Addictive, simply awesome, but it looks a little bland.
Since originally hearing about shadow complex my interest was piqued, this was through hearing the game to be reminiscent of classic platforming displayed by the earlier metroid games, this is represented in Shadow Complex’s progressive upgrade system and the similar 2D sidescrolling action, however Shadow complex takes this 2D sidescolling and adds in several 3D elements, all of this creating a very pleasant, if a little rough, gameplay experience.
Shadow Complex, is partly developed by epic games, the creators of the Gears of War franchise, and Chair Entertainments second game, their first being Undertow. The game is based upon the novel “Empire” by Author Orson Scott Card. The game is said to bridge the story line between the upcoming sequels to the original Empire, but doing so with a separate cast of characters.
The opening of Shadow Complex takes place in Washington DC, giving the player control of Sam Dallas, who attempts and fails to stop an attack on the Vice President. The game then cuts to the main character Jason Fleming out with his date named Claire, beginning to play a game of hide-and-seek within some caves. Initially armed with only a flashlight Jason begins to search for Claire only to find her back pack, this enables the ability to wall jump and cling to ledges, upon further exploration Jason discovers that Claire has been taken hostage by a terrorist organisation called the Restoration, instead of being wise and going to the police, Jason opts to delve deeper into the caves.
Through his initial attempts to rescue Claire, Jason soon discovers that there’s something bigger going on. As Jason progresses, he soon realises what he’s stumbled upon cannot be ignored.
The story of Shadow Complex is told through the perspective of Jason, you can be crawling in a vent above some soldiers and hear them discussing The Restorations plans, it’s through these glimpses of conversation that Jason realises what’s really going on and takes it upon himself to thwart their plans.
The gameplay of Shadow Complex is carried out predominantly through 2D sidescrolling occasionally shifting to a more 3D view for several turret sequences. The 2D sidescrolling whilst good is also complemented by a solid shooting mechanic, using the right analogue stick to aim, Shadow Complex also has a field of depth meaning you have to also aim into the back ground. Although it’s this same field of depth that creates confusion within the platforming and on occasion it becomes difficult to actually distinguish between foreground and background, in a few of the flooding sequences this made itself apparent, often with flights of stairs and on more than one occasion I tried to jump onto a ledge, only to discover it’s indeed only part of the background, luckily however there’s no falling damage. Alongside the platforming is an upgrade system whilst its implementation seems to have come directly from metroid, the weapons and gadgets it provides are often fun to use, they’re spaced out enough through the game to keep it feeling fresh, and never too much at once. All of the weapons have alternative uses.
Whilst every weapon can be used to open a specific door or passage others have extra functions, such as the foam gun, this can be used to build bridges and traverse larger gaps, often allowing for sections in the game to be reached alot earlier than intended. With every gun comes its own collectible, each collectible has the same affect increasing damage and ammo capacity, although not needed, seeking them out does make the game easier, and it never feels like a chore. There’s also a build in levelling system through exploring and killing you’ll gain experience, things like aiming, speed and health, however levels carry over into new games, and the game provides incentive for extra play throughs, as Shadow Complex has leaderboards displaying things such as headshots and melee kills, but also times taken to complete the campaign, the record lies at around 20 minutes. There’s one extra mode in Shadow Complex called challenge mode, this mode provides cut off segments of the game and a timer, the idea is to complete the course with less items than you’d have had access to at this game and beat the timer, whilst providing leaderboards, beating some of the times becomes an addictive if at times annoying process.
Whilst aesthetically good looking, the game does often look dull, Shadow Complex utilises the Unreal 3 engine, as with most games based on this engine such as Gears Of War, the main colour seems to be grey and brown resulting in dull environments, aswell as dull environments The Complex have its graphical hiccups and oddities, one in particular, is Jason’s girlfriends face, the mapping seems all off, particularly in the latter scenes her face looks scrunched up likes she’s been chewing a lemon, and several times carrying out melee attacks to close to wall makes it seem like everyone’s a fighting ghosts, and with so many enemies being placed either next to a wall or box this becomes fairly common. The game itself is fully rendered and realised as a 3D game, this is displayed with its depth of field, it would seem plausible upon playing the game that it could be change to a fully 3D perspective, whilst this would obviously ruin the gameplay it displays the efforts made to make the game look good and have depth.
Overall Shadow Complex is a solid game, whilst taking around 6hours without all collectibles being found its £15 price tag seems justified, with the lengthy campaign and several other incentives to play such as climbing leaderboards and its challenge mode there’s alot of content in this downloadable game, and it all comes together to create a very enjoyable ride.