d34dm4n's Shadow Complex (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

First game I bought for 360: I made a wise choice

Shadow Complex is 2.5D sidescrolling shooter released on XBLA a while ago. The game is a tie-in to Orson Scott Card's 2006 novel Empire, which takes place in the not-so-distance future after America has fallen into civil after the assassination of the President and Vice-President. The game starts out with you taking control of Dallas, an abilit-ease character from some yet to be named government outfit who is there to show you what you can expect in terms of later equipment, blow up a chopper, see the Vice-President explode, and then disappear, never to be heard from again. You spend the rest of the game playing as Jason Flemming, a standard action hero. He is cave-exploring with Claire, a girl he just met. He goes into the cave and Claire is promptly kidnapped by a Cobra-looking group of masked men called the Restoration. Jason then goes on a mission to save Claire and stop the Restoration's evil, sinister plans, etc. While the game's story is kinda formulated, it still works well. They use the time-honored flashback sequence to explain how Jason was put through military training by his father, which explains why he can use the weapons he finds so well. As the game progresses, you pick up new primary weapons, like more powerful machine guns, and some secondary weapons like a grenade launcher, a missile launcher, a foam gun, and the hook shot. You also pick up things like Thrust Boosters, which let Jason do double-jumps, the SCHCA mask, which let's you breathe underwater, and the Friction Dampeners, which let you run in hyper-speed (after a short speed up phase). Hidden throughout the facility are upgrade packs for your secondary weapons which increase ammo capacity or make it infinite if you find them all, as well as health and armor upgrades. Most are hidden behind doors that you need a specific weapon to unlock, so there is a lot of backtracking to do, which can get kinda frustrating because the map is effing huge. But, if you stick to blue line on the map, you will get to the places you need to go fairly quickly, but you won't get as many of the upgrade packs. The game plays pretty, putting more emphasis on the navigating then the shooting, but both still hold up well. The navigating is done through the use of the secondary weapons as well as the key items you find at the end of the blue line. The shooting is very interesting. All the movement is down on the vertical and horizontal planes, but the shooting lets you shoot into the backgrounds, giving it a third-ish dimension. You can use cover to avoid the enemy attacks and use the environment (i.e. electric cables, exploding barrels, and tubes that shoot fire out of them when a grenade is shot in them) to do away with your foes. On top of all the gameplay elements, the graphics are outstanding. The big set pieces in the game looking phenomenal, and give the simple side-to-side areas real depth to them. This may just be with my system, but after my first playthrough, there were occasional spots where the frame-rate bogged down for a second and there was some clipping at points, but other than that the game looks great. Along with the achievements and main story, there are Master Challenges which have you try to beat the game quickly with only a certain amount of items, and the Proving Grounds where you have to complete challenges similar to those you'd find in the main game but with a limited set of the game's equipment. Overall, this game is amazing. If I didn't know this was a downloaded game for 1200, I would've sworn it was a disc game sold at full retail price. It's a steal, get it before they catch on

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