Review: Shadowrun

With the rich Shadowrun universe at their disposal, it’s sad to note that FASA Studio’s new Shadowrun game is little more than an unfinished multiplayer shooter.

Cyberpunk is something that gets very rare scope these days. Everyone knows the masterpiece Blade Runner (or the movie anyway) but those dark sci-fi thrillers rarely seem to come along as games. While the “Shadowrun” RPG series has been around for a while in a pen & paper format (much like the old Dungeon & Dragon games), in the early 90’s Data East and Blue Sky each brought out Shadowrun games for the Super NES and Mega Drive respectively. Now the Super NES game was really just a standard RPG but the Mega Drive game gave you a lot of freedom and control as you wandered the world of Shadowrun and is even considered a favourite by many of the game collectors.

Well after waiting around 13 years, another title in the series has been released as Microsoft and FASA Studio have brought Shadowrun back into the lives of cyberpunk fans. A lot of us waited with bated breath when we saw the screenshots late last year & early this year and now, as I sit here looking at the game I have to ask one question: how did they get it so wrong?!

That’s right, I said multiplayer only. This is a game based off of a heavily involved single-player story and the only single-player gameplay in this iteration of Shadowrun consists of bot matches. That is such a shame for a game whose original was just a blast to play, however dated it was. I should be fair, however, as FASA do try to give Shadowrun a back story to help piece it all together. That story is largely irrelevant though as all you’re really doing is engaging in deathmatches to blow the living hell out of each other on a choice of 13 maps.

The controls just aren’t all that intuitive for the most part either. I’m not a fan of first-person shooters on consoles in the first place, but the controls in this one just feel like they lag at points. You’ll get used to them quickly, but I can’t help but feel that the controls could have been better implemented.

The sound is fine but the graphics feel cheap. For a game that’s been expected as long as Shadowrun has, the lack of character animations among other things leave the game feeling unfinished.

Really, you can’t help but feel that Shadowrun was conceived from a bad plan to begin with. There was a lot of room to move but FASA look as if they just wanted to make something simple. Basically, you can play this half-hearted first-person shooter and if you’re lucky enough to connect to the servers for some fun, it may well be a great experience. But by and large, mediocre graphics, no single-player campaign, few maps, and loads of bugs leave Shadowrun feeling like an uninspired and ill-conceived game.

DeveloperFASA Studio
PublisherMicrosoft Game Studios
Classification– MA15+
Formats– Xbox 360, PC (Vista)

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark