Shadow Company: Left for Dead
Windows - 1999
Description of Shadow Company: Left for Dead
Shadow Company' splot concerns a group of mercenaries who have been abandoned after an unspecified balls-up by their superiors, Granite Corporation. Left for dead, they fight their way through increasingly challenging missions, gaining experience and new weapons along the way, and ending up by getting themselves involved in a global conspiracy involving shady corporations and some very strange chemicals.
There are nine missions in the game and you are treated to a few minutes of FMV before each one to give you an outline of the plan. You also get a quick rundown of the objectives and a few reconnaissance photographs of your target areas. Missions generally involve a selection of tasks - destroying buildings, assassinations, infiltration, and gung-ho kill-em-all raids, Arnie-style. Your mercenaries are chosen from a pool of available candidates, each with their own balance of skills - one might be an excellent sniper, or good at sneaking around, competent at using a range of different guns but rubbish at everything else. Although it is possible to take up to twelve mercs into the field, each mission has a set budget and, of course, each merc is going to want paying - believe me, you do not want to upset these people. Your cash must be balanced between team members and equipment.
Lock and load
It is a bit worrying to see what kind of weaponry is available to your average modern mercenary company. Moreover, it is even more disconcerting to find out how cheaply they can be bought. On offer is a wide range of modern small arms - pistols, sub-machine guns and later, heavier pieces like AK-47s and automatic shotguns. Moving up the scale, a sniper rifle is essential for most missions - although finding ammunition can be a problem. Bigger calibre stuff is also available - the grenade launchers and 60mm rockets will make any party go with a bang. Mines, C4 explosives and knives can be brought along for the fun. I'm glad none of Shadow Company live down my road.
Now comes the time to kit your team out with the goodies you purchased earlier. Each merc can carry a limited amount, so again a balancing act between luggage space and firepower will be needed. The interface lets you transfer belongings in the field easily though, so there's no need to lose too much sleep over the process. Setting up your merc's inventories to cope with the tasks ahead is engrossing - reminds me of customising each character's inventory in Final Fantasy VII, and the interface works in a similar way too. It is always a process of compromise - should I load up with plenty of ammunition, or hope to find some along the way? Will one rocket be enough to take out that boat? Will I need a character with good medical skills, or can I avoid getting shot up? It will often take a few attempts to get the balance right.
And so to the game itself. Your chosen team, kitted out and ready for action, appear in the drop zone and draw their weapons. You will notice that surrounding them is some very well produced terrain, nicely textured and rising and falling convincingly. The odd building, tent, or pile of crates is dotted around for you - or the enemy - to hide behind. Small clumps of trees and other vegetation provide more cover. But the best thing is that the terrain affects visibility and line-of-site realistically. On the first level, a small but well-guarded campsite needs to be taken out. A frontal assault will leave your team eating dirt. But on more careful inspection you will notice the small furrow leading up the side of the enemy position. Send a couple of mercs to sneak up the trench and a few well-placed grenades from behind will even the odds very satisfyingly.
Shadow Company has graphical bells and whistles aplenty. Notice particularly the way a fire or a damaged bus smokes gently and the way tables break and crates shatter when stray bullets strike them. Or perhaps watch a bored guard stretching and yawning. The game is a bit of a stunner - and has correspondingly high system requirements. Although it can theoretically be played on a P233, I would not recommend the experience.
Sound effects are only functionally good, in contrast to the excellent graphics. It is possible to tell which weapon is being fired by the sound alone, useful for those fight-or-flight decisions. Each merc has their own vocal samples and, although these are mostly gung-ho gibberish, they do add a little character to the game. There is the odd ambient-environment type noise too, like radios playing around people's houses and the waves gently lapping the beach.
Free to roam over the whole map, you view the world from a floating camera over which you have total rotational and translational control. But, to prevent giving too much away, the enemy soldiers are not shown until you have a team member who can see them - however, buildings, vehicles and objects can all be readily seen. In the bottom-right-hand corner of the screen is a thumbnail that can be switched between a map and a radar representation of the area around the camera, with any visible hostile troops shown as red blobs. Your team members are shown in green, and a large-scale map forms the backdrop. The radar makes it easy to see at a glance whether any of your grunts are being threatened, and works well in practice. The only time when it's not clear whether your team is in trouble is when you are off looking at other parts of the map - and it probably serves you right for being inattentive.
If it bleeds, we can kill it
Your mercs are selected by clicking on their figures or on the photos at the bottom of the screen. From there it is simple to order them about, and the interface, once learnt, is sufficiently good as to be mostly unobtrusive. The soldiers have a restricted amount of intelligence and will only perform the most basic tasks themselves - returning fire when shot at is about their limit. So you will need to keep a close eye on your team - weapons fire is realistically deadly at close range, and if a bad guy manages to sneak up on one of your team they won't last long on their own.
Your team can commandeer any vehicles they come across in the field, too. These range from snow buggies on the Russian levels to school buses and military vehicles like jeeps and tanks (hooray!). The tank's weapons can be employed to cause yet more havoc, and although running over as many guards as possible isn't often a practical way of achieving objectives, it is great fun nevertheless. Sniping enemy troops is a very powerful way of making progress later in the game - it is possible to take out a guard long before he knows you are there, and it is a good thing this weapon is restricted by the limited availability of ammunition. It means your sniper is one of the most important team members - protecting him (or, as it usually is, her) is vital.
Multiplayer fun is on offer too, but is co-operative only - pity really, there is probably a lot of potential in multiplayer sneak 'em ups. It plays much like the single player version - each player gets a share of the mission budget and is free to spend it on mercs and equipment as they choose. They then get their mercs to control in one of the single-player missions - no multiplayer-specific maps, unfortunately, so dedicated Shadow Company players will eventually get bored. As an occasional diversion, though, it works fine.
The only other problem with Internet Shadow Company is a large amount of communication is needed to play well. This could cause difficulty if the players are not in the same room, let alone the same country. Although support is provided for Roger Wilco TCP/IP real-time voice communications, you will need a high-bandwidth connection for this to be successful. Over a LAN or null-modem cable it works fine though, so long as the players are no more than shouting distance apart.
If you get lost out here, you're in a world of hurt
At the beginning of Shadow Company only basic weapons are available - although keen-eyed players will soon find some more potent gear. However, once your team has made it through a few missions, the game changes character somewhat. Early on, there is much more reliance on stealth and avoidance of enemy guards, because your weapons are not very powerful. Knives and pistols are most effective, and the game is played "up close and personal". Once the sniper rifle and some of the better guns become available, the game becomes more tactical, with careful deployment of your troops more important. Although the tactics learnt in earlier missions are still useful, it becomes crucial to consider the strengths and weakness of the weapons you are using. Strategies like luring groups of guards into ambushes become viable and the game becomes more varied and deep.
So it's a shame this diverse gameplay is marred by a few all too familiar AI difficulties. The enemy troops are, to be blunt, not exactly on Mensa's most wanted list. The root of the problem seems to be they are too reluctant to move from their ordinary patrol routes and start thinking for themselves. Such give-aways as coming across a big pile of corpses, or having your mate sniped just three feet away from you ought to cause them a little more consternation. Too often it is possible to find a tree to hide behind, wait for the next guard to come along, and stab him in the back as he passes your position. This can be repeated on the next guard, and the next, and so on. It is possible to move the corpses to somewhere out of sight, but there is really no point - the guards do not seem to notice the bodies. They also seem a little deaf, making the silenced weapons a touch less useful than they ought to be. Higher difficulty levels improve matters a little by making it harder to sneak around unnoticed, but the fundamental problem remains.
It is occasionally difficult to select a few of your mercs at once - shift-clicking on the photos or dragging a box round them does the job, but once in combat it is slightly too slow to work well. And often, if an enemy throws a grenade at you in the middle of a firefight, your team can be too busy firing to listen to you ordering them to run away. This leads to a few too many reload moments.
Apart from these niggles, Shadow Company manages to be a very engrossing game. Unusually for RTS games, it is very slow-moving and ponderous - time spent laying low and planning your next move is time well spent, and it is always worth observing guard routes to determine the best moment to attack. Shadow Company rewards the patient player (except when playing with thosetanks), and Quake thrill-seekers should look elsewhere for their adrenaline kicks. But those of you who enjoy a more relaxed approach to creating havoc and explosions - rest assured, Shadow Company has many explosions - will get a lot out of this one. Once completed on the easier levels, it's still worth going back to the game for more, as turning up the difficulty results in a very satisfying experience for the expert. Only the AI weaknesses keep this one from the coveted GD Silver Award.
Review By GamesDomain
Comments and reviews
Anarchy 2020-04-25 1 point
downloaded iso version and copy paste hdd, unpack data1.cab new folder and???
R2MICOH 2019-08-17 -4 points
I can't seem to run the game with voice and video.
Am I the only one ?
BetaRey 2019-04-27 2 points
Danny thank you very much for response,i ve tried first 2.0 RC universal downloader and wierd is it doesnt suppord cab,ahh ok,so ive tried your version but they wanna registration,well they sent me confirmation email,well i waited a day and email is still not coming,ive tried resend and even another acc and nothing..this is so hard to get this game :D, danny or someone could you upload program or maybe even better whole installed zipped game folder? if not thanks for advice anyway :)
Dann 2019-04-25 0 point
You can extract with Universal Extractor version 188.8.131.52b :)
BetaRey 2019-04-21 2 points
hey REMI i ve tried to extract data1.CAB with extractor 1.9.16 and even with 1.6 versions but its says it cant extract coz its instal shield wizard, how did you do that please? :)
Remy 2019-03-04 0 point
2. Copy CD content to HD
3. unpack data1.CAB into a new Folder (i used Universal Extractor) setup.exe won't work
Tronix 2018-09-17 3 points
Is anyone able to install the ISO? I want to play the game with sound and with videos. But the RIP file does not support that
Space Jump 2018-01-09 0 point
The rip version doesn't include unit voices at all, don't bother with it.
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