Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shadow Complex Trial Impressions

Developed by Chair Entertainment and published by Epic Games, Shadow Complex is the extremely hyped Xbox LIVE Arcade title of the summer that uses Epic Game's Unreal Engine 3.0. So of course, given the hype and great reviews, I decided to download and try out its Trial version.

Shadow Complex is a sidescroller that takes its influence from classic titles and adds some modern game design to spice things up. You still move from left to right and can maneuver along walls like the games of old, and you'll also take on massive boss enemies, but you can also now fire in limited three dimensions. When I began playing the Trial, I was immediately blown away by how awesome the game looks (for an Xbox LIVE Arcade game); the visuals truly are stunning. For gameplay, the influence of the Metroid franchise is clearly obvious, and even the game's map uses the same classic "grid" structure that I came to love back in Super Metroid.

In fact, aside from the different setting and the modern design, it really felt like I was playing a better looking version of Super Metroid, so much so that even after 15 years I was still reaching for "X" to fire my weapon. Which ultimately led to a lot of frustration for me, as again I need to ask my long standing question to developers: Why can't I remap the controller? It's 2009, for crying out loud! I also found I wasn't so keen on the extra three dimensions, as they just didn't feel right to me with the style of game, but I know that's just me and my old-school ways.

I wasn't impressed at all with the story though. You play as Jason Fleming, and you need to rescue your new girl, Claire, who stumbled upon the secret lair of some bad-guy soldiers. I don't remember what their called. Apparently, Shadow Complex is set in Orson Scott Card's Empire universe, which I haven't read, but the exposition and dialogue were pretty poor by my current standards. Perhaps there's more exposition later on, but in the trial, aside from "Not letting Claire down," I had no real clue as to what was going on.

Of course, taking into account that this is an Xbox LIVE Arcade title, it does go above and beyond most of what the label offers, which is a great thing. Right now, I wouldn't spring for Shadow Complex myself, too many other things to play, but someday if I get bored, or if there's a price cut from the current 1200 Microsoft Points, I just might bite and try to get used to the new spin on this genre from yester-year.

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