Thoughts on Shadowgrounds: Survivor
Shadowgrounds is a sci-fi themed shooter which takes place on Ganymede (the third moon of the Jupiter system) and by the year 2096, a colony of eight thousand humans live on Ganymede. As the story goes: an alien race fronts an all out assault on the moon colony, destroying nearly everything. The whole point of the game is survival.
Shadowgrounds: Survivor is the second game in the series. It is also only the second game every created by it’s developer, Frozenbyte – an independent development studio located in Finland. Having played both Shadowgrounds games and having enjoyed them immensely, I hope that Frozenbyte will survive to develop more interesting and most importantly, fun games.
Both Shadowgrounds games utilize a top-down perspective akin to that of Grand Theft Auto 2 and the original Postal…but unlike those two games, your view is not restricted to a particular angle. You can easily pan the camera around to view the action from any angle. There aren’t a lot of games that play from this type of view anymore and it’s very refreshing to experience. The top-down perspective allows you the ability to see all around your character. You can also see over the walls and in to other rooms. This can give you a bit of an edge, as you can anticipate how many aliens are in a room or corridor before venturing into them. Though, the advantage is often short-lived: The moment you step into a room, twenty or more aliens will come pouring in through the windows and any open doors. That’s also not all of the aliens either, that’s just the first wave…You might end up fighting a hundred aliens in one area. But even though you’re often outnumbered, you’re rarely ever out of ammo.
The gameplay is quite good: In Shadowgrounds: Survivor you actually play the game through the perspective of three separate characters, each one having access to a unique set of weapons. Luke, a marine, caries an assault rifle, pistol, rocket launcher and grenades, which can later be upgraded to cluster grenades. Bruno, a mechanic who carries a flamethrower, shotgun, minigun and poison-emitting grenades. Lastly, Isabel, a sniper, carrying a pistol, railgun, plasma rifle and EMP grenades. Throughout the game you can collect upgrade parts. You can use these upgrades to augment your guns in various ways such as increasing the damage they inflict, adding on target-lock systems or giving them secondary fire functionality. You can also augment your own abilities in the game using experience points you earn by simply killing everything. All of this is very solid and feels very balanced. Things work as expected.
The game uses a checkpoint and respawn system for lives. I hate checkpoint systems, but these aren’t spaced far apart – there’s possibly a respawn checkpoint in every room or area. The respawn system allows you to die and respawn 4 times during any level of the game. If you use up all of your lives, you will start at the beginning of that level rather than at the nearest checkpoint to where you died. It’s not bad at all.
The presentation of the game is nicely polished with detailed environments and sharp, realistic textures. Weather, dynamic lighting, particle effects, reflections and other effects help to create a very lively atmosphere and believable world. Battles take place in several unique environments too. Sometimes you’re inside the moon base interior or in a sewer and other times you’re outdoors in the rain and snow. At one point you pass through a lava-filled cave. All in all the game stays interesting the whole way through. the moon base levels gave me a DOOM 3 vibe with dark, blood drenched interiors, flickering lights and awesome shadows stretching out from every object and enemy in the cluttered rooms.
The game has a few gameplay modes such as survival mode where you simply have to survive a never-ending onslaught of enemies and a Campaign mode which extends the main story mode with extra missions and locations. There is also single-system cooperative play where your friends can use other controllers connected to your PC to help you out. Single-system multiplayer…that’s another thing a lot of games today don’t do. I can name about 10 of them, the most obvious being the Worms series and the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance series.
Shadowgrounds: Survivor can be purchased HERE through Valve’s STEAM service for $19.95. I highly recommend trying out Shadowgrounds: Survivor, it’s an excellent game which shows that even supposedly dead genres can breathe new life with a well made game by a daring development team. Shadowgrounds Survivor was a very pleasant surprise as well as being mentally gratifying, knowing that I’m helping a small independent developer continue to make exciting games!
I love the smell of explosive canisters in the morning