posted 7/2/2007 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: 360
While the technology in Shadowrun isn't as interesting, that doesn't mean that it's not extremely important to your survival.  The most common tech comes in the way of the glider, a pair of wings that you can strap to your back to get extra lift when you jump and fly around the levels high above your enemies.  Other technology includes enhanced vision (which gives you the ability to see where your enemies are, even through walls), an anti-magic generator (a device that disrupts and steals all magic in the area) and the smart link (which adds laser targeting and gives you better accuracy with your weapons).  There's no question that turning into a cloud of smoke is more impressive than the smart link, but if you're going to win these rounds then you're going to need to learn how to use both tech and magic to your advantage.

Just because you can buy all of this tech and magic doesn't mean that you can equip it all at once.  Shadowrun only gives you four slots to equip your magic and weapons, one of which is always reserved for your weapon.  This space limit means that you're going to have to figure out the best combination of weapons, magic and technology.  You are always able to go in and customize your abilities whenever you want, but this will leave you vulnerable to attack (and ultimately death).  The idea is to buy your abilities and customize your character in the short time you have before every round, that way you'll never need to take a break from the action.

But as cool as the magic and technology is, the guns you play with aren't nearly as interesting.  Your weapon selection is limited to not much more than a pistol, a generic SMG, two rifles, a shotgun, a powerful minigun and the rocket launcher.  While these weapons are easy to use, I can't help but notice that they are the same batch of guns we've seen in every other first-person shooter for the last fifteen years.  I'm not saying they had to go over the top and create amazing new futuristic weapons, but when compared to the magic and technology it's hard not to be a little disappointed in your arsenal.

Unlike Halo (and many other modern shooters) your character does not have a melee attack when holding a gun.  Instead there's a melee weapon, which comes in the form of the katana.  Compared to the boring guns the katana sounds like a breath of fresh air ... but sadly that's not the case.  There are two problems associated with using the katana.  The first problem is that when you equip the weapon your view changes from a first-person to a third-person, something that actually makes the game a little harder to play.  The other problem is that it's hard to know when you've actually connected your attack.  That is, you can swing and swing and swing, but there's never any indication that your attack is doing any damage.  You know it's worked when your enemy dies, but before then it's hard to tell if you're doing the right thing or not.

Beyond the weapon selection is the actual game, which is a round-based event where both sides are trying to win a set amount of times (the online default seems to be set to the first team that scores six wins).  Although there are technically three game modes, all of them seem to come down to one of two types.  There are modes where all you're trying to do is kill as many of the other team as you can, as well as a game type that is essentially capture the flag.  There is a variation on the capture the flag (depending on the level you are playing), but at the end of the day what you're doing is playing the same type of mode over and over.  This is one of my biggest problems with Shadowrun, for being a multiplayer-only game you would think that FASA could have come up with a few more game types.  Maybe it's unfair to compare this to Halo, but when it comes to the online modes Bungie has a good half dozen game types (if not more), not to mention a single player campaign, all for the same price.

At first the game is a whole bunch of fun, it's easy to get into Shadowrun because of its crazy magic and technology.  But as you play the game you'll quickly notice that the lack of game modes really starts to wear you down.  There's certainly a honeymoon period with this game, however I suspect that most gamers will grow tired of doing the same thing round after round within a few days or weeks of starting Shadowrun.  That's not to say that you can't get a lot out of this experience, but don't go in expecting this new shooter to have a lot of legs.

You also shouldn't expect a lot of levels.  Shadowrun only comes with nine levels ... you heard me, nine levels!  While you can technically choose from twelve levels, three of them are nothing more than resized versions of previously existing maps.  One could certainly argue that most gamers only like a few maps in any given first-person shooter, but none of the maps in Shadowrun are especially amazing.  In fact, I didn't find any map that struck me as being something I couldn't wait to get back to.  Don't get me wrong, the level designs are fine; FASA put a lot of attention into balancing out the maps so that both sides could have a fair chance, but some of the levels are just plain boring.  If you take into consideration that there are only two game modes and nine maps you start to see why Shadowrun, despite having good gameplay and great ideas, is somewhat difficult to recommend for $60.
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