Bored of hunting mindless drones that loll around dungeons waiting to be put out of their misery? Tired of blowing away demons that couldn't catch a cold? Need a challenge? How about a game that gives you a deathmatch every time whether you're on a network or not? With an A.I. that hates you. With 60 unique psychotic gladiators. With enemies who think like a human opponent and track you down. Enemies who lay traps, who know where you're hiding, who can smell your fear. They want to kill you. XS -- The end of mindless violence.
- 60 intelligent opponents with their own unique fighting style, weapons and protective body shield which you must deplete.
- Revolutionary enhanced character A.I., simulates network game even in one player mode.
- 4-Player network option and multi-layered true 3D levels.
- Extensive range of "feel good" weaponry and motion-captured character animation throughout.
~ advertising blurb
XS: Shield Up, Fight Back released in Europe at the tail end of 1996 and US in the new year, is an early arena shooter that does a lot right considering its age. It does have internet multiplayer (which as can be expected no longer functions), but the single-player is just as much of a frantic action-fest thanks to some pretty decent AI for the time.
While you cannot play as them, there are a huge amount of opponents - 60 in all. Each has their own personality, intro video and character bios read out loud with full speech. From the un-PC likes of Lee Harvey, the legless reptilian of Veets Pishboh to the mean-looking dinosaur that is Shrek, there's an impressive 60 to come across. All of them are rendered in 3D too, though they are rather blocky. A number of them have cuboid shields with different textures to keep up with the necessary low polygon count.
Despite claims to the contrary, they all pretty much play the same as far as I can tell. You can hunt them down using the map on the top left and the radar on the top right. Your opponents are differentiated by their individual logo which will scale depending on their distance so the two combined are quite successful in locating your opponent.
The levels, of which there are 20 (22 if you use cheats), are of a decent size and complexity, though few offer unique hazards or power-ups. They are fairly large, but not too large and will become familiar after one or two rounds. Powerups are therefore consigned to dropped items from downed opponents, but they're not the only beings you can attack. Different droids, drones and gun turrets fly, crawl or hover their way across the playfield and will leave a parcel of goodies if destroyed. You can't tell what you're picking up until you've picked them up but more often than not, it was ammo.
My main gripe, which is often the case for older shooters, is in the controls. There are a large number of keys to remember, but I doubt you'll care to use the more superfluous ones. Just stick to the arrow keys and mouse, which the Y-axis is unfortunately reversed as if it were a flight sim.
Despite the controls, the simple first-person-shooter mechanics of XS are well implemented and ultimately - and more importantly - fun.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual Included. Tested on Windows 10.
File Size: 352 Mb. Install Size: 428 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
XS: Shield Up, Fight Back is © SCi (Sale Curve Interactive) Ltd
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me