• When the game developers behind the huge hits like the Mech Assault series and Crimson Skies on the original Xbox platform announced that they were bringing Shadowrun to the Xbox 360, fans of Fasa Studio and Microsoft Game Studios got whipped into a, frenzy. When those said fans then discovered that Shadowrun would be a pure Xbox LIVE Multiplayer title and… that gamers on the Xbox 360 would be able to play against/with players on the PC version, the fans went nuts and have chomped at the bit ever since waiting for the title to arrive. Well it’s here and we at Totally360 have jumped in guns blazing to find out what the fuss is all about.

    The year is 2031 and magic has returned to an already heavy tech world. Now two factions are set against each other, each looking to control these magical artefacts and to gain control of all magic. On one side the RNA formed from powerful multination corporations, and on the other the Lineage lead by the Chancela family and a family determined to keep the magic free of anyone’s control. The battle lines are set and now its time to pick a side.

    As highlighted Shadowrun was designed from the ground up to be a pure multiplayer experience, however there is an offline training mode (more on that later) and the ability to play Solo against computer AI bots, so while this is levied at full Xbox LIVE Gold members there is at least the option to play on your own.

    Shadowrun

    Shadowrun could be classed as a pretty darn-hard confusing game at first, so there is no doubt that our recommendation here is to start with the training and as if to give you the hint, the game pretty much points you in this direction with labelling it’s training exercises on the main menu as “start here”. When you click into this menu you are presented with six training exercises and each of these will consist of a run down on the in game races, a couple of weapons, training on tech gadgets and a taster on how to use your spells. So rather than throw the lot at you, the game very neatly gives you the bit-by-bit approach. Feel happy with some new knowledge and the game will then test you on each of the six pieces with a bot match to check if you understood the exercise at hand. These training exercises are fun and at least give you an idea on what weapons/tech and magic you will choose to use once you dive into the Multiplayer world.

    Speaking of races, weapons, tech and magic. Shadowrun has the normal offering of weapons including an SMG, Rifle, Shotgun, Sniper Rifle, Chain Gun, Rocket Launcher and Katana Sword. This is a magical world of course so aside from the Human race you can also choose between Elves, Dwarves and Trolls, each having their own benefits. Elves move faster and regenerate health, Trolls are the tanks and can take a lot of pain, Dwarves have the ability to steal magical essence as their own does not regenerate quickly enough and Humans are the crossover, and a balanced race. Tech and Magic abilities come in the form of a SmartLink to help you avoid friendly fire, Teleport magic to jump through walls/floors and ceilings, Gust to quite literally blow your enemies away and Resurrect to bring dead teammates back to life. These tech and magic items are but a few of the available choice in which there are twelve to choose from in total.

    Shadowrun works pretty much in the same way that Counterstrike did, in that you play over a number of rounds and at the beginning of each match you will be presented with a set credit limit and some safe time in which you can then spend on all of the above… but nothing is cheap in Shadowrun so you will make an initial choice and hope to gain enough kills to grab more credits to spend on later rounds. The reverse is also true in that should you perform poorly then you will not reap that many rewards. Shadowrun also limits you to carry only 3 magic or tech items and two main weapons so you will need to choose wisely and quite often check in with your team-mates as to what they have so you can create a perfect team balance with each member having different abilities and thus creating a much stronger team.

    Before moving into the actual gameplay it is worth mentioning that Shadowrun offers the full one thousand gamerscore and has a total of fifty achievements. This nice part here is, that as this is a cross platform game, some achievements cover the likes of a Xbox 360 gamer resurrecting a Windows Vista gamer and also for gaining kills against the opposing platform gamer and even just for playing in a team with a balance of players from both platforms. Other achievements in the game cover the likes of total kills and for performing moves using your abilities.

    Moving now into gameplay, Shadowrun offers three game modes and nine maps in which to play across, and takes some of the Halo2 like matchmaking when you are searching for a game to jump into… in that it will look to put you into a game with the best connection and true-skill rating. You can also form a party and stay with that party all night moving from map to map.

    I do have to make an observation here in that the three game modes are all pretty similar and even the CTF mode can be ended without touching the artefact and by quite simply obliterating the opposition. There are subtle differences but nothing that is totally obvious. One game mode will have both teams running for the artefact, another taking turns to defend it and finally a death match type mode where you cannot remove opposing teams dead bodies and thus could face constant regeneration from the opposing team. This is not a total complaint here as the game modes are really fun to play through but given that this game is a pure multiplayer, more game modes and an option to create custom game types would have been very welcome. My second observation is coupled with the game in that there are only nine maps and while coupled with the game modes this may be rectified in time with download content… the initial offering is a bit on the small side.

    Moans aside Shadowrun is a hugely superb affair. I have played quite a few games now and I have to say I am very pleased to find that people are working as a team and doing it really well. You will always have the loan soldier on the team but quite often they find their gung-ho attitude is getting them nowhere and won’t take them long to quite often fall in line. Communication is a huge part of Shadowrun and as highlighted previously balancing who is carrying what tech and what magic is essential as you don’t want every player to have the same set and a mix is best. That said I would certainly say that Resurrect should always be your first choice and a permanent choice at that as in the heat of battle, being able to bring back your allies is very essential in this game… just be warned though that if you yourself are resurrected and then the team mate that did the deed dies you will slowly bleed out unless someone else can resurrect you in time.

    Race choices can be key to winning or losing and I would at least recommend that you voice your opinion in people choosing a blend of races rather than what I tend to see right now – in that everyone is an elf. I personally choose to be a dwarf nine times out of ten as I am harder to kill, being small and all and my abilities to steal magical essence needed to fund my spell meter works neatly in a heated battle. The elf of course is a good choice for the beginner as not only is this race the fastest in the game, they are the only race that can self heal and they are more adapt at using the Katana and dealing death with the sword. My grumble here is that as once again this game has been designed as a pure multiplayer and we have a game that blends FPS with RPG I would have liked to have seen, the ability to create a personal character face for each of my races. As it is there is no choice what so ever and you have a cloned race of Elves, Dwarves, Trolls and Humans all looking like they spawned from the same mother. Why this was not implemented is anyone’s guess but it is a bit piss-poor in my opinion that it was left out.

    Graphically Shadowrun is good but is more, Perfect Dark Zero than it is Gears of War in the spit and polish department. It is certainly next generation and everything looks very neat and well done but it will not rival the looks and appeal of Ghost Recon AW or Gears of War. Audio presentation is down the effects from your weapons and magic use and is pretty much void of all other audio albeit a sultry woman’s announcement voice cutting in should a teammate choose to update his team with an area being clear. This is not a bad thing as a music score would have been too much and as you are more concerned with staying alive caring about the game containing music is neither here or there.

    Even with the lack of character customisation and the small amount of maps available, I do have to sum up by saying that Shadowrun works and works superbly well. This is a first person shooter that sits very neatly with the ability to use tech and magic… there is no better feeling than evading someone shooting at you by teleporting through a wall and making good your escape or by using strangle to throw up a wall of crystal and blocking the opposing team from advancing on your position, while still being able to satisfy your FPS need and get your gun off. The game is played at a fast and sometimes frantic pace but nothing that does not seem natural and that said a truly enjoyable Xbox 360 title and one certainly not to be missed.

    Score: 8/10

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