Shogo: Mobile Armor Division is a first person shooter developed by Monolith Productions, released in 1998. The game features combat in mechs, known as MCAs (Mobile Combat Armor) in the Shogo universe, as well as more conventional on-foot shooting with standard FPS weapons such as assault rifles, sub-machine guns, shotguns, etc. Before mech levels, the player may choose one of four available MCAs to pilot. Each MCA has different statistics and speed, but all can all use the same weapons. The MCA missions are more action oriented with more explosive weaponry.
Shogo was also one of the first standard FPS-games to feature a branching storyline, in which the player can choose sides and take a different path through the story. One path (siding with Gabriel) resulted in more on-foot action and the other (siding with the UCA) was more MCA-oriented. The two paths also featured different missions and different endings.
You play as Sanjuro Makabe, an MCA pilot working for the UCA (United Corporate Authority) under Commander Nathaniel Akkaraju. The UCA main mission is to fight against a terrorist organization known as the Fallen. The action takes place in different locations around the planet Cronus. Both the UCA and the Fallen seek to control a rare energy source called Kato, only found on Cronus. Prior to the start of the game Sanjuro had lost his brother Toshiro, childhood friend Baku, and the woman he loved, Kura Akkaraju, to the Fallen's attacks. As the game begins Sanjuro is dating Kathryn, Kura's sister. Sanjuro seeks to avenge his fallen comrades in the war on Cronus. The storyline becomes more complicated as the player learns more about Kato, and what happened to his friends. The story can change depending on what path the player decides to take.
In a 2001 Gamasutra post-mortem of No One Lives Forever, Craig Hubbard of Monolith described Shogo as a game that "fell embarrassingly short of our original design goals". Furthermore, he said, "the only thing that saved Shogo from complete disaster was the realization, some six months before we were supposed to ship, that there was no way to make the game great in that amount of time. So, we concentrated on making it fun.... The intended scope of the project was so grand, particularly for such a tiny team, that we were overwhelmed just trying to get everything into the game. As a result, we didn't have time to polish any of it. The final product is barely more than a prototype of the game we were trying to make, even after we cut characters, settings, story elements, and whatever else we could jettison without breaking the game.... I'm certainly proud of Shogo as an accomplishment, but as a game it is a grim reminder of the perils of wild optimism and unchecked ambition."
The multiplayer mode lets players choose between infantry maps and MCA maps. Scattered around the maps are health pickups, armor pickups, power ups, and weapons. All the weapons from the single player mode are available in multiplayer. Players can also choose one of the four MCAs for multiplayer. Multiplayer continues to have fanbase and fan made updates for the game have been release which address balance and cheating.
There are several mods for Shogo, although most of them are incomplete. There were promising mods such as Greased With Lovin', which attempted to improve the game experience overall with better balancing, A.I. and etc. There are also many of custom maps for Shogo available on the web. An editor as well as the original Shogo source code have been released and are available for download.
Planned Expansions and Sequel
An expansion called Shugotenshi was planned. The expansion would have allowed the player to play as Kura, seeing the story from her perspective. It appears that the expansion was quite far along in development, but was never completed. The title roughly translates to "guardian angel", which would have referred to Kura's role as Sanjuro's secret protector. Some speculate that the expansion was cancelled because the original game did not sell well. The reason for poor sales may have been Shogo's release just a month before Half-Life.
Another expansion was called Legacy of the Fallen and would have five new MCAs, six new infantry weapons and five new MCA weapons and would take place on a kato mining facility at Iota-33. There would be a new story explaining the Fallen and their structure and have a cast of new characters. Also the level-structure would be more like Half-Life, where you enter and exit levels seamless, just a "Loading" text on screen.
Shogo 2 or a sort of expansion pack was planned and was supposed to use a new graphics engine, there are very few pictures of this but there are some tech demo screens and very little is known about this game. During the end of Shogo it says "Expect more games in the Shogo saga!" so this was probably the true sequel in works. Monolith have not announced Shogo 2 or any other Shogo games since then, however, during a demonstration of F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, they said that they had wanted to do destructible environments in Shogo, and that they were able to do that now in Project Origin with their mech unit, so this combined with all the trivia for Shogo in F.E.A.R. shows they haven't forgotten about Shogo.
Monolith's pirate-themed 2D-platformer Claw (released in 1997) is referenced in this game. The main character of the game, Captain Nathaniel Joseph Claw, is represented as a doll that the player can collect as part of a side mission in Shogo. His first name, Nathaniel, is also shared with Admiral Nathaniel Akkaraju in Shogo.
In the Leviathan there are various doors leading to the rooms of some quite famous anime characters. You have M. Kusanagi (Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell), R. Hunter (Rick Hunter from Robotech/Macross), N. Izumi (Noa Izumi from Patlabor) and also you can spot a poster showing a logo for "CURV", done in the same way as the NERV logo from Neon Genesis Evangelion. In a chat-log from when the game was called Red Riot (which is also the name of the final MCA weapon in the game) you could see that they talked about different anime like Ghost in the Shell and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Intro Childhood Sequence
During the intro cinematic, a young Sanjuro is seen running towards a basketball hoop. This is part of a sequence that was to be in the game but was removed before the final release. The childhood sequence was likely planned in order to provide some more back story about Toshiro, Baku, and Kura.
Some of Shogo's legacy lives on in the game F.E.A.R. also by Monolith. There are weapons that are very similar to the ones in Shogo. in addition there is a secret room in F.E.A.R. where the theme music from Shogo can be heard. The building in which F.E.A.R. takes place in is owned by Armacham, which is a company in SHOGO that produces MCAs, specifically the Armacham Ordog Advanced Series 7, or just Ordog for short.
Not included content
In the opening movie of the game some characters, mechs, and at least one level that was supposed to be in the final retail version is shown but has no traces of it in the actual game. The level shows a male child (possible Senjuro) running in a basketball. In addition to this, the manual states that there is an 'armor upgrade' that can grant you a new MCA (Mobile Combat Armor), possible the one that is shown in the opening sequence, however such an item does not exist. In the final months of development, Shogo experienced drastic content cuts in order to reach completion.