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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Microsoft

 

Developer

FASA Studios

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

June 2007

 

 

- An extremely balanced multiplayer shooter

- Variety of characters, weapons, magic, and tech that lets you customize the game to your play style

- Besides the animation when climbing ladders, it looks good and moves smoothly

 

 

- For a multiplayer game with no single-player component (other than bot battles), the number of maps is very limited

- Number of modes is also very limited

- Combine those two points above and on the face of it it's not worth $60US

- Will frustrate newcomers if they aren't willing to stick it out

 

 

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Shadowrun

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

Derided by some for offering a scant nine maps and minimal play modes for a relatively hefty price tag of $60US, Shadowrun has quickly become my game of choice for 30 and 60 minute play sessions – for when I’m not sure if I have enough time to play anything else but need an action fix.

 

shadowrun          shadowrun

 

That said, there are still a few sources of annoyance for me that while not completely derailing the experience are sufficient enough for me to only recommend Shadowrun to those already interested in an experience like Counter-Strike; a superbly balanced, creative, first-person shooter that’s fun to play when everything falls into place.

 

That “everything” includes connecting to the right server because in my experience about 20% of my play sessions to date have been crippled by lag.  There has been some speculation that this percentage can be traced back to the “fact” Shadowrun plays both on Xbox 360 and Windows Vista and somehow the two aren’t quite on speaking terms yet.  Certainly on the Vista side of things, the

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response from players hasn’t been glowing and there have been problems.  Usually the solution to the lag is to disconnect then find another game.

 

Connecting to a match can take a while, minutes even.  The process is streamlined – set a few variables and press a button – and in relative terms it’s not a long wait, but three or four minutes to connect to a game can

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seem like an eternity when all you want to do is play.  Between rounds there can also be a bit of waiting as new players choose races.

 

Like Counter-Strike, before each round begins, you are confronted with a simple menu to buy Tech, Magic, and Weapons.  In the furtive opening round there’s not a lot of cash at your disposal to actually make any decent purchases.  At the end of each round, you’re awarded cash on the basis of performance – kills, did you capture the artifact (i.e. the flag), how many people healed at your Tree of Life, friendly fire, and so on – so the dollars can add up pretty quickly.

 

shadowrun          shadowrun

 

Because of Shadowrun’s fantastical setting – besides being human, you can also be a dwarf, “troll” or elf – the designers had reign to add things like Resurrect, a power which allows fallen comrades to be raised from the dead.  The careful trade-off is that activating the magic successfully will mean a number of your essence bubbles (or mana, if you like) will be filled, which in turns limits your ability to activate other magic like Strangle or Teleport or Gust.  And if you die, the teammates that you resurrected will start to bleed out.  It’s a perfect balance and the whole game is so tied together like this it behooves any reviewer to try to explain the relationships between the magic spells, the character classes, and weapons to any extent lest they completely bury the reader.  Let’s just say that it works really well.

 

But it’s $60US and Shadowrun doesn’t have that many maps and no matter how tightly designed they are many gamers will wince. (You also have to be sure you have Xbox Live Gold Membership.)  Developer FASA Studios was closed right after Shawdowrun shipped, which makes one wonder how much support it will receive in the coming months.  Sure, judging by the credits, the levels were farmed out but that’s no guarantee we’ll see levels – or more importantly free levels.  And that’s exactly what Shadowrun will need to maintain any kind of user base. The basic elements are all there and, as long as you go into the game with your eyes wide open as to what to expect, Shadowrun offers a very solid experience.

 

- Omni

(June 20, 2007)

 

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