Imagine a world where white shirted VIPs stroll casually down the street, oblivious to the gunfire and explosions occurring around them. Imagine a world where the average person is so jaded that he doesn't even look up when the man next to him pulls out a sniper rifle and starts taking potshots at a white shirted man. Imagine a world where death is constant, cheap, and occasionally very hilarious. The sort of world where bodyguards are entirely capable and willing of slipping into a deep red shadow world, and slowing down time.
This is the world you inhabit in Black Shades, a first person shooter wherein you play an apparently psychic bodyguard tasked with protecting a VIP. You do this with a combination of bullets, explosives, and a fair amount of luck.
The story in Black Shades isn't all that deep. You're a guy with an arsenal of weapons and super bodyguard powers and your job is to protect the white shirted VIP from the various types of assassins. Zombies also manage to make a brief appearance in the game. There's not a whole lot of anything regarding story, but in the readme they try to add more in than really meshes with the rest of the game, and it all feels a little awkward.
Sound-wise, everything is great. Guns have a nice sound, explosions sound like explosions, and when you go into slow-mo (which you're going to have to do a lot) everything gets all nicely garbled and deep. My only issue is with the menu music, which is leaning towards being the same generic metal music that every shooter uses. Just once, I'd like to play a shooter with "Don't stop movin'" by S Club 7 as the menu music.
Graphically, you're a box man. Your enemies are box men. The VIP, zombies, and civilians are all box men. This can make it a little hard to discern who is who, especially when it's one of those sneaky knife-guys, who casually stroll up and gut the VIP. The levels are basically the same, with changes in color and, in a few cases, varied weather such as the nicely apocalyptic red sky in the zombie level and the deceptively peaceful snow in the second level. The distance you can see isn't very far, and the buildings are literally just giant gray blocks, but you're not likely to be focusing on them very much. These rudimentary graphics have the added bonus of allowing even my terrible laptop to run the game at full speed.
Gameplay is where Black Shades really shines. Your character is aided with a few psychic powers such as the ability to slow down time or instantly identify assassins by their color, which makes the game very original. Once you get the hang of the controls (read the readme, there's no in-game help), you'll be flying along, and the ability to drop into 'enemy detect mode' is genuinely useful, although a tad nauseating as the screen throbs and jumps about while you're in there. Slow-mo is your best friend in Black Shades and you'll need it for the times when five snipers suddenly appear or when your VIP is about to be mobbed by knife guys. All it takes is a tap of the E key and you have a few seconds to line up your shot, or charge and tackle the VIP out of the way. Oh, did I mention that you can honest-to-god tackle anyone? Even the VIP? This, itself, is worth downloading the game. There's no better feeling than watching an enemy line up a shot - which is signified in game with a line connecting them to the VIP which quickly narrows - and then just as he's about to end your game, taking him down with a flying tackle.
The later levels give you some spectacularly useless weapons, such as grenades, which seem fine until you throw one and realize that because you have no cross hairs, you have only the smallest glimmer of an idea of where it's going to land.
All up, Black Shades is a good game with a few odd design choices and some of the best tackling fun you're likely to have in a freeware game. It's worth it for its small download size and involving gameplay.
Also, I'd like to add that in the menu screen, moving the cursor fast enough makes it resemble a laser pointer, and that is something which should be echoed by more games.