Spectrum 2.0

Review of 'Shadowfire'

Rating:4 User: sometimesblue

Shadowfire is, like the protagonists, an emigma. Is it a solid game in its own right, or is all smoke and mirrors?

The premise is completely new and very exciting back in 1985. A team of six fighters must raid a large spacecraft and rescue a hostage. The selling point is that the individuals are given orders by the novelty of icons, controlling their direction of movement, handling of items and attacking, which they then carry out independently. The graphics are detailed and colourful and the craft is interesting to explore.

But... theres just so many niggles. Firstly there is a lot of depth and it is essential to read the manual. Not much is self explanatory. It is completely unclear of the value of different weapons, and you'll die quickly if you don't realise that items must be selected to be used. Also the mobility of your team will decrease quickly in fighting; you cannot view a member's details when moving from one location to another so moving en mass will leave you staring at the screen for a long while with nothing to do until they arrive at the destination. After a large confrontation, further exploration becomes a chore since everyone has had their legs shot out.

Theres other downsides too. After rescuing the hostage, the game status will state the mission is incomplete because the spacecraft has not been destroyed. After a long arduous journey to the self destruct control (With no legs), you'll be berated because you've not captured the spacecraft, cos you've just blown it up as instructed. Also the game will occasionally report that you are under attack for no reason. This is actually a known bug, which is explained away in the manual as being an invisible creature.

Certainly theres a lot of pitfalls, and other games like Rebelstar cover the same ground more intelligently. And yet, the presentation is so state of the art, I'm willing to knock it above average just for that.