Shogo: Mobile Armor Division is a first person shooter video game released by Monolith Productions in 1998. It was the first game to use Monolith's flagship Lithtech engine. It has heavy influences from Japanese anime, particularly Patlabor, Appleseed, and the various Gundam series. The game allows the player to pilot a large mech, as well as perform missions on foot.
Shogo features a mix of both standard on-foot first person shooter action, and combat with anime-style bipedal mechs. Unlike mech-simulator games such as the Mech Warrior series, the mechs in Shogo are controlled essentially the same as in First Person Shooter games.
An inherent feature of the combat system in Shogo is the possibility of critical hits, whereby attacking an enemy will occasionally bring about a health bonus for the player while the enemy in question loses more health than usual from the weapon used. However, enemy characters are also capable of scoring critical hits on the player.
Players take the role of Sanjuro, a commander in the United Corporate Authority (UCA) army, during a brutal war for the planet Cronus and its precious liquid reactant, kato. Prior to the game's first level, Sanjuro had lost his brother, Toshiro; his best friend, Baku; and his girlfriend, Kura, during the war. He is now driven by revenge and his romantic relationship with Kathryn, Kura's sister; in Sanjuro's words, "It's kinda complicated."
At two pivotal points in the game, the player also has the opportunity to make a crucial decision, which can alter the game's ending. While the first decision is almost purely a narrative decision, the second decision actually determines who the player will be facing the rest of the game and how the game will end.
The game begins with Sanjuro being extracted from a reconnaissance mission two years after the mission against Ivan Isarevich that resulted in Kura, Toshiro, and Baku's supposed deaths. He is brought to the Leviathan, a UCA command ship, and receives his mission from Admiral Akkaraju, who is Kura and Kathryn's father. Sanjuro then is dropped onto the planet to enter the city of Avernus and kill Gabriel, leader of the Fallen. Once Sanjuro reaches Avernus, a mysterious man called Hank Johnson, a "friend of a friend," warns him about reinforcements coming in. Sanjuro attempts to reach Gabriel's headquarters. But it's a trap: communications with the Leviathan are jammed by an interference array, and Uziel, Gabriel's right-hand man, blocks Sanjuro's way after claiming that he knows him. Sanjuro, assisted by Hank, reaches the base with the interference array, and assists a UCA unit, Strike Force Carnivore against the enemy. He deactivates the array and establishes contact, but hears Kura instead of Kathryn. It is revealed that Kura was not dead, and she asks to meet with Sanjuro in Maritropa, a nearby city on Cronus to explain everything. Admiral Akkaraju, however, dodges the question of why he didn't tell Sanjuro about this, and orders Sanjuro to withdraw. Sanjuro then exits through the sewer to avoid the reinforcements; in the process of doing so, he learns that the soldiers have overwhelmed Strike Force Carnivore, and have secured his MCA. Reaching a parking garage he passed through earlier, Sanjuro kills some soldiers and destroys a tank, allowing Hank to help him escape in the back of his truck.
Hank takes Sanjuro to a pumping station, and with his help, dispatches the guards and helps Sanjuro get another MCA. Despite Kathryn's insistence that Toshiro and Baku are dead, Sanjuro suspects that both are alive, and decides to meet Kura at a nightclub called "The Mecca." With two friends of Hank's, he proceeds through the city and reaches a train station, but is too late to catch the train. Sanjuro then passes through the slums of Maritropa, but an electric gate bars his way, and only a woman whose cat is missing is able to deactivate it. The player can either kill the woman and her husband and open the gate, or do an optional level which depicts Sanjuro's attempts to rescue the cat from some "stragglers" who have been severely affected by working with kato, leading to a humorous exchange between Sanjuro and Kura, and Sanjuro receiving a health powerup as well as the cat's "toy" - a doll of Captain Nathaniel Joseph Claw from Monolith's own platformer Claw, that, when squeezed, says "Magic Claw" (Sanjuro actually gets to keep this item for the rest of the game). Sanjuro reaches the Mecca too late; Kura has been captured by the CMC, Cronus's relatively weak yet troublesome military authority, but not before she says that Toshiro is Gabriel, and vaguely mentions "Cothineal." Sanjuro reaches the club, and a businessman from Shogo named Ryo Ishikawa agrees to help Sanjuro save Kura in exchange for a favor. Sanjuro reluctantly agrees, and makes his way to the station, before moving crosstown in his MCA, and catching another train to the detention center. At the station, Hank tells him that Cothineal "is the reason the Fallen exist," but says that Kura can elaborate.
At the detention center, Ryo asks Sanjuro to deactivate a firewall. The player has another choice here; if he helps Ryo, Ryo will leave him stranded by deactivating an energy walkway, forcing Hank to help him escape. If he does not, Ryo triggers the alarms. In either situation, Sanjuro is forced to shoot his way through the CMC, rescuing Kura, who reveals that she was working undercover, which is why she was listed as dead. Kathryn then informs Sanjuro that the Admiral wants to fire the kato cannon at Avernus despite High Command's insistence, but doesn't know why. Sanjuro, who knows that the blast could affect Maritropa and Constantine, asks Kathryn to delay the admiral until he returns. After defeating the Fallen assassins who are trying to kill Kura, Kura tells Sanjuro that Cothineal is the source of kato, and that Toshiro is acting as a pawn. Baku, meanwhile, has become insane, and as Kura notes, "I don't know what he's become, but he's dangerous." Kura expresses her concern that Admiral Akkaraju considers Toshiro a traitor. Kura then asks Sanjuro to come to the Oshii Research Station in Avernus, which supposedly has proof of Cothineal's existence and role. She then asks Sanjuro about his relationship with Kathryn, but the choice the player makes doesn't have any clear effect other than dialogue.
On the train ride back, an upset Kathryn shares her displeasure with Sanjuro. Ryo Ishikawa then contacts him, and reveals some of his more sinister dealings. He states that he played at least some role in Ivan Isarevich's rise to power, and implies that he has a stake in the current crisis in the excellent quote of "Two years ago, when you and your squad went into Avernus and killed Ivan Isarevich, you did a lot more than liquidate an up and coming tyrant- you wrecked a scheme that I'd nurtured for years. It's taken me a long time to recover from the mess you've made, and now you're trying to ruin me again. Who do you think tipped off the CMC about your little lovebird, anyway?" Ryo then sends the train out of control, and has the Shogo troops on board attack Sanjuro. Sanjuro saves the train, but when he gets back to the pumping station, it is overrun by Shogo troops. He is forced to watch as Ryo shoots Hank in the head with a shotgun blast, killing him. Ryo escapes before Sanjuro can reach him. Kathryn expresses condolences, and convinces Sanjuro to go to the airship dock to reach the Oshii Research Station. He finds Uziel's MCA there, and forces him to retreat after a brief skirmish. He then contacts Toshiro, and arranges a meeting in the History of Warfare museum in Avernus. Sanjuro's efforts are nearly stymied when Admiral Akkaraju announces that the Kato cannon is charging and will fire in two hours; he cites evidence by Ryo Ishikawa, whom he sees as an ally, as proof of Toshiro's treachery. He also will not hear anything of Sanjuro's claims that if he fires the kato cannon and disobeys High Command, "The UCA will be thrown into chaos and the Fallen will be out of the way. The CMC is already in tatters- Shogo will inherit Cronus."
Sanjuro reaches the Oshii research station, and he and Kura find the necessary information despite a raid by Shogo troops. The Admiral reluctantly agrees, and gives Sanjuro one last chance to save Toshiro. Sanjuro reaches the History of Warfare museum, and sees Gabriel, who gives the player a choice of joining him or facing his armies.
Sanjuro accepts, and fights UCA troopers before reaching a ship to board the Leviathan. Sanjuro meets up with Kathryn, and fights his way through the ship to reach the kato cannon firing controls. With minutes left to go, Sanjuro disables them, and defeats Ryo, who plans on reactivating the kato cannon, which was most likely his reason for telling the admiral what he did. The epilogue suggests that the Admiral will be court-martialed, the CMC has surrendered, and the Fallen have declared a truce with the UCA and Toshiro remaining on Cronus as an "ambassador" to Cothineal.
Sanjuro refuses, and fights Fallen troopers inside the ruined museum. He escapes and, defeating Fallen troops in the city, proceeds on to the Fallen headquarters using the same way he planned on using early in the game. He proceeds through the city rooftops, and on to the outskirts of the city, where he learns that Shogo fighters are attacking the Leviathan. Sanjuro enters the elevator leading to Gabriel, and, brushing off Kathryn's concerns, fights with and defeats Baku. Sanjuro reaches Gabriel, who is being protected by an energy field that Cothineal creates, and learns that Shogo reinforcements will attack from behind. Sanjuro shoots Cothineal's eye, lowering Gabriel's defenses, and disables Gabriel's MCA. He then defeats Ryo's reinforcements, and Ryo himself. The epilogue notes that Toshiro is being treated for his time under Cothineal's control, and that Admiral Akkaraju will be investigated for disobeying High Command, but little will come of it. Humanity will also work to gain peace with Cothineal.
The expansion pack Shugotenshi would have given more insight into Kura's roles. It would have been six or eight levels of Kura fighting and coming to terms with the death of Hank. Some features of that game would have been various body armor for Kura and new enemies and weapons for her.
Legacy of the Fallen would have moved away from the fighting of Cronus and taken the player to the remote Kato mining facility at Iota-33. It would just show how well organized the Fallen actually were and the weapon capabilities of an Ambed (Advanced Mechanical Biological Engineering Division) team. Legacy of the Fallen was to have an entirely new cast of characters, five new mecha to choose from, six new onfoot weapons, five new mecha weapons, several new enemy aliens, and levels that played out more like Half-Life's levels in structure.
- Sanjuro Makabe: The protagonist of the game. Sanjuro is a sarcastic, somewhat angsty UCA soldier with a serious disrespect for authority, which earns him the ire of his commanding officer Admiral Akkaraju. He is still recovering emotionally from the death of his lover Kura, although that doesn't stop him from having a relationship with Kura's sister, Kathryn.
- Kathryn Akkaraju: The UCASF Leviathan's communications officer, Kathryn is Sanjuro's primary radio contact as well as his girlfriend. She is responsible for giving Sanjuro most of his mission briefings and objectives over the radio. She seems more emotional and kind-hearted than her tougher, tomboyish sister, Kura.
- Kura Akkaraju: Sanjuro's previous girlfriend, Kura was assumed to have been killed in a Fallen terrorist attack several months before the events of the game. As it turns out, she is alive and well, having been investigating the Fallen as an undercover spy. Kura resurfaces midway through the game, revealing key information about the true nature of the Fallen to Sanjuro, and helping him in his mission.
- Admiral Akkaraju: The leader of the UCA forces on Cronos, and the father of Kathryn and Kura. The Admiral harbors a burning hatred for the Fallen, supposedly because of Kura's death at their hands. As it turns out, however, he knew perfectly well that Kura was alive and unharmed all the time. Thus, his harsh behavior and ultimate decision to commit genocide against the people of Cronos are left somewhat unexplained by the plot.
- Hank Johnson: A friend of Kura's, Hank is a citizen of Cronos who assists Sanjuro through much of the game. He is eventually executed by Ryo Ishikawa.
- Toshiro Makabe: Sanjuro's brother, who disappeared during a Fallen terrorist attack several months prior to the events of the game. It is revealed that Toshiro is in fact the Fallen leader, Gabriel. After the attack, he was captured and taken over by Cothineal, becoming its human avatar.
- Baku Ogata: Sanjuro's childhood friend, Baku also vanished during the Fallen attack along with Kura and Toshiro. Baku became Gabriel's right hand minion Uziel, and holds an insane hatred for Sanjuro.
- Ryo Ishikawa: The president of Shogo Inc, and arguably the game's main antagonist. He is manipulating all sides in the conflict in an attempt to destroy the Fallen so that he can exploit the Cothineal. He is the final enemy fought in the game in both endings, though is significantly easier than Gabriel in the second ending.
- Samantha Sternberg: A young, blue-haired woman soldier, Samantha attacks Sanjuro at several points in the game. Despite apparently being blown up each time, she somehow manages to return again to challenge him. She becomes stronger and more difficult to defeat each time, and in her last appearance she attacks Sanjuro (who is on foot) in her MCA. She plays no significant role in the story.
Sequel and references in other Monolith titles
The expansion pack (Shogo: Legacy of the Fallen) was cancelled after numerous delays. There was a post-mortem on the anarchy-arts.com website that placed the blame on poor distribution agreements, mismanagement of development resources, and development team burnout.
Monolith has repeatedly stated they have no current intention of doing a sequel, but numerous Shogo themed easter eggs have turned up in their later projects: No One Lives Forever featured Hank Johnson's grave in the game's last level; The Matrix Online features a nightclub called "Club Shogo"; Blood II: The Chosen features Shogo posters in various rooms in the CabalCo building's living quarters; F.E.A.R. has the Armacham company name, the Bullgut (called the MOD-3 Multi-Rocket launcher) and even the Shredder (called the MP-50 Repeating Cannon) as weapons, plus a secret room with a radio that plays the opening theme music from Shogo and uses a Shogo texture depicting a man riding on a horse. Plus there are also textures that depict the Enforcer mecha as belonging to Shogo Industries and a texture depicting the Shogo cover art probably as a poster. Additionally, some players have said that the UAV in F.E.A.R. is similar in appearance to the Spider Mine in Shogo. In F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, the character Snake Fist wears a Shogo 2 T-Shirt.
Shogo was ported to the Amiga PowerPC platform in 2001 by Hyperion Entertainment. Hyperion also made the Apple Macintosh port and the Linux port of Shogo. The game had not sold as well as had hoped, most notably on Linux, despite becoming a best seller on Tux Games. Hyperion has put some of the blame on its publisher Titan Computer and because Linux users were likely to dual boot with Windows.
- ↑ Game Information - PlanetShogo
- ↑ About Shogo - Haus of Shogo
- ↑ Storyline - ShogoMAD.com
- ↑ Storyline - PlanetShogo
- ↑ Storyline - PlanetShogo
- ↑ Storyline - ShogoMAD.com
- ↑ See, for example, http://www.tweak3d.net/joomla/features/interviews/interview-with-david-gallay-of-nevolution
- ↑ Blue's News - December 12-18, 1998
- ↑ Characters - PlanetShogo
- ↑ Interview with Bem Hermans - Haus of Shogo
- Official Shogo discussion forum
- Official announcement for Shugotenshi on web.archive.org
- Shogo: Mobile Armor Division at The Linux Game Tome