haggis's Shadow Complex (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

Shadow Complex: A Review

Having grown up a PC gamer, that meant that I never really got to play the best of the old-style platformers, Metroid being one of them. Sure, I played a few times but never made it far into the game. So when I saw Shadow Complex, I was a little doubtful. Being a fan of Orson Scott Card, the novelist on whose book this game is based, I took the plunge.
 
I'm very happy I did. The game manages to pull together the most addicting elements of modern gaming: free roaming (for the most part), item collection, exploration, over-the-top violence, online leaderboards. It's nearly a perfect combination. Strangely enough, it was the story that was the weak link for me. Having read the Empire novel by Card, I was a little surprised at how ... hokey everything sounded in the game. The book is far better. Despite the lousy storytelling in the game, I can't help but recommend it to every gamer type from casual to hardcore.
 
Casual gamers will find that it is difficult to die in this game on the easiest difficulty level. That's not a problem on the hardest difficulties, which will force you to find every powerup and bonus in order to survive. The enemies are not as varied as I would like, but there are some surprises: armored walkers, helicopters, etc. that keep things fresh. Another problem is the aiming. The game attempts to make it possible to aim somewhat in the third dimension, but it is often difficult to control. In the end, I found it was best not to try, and let the auto-aiming take over. Even so, it's never all that distracting from the gameplay, although it would have been nice to have more control of firing secondary weapons in that third dimension, which never seemed to work as well as I'd have liked.
 
The game took between five and six hours to complete, and I found only half the items. I imagine another three or four hours to knock out the last of the items and to finish some achievements, and that means almost ten hours of gameplay. That's fantastic for a game priced at $15.
 
It's difficult not to recommend this game, especially given the current drought of solid new games for the 360. Once you start playing, you're not going to want to stop. It's been a very long time since I've been able to say that about an XBLA game. Buy it now.

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