Esoteria is a fun 3D third-person shooter that unfortunately got far too little attention in contrast to Shiny’s innovative MDK, which the game closely resembles both in gameplay and presentation (although not in the creativity department). Created by California upstart Kirin Entertainment and published by Moebius Designs, the game disappeared very quickly from store shelves, and neither company exists anymore. Which is a shame, because despite being an obvious derivative of MDK (or at least heavily inspired by it), Esoteria is a fun and sophisticated combination of nonstop action, stealth, and exploration wrapped inside a mission-oriented structure. Similar to MDK, you control a genetically engineered killing machine code-named "Project Raven". While Raven's armor of light-bending circuits and slew of special weapons help in the effort to stop mass destruction, you must also be able to navigate the huge 3D complex and analyze the enemy carefully.
All of the environments and structures in Esoteria, which include cities, forests, deserts, and aquatic areas, are fully modeled 3D structures and very pretty to look at. The game is much more non-linear than MDK, although less imaginative as far as the designs of weapons and locations go. The third-person perspective allows precise control over character movements such as dodging and jumping, as well as shooting in one direction while moving in another. The combination of mouse (which moves the camera around Raven) and keyboard controls (which move Raven himself) takes some time to get used to, but becomes natural once you do. Also, as in MDK, there is an ability to zoom in on the enemy and pick them off from a great distance. Another feature of note is the excellent automap, which allows you to zoom in over areas of importance.
Although it is not nearly as innovative, Esoteria offers one thing that MDK is sadly lacking: multiplayer capabilities. The game is networkable to up to 16 players in head-to-head or co-operative play over either LAN or the Internet, although the single player game is much more fun because the missions are not all frag-fests. Many missions require a fine balance of reflexes, cunning, stealth, and even strategic planning. You have to ambush and assassinate, disappear and destroy, and plan how to kill. If you enjoy MDK but feel that it is far too short, the bigger gameworld and more non-linear gameplay of Esoteria may well be what you need. Just don't expect it to be as innovative or unique as Shiny's classic, and you will have hours of fun with this unconventional FPS. Two thumbs up!Reviewed by: Underdogs