Cart: Shogo Mobile Armour Division Cab: PC / Mac / Amiga Coin: Monolith Productions
Long before their gritty and frankly terrifying work on the Condemned and F.E.A.R franchises, Monolith produced all manner of games from the cult, No One Lives Forever franchise to the stumbling, Tron 2.0 reboot. Further back still, you’ll find arguably their most unique title to date: Shogo Mobile Armour Division.
Now, I’m not a huge fan of contemporary mech games. The often slow, lumbering movements and war-of-attrition styled combat just never sits well with me. The amazing scale and power of the mechs always seems to be at odds with the dull reality of controlling them. What makes this all the more frustrating is that Japanese anime – arguably the spiritual home of mechs – tends to depict mech warfare as fast, elegant and swift. Yet to this day, cumbersome combat seems to be ‘the norm’, which is totally bizzare seeing as Monolith completely threw this rule-book out of the window in 1998 with Shogo.
Looks big and slow, doesn’t it? It’s as fast as Quake!
A debut for Monolith’s acclaimed Lith-Tec engine, Shogo was actually very-well received at the time, which begs the question “why a guilty pleasure”? Well, because no-one’s captured that same sense of mech speed, power and outright deadliness since – not in an FPS context, at least. Modern efforts strive for ever clunkier controls, such as the mighty Steel Battalion and its forty-button joystick!
This is a guilty pleasure, then, as it seems like it’s still the only one swimming upstream!
Watch Shogo today, and you realise that it has far more in common with the likes of Quake and Unreal Tournament than it does anything else. And that’s exactly why I love it. Mixing up the scale and destructive power of mechs with nimble FPS gameplay is a genius idea – something that sorely needs revisiting.