Due to political collapse in Russia following the end of the Yeltsin era, the original International Space Station (ISS) program suffered serious setbacks. Now, the project has been revived through the joint efforts of NASA, the European Space Agency, the Brazilian Space Agency, the Chinese Space Agency and Russia. The world is eagerly awaiting the results of this collaboration and the potential technological and humanitarian advances that can be expected.
Unfortunately, not everyone shares this vision of future cooperation among the international players. That someone is trying to sabotage the entire project of the collective Corporation. Serious trouble spots have emerged in ISS development locations and facilities in Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong and Baikonur. Your job is to lead a party of six highly trained specialists to these hotspots and take care of business -- do whatever it takes to squelch the terrorism and eliminate the threat to the ISS project.
Shadow Watch continues the intrigue created by Tom Clancy and Martin Greenberg in their New York Times best-selling book series Power Plays. Earlier games in the series are Tom Clancy's ruthless.com and Tom Clancy's Politika. Shadow Watch is not a sequel but a stand alone turn-based strategy game with definite elements of role playing (character development) integrated into gameplay.
The game offers both single missions and unique campaigns. Campaigns consist of three subplots of five missions each, followed by a final mission. All three previously mentioned locales will play a part in each campaign but the order in which they appear is completely random. Because of the randomness and plot branching techniques within the game, there is a potential of 162 possible campaigns. Based upon in-game action (e.g., talking with contacts (there are more than 200,000 words of contact dialogue)), subplots offer between 120 to 200 different ways of completion.
Eight different mission types are available in Shadow Watch: defend, assault, raze, kidnap, rescue, raid, theft and surveillance. The same six characters are used in all missions and campaigns with each utilized for specific purposes. More than 50 skills can be learned and improved during gameplay with experience levels carrying over from mission to mission. The operatives in the game include Archer, the English combat commander, Lily, an Asian martial arts expert, and Bear, a Canadian skilled fighter. Rounding out the team is Maya, an American sniper, Gennady, a Russian electronics expert, and Rafael, demolitions expert from Rio.
Action in Shadow Watch is from a top-down isometric perspective and the game supports both point-and-click and keyboard command control. Victory conditions for each mission or campaign vary but must be met fully in order to complete the action. There are three levels of difficulty available, easy, normal and hard, and each has very specific parameters in terms of gameplay. Mission failure is guaranteed if any one of the six characters is killed, an alarm is set off during a surveillance or theft mission or if a hostage is killed during a kidnap or rescue mission.
Shadow Watch is a fun, albeit short sci-fi tactical strategy game in the same vein as X-COM that offers some original ideas that make up for the short length, slow gameplay, and none-too-bright AI. My most favorites are the nice comic-book graphical style that is executed very well and gives the game a unique feel, and the innovative addition of RPG elements that are similar to Commando, but done much more effectively. Each of the 6 operatives that make up your "Shadow Watch Force" has unique skills and roles that add to the puzzle element. For example, you have to use a certain character to sneak around, and another to assassinate someone by sniping. The nice review on MobyGames explains the rest:
"The game was quite fun and replayable. Everything was finely tuned and balanced, at the micro level in battles as well in the pacing of the campaign and the character development. The combination of randomization and player choices allowed for the same maps and basic scenarios to combine into several unique storylines (roughly 36 different possible campaign plots, differing in which sides were friendly and enemy on each map as well as in the overall story). The action-point system was quite different from the norm for such things, with only 5-10 APs per turn per character and generally each square of movement counting as an AP. Very tactically rich, with morale, adrenaline, opportunity fire, observation and alertness, and character special abilities all included.
The campaigns were a hair too short overall, both in the resulting playtime (roughly 20 hours per campaign playthrough) and in the number of scenarios before the final battle - if you wanted to have all your characters fully developed for it, you needed to choose missions based on their character development potential rather than the story.
The Bottom Line: [Shadow Watch is] a unique and original take on the tactical RPG, with some interesting game mechanics that work quite well. I remembered it so well that I recently dug it out and played it all over again on my WinME box last year. I'd recommend giving it a try to any tactical RPG fan."
People who downloaded Shadow Watch have also downloaded:
Sid Meier's Antietam!, Shadow Company: Left For Dead, Seven Kingdoms: Ancient Adversaries, MechCommander Gold, Semper Fi, Sabre Team, Shattered Union, Sid Meier's Gettysburg!
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