Ultimate Apogee. (Apogee Software's Shadow Warrior 3-D; includes additional computer game news) (Game Insider)
by Peter Olafson
Wolfenstein 3-D was a defining moment in the history of Apogee Software, and now Shadow Warrior 3-D may be another. It's the first in a series of about a half-dozen free-scrolling action games expected to be produced under the premier shareware label's new 3-D engine, which Apogee execs feel is superior to that used in Id's Doom.
Among its features are the ability to look up and down, to jump and duck, and to crawl through narrow passages. Whole rooms can move and transform. Light can be at any of 64 diminishing levels (four times the number in Doom) and can strobe, flicker, fade, and spill out of rooms into hallways. Doors can slide open in any direction, swing open, swing back and forth, or revolve. Any surface can be animated, and the player can be at any elevation on the map. In Shadow Warrior 3-D, enemies jump over you and drop down from ceilings; some are smart enough to peer around corners, fire at you, and duck back to safety.
"In short, we can currently do every single thing Doom does plus some additional things," says Apogee cofounder George Broussard. "And we're not finished yet. Every week, we seem to add some cool new feature that pushes the engine farther and farther away from Doom."
Shadow Warrior 3-D is slated for Christmas release, in close company with the Indiana Jones-like Ruins 3-D (working title). And a third game, Duke Nukem 3-D, slated for the first quarter of 1995, sounds like the most sophisticated yet.
As the hero of two prior Apogee platformers, you'll climb ladders, use a jet pack to fly around L.A. (which has been turned into a maximum-security prison a la Escape from New York), pilot futuristic vehicles, shoot down aircraft, and use security cameras to spy on parts of other levels.
Look for some games initially planned for development under the Wolfenstein engine to make the transition to the new one. And Apogee's developers are already working on a next-generation engine that will afford players even greater freedom of movement.
Of course, before Wolfenstein, the Texas-based label was known for platform and arcade games, and that strain hasn't given out. The last release was the dazzling vertical-scroll shoot-'em-up, Raptor - a high-gloss incarnation of Major Stryker.
And by the time you read this, Hocus Pocus, Wacky Wheels, and Mystic Towers should all be available. Hocus Pocus is a 32-level, 256-color arcade adventure with elevators, switches, warp spells (you play a young wizard), and even a princess to save. Wacky Wheels is a racing game said to be in the style of Super Mario Carts, with a split-screen view and modem play. And Mystic Towers, an adventure game using a tilted point of view, emphasizes puzzle solving along with critter blasting as you progress through six castles.
Violent Vengeance - a beat'em-up in the Streetfighter 2-Mortal Kombat mold - is slated for third-quarter release. It has 12 characters, each with its own moves, and you can play against the computer, with a friend, or in a story mode that pits you against multiple opponents at the same time.
Later in the year, we can expect the return of Alabama Smith in a long-awaited platform game appearing under the new title Realms of Chaos, as well as Tom, Dick, and Harry - an arcader with up to 13 levels of parallax scrolling (a feat previously performed only on the Amiga and dedicated game consoles).
And oh, yes - look for two final games using variations on the Wolfenstein game engine. Blake Stone: Firestorm (a retail-only product due in the fourth quarter) is to the original Blake Stone what Spear of Destiny is to Wolfenstein, with new graphics, 20 new levels, and new features like a zoomable map, full lighting effects, and textured floors and ceilings.
Rise and Tide (working title), also aimed at the retail market, is being assembled under a rewritten version of the Wolfenstein engine, and the specs suggest it's logged some time in the fridge beside Doom and Apogee's would-be Doom-buster. Look for diminished lighting, fog effects, the ability to look up and down, and "maskable" walls (semitransparent, like those used for jail cells). It will also feature a military theme and digitized characters. "In fact." says Steve Blackburn, Apogee's vice president of operations, "you'll see some recognizable actors [Apogee staffers] in there and [politically correct worrywarts won't like this part] have a chance to kill them."