Review of Shifters
Shifters drops gamers off in a medieval world that is full of gothic design and creatures that fit into the scheme of things. The game is mostly quest based with new adventures coming into the fray while others are still ongoing. The game is somewhat non-linear in these regards, as each received quest does not have to be finished before gaining a new one. It’s really up to the gamer how they wish to progress through the game. Although this is mostly and action/adventure themed title, there are RPG elements involved such as character leveling and growth.
It seems that a madman from another universe has obtained an ancient artifact that has the power to literally rip the seems of alternate universes. Of course, our world has become involved and creatures / machines from this alternate world have begun depositing themselves onto our land. It is up to Alleron to find and defeat this crazed enemy and set the universe back to its rightful origin.
The gameplay mechanics are rather straight-forward as you move the character through the game. See an enemy, hack ‘em up or blast their ass with a spell. Collect gold, scrolls, health/mana and various other items. What really sets Shifters apart from the norm though is the characters ability physically change form as they grow throughout the game. There are six forms in Shifters, each with four sub-forms.
Gamers start off as the lowest of the sub-forms (a Grunt) and progress from there. As gamers hack their way through the game, points are awarded for completely quests or attaining certain levels. These points are then applied to the “form screen” and character development begins in earnest. Once enough points are spent to be promoted to the final sub-form, gamers must make a choice as to the direction they want to take their character in (Mage or Warlord).
The “shifting” is really more than just a neat little gimmick as the game is geared around these changes and to progress you really must grow the character.
Controlling Alleron isn’t much of a chore. The camera for the most part hangs behind the character and when it does drift a quick click of the R3 button centers it again. Movement can be rather twitchy though and this does make it more diffucult than it needs to be to complete some of the platform elements involved in the game (like walking across thin “bridges” or jumping). In these cases, the control starts to feel clumsy and too loose.
Graphically, Shifters definitely comes off looking like a 1st gen PS2 title. While the environments are quite huge at times, everything is lightly textured and low poly-count. I was quite surprised by this actually, as 3DO has been developing for the PS2 for quite some time now and the game actually comes off looking worse than some of there previous efforts.
About the only few good things that I can say for the graphics are the fact that the game maintains a steady 60fps with no drops or slowdown. The game engine is actually a pretty good one…just graphically bland. The other nice thing is the active, realtime character shadows. As the character moves, its shadow bends, grows, distorts, etc. depending on the environment and lighting. The effect is extremely well done and some of the best I have seen.
The lighting is also realtime and pretty nicely done but certainly nothing mindblowing. The particle effects and other special effects are also rather average and uninspiring.
Soundwise, the musical score is again quite average. Nothing of note, but the tracks do fit in with the atmosphere of the title.
Enemies make a strange grunting noise when nearby (and out of sight) to alert the gamer that danger is only a few step falls away. The rest of the sound are your generic sword clangs, slicing/dicing and other sounds that generally occur when interacting with the environment.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Shifters' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Tom Rooney © Absolute PlayStation
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