Developer: Chair Entertainment, Epic Games / Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios / ESRB: Teen (Mild Language, Violence) / Played on: Xbox 360 / Price: $15.00
Today on Pay Rent or Pass we are checking out the new downloadable title Shadow Complex for the Xbox 360. Since this is a downloadable title we will only have the option to rate this a Pay or Pass, no rent option this time around.
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Shadow Complex takes place in the world of Empire, a novel by Orson Scott Card, and puts players in control of Jason Flemming a hero who gets thrown into the action by no choice of his own. Now the very first cutscene in the game gives a taste for how things work in Empire. The vice president is brutally assassinated by the Restoration a group whom is hellbent on plunging the country into a civil war. The game then changes pace and shows Jason and his girlfriend Claire backpacking and getting ready to explore a cave together in the Pacific Northwest. The cave turns out to be an underground facility for the Restoration, Claire gets kidnapped, and that’s where Jason gets involved. The game has a Metroid-style of gameplay, lots of locked areas and lots of equipment to discover and use. In the beginning of the game Jason starts off with only a flashlight. The flashlight will show areas that will only be accessible later as more equipment is discovered. By the end of the game Jason has quite a few great gadgets at his disposal that allow him to explore any area of the map he likes. Its the return to a classic style of gameplay thats very welcoming to long-time gamers like myself. It’s good to have a studio breathe a little fresh air into a genre of game that hasn’t been released for awhile. The game is presented in 3D but played more in a 2D fashion. Yes there are enemies that will come from the background that players will need to shoot at but most of the action is going to be very side to side.
Shadow Complex is a game that puts other downloadable titles to shame in the graphics department. Sure it’s not top-tier in as far as graphics go in general, but for a downloadable title… damn it looks good. XBLA developers are going to need to step it up a notch after the release of this game. The lighting effects in the game are phenomenal and do a great job of establishing the environments that the game takes place in. Everything in the graphics department goes above and beyond expectations for a downloadable XBLA title.
A welcome surprise to Shadow Complex was the sound in the game; normally downloadable XBLA games are a little bare bones in this department. That’s not the case with Shadow Complex. The voice acting is really well done thanks in large part to Nolan North who voices Jason Flemming. Nolan has a very deep resume when it comes to video game voice acting, most notably as Nathan Drake from Uncharted and is a great compliment to the games acting. On top of that the music is suprisingly good and establishes a great pace within the game.
Now since the game is based on a 2D concept of gameplay but takes place in a 3D environment, I had some concerns when it came to the controls. The concerns were well founded because the game does run into some issues in the targeting department. Sometimes when enemies are coming out of the background its hard to target them with the right stick. Targeting in general in the game is a bit touchy but not to the point where it ruins the game. Otherwise the controls are well done. Maneuvering Jason around the levels becomes quite fun later on in the game once you acquire more equipment and the controls make it easy to do so.
I love the fact that games like Shadow Complex can still be made these days, it’s a return to a time in gaming where things were starting to ramp up in the complexity of how games were played. Having to discover new items to access previously inaccessible areas in the game is a great throwback to games like Super Metroid. The game has an extremely high replay value, in addition to the main campaign which can be played over and over again in an attempt to beat it quicker. Shadow Complex offers up challenge levels called the proving grounds which requires players to make it to the exit of a room with a limited amount of health and items. Hands down without question Shadow complex is a Pay. Download this one folks.