Back Catalogue: Shogo: Mobile Armor Division

Shogo: Mobile Armored Division

What is it about?

Shogo is what happens when sci-fi and anime stylings find their way into a first-person shooter developed by a Western studio. You’re a soldier tasked with finding a terrorist leader. Oh and you lost your girlfriend, brother, and best pal in a calamitous battle a year back. To get on with your life, you’ve been dating your now deceased girlfriend’s sister. Plus, there are giant transforming mecha for you to pilot.

Why should I play it now?

Amidst all the dicey relationship trauma and drama, the main draw remains the aforementioned robots. They’re not as cumbersome as those from the Mechwarrior or Steel Battalion series. In fact, they’re quite agile to manoeuvre around the battlefield. The sense of scale is fantastic and you truly do feel all-powerful, crushing civilians as you go about launching volleys of rockets at your enemies. Also, like all good mechs, they can transform. In this case, into speedy hovercrafts. Needless to say, it’s highly enjoyable. Half of the game takes place on foot and even then, the unique assortment of weaponry and well-paced levels make this fun to play.

How does it hold up today?

In spite of being released around the same time as Half-Life (1998 for you old timers in the crowd), it holds its own. The character and weapon models do more than enough to pass muster even if the environments end up looking a tad plain by today’s polished uber HD standards.

Is it similar to anything else out there?

Quite simply, no. Given how conformist and cautious most publishers are nowadays, we haven’t seen a first-person shooter that was as unique and fresh as this. Heck, for its time, Shogo was a massive risk as well. It was the first anime-themed first-person shooter. There is, however, one game that comes remotely close – 2002’s Robotech: Battlecry, a third-person shooter that was released for consoles only. Between the two, however, Shogo is the easier one to find.

What do I need to play this?

A state of the art PC with over a zillion terahertz. That is if your definition of “state of the art” is any old machine. And if by “zillion terahertz” you mean a 1 gigahertz CPU. Yes, be it your aunt’s old PC that’s just for running accounting software or your own somewhat modern rig, you’ll be just fine.

‘When I played through…’

Playing Shogo is an intense experience. Battling across a town while piloting a hulking mechanised giant of death is a tremendous power kick even as you take down foes that are your size or bigger. On foot, dodging gun fire and making each shot count is thrilling as it should be. The variety in weaponry makes today’s first-person shooters feel boring in comparison. From a mini-nuke launcher to a plastic toy cat (no, that’s not a typo), there’s a slew of interesting ways to beat down on your enemies. No surprise, given that the studio behind this -Monolith, has been responsible for some of the better FPS titles around, such as FEAR and No One Lives Forever.

Is there anything else I should be aware of (ie mods, crazy glitches, contribution to pop culture, Internet meme, etc)?

While there isn’t anything particularly game breaking, it does have a few issues. Shoot an NPC in the face and he’ll still have a conversation with you. For some reason, you can fire your guns in cut-scenes as well. And sometimes, you’ll need to use a no clip cheat code to get through…wait for it…open doors. If you were expecting a glossy, ultra-polished shooter, well…you wouldn’t be reading this now, would you? You’d be playing boring, generic Battle of Duty clones instead.

Where do I get it?

Unless you manage to find a physical copy and obtain all the necessary patches required to have it running on your PC, your best bet would be GOG. It’s just $6 and has been tweaked to run just fine on newer machines, even in widescreen mode. In fact…

We’ve got codes for Shogo: Mobile Armor division to give away courtesy GOG. Simply post your views on this Back Catalogue feature in the comments section below, or just let us know that you’d like a code.

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