Messiah

a game by Shiny Entertainment
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 7/10, based on 1 review, 5 reviews are shown
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 1 vote
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How long have we been waiting for Messiah? We've been waiting for so long, we actually forgot we were waiting at all. In some shadowy, dream-addled corner of our minds, part of us actually thought it'd already been released, played, and enjoyed, somewhere... somewhere in an alternate dimension.

After all, the game was originally unveiled over two years ago - and two years of gaming industry time is the equivalent of a hundred million years on Earth. Well, nearly. One thing's for sure: back then, waaay back then, early Messiah previews were enough to blow hardened gaming experts' socks off. We can clearly recall our very own Jeremy Wells, then editor, shaking his head with amazement, describing the sneak demo he'd been party to as "mucking incredible, absolutely mucking unbelievable". Except he didn't use the word "mucking", because he's a fully grown adult male with a fully grown adult male mouth.

We were promised mind-blowing 3D graphics (with or without the use of an accelerator card), complex gameplay, and what seemed like outrageously provocative content. You play a little cherub - it looks like a toddler - and you can possess anyone's body, and then make them do anything you like! You can make them leap out of windows! You can shoot them in the legs and then possess them and force them to walk with broken shins! It's got prostitutes in it! Etcetera!

Now the funny thing is, before the protracted gestation period made us forget about Messiah altogether, we came to believe the game itself was going to be a kind of freeform adventure in which you roamed about a gigantic city, taking control of more or less anyone who took your fancy. Well, a game of that description did arrive, but it wasn't from Shiny and it wasn't called Messiah. It was Bowieladen body-hopping adventure game The Nomad Soul. Messiah kept us waiting.

And, in the end, it caught us unawares: because at last, at long, long last, we've finally been handed some playable Messiah code and - get this -- you know what it's like? It's like... it's like... well, it's a bit like Metal Gear Solid.

Tales Of The Unexpected

That's right. Messiah is more of a thinking man's arcade game than a highfalutin' adventure epic. When we say it's like Metal Gear Solid, we aren't bloody joking: it really is quite similar, know - a stealth-orientated arcade game if ever we saw one.

Like Metal Gear or, say, Grand Theft Auto, it's a surprisingly tight, old-skool game in many respects. Your aim in each section is fairly straightforward, even if the means of achieving it aren't. Writing clear, direct gameplay is as hard (and as vital) as writing a clear, direct plot, so initial signs are promising.

At the time of writing, Messiah's projected November release dare seems more than a little unlikely, given the unfinished state of the code we've played - it's got more rough edges than a masochist's loo seat. Half the characters and levels are missing, the bugs are there for all to see, and crash-wise, it's as stable as Christopher Reeve on a cakewalk. But going by what is playable, this is still an impressive prospect.

Normal it ain't, though. Shiny don't do normal. Check out their track record: Earthworm Jim, MDK... um... Wild 9 on the PlayStation. How normal were they? Answer: not very. And Messiah is no exception.

You play a lickle cherub, named Bob. Your quest: to save the world. How are you going to do that? Don't ask us. Something to do with killing Satan. Doesn't really matter: like most games, it's really just a question of getting from A to B by whatever means necessary. To whit: the game is split into separate levels, each of which is in turn divided into a series of areas or rooms; passing through each of these is a step-by-step process. You can't just toddle about, because people will try to shoot you (no-one reacts favourably to being surprised by a two-foot cherub, especially the police). Plus, divine you may be, immortal you ain't: as cherubic Bob you're incredibly vulnerable to gunshot wounds and the like.

So what to do? Well, fortunately, Bob's got a very special talent. Presumably, he went to public school, because he's adept at sneaking up behind people and forcibly entering their bodies, har har har. We're talking, of course, about possession, which in Messiah is represented by a visually impressive trick wherein the character you're taking over wobbles and judders, like a plastic soldier in a microwave, as Bob vanishes inside their spine. It's the only way to succeed in the game - and the range of possibilities it opens up leads to some fascinating and highly original gameplay.

Y'see, there are two main tactics for possession. If you're feeling macho, you can go for broke -- run into the centre of the room, take control of the guy with the biggest gun, and go shooty-bang crazy until there's no-one else left standing. Or you could take the subtle, considered approach - stalking your prey, leaping from body to body at opportune moments, keeping your head down as you go.

And, if you're feeling nasty, then yes: you really can shoot someone in the legs - at which point they usually to fall to their knees, begging for mercy - and then possess them and force them to crawl around using their shattered limbs for support. It doesn't appear to serve any particular purpose, but hey -- it's a USP: Unique Selling Point, right?

Unpleasantness aside, there's the question of who you possess. It's best to pick someone useful. Cops have guns, but are also under threat from any criminals (known as 'Chots' in Messiah-world, for some mad reason) who happen to be standing around. Likewise, taking over a Chot is a risky business in itself. Other characters, such as engineers or medics, may seem more staid, but have unique abilities, or access to certain kinds of equipment that may help you out. And those are just the human options...

Polished And Shiny?

Incidentally, it all looks damn fine, if no longer quite so epoch-shattering as the moment when the first Messiah screenshots exploded on to the scene back in '97. The game is now a 3D-accelerator-only title, and looks it. Aside from all the smoke, transparency and lighting effects, there's some fancy-pants polygon-adjustment system at work which, it is alleged, keeps the frame-rate sliding smoothly, no matter how many enemies and objects appear onscreen, by removing superfluous polygons on the fly. Apparently, anyway: to be honest, we just sat there and thought "ooh - this looks bloody nice".

That's about all we've got room for right now. To recap: Messiah really is coming, it's more of an arcade game than we thought it might be, it's easy on the eye and very, very intriguing to play. More when we get it and, to be honest, we're getting impatient.

Download Messiah

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

It is said that there are only seven different jokes in the world. It is also said that there are only seven different game genres. We don't know who said it, but surely someday one game will rashly try to encompass them all. Step forward, then, Messiah, the world's first third person, platform, puzzle, stealth-oriented shoot 'em up, action adventure. Oh yes... With an angel.

Messiah doesn't so much bust a genre as take elements of a cross section and stuff them into one all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza. Starring the aforementioned angel.

Yes, an angel - a fact that has already caused minor consternation among those with nothing better to do. Fuel was added to the fire by publishers Virgin, who released a typically controversial advert featuring a picture of the Pope clutching a home-rolled jazz cigarette, accompanied by the legend: "What on Earth possessed you?"

Developers Shiny wondered what on Earth possessed Virgin, and were unsurprised to learn that the campaign was banned by a number of magazines, this one included. Some misguided religious zealots will inevitably pick up on the game as an example of the sickness permeating our society, but they will be well wide of the mark. Releasing a game called Messiah as we celebrate the 2000th birthday of Jesus Christ Our Saviour might be asking for trouble, but this is simply down to the game being hideously late, as opposed to any premeditated evil. Messiah is, of course, an adult game, but this is due to the more orthodox reasons of sickening acts of violence and foul and abusive language. Business as usual, then.

Cherubim And Seraphim

Despite the name, and the angel -which sounds more cringeworthy every time we mention it -Messiah is by no means a game about religion. Playing as an angel (cringe) is simply a mechanism for enabling you to take possession of other characters in the game. They could just have easily made it an alien life force, or even come up with some kind of soul transfer nonsense, a la The Nomad Soul, and then nobody would have raised an eyebrow.

But they didn't. They chose an angel. An angel called Bob, no less. This, in the perennial sixth form world of computer games Is, of course, hilarious. An angel! Called Bob! Nurse, my sides! That's Bob over there, in those pictures, and indeed on the cover of this very organ. Now we don't know what an angel looks like, for the simple reason that there's no such thing. Call us old-fashioned, but Bob looks like a slightly overweight child in a nappy, with wings (Bob, not the nappy). If pushed, we might concede that he's a cherub, while also pointing out that the design is not a million miles from the dancing baby popularised in typing pool TV favourite Ally McBeal.

But he isn't, he's an angel, and as the token story would have us believe: "Bob is a working-class angel ordered by God himself to go and clean up the putrid, disgusting, sleazy and infested world of the future. He has been given the power of possession so that he can sneak up on any person, animal or genetically engineered being and leap right into their soul!

"With your help, Bob can then use their bodies, their weapons, or even their bare hands to strangle, cripple, impale and incinerate the cities of sinners sent to stop you from finding Satan himself. By hi-jacking their souls. Bob can use these sinners' bodies against their will as armour (to take pain for him), or he can use them for camouflage (to hide inside them) and pretend to be just another twisted citizen in the Messiah world,.. "The rules are up to you... Enjoy the freedom.''

Video Nasty

That's that cleared up, then, and in case you can't read, the above tale Is related via a (mercifully) brief FMV sequence that's supposed to be funny. It's an almost universal truth that every US games developer you meet will tell you that they ''love your Monty Python," blissfully unaware of an entire generation of superior comedy (acknowledging only Benny Hill and Mr Bean). Shiny would appear to be no different, and the intro wears its Pythonesque influences on its pre-rendered sleeve. Set high in the clouds, the booming voice of God dispatches the reluctant Bob earthwards in a ball of mock-ecclesiastical flame. Bob lands smack between the shoulder blades of an oblivious cop, whose body he then possesses before embarking on a murderous spree of bloodletting, unleashing a carnival of violence which is entirely at odds with the cartoon intro and far from being angelic.

It's an incongruous concept, with an unorthodox lead character. Shiny don't specialise in orthodox characters, though: the underachieving MDKfeatured a rubber-suited man with a head like a penis, and the game which forged their reputation starred none other than an earthworm called Jim. If you want to get unnecessarily deep about it, Messiah could be considered a natural progression from Earthworm Jim, in that a weak central character becomes strong by immersing himself in a more powerful shell. In Jim's case, it's his super-hyper-duper-kinetic suit, and in young Bob's case, it's the bodies of the unfortunates that he possesses.

Angel Deught

On his own, Bob's pretty useless - especially in a fight. He might be able to fly (but only with the grace and effectiveness of a fat fairy), but a couple of high velocity bullets aimed at the back of the head and he's one dead angel - despite television teaching us that angels are immortal. Perhaps they've just got lots of save games - something that is essential in Messiah, as death comes swiftly and often. However, as long as it's not Bob that's dead, it doesn't really matter. Other characters in the game are largely expendable, and Messiah forces you into something of a re-education in the way you play games.

Self-preservation comes instinctively, but once you have possessed a body, this doesn't have to be the case. In fact, it can be used to your advantage and opens up a whole new world of strategies. Consider, for instance, a situation where you are faced with two cops that you need to get rid of. You could wander around and find another character, jump into him and go at them with all guns blazing. You could also keep your distance and pick them off with the sniper mode, which offers three levels of zoom. Alternatively, you could sneak up on one of the rogue cops, jump up his arse without being detected, calmly stroll across to his buddy and shoot him in the temple from close range. You could then walk your possessed cop to a high place and simply force him to leap to his death, jumping out of his back at the crucial moment. Explaining what you are doing to a casual passer-by might prove more difficult, but it's nonetheless an interesting concept.

Pulling It Off

Interesting it might be, easy to pull off, it isn't. Due to Bob's limited stature, and the dubious fact that he has to enter his victims from the rear, the actual act of possession often proves to be an irksome task. If you can manage to sneak up on someone undetected, it's fairly straightforward, but once your cover is blown it becomes a frantic affair. Once alerted, your intended victim will naturally turn to face you and there then follows some desperate moments as you rapidly circle your spinning victim, hoping to jump into an orifice to gain access. It's not a particularly subtle element of the gameplay, and often depends as much on luck as judgement, particularly in the midst of a skirmish, when you will find yourself leaping into anything that moves (a bit like Peter Stringfellow). While it's not particularly refined, it can still make for some exciting exchanges, and in the heat of battle seeing the cherub emerge from the corpse of a stricken victim is enough to induce blind panic, while subsequent possession induces a palpable sense of relief. All of which is utter gibberish to anyone who doesn't play games.

Shiny's parent company, Interplay, boasts the motto "By Gamers. For Gamers", and Messiah is certainly sticking to it. The entire length of the keyboard is utilised, as is the mouse, and it certainly isn't a case of pick up and play. Put it this way - you're not going to come home and find your mum having a dabble, neither will you find your four-year-old brother tearing through the levels. Which is just as well, as the game features strong language and adult themes.

Pimp Whore Pimp Whore

Adult themes? Well, it's got whores in it, if that counts, although if Shiny were looking to shock, they might have been better off not featuring prostitutes. Messiah isn't the first game to include hookers, and it won't be the last. We've all got access to hardcore pornography and a bit of computer-generated cleavage is scarcely going to raise a shrug. Besides, it does nothing to quash the image of computer games as the outlets of hormonally challenged loners.

As well as prostitutes and cops, Messiah features scientists, armoured behemoths, priests, bouncers, bondage dancers, pimps, gigolos, sewer people, vagrants, welders, nuclear technicians, riot police, bar tenders, medics and even rats, all of which can be possessed. The idea is that certain characters have particular skills that have to be used accordingly - although often it's simply a case of a door only opening for a certain rank of officer or, say, a nuclear area being safe only for radiation workers. The body you inhabit can also gain you access in other ways - providing you don't behave out of the ordinary, you can mingle with characters of your ilk. Conversely, stroll into a foreign area in the wrong body and you will be immediately challenged, particularly if you have your gun in combat mode. Different characters also react differently to being approached by a small cherub with wings. Some will be utterly bemused, some will shoot first and ask questions later, and others will ask questions first and not shoot at all - namely the scientists, who assume that you are the result of some macabre experiment.

Future Shock

The world of Messiah is an overtly violent one in which street people known as Chots are constantly kicking off with the police. Riots are commonplace and you regularly get drawn in by either side, often changing the course of an altercation through your intervention. For instance, you can join in with the police, picking off the proletariat uprisers at will, or even unload into a colleague when no one is looking. And if your current character gets killed, you can simply (or not so simply) hop into another one. You might stroll into the middle of the skirmish and get ripped to shreds by the crossfire. It doesn't matter -that's the point.

The basis of Messiah is a simple case of good versus evil, and while it's fairly mercenary, people are going to have to die for the greater good. Die they do, and unlike most games, the dead bodies remain resolutely in place until you join them.

If you've had a look around, you'll surely agree that Messiah looks very nice, if not quite as mind boggling as was originally promised. It is set to look better in the future, though, as apparently the engine will adjust the detail of the characters and worlds to the maximum that your personal machine can handle. Shiny claim that you will actually get to see your PC being used at 100% of its capacity, with Messiah pushing every part to its full potential. Apparently, there is detail within the game engine that can't even be utilised on today's machines, and the idea is that technology will catch up with the game, effectively making it future-proof. There's no way to prove this, but if it is the case, expect a Messiah resurrection every couple of years. That would be in keeping with the game's name, after all.

Level Level

So what have they done with all this clever technology? Made a computer game, obviously. And it looks like one. Supposedly a near future version of Earth, the general look and feel of the locations appears to have been lifted straight from the Game Designer's Book Of The Future. Weapons and crates of explosives are left liberally scattered around, doors open with the obligatory hydraulic 'whoosh' and 'Access Denied' is repeated ad infinitum in a suitably robotic voice. And while we're all for real world locations, if we find ourselves in another warehouse, sewer or nightclub, we're going to have to punch someone in the throat.

All three make up a level of Messiah, along with some 13 others, all of which generally involve getting from one place to another without being killed. How you do this usually depends on who designed the level, and a variety of gaming styles are deployed, some of them covering a lot of old ground. Traditional door opening affairs are represented, as are platformers, and guiding a bloated cherub round some industrial areas proves particularly frustrating. A degree of thought has gone into some of the other levels and a clear strategy is usually required, although it often degenerates into a shooting match. Even so, it's still different from the norm, as you can only carry one weapon at a time. There are 10 or so weapons in the game, including flamethrowers, pump action shotguns, machine guns, bazookas, rocket-propelled harpoon guns, buzzsaws, ice guns and mines. Targeting is automatic, and it is largely a case of keeping your finger on the trigger, although more subtlety does come into play when sniping. And you can even have a go at someone with a welding torch - which must be a first.

Vfm?

It's a mixed bag then, but this mixture of styles might irk some people. Then again, others might consider it value for money. It can lead to a dilution of focus though, and you can find yourself thinking in terms of a platform game, or a shooting game, or whatever section you are playing. There's an argument that this pick 'n' mix style of game presents less of a consistent experience. Whereas in Half-Life, you were fighting for your life, in Messiah the challenge often seems to be solving the game designer's puzzles.

Taken as a whole though, it does work, and if you can suspend your disbelief, Messiah is an intriguing game. There's constantly something going on, and much of the value is in seeing what's around the next corner. It's a fine piece of work, although whether it gives Shiny the hit they are so desperate for remains to be seen. Its mass market appeal is debatable, and it's certainly no Earthworm Jim, but in aiming high, Shiny have furnished us with a hardcore gaming experience that will test your manual dexterity and gaming acumen to their limits. Messiah is certainly an epic game, but after two and a half years, you'd really expect it to be.

The Third Dimension

The future's so Shiny, you've got to wear 3D glasses. Yours for a eye-boggling sixty quid

Look closely at the accompanying screenshot Looks a bit blurred, doesn't it? Don't worry, you haven't got mud in your eye, it's just that the screenshot is in 3D. Not in the traditional sense of 3D gaming, but as in wearing-silly-glasses-3D. It's something that is attempted intermittently in films, and who can forget such classics as House Of Wax, Spacehunters in the Forbidden Zone and, of course, the execrable Jaws 30. However, no matter how often the trend is resurrected, the result is the same: you get a headache and you look a tit.

Shiny are attempting to bring 3D-O-vision into gaming, though, and Messiah will offer this option. However, it's no good trying to play it with those free glasses you've had since the last TV special, as a decent pair will be needed, setting you back the best part of 60 notes. They're slightly more high-tech, though, adjusting the depth of vision and so forth to suit the particular user's eyes. We've had a dabble, and while the game certainly looked all right, it was rather disorientating. The experience was also maned by having to tear the glasses off our faces as we were thrown into a violent Lawnmower Man-style flashback. You have been warned.

We Are All Prostitutes

Maybe it's perversion, or a slightly deeper reason, but you can now enter prostitutes. Hmm...

Picture the scene: the Shiny board room, a design meeting in progress, the high caffeine soft drinks flowing and ideas being frantically scribbled on to spiral notepads by men with experimental facial hair and questionable personal hygiene.

"I know," pipes up one bright spark, "Let's put some whores in it!" Beavis style laughter ensues, and everyone concurs. "Sluts are cool, man!" "Whoa, hookers - that would be pretty cool!" "Yeah man, we could like have them naked! Naked! Naked!" lYvo words: Grow. Up.

Walkthrough

Shipping Sector

Walk up the ramp, destroy the box near the welder and go through the door. Stay on that level, walk around the bend to the Navigation Control room and possess the scientist behind the pillar. Activate the small console and some cops run in from gate four to kill the other scientist. Exit the room, head upstairs and go through the restricted access door. Unlock gate four with the remote console. Go through gate four, pick up the machine gun and jump over the lasers. Kill the soldier at the top of the stairs, jump from the ledge, dispossess and float to the ledges on the left. Climb up the wall and then float down into the fan room. Press the button to make the third fan from the left go up two levels. Go to the second fan from the left, and move it up once. Jump onto the lowest fan and then fly up from fan to fan, until you reach the control room.

Possess a radiation worker and activate all the consoles in the room. Go down in the elevator and through the exit. Possess the welder and then the commander behind the glass. Unlock gate three with the remote console. Head back to gate two, picking up a weapon on the way. Go through gate two and kill the Chots. Kill the guy with the speargun by strafing left and right. Finally, kill the guy on the crate with any of the long-range weapons found in this room. Head through gate one to finish the level.

Old Town

Use the sentry gun on the roof to shoot the laser wall to the left. Go through here to end up in a room with some mashers. Climb onto the left ledge and crawl under the lasers. Press the switch to cause the floor to open and the scientist to drop into the masher. Repeat this twice more until the masher is full. Use the lower panel to make a large barrel move onto the floor near the incinerator door. Jump onto the barrel (keep flapping your wings) and then onto the ledge left of the incinerator door. Unlock the door and go through.

Use the barrels to jump onto the ledge. You now need to jump and flap your wings to reach the next ledge over by the door. Keep doing this all the way to the top. When you've reached the top, kill everyone in the next room, use the lift to go up to the middle platform, open the door and then possess the rat. Go through the tunnels and over the little lava maze. Keep going until you reach a cop versus Chot running battle. Go right and break the glass in the cop area. Deactivate the laser wall. Run to the Chot side, go up the stairs, use the barrel to jump into the room behind the plasma shield and activate the lift. Go back outside and go up in the lift. Shoot the box on the ledge in the next room and go through the opening. Shoot the grate and then shatter the windows to drop safely onto the walkway below.

Go through the window near where the woman is showering. Possess the commander. Go through the door into the room with three other commanders and take the door on the right back up to the room where you shot the box on the ledge. Activate the console on the right for a companion bot. Go back down to the commander room, go up the stairs and out the door. As the commander, kill all the Chots. Go through the gate, and jump in the sentry gun. Destroy the platforms on the building in the distance; this deactivates the nearest laser wall. Go into the next room and operate the panel on the right. Go through the gate directly ahead and work your way along until you reach a green panel on the floor. Possess a cop and stand on this panel for clearance. Jump in the lift to go up. When it breaks down, go through the gap and possess the welder. Go underneath the lift and fix it, get back in and go up.

Exit the lift, turn left and go up the stairs into the sewer. Keep going until you enter a room with a thin walkway. Go right. When you reach the pistons, use Bob to fly across from one piston to the next to the other side of the broken walkway. Keep going to find a yellow laser door blocked by a body, crawl into the room. Possess a Chot and operate the computer to restore power. Head back to the garages and the main circular room. Find the door under the stairs. Go through here to find the beast. Possess the beast, exit the room, go up the stairs, turn left and continue to the cop with the bazooka. Kill him, unlock the door and crawl under. You're in the circular room again. Go through the garage to the left of the hall. Go to the wiggly red laser wall. Shoot the box in the room to disable the lasers. Go into the room and ascend in the lift.

You're now in the laboratory. Possess a scientist, use the console that is flashing, then open the main laboratory door.

The behemoth crashes through. Lead him towards some people, then when he's occupied leap high into his back or head to possess him. Stand on the pressure plate to end the level.

Warehouse/Annex

Walk through the first garage, into the second and head for the control panel in the small room. Operate both consoles. Leave the room and enter the left door. Ascend the lift on the right side of the room. Activate the switch. Kill the 'arresting officers' and go back down. Walk to the other lift and go up. In the next room, go up again. Jump into a welder and operate the rad-bot panel. Go back down to the floor below and use the rad-bot panel there. Now get in the lift and drop two floors to the basement. Use the rad-bot panel here too. Enter the door labelled 'B.S.' and go down. Use a rad-worker to start the core and then go through the 'Annex' door up in the tank garage.

Turn right, follow the left wall, go up the stairs into the room and use the panel. Exit the room and follow the left wall until you reach a hole. Take a worker down there and operate the switch. Move Bob back to the top of the stairs, run along the pipe sticking out and jump onto the other pipe. Walk along dodging the flames, bear round to the left and go through the big door at the end. Fly over the flames and possess the Chot. Take out the cops on the other side. Jump down to the bottom and go to the panel on the left. Activate this and wait until the ledges are in position for you to jump/fly to the exit. Climb the boxes and head to where you first came into the annex and open the door down the alley.

Conveyor

Go through the door with the face. Possess a cop on the bridge, kill the other one and activate the panel. Jump onto the pipes, then onto the moving platforms, and then up to the conveyor belt. Jump the lasers using the boxes, then climb onto the ledge on the left and go up in the lift. Press the red discharge switch, then the green door panel. Go down in the lift, jump to the next platform and press the switch there.

Weapons Factory

Possess a scientist and use the panel by the big screen. Enter the door next to it and possess the cop. Turn left and go through the door at the end of the corridor. Use the panel next to the huge sentry gun. Jump off the ledge and operate the panel below. Enter the door. Use the console on the left, then the one below that to manufacture the maser. Take the lift up. Get out and then take the lift that is immediately on your right straight down to the basement.

Walk right until the cut-scene. Drop the maser, dispossess the scientist and fly down to the door on the right below the lowered bridge. Go through to reach a relatively straightforward rotating platform jump section. Go through the door at the end and reactivate the bridge. Bring your maser back here to charge it up. Go back across the bridge and take the lift up.

You are back near the start by the big screen. Go up the stairs, through the door and into the 'exit'. Head downstairs, and out the door on the left. In the next room take the lift on the left up. Dash to the end of the hallway, hit the switch and go through the huge door by the two cops. Blast the Armoured Behemoth with the maser. Run straight down the tunnel. Take out another four A.Bs. Go through the next door and into another jumping area.

At the end of this section jump through the large open door. Go through the next door, then the next, and possess the worker. Activate the terminals and go back out the two doors and through the next large door on your left.

Waste Plant

Ride the platforms, and go into the second opening. Go over to the ledge opposite. Jump to the right and glide. Turn right and keep gliding all the way to the opening below the laser wall.

Jump onto the moving machinery and leap from platform to platform until you work your way up to a rad-worker. Possess him and go through the nearby door. Go up the lift. In the next room possess the commander behind the truck, activate the console and then get in the truck and drive.

Red Light District

Go left. Eliminate the two cops and the sub-girl. Jump onto the ledge. Leap/fly over the yellow lasers and when you reach the mashers hang from the edge of the left ledge and pass beneath them. Pull yourself up, jump some more lasers, and get onto solid ground.

Possess the cop and kill everyone in the vicinity. Climb the stairs, go past the condemned door, and kill all the cops up to the barricade. Return to the stairs and go up another level. Enter the door and go around the corner to the last peep show booth. Go inside and possess the dweller. Now go through the door beyond the barricade. After decontamination head past the sub-girls, go down the stairs at the end of the road and enter the door on the left.

Flick the switch at the bottom of the room. Take the lift up to the highest level and jump on top of the centre column. Jump from that onto the next floor and possess the rat to go through the tunnel. When you emerge, possess the remaining sub-girl, open the bars, throw her over the edge and enter the door. Possess the pimp, get his VIP number from his safe and activate the video console.

Club Perimeter

Use the panel to confirm your VIP number. After the cut-scene go through the gap on the left and possess the welder. Use the panel, dispossess and fly over to the next panel. Activate that, and then get through the door before it shuts. Turn left to face the moving platforms. Jump across these, and then crawl through the tunnel on the right side of the bridge where the cop is. Fall through the floor, activate the switch and crawl back through the tunnel. Use the fans and platforms to work your way towards the lift at the end.

Jump onto its roof. Turn left and when you see the broken entrance fly through. Edge your way in until you find the green hand switch. Press it, then possess the cripple. Quickly crawl over and press the panel twice. Enter the lift and possess the guy inside. Leave the lift and disarm when the console tells you to get into the club.

Club Kyd

Go through the curtains to the green door. Possess the slut employee and go through the red door. Go upstairs and straight through the curtains.

Possess the table dancer, pass through middle curtain, go upstairs, through another set of curtains and enter the dance contest. When you're done showing off. go up the lift, pass through two more curtains, possess the commander and enter the door to end the level.

Military Zone

Jump left off the starting platform. Kill/possess the cops, and enter the door with the yellow target on it. Activate the small panel on the left, then possess the commander. Go back up where she came from. Use the gun turret to kill everything. Once done, enter the next target door. Continue into the red room and possess a rat. Crawl into the tunnel, take the first left and keep going until you're picked up by a bird. Once dropped off, dispossess the rat and operate one of the red panels on the side of the room to activate an Armoured Behemoth. Possess it and go out the door, through the target doors and get stuck into the numerous soldiers waiting for you. When they've been eliminated, go through the big central door and kill the A.B. and the maser scientist within. Enter the next door and use the scientist to operate the panel and enter the teleporter.

Cryo

Use all the X-24 panels in the start room. Go through the door opposite and use one in there too. Go through the door with the bloody pentagram on it and go into the teleporter.

Outpost

Jump to the island. Possess a cop and kill another cop to get his gun. Possess a worker and pick up a gun. Go and turn all the valves off. Possess Satan when he takes a breather. Game over.

While it hardly turned out to be the saviour of the games industry when it originally hit the shelves, Messiah did manage to turn most people's heads by trying to be a little different. Rather than sticking to the boundaries imposed by any one genre, Messiah boasts elements of a third-person shooter, stealth game and an action/adventure. You play Bob, a pint-sized nappy-wearing cherub, who has been sent by God to clean up a world of corruption and sleaze. By possessing the bodies of humans, you have to solve puzzles and complete quests in order to help Earth become a better place - how nice. However, this is made incredibly difficult by the fact that just about everyone you come across is intent on kicking the shit out of you, so it's just lucky you're wearing that nappy really. Messiah is challenging, varied and open-ended, so if you're blessed with a spare tenner, you know what to do with it.

Shiny Entertainment is hoping its new action/adventure game, Messiah (slated to appear on the PlayStation and the PC this fall) raises the bar on graphics quality in video games.

Messiah stars Bob, a cherub seeking to bring about the end of the world. He has the ability to possess the bodies of other characters and make them do his apocalyptic bidding to progress through the game. Aside from the game's carnage, what you'll really notice is the amazingly lifelike (and almost creepy) way the skin of the characters ripples and stretches as they move.

Messiah is All DAT

Messiah's violent and almost certainly Mature-rated gameplay might mean that some of you will never see it, but Shiny hopes that its new graphics technology will let you see Messiah-like graphics in other games. This new graphics technology is called Real-Time Deformation and Tessellation or RT-DAT. Deformation and tessellation are standard graphics techniques--it's the "real-time" that feeds RT-DAT's hype.

it's Alive!

Deformation breathes life into game characters. This graphics process makes them move realistically by enabling the skin of a model image to bend and twist or change shape according to the movement of the skeleton beneath it.

Characters are often created by first constructing a graphics skeleton, sort of an animated 3D stick figure, to identify moving joints. Just like the bones inside our bodies, this graphics skeleton is held together by a system of muscle-like connections; then the skin is "stretched" over the skeleton in an attempt to make the character look and move in a lifelike fashion. The trade-off in processing time usually limits characters to flat, stony skin. In Messiah, however, RT-DAT streamlines defermation calculations so you can see the ripple of every moving muscle and the bounce of every mound of flesh.

Zoom That Zooms

Tessellation is the process of breaking down shapes in a 3D image into the basic triangles that compose it, and then adding or subtracting triangles to upgrade or downgrade the image. Tessellation puts pizzazz into zooms. It also determines at what point and to what degree of sharpness you can view objects as you approach them from a distance.

For example, during a game, you might see tessellation in action when you zoom in on an object. The long-range view requires only a few triangles to compose an image (which doesn't have to be extremely detailed) whereas the close-up view can be composed of several thousand triangles for sharpness and detail. Again, because calculating the math to produce tessellation puts a major strain on a game system's processors, many games cheat by having objects zoom in and out of view from a totally black shadow--but RT-DAT shaves the time it takes to calculate the math to produce each step in the zoom effect, generating anywhere from 30 polygons for long-distance views to 8000 polygons for extreme close-ups.

Whether or not Messiah fulfills its promises as a game, RT-DAT certainly seems to prophesize better game visuals for the future.

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