Platform: Xbox 360
Category: First Person Shooter
Developer – FASA Studio
Publisher - Microsoft
System Link 2-16 Players
HDTV – 720p/1080i/1080p
Xbox 360/Windows Vista Cross Platform
Online Multiplayer 2-16 Players
PC and Xbox 360 gamers can finally do battle with Microsoft's latest first person shooter, Shadowrun. After having been in the works for over a year Shadowrun finally arrives. I have the pleasure of reviewing the Xbox 360 version of the game while another reviewer on our site will be reviewing the PC version of the game. Having viewed several screenshots and videos over the past several months I was looking forward to it's release, especially with the hype surrounding the promise of Xbox Live gamers being able to take battle online with Windows Vista players. At the end of the day however I am a little disappointed with Shadowrun for the Xbox 360. That being said there are still many aspects of the game that are enjoyable and have tremendous replay appeal.
As far as the visuals are concerned Shadowrun comes across as very average and fails to produce any real jaw dropping graphics. Simply put much of the graphics in Shadowrun look more last generation as opposed to next-generation. The textures appear muddy and the colors do not hold a candle to games like Gears of War or GRAW 2. While it may be unfair to compare to Shadowrun to such great tittles the fact remains that the bar has been raised and Shadowrun does not meet the benchmark made by other developer’s Xbox 360 games.
Despite some of the negatives, there are some positives to be found within. Some of the environments are well done and offer lots of detail while the lighting effects are also good and sharp. The character models also look fairly good with a good mix of different characters and detail. They may lack some facial expressions but all in all characters look decent. The blood effects are also worth noting as they can be quite stunning at times and very effective. For instance, the blood splatter on the walls and floors during battle are great and will surely please some of you horror fans out there.
Another area of concern which needs to be addressed is the fact there is no animation for climbing a ladder. I simply do not understand this and I was actually taken back when I first saw my character essentially floating up a ladder. Perhaps this was an oversight or maybe the developers did not have the time needed to pull this off. Despite this, the game runs very smoothly and there are no major framerate issues to be had in Shadowrun.
Overall, the sounds of the game are decent however there are many concerns. The music at first seemed alright as it certainly created that creepy like atmosphere, unfortunately after sometime it becomes repetitive and boring. You may very well be listening to your own tunes in no time if you have downloaded some of your own collection to you Xbox 360 Hard Drive.
In terms of the character voices, there are some moments where the dialogue is comical but not in a bad sense. For instance, the enemy AI will sometimes shout out trash talk and insults while fighting them. Although likely intended to be serious I actually found it quite humorous. Other sounds in the game such as the weapons and explosions do all sound good and are effective, however nothing is inspiring. For the most part, the sounds of the game are on par with other available Xbox 360 shooters.
Before I get into the gameplay I will begin with a little Shadowrun 101. Three video games have been developed based on the Shadowrun franchise, the first in 1993 was an action RPG titled Shadowrun, developed by Australian software company Beam Software (now Melbourne House) for the SNES console. The second game, also titled Shadowrun, was for the Sega Mega Drive in 1994 and was developed by US company BlueSky Software. The third game was an interactive fiction adventure game developed by Japanese company Group SNE in 1996 for the Mega CD console, again titled Shadowrun. Just over 10 years later Shadowrun for the Xbox 360 and PC arrives.
As far as the gameplay is concerned, many Shadowrun hardcore gamers who have played the above mentioned versions of the franchise will likely not appreciate the major changes to the story, races, and magic in this years version. Nevertheless, many will enjoy the game and welcome the changes. But this should come as no surprise as Microsoft has stated themselves, Shadowrun is a "game loosely based on Shadowrun".
The first major flaw in the game is that there is no single player campaign mode. In fact if there is any major drawback to Shadowrun for the Xbox 360 is the lack of a single player mode. Shadowrun essentially features no story, no character development, and no plot. The game is all about the multiplayer arena. It should be mentioned that those who do not have an Xbox Live Gold membership will be relieved to know there is a “training mode”. In this mode, you play bots however after a couple of hours you will be extremely bored. So in that sense, I feel sorry for all those Xbox 360 owners who have not done their research, take the game home expecting a deep single player mode only to find out it's virtually all about online gaming.
Shadowrun multiplayer game has a total of 9 maps, which is also another area of concern. Considering the game has no campaign mode, one would expect the multiplayer component to have an overwhelming number of maps; unfortunately this is not the case. However it is reasonable to assume there will be downloadable maps in the not so distant future as the back of the box says the game supports this feature. The 9 available maps are played over 3 modes. These modes are very well designed and fairly diverse from one another. The game types on the other hand are limited. The first mode is ‘Raid’, which is a Capture the flag type match. Second, there is ‘Attrition’ which is what most gamers have come to know as deathmatch. The third and final mode is known as ‘Extraction’ where players from each team must race to an area of the map and acquire an artifact and return it to a separate location.
As far as the online gaming in concerned it is lots of fun once you get used to the controls and how to hold your own in battle. Another concern I have is the overall lack of weaponry. Other than your typical shooter game with a pistol, machine gun and sniper riffle, there is nothing innovative here and your options are somewhat limited. The use of magic however does make up for some of the above mentioned limitations. The use of magic and ‘techniques’ also allow you to purchase in between rounds with cash you gain from battle. The magic adds some replay value and it is arguably the best selling feature of the game.
Another final area of concern I have is the lack of character model customization. Essentially if you pick a character and your buddy picks the same character then you will both look alike. In this era of next-generation of gaming customizable options have become essential in FPS games.
So overall my experience was quite mixed. There is good and there is bad, but as strictly a multiplayer game only, which Shadowrun is, there really needs to be more meat to the game. Sure the online experience is relatively lag free, and it was great to play against PC owners putting controller against mouse and keyboard. But with only 9 maps, this game really lacks something more. You can only go so far on the available multiplayer modes and maps.
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