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Review: Raptor: Call of the Shadows (1994)

Table of Contents

Quick Info

Gore & Brutality Magic Sex Civility Religious Objections
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Additional Notes

Summary of major issues
Most of the game involves shooting things to blow them up. Most of the time it appears like you're fighting against unmanned drones, but there are a few scenes where you can spot a body among the wreckage.

Screenshots


An early boss


A casualty in Tango Sector


Buying a new weapon

General Information

Genre:Shoot 'em UpAge Rating:Children (Ages 6+)
License:SharewareQuality Rating:Good
Played on:Thaddeus
Available from: Steam
Save System:Being an old DOS game, Raptor: Call of the Shadows doesn't have an autosave function. Instead, it only saves your game when you select the diskette shaped offices in the upper right of the hanger.

You can abandon a level at any time, and while you'll forfiet your progress and money earned, you'll somehow retain any weapons collected during the level. This means it might be a good stradgey to farm levels for certain collectable items, exiting the level once you find it.

Game Overview

During the DOS era, there were quite a few Shoot 'em Up titles. Most of them were very simple, or clones of arcade titles. This was probably due to the limited abilities of home computers of their time, but Raptor: Call of the Shadows managed to stand out. It's easy to see why: with rich colors, shadows, proper sound effects and even music, this title was far more ambitious than the typical DOS game.

But it's worth noting that while it was pretty advanced and amazing for its time, some aspects of the game haven't aged gracefully. For example, it doesn't deviate from the basic Shoot 'em Up concepts, with every level focusing on surviving the oncoming enemies and a short boss fight at the end. There are no secrets, no side missions, and no real surprises. Each wave is simply slightly harder than the previous one.

Other drawbacks include the lack of an in-game story and a limited selection of weapons that are worth finding and using. Despite this, it was popular enough for there to be several updated rereleases. This review is strictly for the original DOS game, which can still be purchased online.

I'd say it's definitely worth grabbing a copy of this old gem for yourself, provided that you don't expect it to hold up to today's AAA games.

Pros

Replay missions for more money
After you complete a sector's missions, you can do them all over again. This time the difficulty will be increased, so be prepared to deal with a more dangerous enemy than before. Note that if you play through a sector at the lowest difficulty, you'll be forced to leave the sector before you actually reach the end. When this happens, you'll lose your money and equipment (explained in game as the price for "training expenses") and need to start over from scratch.


Many weapons to chose from
There are a handful of weapons that are always equipped and fire whenever you press the fire button, but there are also miniature nuclear bombs and selectable secondary weapons. These secondary weapons allow for some customized load outs, as nearly all of them feature some unique mechanics beyond just blowing up what's in front of you. Some will attack only ground targets, others only airborne targets, and one will even automatically target something nearby.


Three sectors to battle through
The first location in the game is Bravo Sector, which appears to be a military or industrial center in a rocky, mountainous region. Next are the more heavily defended jungles and cities of Tango Sector, and finally there's the various planets in the Outer Regions. Each sector is harder than the previous one, so I would suggest advancing in this order.


Multiple profiles
You can have quite a few different pilots registered. Each pilot represents a new game, and thus you can have multiple players use the same installation. Additionally, each profile gets a name, callsign and one of four portraits, making them easily to tell apart.


Cons

Configuration is hidden
A downside to playing this on Steam is that the Steam launcher is configured to go straight into the game itself. You'll need to launch Dosbox manually, mount the correct folder as your virtual C drive, and run setup.exe in order to change the game's settings.

Also, just to make things difficult, this utility doesn't save your changes on exit. Instead, you'll need to make sure that you, be sure to choose the option to save your changes before you exit it. Lastly, verifying the Steam cache will reset these settings, which is kind of annoying.


Short and sweet
You can play through Raptor in roughly two hours. This was a long game back in the day, but it's nothing compared to the epics that are produced now.


Many of the selectable weapons aren't worth it
While it's a good idea to install every weapon that is always equipped, you're limited to using only one of your secondary weapons at a time. In theory this sounds like you'll be able to change your weapons to reflect the current situation, but in reality you're not going to need to bother. Very few of the secondary weapons are worth purchasing; it's more practical to just focus on increasing your damage output rather than thinking about dealing with special cases.


No autosave
Between every level, you're presented with a map of your hangar. This map allows you to access the store, leave for the mission, exit the game or save. Being an old game, this is also the only time you can save the game, and you'll need to do this yourself. Autosave didn't become a standard feature until later on, and a lot of us take it for granted, so be mindful about saving often.


Concerns and Issues

Stuff blowing up
All of the violence in this title boils down to somebody blowing up something else. You're always blowing up enemy aircraft, buildings on the ground or anti-aircraft artillery. Alternatively, you're getting blown up by something else. Still, it's very tame since most of the action is about explosions.


You do see humans die however
One of the quirks about this game is that you rarely actually see the people involved. Enemy vehicles have what look like cockpits, but since you can't see inside them it can easily give you an impression that you're fighting an army of robot drones. Unfortunately, this is disproved when you pay closer attention. There are two obviously human characters in the game: You and the shopkeeper. You know your own character is human since you select their profile picture at the start of the game and if you get shot down during a mission, you're shown a cutscene of your plane crashing. During this cutscene, the pilot is briefly visible. Another reminder is that when you visit the store, the owner's face appears on the terminal for a moment and you can see your own character's profile on the left.

While that covers the majority of the game's depictions of people, there are also a few missions in Tango Sector where people are visible. When you blow up certain cars, a human body will be visible in the rubble, implying that there was someone inside the car when you destroyed it. There is also a sunbather on one of the buildings you can destroy.

Oddly, this is played with in another level where the battle takes place over various farms. None of the humans working there can be harmed by anything you have (including your nuclear bombs).