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

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What do you get when you combine Metal Gear Solid and Bionic Comm

Shadow Complex is a modern take on traditional 2D platform game. Released in 2009 for XBLA. The game is considered to be one the better games of XBLA. Also ideal for a quick afternoon playthrough.

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Orson Scott Card, the author of one the greatest sci-fi literature is in charge of the story in Shadow Complex.  Jason and Claire are a couple who have gone trekking. Claire gets kidnapped and is taken in to shadowy looking complex. Jason who also happens to have military training goes after Claire to rescue here. He comes across to a shady military faction who have big plans on causing some mayhem. Right man in right spot, making Jason to save the day and the girl. The plot also revolves around a experimental military suit which Jason finds pieces and gains new abilities in best video-game form. Nice and light techno scifi plot.

Graphically Shadow Complex is impressive looking. Detailed 3D structures with the crisp Unreal-engine environment. Light and the water effect especially setting the mood nicely. The game acts in a 2D environment even thought depth perspective is used for enemies. Game looks so good that in beginning I found myself trying to walk to the depth perspective. Enemies and bosses are detailed and well animated. Jason can perform a melee kill which changes to a 3D perspective. Thought that it would have become a bore to watch after a while, but it never did since there are quite many different animations. Good share of swimming is also done. And while this is very clunky at first, the water looks good at least. In later part of the game with longer sequences and certain aid this working much better and setting the mood very nicely.

The platform aspects of the game require lots of wall climbing and jumping. Jason can withhold any drop making the action more pleasant. Chair Entertainment have understood how to perfectly add length to a downloadable game which might feel slightly short compared to full retail games. This is done by adding a big number of unlockables and hidden items. Location of items are hidden and only can be seen with a flashlight. A light indicating which weapon can open the hatch/door for the secret item. The suit upgrades which give new abilities and open these hidden rooms are maybe spaced bit too much for the end of the game.

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Shooting which is besides the platforming other major part of the game is aided with a laser aim. This is really required for switching between targets on the 2D and 3D depth perspective. Game has a auto-aim, at least on Normal difficulty which I found to be absolutely mandatory. The only complaint on game I have is exactly this. 2D action and shooting works really well. When enemies start popping from third perspective and coming to front to the 2D is awkward. Tougher bosses with mini-guns and rocket launcher especially making this difficult. These can be dodged by crouching behind crates and other items. That is if player manages to find such cover.

On audio part Jason is voiced by Nolan North and there is nothing to complaint about his work, ever. Chatter and radio banter between enemies can be heard while sneaking around revealing the story nicely. Music is symphonic classical music that can be usually found in such techno thrillers. Decent enough, but nothing memorable.

Shadow Complex has four difficulty levels. As well as 15 proving ground missions and the standard leaderboard. First playthrough can be done in <5-6 hours. Finding all collectibles slightly longer of course

To conclude. One of the XBLA flagships no doubt. Still not the greatest game ever. Controls at times bit flaky. Such as the early swimming or/and occasional jumping problems. Also the shooting/dodging at  third perspective is slightly confusing. 

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