Previewed by Nathan Cochrane

With sales obviously hurting from the enormously popular Doom by id Software, Apogee has overhauled its graphic engine and will be releasing in the coming months a barrage of new 3D, first-person perspective games.

First cab off the rank is Shadow Warrior, and if specs were everything then this would be the game to beat.

Set in Japan, you take the role of a modern-day ninja (hence the name). At your disposal are a wide array of weapons including shuriken, bow, rifle, grenade and your hands (of course). Not content to take the blast out of the game, the designers have included ninja magic such as Fireball and Tornado.

Boasting a zippy frame rate at 20+ fps on a DX50 (non Vesa), with Vesa equipped 486 DX2/66s clocking in at a burning 40 fps. All the walls, ceilings and floors are fully texture-mapped and can be any size, angle height or thickness. Floors can move and crush objects, enemies and players. Full parallax scrolling backdrops can be up to 1024 pixels wide.

An impressive improvement over Doom is the capacity for surroundings to actually morph into other objects. Rooms can become larger or smaller or change shape entirely. Vehicles can be created to pilot or steer and true swinging doors that have thickness are included. All surfaces can be fully-animated, allowing a wide number of possibilities for expansion, scenery definition and so on.

Various lighting effects complement the scenery, adding that extra mood which is so important. These include strobing, flickering, fading and absolute black. Up to 64 levels of light diminishing in the distance are supported, as are light-sourcing effects. These place 'lamps' at various luminosities, angles and heights throughout the virtual world which can create atmospheric ray-trace style effects on the scenery like light- pooling.

Full sound card support for all popular models are implemented, including the GUS, PAS-16, Roland, Midi and Sound Blaster and incorporating full 8 channel stereo synthesis for monstrous sonics.

The obligatory serial and modem links are included (but no word as yet on network play).

Those good lads at Apogee must have heard my moans of a few weeks ago, and have realised a bevy of new movement options which include the ability to duck oncoming objects or missiles, jump over objects and chasms, crawl through tight spaces and in an upcoming Duke Nukem actually fly over the terrain! Swimming, climbing and running are also featured. Further, the graphics have achieved true VR by giving you the capacity to look up or down and view your surroundings in their entirety.

Enemy intelligence has been beefed up. Your opponents now wander around with a mission and can peek around corners, block shots and drop in on you from the ceiling at any time.

The jury is still out on whether this will be the game to kill Doom, but if the developers keep to only half of their promises, this will be a legendary title indeed.

This preview is Copyright (C) 1994 by Nathan Cochran for Game Bytes Magazine. All rights reserved.