Side scrolling action abounds in Shadow Complex as the player takes on the role of Jason Fleming and his journey to save the girl and the US government from a secret military organisation. Thank god he’s tough as nails.
The game universe is based upon the best-selling novel by Orson Scott Card, Empire. As the player progresses through the game they will come across 17 unique game altering power-ups and more than 100 additional items and modifiers. With a huge variety of enemies and some truly epic boss battles, the game promises to bring side scrolling adventure to the next gen in style.
The game begins with a small prologue and then drops you in the forest with a flashlight and a missing girlfriend. After a bit of climbing, jumping and falling, you come across what looks like a secret military base, deep within the forest. You also find that the men who reside in this base have taken your girlfriend prisoner, suspecting her of being a spy. Being the heroic type, you decide to go into the base and rescue her, and maybe also find out what the hell is going on.
The game is played on a single massive map that will have you exporing from one end to the other in search of your objectives. Within the game the player will find a lot of jumping to ledges, dropping down holes and some particularly good timing based puzzles. There will also be a lot of bad guys. To help remove these obstacles from your path, you will come across quite the arsenal of weapons. Primary weapons are provided with infinite ammo, thankfully, but your secondary/special weapon is not. This takes the form of grenades to begin with, of which the amount you can carry is limited. However, as the player explores, barrels can be found that provide an upgrade to the amount of a particular special weapon that can be carried. A special mention should be made here regarding my favorite weapon, the foam gun. This gun fires cartridges of expanding foam which is useful for short circuiting electronics, freezing enemies and having a lot of fun with. I can imagine there being a lot more ways to use the foam gun than I have yet discovered.
Although there is no online component to the game, there is an online leaderboard that tracks players achievements in certain areas, such as the time it takes to complete, total score and even the number of times close combat is used (Lets get punchy!). Some of the times listed for completing the campaign are truly epic (the leader being just over 20 minutes at the moment I believe) but don’t worry, the first time through the game will probably be more around the 6 hour mark. These leaderboards actually provide a good reason to play the game through more than once, along with the need to find all of the goodies hidden throughout.
I have not played a side-scroller for a long time, so getting used to the way the game plays took a good few minutes. Playing from left to right is not something that comes naturally to players in our 3-D gaming world. Added to that is the use of 3-D style aiming, allowing the player to shoot enemies that are placed at the back of the scene, rather than just to the left or right. That being said, once the player has taken the time to acclimatise to the controls, it is fairly easy. Thankfully, the game starts you off quite simply, with a little bit of action followed by some nice peaceful exploration, while the story gets established. The map is another thing that threw me at first, but once I realised that the map was made of levels, rather than the overhead view I am used to, I made the mental adjustments. Anyone who has played a lot of the old school metroid will instantly recognise the gameplay, so the game is not original in that way. This is not necessarily a bad thing though, as the metroid games were very enjoyable and provided hours of fun for a great many people. And how many games are truly original these days?
Chair Entertainment have taken a proven formula and dragged it into the realms of the next-gen consoles. The graphics are pretty and the effects are good. The gameplay, once gotten used to, is fairly simple and the story is compelling, if not a little generic. Currently one of the best games on Xbox Live Arcade, well worth buying.