said against Shogo. While the Lithtech Engine could potentially compare favourably to contemporary 3D graphics engines like Dark, Quake, Quake II or Goldsrc, it just couldn't compare to Unreal. The levels were highly linear and to a significant extent generally uninteresting, and combat was hampered by both poor AI and a boring suite of infantry weapons. The game was poorly balanced, and frequent clipping/hit detection issues meant that, at best, the game's vaunted critical hit system didn't work as advertised. At worst, you could expect a Fallen trooper's shotgun blast to instantly kill you before you could even round the corner to face him.
These obvious flaws, while important deal-breakers to many potential players, hid an endearing gem which had some genuinely interesting elements. The critical hit system dealt extra damage to player attacks to the head/chest area of enemies, while at the same time boosting health and armor. Mech-based combat allowed players to experience and fight in the game world atop a giant armored robot, which could handle and fight differently depending on the player's playstyle. It was both fascinating and gratifying to see the same enemy soldiers who'd given you grief before, while on foot, scream as you would step on them like ants. The game's story offered two points where player choice made a signficant impact on the gameplay and the game's ending, and there were even hints at potential RPG elements that could have been introduced, through a conversation with a significant character at one point.