Shinging a light on Shadow Complex
I followed the development of this Shadow Complex with huge anticipation. as someone whos first console was the Dreamcast, i never got the chance to experience the much adored Metroid series. That might be the reason why i found Shadow Complex fresh and exciting, at least at first.
Shadow complex starts strong, the prologue throws you right into the action as you find yourself up against shooting soldiers and an angry helicopter out for your blood, setting the tone early for what will be an action packed game.
Once you get into the main game, you find yourself stripped of any weapons or armor your character may have had in the prelude, equipped with just a mere flashlight and some basic rock climbing ability. the first two or three hours have you work your way through the complex, using a mix of platforming, shooting and boss battles. As you progress you become more powerfull, gaining bigger and better guns, as well as health and armor upgrades. this is where the game is at its best. working your way through the earlier parts of the game with just a pistol and a small amount of health. Theres a real sence of achievement as you beat a particularly hard screen or find a new upgrade.
The further you progress through shadow complex, the bigger and badder you become. The character aquires super human powers like the ability to run at warp speed and destroy anything in your path, or the ability to jump large distances and devastate enemy with one punch. This makes the game become easier and easier, and towards the later stages of the game, cheapens the experience as you backtrack through levels you spent time and effort to progress through, with ease and lack of care.
And thats the problem with Shadow complex, after making your way through the infer-structure, the game expects you to go through it again, and especially if your a perfectionist and want to go back and collect everything. While working your way through the complex is fun and rewarding, the final third of the game is boring and frustrating. The game instructs you to find peices of your body suit to prepare yourself for the endgame, but there is no clear instruction and your not told plain and clear, more like persuaded to get the suit pieces...if you can be bothered. one of the peices requires you to collect key cards to unlock, although you dont know that untill you make the trip all the way down to the dark depths of the complex, greeted with the fact your going to have to backtrack all over again to find all 12 keycards.
Once i had collected the grand sum of 10 armor upgrades, 20 foam packs, 12 gold bars, 30 granade packs, 8 health upgrades, 20 missile packs, and 12 pass key components i made my way to the endgame.
i expected an epic final boss which will test my skills and force me to utilize all my new found ability and weapons.
i was dissapointed to find that although cinamaticly great, the final boss only expected you to simply activate three nukes by simply finding three consoles and activating them. after playing through the whole game, and making the effort to collect everything, i felt very hard done by at such a lazy finish to the game.
Graphically the game is beautiful, especially for an xbox live arcade game. the game is colorful and polished although there is some bad textures and clipping from time to time.
The story in shadow complex is generic and thin, luckily enough most of the experience is game play, and the tacked on story doesn't really get in the way of the action.
Over all Shadow Complex is a good game by design, tainted by repetitiveness and lifelessness. Although i enjoyed the game play aspect to begin with, people who are already familiar with the genre through metroid and the like, may find nothing new or extraordinary about this game, and although a good game in its own right, will falter on closer inspection.