Developer: FASA Studio
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Rating Guide: How I Review Games
Here it is. You’ve read the majority of the reviews and heard the majority of the opinions about Shadowrun, its price and its lack of a true single, offline campaign. But it’s time you read what’s really going on. This is the only Shadowrun review that you need to pay attention to!
FASA Studio had a huge burden when creating this title. Shadowrun was to be one of the first games set to tear down the walls between PC and console play as both Xbox 360 owners and PC owners would be able to battle each other in Shadowrun. That wasn’t the only obstacle FASA faced. Shadowrun has forever been a role playing experience yet they were tasked with creating that universe in a first person shooter mold.
I point out all of this to help you understand some of the factors that may have gone into Shadowrun’s lack of single campaign and its focus on multiplayer. (no I won’t mention Multiplayphobia) Being a single campaign guy, I was very frustrated knowing that my enjoyment with this game would be left to multiplayer only. But then the time came to play the game. Let’s begin.
Gameplay, Graphics and Sound
There are six (6) training mission to get you familiar with the way Shadowrun is to be played. Each training session has its own focus so you’re not overwhelmed. You can learn at your own pace. The training missions break down the different races as well as the different ways to fight with them. There are 4 different races to choose from; Human, Elf, Troll or Dwarf. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses. (you should learn this through the training missions)
It also introduces you to the core of Shadowrun’s gameplay; Tech and Magic. You’re able to equip different combinations of both Tech and Magic for each battle. My personal favorites are Glide, Teleport, Smart Link and Resurrection. You can only assign these “powers” to 3 controls (RB, LB or Left Trigger). To assign them simply hold the B button down and click the corresponding button to map the particular Magic or Tech. You must pay attention to your Essence which controls your ability to use these different powers. Some races have more Essence than others and can yield Magic more successfully and more frequently than others. You’ll have to get used to how each races plays and reacts to the Tech and Magic. Trolls for instance should probably always engage Wired Reflex which increases speed. Since Trolls are the slowest of races, it just makes sense. Another example is with the Elf race. They automatically regenerate health so why bother with the Tree of Life magic? It’ll be up to you to find out what works with each race. But that’s part of the fun.
And before I go any further let me just say that visually this game is leaps above what it was during the Shadowrun beta. It looks incredibly better. The sound has been amped up as well in the final version. That just goes to show that you never judge anything by the beta form. The characters were all much better, the environments deeper and richer, and the controls more solid.
Xbox Live Extras
Shadowrun’s multiplayer is done very well. There’s really no other way to put it and if you’ve heard otherwise, then they’re wrong. The balance and play in Shadowrun is a very fun experience especially when playing with friends who understand the value of communication and team. I have to admit that I ran into some “wrong” experiences but that was no fault of the game but rather the weird individuals who sometimes frequent Xbox Live. The success of it is to utilize the Tech and Magic. To add to the balance, the game incorporates a money system. Before each match, you have to purchase the things you’ll need for battle.
Weapons, Magic and Tech have to be purchased and assigned before the match begins. If you don’t have enough cash, you’re out of luck and will be stuck with a pistol or without any Magic unless your teammate forks over some cash to you. There’s nothing like forgetting to buy that SMG again for the next match. This can lead to the Shadowrun Buyer addiction.
No it isn’t all peaches and crème on Xbox Live. It definitely lacked punch when you get down to map selection, game types and just your general online delivery. You’re left to play with 9 maps and only 3 modes, Extraction, Raid and Attrition. You either play with the RNA Corp or Lineage (red vs blue) and your goal is always to defend or capture the Artifact. I suppose you don’t really need a variety of modes usually, but with a game that lacks a campaign mode you’d think that some extras would’ve been included. This especially since Shadowrun brings PC and Xbox 360 owners together on the battle grounds. That also brought about some interesting challenges.
Something PC players I’m sure will hate is the fact that there are no real stat tracking. You don’t have a system that keeps a tally of those neat little accomplishments you manage to gain during matches. There’s also no room searching, at least for Xbox 360 owners. The option to choose a room isn’t available. You’re always tossed to the wolves so to speak with hopes you’ll find a good selection of people. This is why I simply elect to join a friend’s game already in progress. PC players don’t have to deal with this naturally as they can set up their own dedicated servers and are provided a list.
I wish I had a chance to play Vista’s Shadowrun to compare the two but I’m not quite Vista ready. (too rich for my blood at this point) I was able to engage battles against and with PC players and it was very smooth. I even got some of those fancy cross-platform Achievements which I think is a great thing. Keep in mind that PC players will have to pay $50 to game with Xbox 360 owners via Xbox Live. Yes, I know it sucks but it is true.
With all this said, the Xbox Live play of Shadowrun was a unique experience. I have nightmares of calling out to my team’s Resurrection specialist and visions of being shot until I disappear. “I’m bleeding out, help me!” Ok, back to the review.
I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it a lot. I’m almost embarrassed to say it as I feel like I’m going against my single player roots. Even as I played the same game type over and over, I got a new experience out of it each time which is why I stress playing with friends or a good team. Your experience with this game is truly dependent upon how you play it and with whom. If you play with people who are into using Tech, Magic and weapons as they were intended, I have no doubt that you’ll love Shadowrun’s online experience.
I wish Shadowrun had a single campaign. Was I left disappointed that it didn’t? No. I can honestly say I wasn’t disappointed. I’d rather not play Shadowrun any other way than online now after having experienced it how I feel it was meant to be played. The teamwork elements were very well done. I enjoyed the way that buying your weaponry, tech and magic at the beginning of each round could change outcomes.
Each experience can be new. I’m here to tell you that Shadowrun is some damn good fun. You make the choice of if it’s worth your $60 or not. We’ll all be waiting on those free downloadable maps FASA, okay?