Review by Romanticide
"Shadowrun, not a PC Game."
This is a review of the PC version of Shadowrun. Now, don't think to yourself reading the 360 reviews are good enough, because there are some differences in between the versions. I'll talk more about that later on. I'll just give now a Brief history of this game. Shadowrun was meant to be the first commercially successful cross platform action shooter, pitting 360 and PC players against each other. To do this, they tried to implement the Xbox Live service to Windows Vista.
A war broke out on GameFaqs message boards about how it could never be balanced, what the superior control scheme would be, how would the quality of the graphics be affected etc...
The developers assured us, both versions would be exactly the same. They made claim that they set up matches between developers and beta testers, some on Keyboard and Mouse, some on a pad. We were told that the matches were very balanced and people with pads still did really well, despite the assumed differences in accuracy. Well, when I finally bought a copy, after several, mysterious delays, I found out why. I'll review this game now in the usual format, explaining the various differences and the usual end verdict of the game. Before you buy this game, IT IS MULTIPLAYER ONLY. There's offline play against bots but there's no single player story what so ever. I'm not mentioning Single Player again because that's not what this game is.
Graphically, this game does not stand out. Very nice character models, but bland scenery. We are treated though to some very pretty effects from the spells. For example there's a spell, which creates, what appear to be, icy spikes. The spikes look very nice with some excellent texturing and use of bump mapping. Very believable. Teleporting creates a sort of vortex tunnel effect with some nice distortion.
Now, for some odd reason, the PC version is graphically inferior to the 360 version. This doesn't make much sense. PC hardware is more than capable of all the graphical effects but they were left out. For example, motion blur, very prominent in the 360 version, completely missing and in the PC version. Why? I read through the official forums and they said they couldn't code it for PC hardware...How hard could it have been? I mean, a lot of other PC games utilise it. Also, performance is a bit wonky on the PC version. It feels unoptimised and rushed. On my system, I can run most games smoothly on much higher settings than Shadowrun and I know for a fact that games like Bioshock or S.T.A.L.K.E.R are much more graphically intensive, yet they are a lot more stable and better looking. Other than that though, it's far from ugly and doesn't try to blow you away with visuals. Therefore it at most deserves a 7.
It's counter-strike with magic, elves, trolls and dwarves? Almost. Games play out in a similar format. You die, you have to wait the rest of the match to respawn OR some kind player will resurrect you with a spell. That's not a bad thing, it works. It encourages team play and tactics. Spells make it much more dynamic. Got the other team pouring in through a certain path? Block it with deadly spikes. Got some guys gliding in and throwing grenades? Blow them off the edge with a windblast spell. Works brilliantly, giving some very fun and very different experiences.
It falls short, however, by a quite limited number of maps to play and not all that great level design, as a PC gamer, it's common to think: it's ok, there will be a lot of great user made maps and improvements". No, it's exactly as limited as the 360 version. No customisable content what so ever. No development kits, no extra maps, no tweaks, nothing. This hits it hard as a PC game.
Another thing to add is about the LIVE service for Windows. Sounds like a great idea again right? Playing against 360 players, in built voice chat, private chat, invites and a little profile. Now X-Fire does most of that for PC Games and it costs nothing. The only thing I see worth paying for is the cross platform gameplay. The servers are horrific though. As far as my understanding goes, Xbox live uses players as the server, so there's nothing dedicated. The lag is unreal, there's a huge pause while you wait for people to join the match, with cuts in to gameplay and just isn't acceptable. It also takes a very long time to find a match in the first place. Whether that's poor net code or just lack of players, I don't know. Another little bonus, that doesn't mean much to me, is the "Achievements". Little notifications on your profile that let you and all your friends know what you've done in a game. For example, you get them for completing training, resurrecting a 360 player etc...Some people love these,
It doesn't mean much to me. I'd rather have real statistics displayed. Over all Things don't look good for Games for Windows LIVE.
Ignoring the poor technical problems; it's still great for a fun and different experience when you eventually find a match, I will give this a 7. Cheap thrills are still a good thing in gaming, but this game needs at least a little depth.
The controls, the most interesting thing to write about. Picture this; you've got a high quality mouse and keyboard, very precise, very smooth and agile. You're playing against someone on a pad, limited in their turning speed, much more awkward to precisely aim. Hah, it should be easy as pie. Think again, when we were told that it's a very balanced game for 360 players, we weren't lied to. Your mouse becomes less accurate than a pad. Why? A pad gets auto aim, a mouse gets the opposite. It is designed to make PC players using a mouse to actually miss a lot more than the pad. The 360 pad aiming actually follows tour target without you touching the controller. I'm serious. Watch it, it follows the player targeted briefly, giving the PC players a huge disadvantage. For this outrage I will slip it down to a 2. It's quite sad when I have a Logitech G15 keyboard and an Mx510 mouse and I'm reduced to the pad so I can play it suitably.
Nothing to shout about here either. The intro has some pretty good music, but after that, you're treated to an irritating drone as you wait 10 minutes to find 1 server. Sound effects are not bad for spells but guns sound weak and there's no punch to it. I'm used to CS:S and Battlefield 2, where the guns are deafeningly loud and feel just great to fire. There's no music inside matches either. There's nothing more to write about for sound, you're best off using the 360's media player or Windows media player to add your own soundtrack.
Replay value 5/10
Now, I didn't give the replay value a 5 because there isn't any. I gave it a 5 because it's half and half. If you're willing to put up with the technical problems, it's potentially a great game with a lot of fun times to be had on it. If you love achievements then there are some challenging ones to get, like 10 kills in a row. 100 kills with a pistol etc... If the controls and poor networking just grind you up too much though, you'll probably want to break your discs or just uninstall the game and forget you ever bought it.
Not a PC Game. Too much console implementation, the interface greets you with "press B" in stead of just clicking etc... As I've said before, controls, graphics are just not up to scratch either. It's a game that had some great potential, but just didn't use it. PC Gamers got left in the dark, 360 gamers aren't much better off. Just get a slightly prettier version.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 09/10/07
Game Release: Shadowrun (EU, 06/01/07)
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