At its heart, Requiem: Avenging Angel is a no holds barred action game, but the levels are strung together by a surprisingly strong and compelling narrative. Though certain aspects of it are flawed, this angelic adventure still manages to sustain a high level gameplay satisfaction.
The storyline surrounds the eternal struggle between the holy forces of the Creator (not once referred to as "God" or any other brand-name deity) and its evil adversary, Lucifer. As they're depicted here, angels aren't happy, glowing beings playing harps and hanging out on fluffy clouds; they're biblical warriors, the enlisted soldiers following the orders of their respective generals. Malachi, the angel whose roll you play, has seen many a battle and has become crass and jaded, but his loyalty to the Creator is absolute.
The setting is the near-future. Humans have finally built a faster-than-light space vehicle and they're preparing it for its inaugural flight. Lucifer's and his minions were once allied with the good guys, but for one reason or another they fell from grace. They don't understand the Creator's fascination with mortals, so as the game opens, the Fallen have decided to destroy mankind once and or all. They've already begun, in fact: they've possessed scores of unwitting soldiers and government in an effort to change the flight path of the new spaceship.
It's up to Malachi to stop them. He's taking over the quest from Aaron, an angel who was sent to thwart the Fallen but has not reported in some time. Malachi must make his way through the purgatorial realm of Chaos to find the portal to Creation, where he'll seek out Aaron and pick up the battle.
The spectacular quality of Requiem's graphics are obvious from the first moment of the game, when you appear in the frightening Chaos dimension. The ambient sound creates a deliciously menacing mood, and the visuals of tortured souls, eviscerated by demons and screaming in agony, are nothing less than disturbing. The mood comes and goes throughout the game, building tension when the plot makes it appropriate and occasionally allowing you much needed relief.
Creation inhabited by all sorts of creatures, from soldiers with varying weapons and armor to demons, which start to appear later in the game. The latter enemies are definitely more interesting than the uninspired soldiers. Fleshy Demon Rats, small, two-legged things, attack with mouths full of piranha-like teeth. There are gruesome flying Kynthra with bear a passing resemblance to bees, and later in the game you'll meet lunging Demon Dogs, clawed Zaebos and fearsome cybernetic foes.
To combat these creatures, Malachi arms himself with both mortal weapons and angelic powers. The weapons are standard fare, among them a pistol, a triple-barreled, a grenade launcher, a rocket launcher, etc. The angelic powers, given to Malachi one at a time throughout the game, are far more inspired, but accessing them is inconvenient. You can scroll through the four categories or bind each power an individual key, both of which require lots of memorization, or you can access them through a full screen menu. Until you get used to the interface, the process of accessing powers can throw a damp towel onto otherwise intense combat situations.
There are four types: movement powers (allowing Malachi to spread his wings and leap great distances or to warp time, which causes enemies to move at half speed); interactive powers (such as Possess, which lets Malachi enter the body of a friend or foe); defensive powers (healing, shields, and the like), and, of course, offensive powers. The last category contains the best powers of the lot, and all of them are cleverly animated. With To Salt, you can render an enemy into a crumbling pillar of sodium; Lightning flies from your hand like the proverbial wrath of God; Locust Swarm surrounds foes in an angry cloud of bugs.
The differing types of powers not only make the game interesting, but they add an element of strategy to the game. Mortal beings, demons, cybernetic enemies and bosses have varying weaknesses and resilience to the different elements of Malachi's arsenal. For example, Locust Swarm is a quick and convenient way to kill off low level soldiers, but armored thugs and demons aren't impressed by the insects. Your shotgun will level almost any creature in one or two blasts, but the bosses won't even flinch.
The biggest problems with Requiem lie in its length and level design. Some of the levels are just too linear, relieving you of the need to explore and interact with the scenic environments. The worst of these seem to go on forever, through enemy-filled room after enemy-filled room; in these rare situations, the dramatic tension is swapped for tedium.
Worst of all, Requiem is over too quickly. A skilled player can get through it in under ten hours, and its replay value is lacking. The plot never changes, and there's little to explore once you've been through the game once or twice. While the multiplayer portion is a rollicking good time, online servers are hard to come by.
All things considered, Requiem: Avenging Angel is worth a look by FPS fans looking for a solid, single-player game with an engaging storyline. It may not be a lasting pleasure, but it's certainly worth the price of admission.
Graphics: The 3D engine is crisp and speedy, and enemies move convincingly.
Sound: The effects and music are fine, but the ambient audio used to create mood really shines.
Enjoyment: The storyline is amazing for a shooter, at once shocking and provocative; the mix of weapons and angelic powers is nifty.
Replay Value: Requiem never developed a multiplayer following, so once you're through the single-player game there's little more to it.
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