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Requiem: Avenging Angel

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Requiem: Avenging Angel is a first-person shooter developed by Cyclone Studios and published by 3DO and Ubisoft in April 1999.

Background

Requiem draws heavily upon the Bible and Christianity for its influences, as well as the more usual sci-fi sources as found in other games. The background story to the game is set in Heaven. Looking down upon the Earth, upon his creation, the Lord was not entirely satisfied. The angels could see this, as they could see how his creation was ravaged with greed, corruption and stupidity. And although most angels decided to wait for God's guidance and wisdom, some did not, and took it upon themselves to descend onto Earth and interpret God's presumed desires. These rebellious angels became known as The Fallen.

In the mid 21st century, The Fallen, led by Lilith, have already taken control over humanity's leaders - suppressing the populace with a totalitarian regime, and pushing humanity towards the completion of the Leviathan, humanity's first interstellar craft. With this craft, humanity will be able to reach for the stars, and touch Heaven itself, something which God cannot allow. If The Fallen succeed in creating the Leviathan, God must instigate Armageddon himself, fulfilling the Fallen's desires.

The game places the player into the role of Malachi, an angel and servant of God. The player's task is to stop the machinations of the Fallen, to stop the creation of the Leviathan and to avert the apocalypse. And so the player must leave the realm of Heaven, and travel through the realm of Chaos, and onto Earth itself.

Gameplay

The game begins in the realm of Chaos, a limbo world between Heaven and Earth. It is here that, without the use of secular weapons, the player must resort to his angelic powers to defend himself. These angelic powers were an innovative feature of the game, working similarly to the Force Powers of Jedi Knight, and adding an extra dimension to the gameplay. It was also one of the first games to feature a bullet time feature, slowing down time to allow the player to dodge bullets, and highlighting the game's then advanced animation system.

The game's weaponry mirrors those of many first-person shooters, featuring many "stock" weapons as found in other games; from the humble pistol to the rocket launcher, and ultimately, the railgun. One of the player's powers is the ability to possess an enemy, and to have complete control over him. This allows access to various other weapons which could not be used via the player character.

Like Half-Life, Requiem did away with explicit mission scenarios, and instead placed the player within a seamless interlinked world, without the discontinuity caused by long level-loads. The majority of the game is set in mid 21st century Earth, and thus many of the locations visited in game are stylised versions of everyday locales, including a bar, a hospital and a power plant, among others.

Bullet time

It is barely noted but Requiem: Avenging Angel was the first game utilizing bullet time effect, when a player can avoid bullets and subsequently kill multiple enemies by slowing down the time for a period of few seconds during gameplay. This feature later became hugely popular especially among first-person shooters.

References to the Bible and Christian Folklore

The game contains many references to the Bible. The player character, Malachi, is named after a prophet from the Old Testament. Malachi can also mean "my messenger" or "my angel" in Hebrew. One of the main antagonists of the game, Lilith, the leader of the Fallen, is named after a biblical demon and also features in medieval literature. Other minor characters in the game are also named after Biblical characters, sporting names such as Jonah and Elijah.

All the powers possessed by Malachi are explained within the game manual with a Biblical quote. For example, one of Malachi's attacking powers turns an enemy into a statue of salt. This power is explained via the following quote:

"But Lot's wife looked back from behind him and she became a pillar of salt." - Genesis 19:26

The weapons of Requiem also have Biblical connotations. For example, the most powerful gun of the game, the railgun; is named the Revelations Railgun after the Book of Revelation. Certain locations have followed this theme too, with humanity's starship named Leviathan after a sea monster from the Old Testament. The realm of Chaos, the realm in between Heaven and Earth of the game, may have been derived from John Milton's Paradise Lost.

Critical reaction

Reaction to the game by the gaming press was lukewarm. The highest praise for the game came from PC Zone, in a review by Charlie Brooker. Brooker praised the game's variety of well-designed character models, and its advanced animation system, stating that the game had "impressive character models that move in all kinds of unpleasantly believable ways". The game achieved a "recommended" award and was given 89% by the publication.[1]

IGN claimed that the level design was boring and uninspired, and although the game had a competent single player experience, multiplayer was lacking. It gave the game 6.7/10, a "passable" rating.[2] GameSpot commends the game's innovative angelic powers available for use, comparing them favourably with the force powers in Jedi Knight. However, it states that although the game has several attractive features, in the end, it was just a typical shoot 'em up with no groundbreaking elements, awarding the game a rating of 7.3/10.[3]

All the publications agreed that Requiem was not as good as the universally acclaimed Half-Life, released 6 months prior. The game also lacked prerelease hype, especially in comparison to its contemporary, Xatrix's Kingpin: Life of Crime. Released at a similar time to Requiem, Kingpin had generated a lot of hype within the gaming world, and had also amassed some media controversy over its graphic depiction of violence and swearing. The lukewarm reception, coupled with the lack of prerelease hype in comparison to the competition, meant that Requiem never saw commercial success. It would be the last game that Cyclone Studios would ever release before 3DO's demise.

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