Shadowrun blends Tolkien lore of Elves, Dwarfs, Humans, and Trolls into a futuristic mix of shell casings and magic. This online shooter bridges the gab between PC and Console and adds fuel to the fire of which platform has the advantage. Light up your magical trees, it's time to see if Microsoft can pull off this cross-platform merger.
The birthplace of Shadowrun comes from the pen and paper role playing world of 1989, before the SNES RPG game version in 1993, or the Sega version a year later. Shadowrun was shaped out of the minds of its players, heavy in its own lore, concepts, and cyber punk origins. Taking its role-playing origin in to consideration, it is a little unsettling that Microsoft decided to make Shadowrun a strictly online shooter with no story and no role-playing. I can understand why some long time fans are already disappointed with Shadowruns direction, but on the other hand, players who are unaware of Shadowrun might be satisfied with a new addition to the massive online shooters in the vein of Unreal Tournament and Tribes.
Shadowrun is one half run and gun, and the other half magic, quick upgrades, and fast action. Based in the future, Shadowrun incorporates magic along side technology with the basic Dungeons & Dragons classes, dwarf, troll, human and elf. This concept back in the day was fresh and interesting, and still to this day its hasn’t been properly brought to life in a game. If you thought the next gen would do Shadowrun justice, don’t wager your rent.
Loading up Shadowrun lets you participate in six training level which covers the basics of the game, magic, and wartime strategies. This is the closest thing you will get to a story. Running through these training tutorials takes about an hour, or so, and then you’ll have enough knowledge to jump online, or host your own bot game. The training missions are no mandatory, but if you want to have a clue of what is happening, I strongly suggest them for every new player to Shadowrun. Shadowrun is fairly complex for a shooter, and the magic and tech upgrades will take a while to get used to, and then you have to work them into a fast paced battle. Beyond guns, Shadowrun is one tricky shooter that is sure to bring up the level of online gaming in the shooter department.
Starting your game online has to pick a side the RNA Corporation (blue team) or thee Lineage (red team), then you need a race, one of the four races will do, Elf, Human, Troll, or Dwarf. As you will learn in the tutorial each races has their advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are as follows; the Troll is the brute class that can automatically sprouting armour when attacked, the Dwarf can drain magic from nearby characters or artifacts, the Elf is the fast and stealth character, and the human falls down the middle of the road. The disadvantages also come into play and as you can suspect the Troll is slow, the Elf weak, the Human average, and the Dwarf self damaging. Online you’re going to see a lot of Elf and Troll classes, as my early advantages have predicted. I went online as a human and was alone in my class; I guess it doesn’t pay to be average anymore. I quickly learnt that the swift Elf is deadly armed with a Katana, and even deadlier in ravenous packs.
Online there are three modes of play, Attrition, Extraction and Raid. Each mode has slight variation from either other with involves defending or capturing an artifact, basically capture the flag. It’s basic in nature, red vs. blue, capture or defend the artifact. For details, Attrition is a take on team deathmatch with the artifact. helping the team that has possession. Extraction which is the most exciting mode has both teams scrabbling to capture the artifact. and return it to a designated location on the map. This capture the flag game can get hectic in a good way, Shadowrun is fast and relentless, which is good if you want to get the a few quick games in. The last mode Raid has you either protecting the artifact., or capturing it. On team on the defensive holding ground and the other smoking their way to the artifact. Raid is a little more focused and tame then Extraction and has a slight edge for strategizing, although both games are so close in nature, that it all blends in. That brings me to my first complaint about Shadowrun besides the lack of a story mode; the online modes are so similar that this online only game gets stale quick. Shadowrun is great for an hour, or a little longer, but once you get through a hundred rounds, the edge of the Katana will dull. Other online shooters have more creativity and it’s a shame that Microsoft couldn’t muster a little more out of Shadowrun’s unique magic and gunfire premise.
Even with Shadowrun being a light on content, somehow the same few levels and game modes are fun. This games quick turnaround rate makes it instantly enjoyable once you get hooked up to a server which can take several minutes. I had a lot of fun online, playing some fast paced games filled with unique twists like monster summoning, teleportation, and resurrections. Shadowrun is a unique shooter that has a few ideas that might be stolen in the future.
Shadowrun can be played with a single player mentality and still survive, although if you start working in team tactics the stronger your game will become. Planting trees of life and helping out fallen solders can help as much as putting bullets into the artifact carrier. Basically, Shadowrun has its small cup full of tricks and treats, which needs to place in bigger mug. Shadowrun is a lot of fun, and a deterrent from the Halo 3 beta, but it will have its work cut out for itself when the big dog is released later this year. I’m afraid Shadowrun could turn into nothing more than a distant memory.
Graphically Shadowrun is average with a little bit of special effects to fake the appearance of a next generation game... but the smoke doesn’t last for long. Shadowrun is a weak in every aspect and slightly weaker towards the characters and their animations. Strange that Shadowrun doesn’t let you customize your own character, countless other online games sport more creativity for the gamer. Shadowrun a concept rich in innovation puts a damper on individuality. The characters split up in their classes only have a few skins each which slightly variety, the animation is weak and looks very dated next to other 360 games. I can’t imagine the PC version being much better; Shadowrun really falls into the trap of being in development between two houses and doesn’t shape in time to be a major player.
The sound tries hard to be original with voice modulation, and whispers behind the droning audio, but like the magic tricks, it wears thin. The effects are the best part of Shadowrun, better when turned up, but by no means are they up to the level of a Rainbow Six, or Gears of War. For some strange reason the whole production value of Shadowrun feels like a Counter Strike mod. I expected a little more from Microsoft given their excellent graphics capabilities in first party titles. Shadowrun must be running for its own shadow.
Shadowrun has its own flair working in its flavour, but when you compare it to similar online shooters like Unreal Championship; it comes up a little flat. Shadowrun has the basics in place, now all its needs a little more of everything. More weapons, more magic, more classes, more maps, more modes. I’m sure Microsoft will be supporting Shadowrun for a good year with new content and hopefully some of the “more” it needs. As a fresh online shooter, Shadowrun is running from its own shadow, a gallant effort that falls a little short. Playing online vs. computer gamers is exciting and the major draw for many, it is too bad the game can’t muster the same excitement as this exclusive first. I hope the content can keep up with the demand, although I think a little game called Halo 3 is going to eclipse Shadowrun in its shadow.
Gameplay: 7, Graphics/Sound:6, Innovation: 8, Mojo: 8 Final: 7 / 10