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Shadow Complex Review (360, XBLA) - 761 SCom5

Shadow Complex Review (360, XBLA)

Terrorist massacres don’t have to be so complex

In the modern world, there’s a lot of pent up hysteria, mistrust and fear based around our surroundings. But now it appears we can’t even walk on stable ground without it harbouring a terrorist threat with the diabolical intent to unleash an army of mechanical spiders and steel monstrosities in order to take over San Francisco and then the world. Don’t let the media here about this one…

Shadow ComplexBridging the gap between two novels I cannot be bothered to read for the purposes of this one paragraph, Shadow Complex focuses on the romantic trials of Jason Flemming, a man who decides the perfect place for a first date is a dank cave. However, after uncovering a secret base spanning a suspiciously large scale and getting the woman of his dreams captured by the occupants, Jason decides to go super soldier on the situation, spraying bullets to solve any problem he encounters in the hopes that his damsel in distress won’t go all Princess Peach and simply bake a cake once his arduous trial is over…

The story is pretty mediocre at best, yet Jason enters the game as the stereotypical dry humoured hero in proceedings, and pulls if off well. It’s rare for any game to generate a likeable character, yet if anyone defeats a colossal rocket spewing mechanical spider blurts out ‘Owned!’ afterwards, they get a thumbs up from me. Jason has a habit of shouting what we’re all thinking at certain events, a notable point being when a room started blowing up into smithereens and the instant response was a stream of swear words.

1200 Microsoft Point charge may seem steep, but as is the case with most of this game, you get out what you put in.

Shadow Complex is played from a 2.5D perspective, and even though Jason was one step short of learning about three dimensions in movement, enemies in the background can easily be picked off with your guns. From start to finish, this feels like a game you’ve played somewhere before. In fact, the likeness to Super Metroid is somewhat uncanny. Although the primary focus of the game is gun down anything that moves, a thorough investigation of the terrorist play pen proves to be much more rewarding. Every crevice hides a power-up, allowing your equipment to become faster, stronger and better than before. It seems like a daunting task to collect so many in such a big environment, but your map clearly displays rooms which have items of importance. Every part of the game encourages to really delve into the environment and not just take the straightforward path.

For those who pick the basic route, they’re on board for a much more difficult and linear journey. Taking the time to collect new upgrades and gadgets makes the game noticeably more rewarding. Tearing down previously impassable doors with a n army of missiles is incredibly satisfying, especially if it leads to you gain more destructive powers to the arsenal. Jet packs, hookshots and boots that allow you to go into hyperspeed also allow you to go all ninja on the unsuspecting terrorists, and all come in incredibly handy when it comes to traversing some of the deadlier obstacles.

The graphics manage to shine out in a blurry pixelated sea of XBLA mediocrity and are impressive enough to rival those of a full 360 title. It’s a weird thing to mention, but water effects are incredibly impressive glistening the equally impressive lighting. The frame-rate sometimes struggles to catch up with everything that’s going on bless it, but that’s only in cut-scenes, and by then your attention will be squarely focused on the poor voice acting.

Shadow ComplexDespite only lasting around 4-6 hours on a first playthrough, as soon as you put the controller down in victory, it’s easy to catch the desire for another run through. Like all good humans these days, Jason can level up throughout the game, and his levels carry over into a new game, so it’s easy to get him to the peak of physical endurance. The amount of experience gained depends on the level of difficulty selected, so it’s a case of ‘He who dares’, and it’s guaranteed that those who set off for a more brutal challenge will reap more rewards. With this amount of re playability, as well as several extra challenges to complete, the game definitely comes with a good lifespan, despite the short single player campaign.

Whilst dangling on the line of ‘Plagiarism’ in terms of retro charm, Shadow Complex is one of the best and freshest titles on XBLA. The 1200 Microsoft Point charge may seem steep, but as is the case with most of this game, you get out what you put in. You can see everything you put in working so hard to entertain you, you can almost peel away the front layer of TV and see the cogs turning. For those without a Wii in their console arsenal and are unable to look forward to Metroid:Other M, this is most likely the greatest substitute that will ever come out for the 360, and well worth the cash you throw at it.

The Good: Solid gameplay enjoyable from start to finish, New gadgets and weapons frequently reward players
The Bad: Voice-overs are poor and occasionally clich, A larger variety of enemies and a longer campaign would be welcome

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Silver Y AwardSilver Y Award
4 4 / 5

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