In this fast paced, topdown shoot-’em-up by Cygnus (now Mountain King) Studios, you take missions which involve destruction and mayhem (of course), and reward you with money to upgrade your aircraft. Raptor - Call of the Shadows can get quite addictive despite its few cons, due to some nice action and its impressive atmosphere.
'A groovy cinematic intro' sums up the game’s atmosphere. In a dark and bleak future, you take the role of a mercenary flying ace, roaming the skies, and offering your services to the highest bidder. The time and place of the story are not clearly specified, although your missions will take place in a variety of settings, from earthly landscapes and futuristic cities to lunar bases. Yeah - it’s that varied. It succeeds in being far less repetitive than most topdown shooters of its time.
When you start a new game, you’ll be required to fill in your name and callsign, and choose a character portrait to your liking (I think the callsign thing is cool). As you progress through the levels you’ll earn the money necessary to upgrade your arsenal by shooting down enemies and destroying buildings. Yes, that’s right: This game's environment is FULLY destructible. Buildings, bridges, aircraft... you can bring down almost anything. Near the end of each level, you’ll have to face a bigger and tougher boss aircraft. After completing each level, you’ll be back at the hangar. There you can save your game, upgrade your weapons, or just continue to the next mission.
Raptor doesn’t really use the concept of “lives”; when you die, it’s game over. That’s why it’s wise to always save your game between missions. As the game progresses, they will get harder and harder, so don’t be surprised if you fall into some kind of bulletridden hell!! The full version comprises three episodes of nine levels each, adding up to a total of twenty-seven levels, and is still available from Apogee.
It’s clear that Cygnus Studios put a lot of effort into this game. The music and the sound effects are very well done; the several music tracks in particular add a lot to the atmosphere. The graphics are nice and have strong contrasts that add to the game’s visual style. And there’s a lot of graphic detail, but... it was all spent on the aircraft sprites, while the levels could’ve used some more attention. It’s rather irritating to watch detailed sprites flying over some monotonous background with repetitive graphics. That’s what hit me hard and made me give it 3.5 out of 5.
All in all, if you’re looking for a nice, addictive shoot-’em-up with interesting features, Raptor: Call of the Shadows is worth your time, despite its few disadvantages.
By pressing backspace at any time during a mission, you’ll replenish your energy and simultaneously use a screen-clearing death ray (too bad your money will be reduced to zero every time you do this). Anyway, this “cheat” ruins the game experience royally, so don’t use it too often.