Review: Shadowrun

Review: Shadowrun
Review: Shadowrun

Cyberpunk is something that gets very rare scope these days. Everyone knows the masterpiece Blade Runner (or the movie anyway) but those dark sci-fi thrillers rarely seem to come along as games. While the "Shadowrun" RPG series has been around for a while in a pen & paper format (much like the old Dungeon & Dragon games), in the early 90's Data East and Blue Sky each brought out Shadowrun games for the Super NES and Mega Drive respectively. Now the Super NES game was really just a standard RPG but the Mega Drive game gave you a lot of freedom and control as you wandered the world of Shadowrun and is even considered a favourite by many of the game collectors.

Well after waiting around 13 years, another title in the series has been released as Microsoft and FASA Studio have brought Shadowrun back into the lives of cyberpunk fans. A lot of us waited with bated breath when we saw the screenshots late last year & early this year and now, as I sit here looking at the game I have to ask one question: how did they get it so wrong?!

">I won't say Shadowrun is bad. It's not. It does a few things right but even those few things barely scrape by. For instance, the game can be a lot of fun. More or less, Shadowrun is a multiplayer deathmatch set up in the same vain as Team Fortress or Counter Strike. The difference between those games is that you have magical abilities to play with. For instance, you can cast a spell that will give you powers like the ability to pass through walls, bring dead comrades back to life, or even turn yourself into smoke as bullets pass through you. You can even plant a "Tree of Life" that anyone on the map can get healed under. You also get some neat gadgets that you can purchase including a glider for flight and an enhanced vision mode that lets you see through obstacles.

The gameplay is pretty fast & frenetic too. It could easily be a wildly fun time if you've got the right sort of people connected. Unfortunately, you've got to be connected and some of the bugs in connectivity as well as other cons leave Shadowrun without much of a leg to stand on.

Let's just tackle some of the gameplay because this is a ball & chain for this game. First of all, you'll be lucky to get this game to work online. It really doesn't matter which version you play – Windows Vista or Xbox 360 – this game has a serious flaw in it that stops a lot of people from connecting to a server. It becomes a situation of "good luck" as you're more than likely to give up after ten minutes, and so you should: a ten minute wait time for a multiplayer only game is insane.

">That's right, I said multiplayer only. This is a game based off of a heavily involved single-player story and the only single-player gameplay in this iteration of Shadowrun consists of bot matches. That is such a shame for a game whose original was just a blast to play, however dated it was. I should be fair, however, as FASA do try to give Shadowrun a back story to help piece it all together. That story is largely irrelevant though as all you're really doing is engaging in deathmatches to blow the living hell out of each other on a choice of 13 maps.

The controls just aren't all that intuitive for the most part either. I'm not a fan of first-person shooters on consoles in the first place, but the controls in this one just feel like they lag at points. You'll get used to them quickly, but I can't help but feel that the controls could have been better implemented.

The sound is fine but the graphics feel cheap. For a game that's been expected as long as Shadowrun has, the lack of character animations among other things leave the game feeling unfinished.

Really, you can't help but feel that Shadowrun was conceived from a bad plan to begin with. There was a lot of room to move but FASA look as if they just wanted to make something simple. Basically, you can play this half-hearted first-person shooter and if you're lucky enough to connect to the servers for some fun, it may well be a great experience. But by and large, mediocre graphics, no single-player campaign, few maps, and loads of bugs leave Shadowrun feeling like an uninspired and ill-conceived game.

Developer- FASA Studio
Publisher- Microsoft Game Studios
Classification- MA15+
Formats- Xbox 360, PC (Vista)
URL- Shadowrun

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark

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