In this game you play Bob, a cherub thrown down from heaven by God. Yes that’s him, the little wimpy guy with the diaper on and a tiny pair of wings. And God says to Bob "…I brought you here, and it’s here you’ll stay until this hell is hell no more and then you can come home. But here you will be mortal, here you can die. And when an angel dies, he is forever lost to nothingness."
Your only power is the ability to possess other people and animal’s souls and control their bodies. You start the game inside the body of an unarmed Cop.
You can possess over 40 different characters. They include prostitutes, cops, behemoths, priests, bouncers, bondage dancers, pimps, gigolos, sewer people, vagrants, welders, nuclear technicians, riot police, bar tenders, medics, and even lowly rats. Well, I have not possessed all the character possibilities yet but I am trying. The real trick is to make sure you position yourself just right when you de- possess someone. Otherwise you will die right quick, when they see you. The other trick is to make sure you put down your really cool weapons, or otherwise they will walk off with the body you just left.
If Bob is injured, first he takes hit points away from the people he possesses to replenish his. When they die however, he is expelled from their soul. Until then he uses their body as armor to protect himself. He can also use their body armor and weapons to kill sinners, which is just about everyone you meet.
Being in the right body solves many of the game’s puzzles, if you do it at the right time. As I mentioned earlier, you start the game as a cop, but to get your first mission accomplished, you have to take over the body of a scientist. This allows you to open certain doors among other things, but has a negative side as well. Scientists are not allowed to carry weapons, oh you can pick them up, but the cops will shoot you on site. Cops will also kill other cops you possess if they see you shooting someone who is not a bad guy – like other cops.
The weapons are the same seen in most first person shooters with some neat exceptions. I really enjoyed the second gun I picked up, a flamethrower. You get to watch the bodies burn. This weapon is most effective in tight quarters as it has a short range. While I am on the subject of range, while I am not an expert, I found the ranges of weapons and other aspect such as the damage of the available weapons to be very accurate. The selection of weapons includes pistols, flamethrowers, pump-action shotguns, machine guns, bazookas, rocket propelled harpoon guns, buzzsaws, ice guns, and mines. Another neat feature is the ability to use the scroll wheel on your mouse to zoom in and out. While this is by itself nothing great, if you playing a cop and you zoom in, you can aim better. If you aim at the head of a target, a skull will appear in your display and you are assured a kill in one shot. I have to say, I have used this feature a lot. A lot of times I did it just to see some heads explode.
I have read all about the new graphics engine that Messiah is using, and I while don’t understand all that much of the technical aspects, I do know that it looks impressive. The characters look extremely realistic and the background was great. Make sure you check the Messiah web site for the latest updates. It is advertised as using RT-DAT technology, which will generate the most detailed characters and worlds your personal machine can handle. If your interested in more detail, Messiah Lead Programmer Michael Persson has a section on the Web site at www.messiah.com where he talks about the technology.
By the way, I am not one to notice the background sounds in games, I usually have to play for a few minutes paying particular attention to the sounds. But this time, I have to say that I noticed them right away. You start listening to your surroundings and one of the first things you notice is a cigarette machine yelling "The first one’s free" and "The Surgeon General is a fool." I don’t want to give anymore away. My advice is to turn your speakers up so you don’t miss anything. Besides the neat background stuff, the music is good in general.
I do not personally have a problem with the religious undertones of this game, which seems strange to some people as I am a Catholic and a member of the Knights of Columbus. I am well aware of a number of people, including several hardcore gaming GiN staff members, who do have a problem with Messiah and refuse to play it. And I am afraid that I believe that this is going to hurt sales, which I think is stupid. This game is no different that any other really innovative first person shooter and deserves a chance. I mean what is the difference really if you are killing hundreds of people for the Galactic Empire or because you are a mad terrorist, or if you are killing cause God said too? It’s just a game after all and the end results are the same – lots of dead bodies. Odd that people don’t mind killing in most shooters, but have trouble with the concept if you are allied with God.
I have to admit, I am not going to stop playing Half-life for messiah, but that’s mainly because Messiah does not have a multiplayer option. Beyond that, I rate it as an impressive step into the next generation of FSPs. The graphics are well thought out, and the characters appear to actually move around whether you are near them or not. The only serious negatives are the lack of a multiplayer aspect and the religious undertones of the game, if that sort of thing bothers you.
Messiah gets a well-above average score of 4 GiN Gems. Amen.