Sunday, 30 May 2010

Shadow Complex

Developer - Chair Entertainment, Epic Games

Publisher - Microsoft Game Studios

Format – Xbox Live Aracde

Shadow Complex is a rare breed, it's a 2.5-D game. Our protagonist Jason is limited to movement of the X and Y axis whilst everyone else can move in all 3-D dimensions.

At first it seems like little originality is going to found as your girlfriend is kidnapped and you venture forth into a mysterious complex to rescue her. Starting out this seems like a hard feat, armed with the power of a physically fit young man and nothing else. It isn't long before you start finding power ups which range from guns to add ons for a super soldier suit you obtain. If you commit to finding absolutely everything the game has tucked away in hidden rooms and hard to reach gaps you'll be rewarded with an armoury that rivals Iron Mans suit.

As you progress and fill the map experience points are gained, level ups reward you with increased character perks like better aiming and defence. It's possible to speed through this game in a few hours but not on your first play through. A big emphasis, as with most side scrolling room games, is put on power ups and various other boosting collectables. Going out of your way to find them is both rewarding in the game and out of it. Your level will rise quicker and the constantly collecting of things is essentially a series of tiny accomplishments.

One thing this game manages to mostly eliminate is the frustration of having to search every nook and cranny of a room. The flash light has a pretty nifty feature in that if the beam hits an object that you need to bomb or manipulate it'll be highlighted in a colour which is coded to your equipment. Things that are highlighted as green need to have grenades used on them for example.

Arguably this does make hunting a bit too easy on some occasions but there was still plenty of times I found myself stumped as how to reach a tucked away treasure.

Complex costs 1200 Microsoft points and in their attempt to confuse everyone with what is essentially another currency it's hard to get an exact price of what the game actually costs. At the time of me writing this it's about £10 and it's fully worth that. After playing through once there will still to be lots left to discover and collect, this kind of game lends itself to speed runs and some of the achievements even challenge such feats.

On the menu there's an option called the 'proving grounds' which sets you up with progressively harder tasks which teach you how to use all your equipment in different ways. As such it functions both as training and a test of skill, it's a great addition that the game doesn't need but feels more complete having.

This is the kind of game that should be supported and it deserves to be. It looks great and the controls are work great, if you were ever a fan of games like Super Metroid or Metroid Fusion you'll sink into this game and enjoy the familiar territory. And if not, try it anyway. For roughly £10/$15 you're getting a nicely polished game that isn't likely to disappoint. I could have paid up to £20 for Shadow Complex and have felt as happy with my purchase.

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