Black Shades

Developer: David Rosen
Publisher: Wolfire Games
Release: 2002
Platform: MAC OS / Windows / Linux / iPhone
Genre: Arcade Puzzle FPS
OFLC Rating: N/A

Where to begin with this one…
Black Shades developed by David Rosen. This game is one where the readme file IS “Required Reading”, because without doing so will result with quite an unnecessary learning curve. When you first start playing this game the graphics are unusually simple, so much so the characters and environments are polygons with virtually no textures (if at all). To make game this simple in appearance being of the twenty-first century is either dimwitted or both boldly creative and daring! In the case of Black Shades, I find it to be boldly creative and daring. The look is as simple as this game gets. The audio offers a basic soundtrack that gives sets the mood nicely, the sound effects are quite realistic with both weapons and footsteps.
Black Shades puts you in control of a psychic bodyguard who’s sole is to protect the VIP as he/she (being polygon people they could be any gender) strolls aimlessly over city footpaths. The thought sounds about as simple as the graphics. Wrong! You are given a level countdown timer and in that time your challenge is to neutralise any “Threat” (anything from armed assassin to zombie hordes) to the VIP. The VIP is in white. Everyone else (threat or not) are other colours. Thankfully zombie hordes don’t share the levels with civilians like assassins do. Each level is randomly generated (environment, NPCs and VIP route) and has a set time in which you must keep the VIP alive for. You can be escorting the VIP down streets on clear sunny days, dull rainy days or through a blood coloured fog where the streets are zombie-infested. On regular missions (clear or rainy) you and the VIP are walking down busy streets with only pedestrians, where you will be on constant guard watching for assassin to make their move. Assassins armed with firearms will stop and have their weapons drawn making themselves relative easy to notice. However knife wielding assassins are slightly harder to spot as knives are smaller and those armed with them strike with less warning. But the clear threats often jaywalk no matter what they’re packing making them easy targets. Now having psychic abilities allows you to see when a gunman is aiming at the VIP, because you see a what appears to be a torch beam narrowing and changing colour from white to red. The bodyguard’s abilities can allow you to slow down time for a few seconds to take aim, especially useful when picking off threats with a sniper rifle. Then there’s this creepy trick – The ability to release your soul allowing you to spot threats buy marking them.
With each level you are given a set weapon to complete with, but if you’re clever you can disarm and swap weapons in the lowered (or “Unaimed”) position. This can be useful but you will run out of ammunition a lot quicker, so you will want to hold onto what you’re issue in most cases as you given reserves with all firearms.
The weapons you will issued and find assassins packing range from knifes (although you will have levels you be taking on threats unarmed or Grenades which can be fun) to Rifles. These weapons are the Knife, the Handgun, the Magnum (revolver or Desert Eagle judging by appearance), the Shotgun, the Assault Rifle and the Sniper Rifle.
The challenge gives the game a puzzle feel. However the game keeps score according to the threats you neutralise, the civilian casualties and the VIP eliminated. So like any old-school arcade game it has a single high score posted, making this great for competing with others in front of the one PC or bragging over the internet.
Despite any shortcomings this game may have Black Shades is a diamond in the rough so to speak, as there is fair amount of entertainment value to be had. So if you’re looking for a copy, you can download it free at Wolfire Games.

Report Card

Quality: B
Gameplay: A
Content: B
Skill: B
Technical: A
Value: A
Audience: Youth