Requiem: Avenging Angels
I didn't know it before I bought it on GOG. Played and completed it for the first time now. It made a mixed impression on me, similar to when I played through Red Faction.
+ In addition to the regular weapon arsenal (pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, sniper rifle, grenade launcher, rocket launcher, railgun) you also get loads of varied angel powers that work like magic (drawing from a sort of mana pool that regenerates over time). And they're more than just additional ways of attacking, they also include options to heal yourself or others, possess opponents or charm them to fight for you for a short time, resurrect an unlimited number of fallen opponents to make them your permanent companions (until dead for a second time or lost due to pathfinding issues; only works if their bodies are still intact and not gibbed), fly/jump higher, haste yourself, slow time around you etc. For a 1999 shooter that precedes games like Messiah (2000), Max Payne (2001), The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002), or Bioshock (2007), I found that pretty impressive. Personally I don't know any other FPS game older than Requiem that offers that much variety in mixing weapons with magic-like powers. This is definitely the game's best selling point, both from a historical perspective and regarding how much fun it can be to play around with these powers.
+ It's comparatively fast-paced. No mine fields, lethal snipers and other traps like in Half-Life, you can just rush into combat if you want to, and your opponents' missiles don't hit immediately, so you can try to dodge them if you dare. It also allows saving everywhere and has an easy to use quick save function, for all you save-scummers out there. All this makes it one of these games that had me constantly thinking: "Just a little bit further, before I quit. I just want to see what's behind the next corner, in the next room", and eventually I finished it, within a couple of evenings.
+/- I found it remarkable how weird some of the character models look, especially the female ones; they're much more detailed than, e.g. 1996's Lara Croft, and still manage to be uglier, in a way. I don't remember playing any other FPS with character models that have such detailed textures on such oddly angular-shaped alien polygon body structures. Quite curious.
- The story really is nothing to write home about, it left me indifferent, not in any way curious or involved. I couldn't care less about the characters, including the hero, and the plot doesn't really offer any great surprises, even though it tries to pretend a few times. I found the plot, the storytelling and the scripting worse than in the slightly older Half-Life, which might explain why Requiem didn't get that much love in its wake. Contrary to how it's handled in Half-Life, you have to actively press an Action button in order to make characters talk, then you exchange a few lines, and then you have to press the button again for the next part of the conversation. There are instances when you get a new mission assigned in your log after the first lines of a conversation already, but in order to go through with the mission, you still need to press Action two times and listen to the rest of the conversation, otherwise the opening of a crucial door somewhere else won't be triggered. The game does not tell you about this. It's also not quite clear from the conversation. Anyway, this is a minor issue if you make sure to exhaust all conversations, but there was also at least one occurrence when I got a new mission assigned without anyone having told me about it yet and it didn't make any sense and left me confused what I was to do in order to move on and trigger the next scripted event. The solution was the use of a specific angelic power, which brings me to the next point.
- The game hardly explains anything to you. I guess that's because it's from a time where games still came with a manual and expected you to read it, but I've played plenty of games from that time and even before that still managed to be quite self-explanatory. The game gives you all these cool powers at certain points in the story but hardly ever talks about them. At best you get a short message "Access to ... granted" or something like that, that is shortly displayed in a corner of your screen, possibly while you're in the midst of a battle or conversation. Since I didn't read the manual, I only ever learned I actually had powers by way of redefining the controls, because there is a button for calling up a powers menu, a button for switching between offensive powers, and you can also assign a key to each power individually. The powers menu is good for getting an overview of what powers you possess, but it's inconvenient to use for switching powers in combat, since you have to select them with the mouse, while the action continues in the background. Also, unless you're not in the mood for meticulous experiments, it's not always clear what a certain power does and how it works. The powers only became fun once I read up on them in a guide and assigned my favorite ones to the number keys (while contenting myself to just use the mouse wheel for weapon switching - by pressing it, scrolling is not an option). That was rather late in the game though. Before that, the powers were causing more trouble than excitement, because they are used as puzzle solutions as well, in some rare but crucial cases, which can be tricky if you haven't thought about them much before or don't even know you have them.
- The boss battles are lame. Yes, there are only a few, maybe four or so, and yes, I'm not very fond of boss battles in general. But they're still kind of a slog, since they're not difficult, only long. The bosses are immune to certain weapons, actually to most weapons and also powers, so first you have to find out which ones still work (not much room for experimentation and different tactics). Thankfully, bosses blink when you damage them. But that's your only indication that they're hurt. They're sponges and need to be hurt a lot, without you knowing how badly you actually hurt them. It's not hard to dodge their attacks, and you can always heal yourself and/or save scum, and the battles still take forever without being much fun. At least that's my experience.
The angelic powers make Requiem kind of special, even historically, and they can be fun once you've figured it all out. Sadly, the game does its best to try and hide this aspect from you, unless you study guides and read the manual, something I did not expect I needed to do when playing a straightforward FPS game. Controls are clunky at first but can be reconfigured. Plot, storytelling and scripting are rather mediocre. Boss battles suck, but are few and far between and can be overcome with a little patience. For the most part, I guess I did enjoy my time with the game, but more as a distraction, to take my mind off other things, just running along corridors shooting at stuff, and in the end I also had a little fun with the crowd controlling powers. But all in all I don't think I would recommend this game to anyone as something you need to play. I'm sure you could find a better use for your time, and I could have, too.
Post edited January 25, 2020 by Leroux