You can tell which games are going to be huge by looking at the money being thrown in by the publishers to push it out to the market. The same can be said of Microsoft Game Studios, who have had major hits like Gears of War and Halo 2 in their list. Then they release a game like Shadowrun which you haven’t heard much about, and that always just makes me wonder. In fact, I remember on the Xbox at about the same time in the lifespan respectively to the Xbox 360, there was a game called Brute Force,which just reminds me a lot of Shadowrun in that its an interesting shooter that hopes to hit a niche market to impress the console owners. Shadowrun however does have a following from back in the day (long time ago) and hopes to recapture the imagination of gamers hearts here on the Xbox 360. What are the final results? Read our full review to find out!
So I will honestly admit I knew very little to anything about Shadowrun going into this review, outside of the fact it was a FPS. But in fact Shadowrun is the first cross platform PC/Xbox 360 title that allows you to compete against each other, whether on the PC or Xbox 360. This was one of the big ideas being thrown around with the game, as there has been an age old question, can consoles keep up with PC FPS. So to do this Microsoft made Shadowrun a complete online experience with very little offline playability. Does this make for enough content to make fans of the old Shadowrun games happy?
So let me just mention that Shadowrun is really lacking anything offline, and doesn’t really attempt to give anyone without an Xbox Live account a fighting chance. Offline there are some training missions that help you become attuned to the style of the game, and many of the different technologies that the game has. The offline play also has the ability to play against bots, but to be honest it feels so thrown together and so bland that its really hard to enjoy it. I wanted to get into the game gradually and get my feet wet, but found myself scrambling off of the offline gameplay and onto the heart of the game, the online play.
Let’s talk first however about Shadowrun, and what it contains and really what it set out to do. Instead of being just an everyday FPS, Shadowrun tries to reinvent the genre by adding a lot of different elements, including magic and technology. To give you some examples you can have the ability to run through walls, teleport, use a glider, spawn a tree of life that heals you, and resurrect life. These abilities are bought before each round (kind of like a Counterstrike) and the more success you have in the game the more money you will rack up and thus the more abilities you will have. The offline mode is really only there for you to practice your skills, and outside that don’t really manage to make it all that exciting.
The online play is as mentioned several times already the key aspect to the game, and really is where the majority of the game will be enjoyed. Similar to many Microsoft products they do have the easy quick play, which then tries to match you to the best suitable competition possible. This for the most part seemed to work out pretty good, never having games with that much lag was always a plus. One of the other underlying issues is the lack of difference in game modes,. There are a few different variances, all of which look and feel like a standard king of the hill/ capture the flag experience. For a full price game that contains little to no offline play, you would expect more maps and more variances to the modes to choose from, to keep the action light and yet more interesting.
For the most part however the gameplay does hold up on its own, apart from a few minor problems. You can see where the PC might be better suited for this game when you see how tightly integrated the Xbox 360 controls are on Shadowrun. This is actually one of the few games that actually uses every single button on the controller. Shadowrun also being an RPG means that there are some on screen menus that do take some maneuverability and does make the experience a little harder to do with your Xbox 360 controller.
In the end, Shadowrun is a game that has a bunch of built up potential that ends up not bringing everything together. The amount of content in this full priced game is not substantial enough to warrant it a great score to begin with. And with what content is involved in Shadowrun it just has such rough edges and not enough interesting gameplay to keep you interested for long periods of time. Even the online system, while nicely constructed, could have been much more deep and much more enticing for players. The core of the gameplay in Shadowrun impresses, but going further, the game looses steam quickly.
One of the interesting facets of Shadowrun is that there aren’t many modes to choose from, and not many maps either. Also you’re also missing the ability to customize your character, which means you will have a ton of bland characters running around online, which seems like a huge oversight by the developers in my opinion. The visuals however still manage to have some success in that there is a lot of detail and great particle effects. Also the visual style of all the special technologies and magic really look beautiful on screen and are simple yet effective. This isn’t the biggest HD powerhouse yet, but it still manages to impress nonetheless.
I can honestly say that I was extremely impressed with Shadowrun for the first hour or two of gameplay once I went online. However Shadowrun doesn’t have a lot of extra features to keep you to come back for more. I can’t emphasize enough how crucial it would have been to use the potential Shadowrun story in this game to make for a beautiful campaign. However being the multiplayer-only game left Shadowrun a little worse for wear and thus we have a game that had the potential to really succeed on the Xbox 360 but leaves us kind of out to dry.
Sometimes you have too much of a focus on one area of a game that the rest seems to fall by the way side, and thus is the case here. They focus so heavily on this cross platform technology and the multiplayer side of things that they forgot about the need for offline play as well as a more diverse online experience. Shadowrun is not a bad game by any stretch, but for a full priced game, it’s hard to recommend it when in a week or two you’re probably going to be ready for something else.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.