|Jul 26th, 2009, 10:09:21 AM||#1|
Join Date: Jul 2008
Behind a Substitute
Underrated Gems: Shadowrun (Xbox 360 AND Windows Vista PC)
DISCLAIMER: This game is not for your average gamer, in fact, that is part of the reason this game has been so misconstrued and in turn lowly rated by big name magazines and websites (6.5 by IGN and 7.0 by Official Xbox Magazine). This game has been rated poorly because of 2 reasons. 1) Its hyper competitive. 2) It has one of the steeper learning curves I've ever seen on a game. If you are the type of person who'd rather play a game with a nice fat storyline like Bioshock and less pure game play, then stay far away from this one. But seeing how this is a competitive Pokemon community, I think you guys may be interested. In addition, I've added some of the beginning steps to competitive play (despite being a novice myself) because it is where the game shines.
Shadowrun (Xbox 360 AND Windows Vista PC)
Well I'm only in first real part to this review, and already I'm about to drop a bomb shell. This game, Has NO STORY. Thats right none, no campaign, no co-op, nothing. This along with the 2 reasons in the title, is why game raters have bashed this game SO hard. Now TECHNICALLY there is a back story, all revolving around how the "Rules of combat have changed" but I've never been bothered to pay attention to it because, it isn't developed. All you know is, there is the RNA (Blue) Vs the Lineage (Red) who've both recruited Humans, Elves, Trolls and Dwarfs to combat each other using Guns, Magic, and the latest Technology in an all out WAR!
This is you right now ^
However there IS an 8 chapter tutorial outlining the finer points of how to play each race, but it is as close to a single player experience you will get from this game. This has been a key point for raters as I've previously stated, but lets be honest, who still plays H3's campaign?
So How Do I Start Playing This Fucking Game?
Well assuming you don't have 8 friends all in one house with 8 boxes and 8 TVs, you will be relegated to playing this on XBL. And unless you want to be stuck playing bot matches, this is why you've gotten this game. Now you're probably saying MM, what if I have the PC version? Well, thats the effing beauty of this game. You can play online against PC and Xbox users AT THE SAME, FUCKING, TIME. This should be used WAY more often, but I know of no other game that does it. This allows you to chose between Keyboard and Mouse, and Controller, while not having to worry about spitting an already smaller pool of players (compared to the big name games out now). While the game doesn't offer split screen support, with an online connection, between Public matches (also known as Pubs) with individual map/gametype preferences and private matches allowing you to play select maps and gametypes as well as players, you will be fragging for hours on end.
Well with no story in sight you'd better believe this game DELIVERS with its game play, its the bread and butter of the game. This game features incredible FPS gameplay that has been matched by NO other console game yet.
General Gameplay: This FPS is unique in that in addition to the array of guns available, there are also an array of Tech and Magic abilities you can use. Combined with 4 unique races, you have yourself one of the most intense and balanced FPSs. The game uses a round system much like GoW where it is a best of 11 per map/gametype. The round ends if the objective is complete, or you kill all the other team. If one team is dominating, "Karma" comes into effect, giving small advantages to the losing team.
This game has 4 races, Elf, Troll, Humans, and Dwarfs, each has its own strengths, and weaknesses.
Elves- Elves are the fastest race, but in return, the most frail. However they also sport the second highest pips of essence (essentially magic points). In addition, Elves have the ability to regenerate their health at the cost of their essence, unlike other races which require a tree of life nearby to heal. Most competitive teams (4v4) have 1-2 elves and they are usually used for rezzes, as well as flankers, though some players have a more agressive playstyle with them
Humans- Humans are unique in that they start with 500$ more money than the other races. In addition they have no penalty for "mapping" (explained later) tech. Other than this they sport the 2nd lowest amounts of pips of essence, but the 2nd highest movement speed, and health. Humans are usually found used by 1-2 players in competitive teams, and are often used by versatile players, often in a support role, as well as for their ability to abuse Tech like Enhanced Vision for great support
Dwarfs- Dwarfs are generally considered to have no competitive value, only seeing spot use in more creative strategies, however they frequent pubs as often as any other race, so don't be discouraged. Dwarfs support the highest amount of Pips of essence. However, they have the slowest Essence regeneration rate. To balance that, they can steal essence from enemies (as well as tree's of life and friendlies if almost touching) and replenish their own by walking near and is especially effective at combating trolls. In addition they have the 3rd highest movement and health. Lastly head shots have no addition effects on Dwarfs
Trolls- Trolls sport the lowest movement speed in the game, but don't take movement penalties from heavy weapons, they also have the lowest pips of essence. However they have the highest amount of health. To support that high health they have an ability to harden, which at the expense of slowly draining their magic. This allows them to reduce the damage they take by 85% as long as they have essence available, and they are being sprayed with shots. This activates in varying degrees and effectiveness depending on the rate of fire they are taking. Trolls are used by only 1 player on most competitive 4v4 teams and are the most aggressive relying on humans for support and elves for rezzing.
Pick which race suits your playstyle and stick with it. Jack of all trades, master of none.
In order to get all the wonderful guns, tech, and magic, they have implemented a buy system. I haven't personally played the game, but from what I understand CounterStrike runs almost the exact same system, no doubt where the concept came from. However, SR is unique in that, you also have magic and tech to buy, so its a bit of a balancing act. In addition, you have the ability to "click" your teammates, giving them extra money in 250$ increments. This adds whole new strategies, especially in early rounds and is something not present in CS. You earn money from damaging and killing enemies, and also for reviving and healing your teammates, as well as winning through major (artifact related) and minor (killing the other team) victories. You lose money for hurting teammates.
This is how you access all of the goodies Shadowrun has to offer, spend wisely
Guns: Whats a shooter without weapons? Each gun has a $ value and in addition the ability to buy extra ammo (which replenishes based on how many clips you had at the beginning of the previous round) and you can hold 2 at a time, like many other popular FPSs . In this game the default weapon is a pistol, a gun you'd better get used to. It, like all weapons has a reticule bloom, making it hard to shoot things while moving or rapid firing. To make the your shots land, you cannot simply spray and pray like in other FPS's, but rather keep a nice smooth rhythm, or pulse your shots with automatic weapons. In addition, crouching, and simply standing still have a positive effect on aim. The "go to" gun for many competitive players is the Rifle. A single fire weapon this gun has 1 zoom mode, and has increased effectiveness with head shots. Other weapons include an SMG, a minigun, a shotgun, a katana (which allows 3rd person mode and the ability to make a person "bleed out", which is explained later), a sniper rifle, and the ever comical rocket launcher.
After every round you keep the guns you had, if you we're alive, and can even spend a few seconds after each round picking up guns left by felled players as the round winner is announced. By the same token this means you lose the guns if you die. With this in mind Magic or Tech is usually a better early round buy as they have no such risk. Get good with that pistol.
Magic: Though you start with no magic you can buy it before each round and stays with you for the entire game type, even if you die and between rounds. Magic takes a certain amount of essence, measured in "pips", and some magic hold pips unavailable while they're more lengthy effects take place. In addition, you have 3 buttons (RB, LT and LB on Xbox) to use between Tech and Magic to "Map" these abilities for easy use which you can change at any time. Don't worry, you aren't limited to these, because you can "quick cast" the others by holding B and finding other magics on a wheel type menu, activating with the RT, similar to GoW, if you instead hit one of your "map" buttons, you can then map that ability to that button. Quick casting is especially difficult for beginners, but is something you need to master as it separates the good players from the bad as you accumulate more magic and tech.
Teleport, is the marquee spell in the game, especially in competitive play. It allows you to teleport 10m in any direction you are moving and facing, and 8m in any direction you are just moving. This includes through walls, ceilings and floors (which can be accessed when crouching or falling) as long as there is more map in that direction. Learning good teleport lines is a key to success, and as a result, Teleport is often mapped once you buy it. It drains a certain amount of essence every time you use it, so dwarfs must not abuse it too much, lest they're harden not activate, but it is a good but for any race.
Resurrect aka Rez, is another huge buy, especially for elves and dwarfs as they have the most pips. Resurrect creates a small glowing radius on the ground which when a body of a comrade is in, will bring them to full health at the cost of holding 4 essence from the user tying the player to you (less if Karma is in effect). If your "rezzer" dies, you start to bleed out, which makes you lose health slowly unless you heal at a Tree of Life, or have another teammate rez you again, tying you to them instead. Often there will be a chain of players where if you kill the top player, the others will bleed out in turn. Good players can identify this and kill the top of the "rez chain" to lead an effective victory. In addition if you've been killed after you've been rezed, you will "ghost" and be removed permanently from the round (not the whole game), this also can change slightly when Karma is in effect.
Tree of life is another important spell. It plants a magical tree that allows friend or foe to be able to heal at it. It eventually dies, and you can only cast the spell so often,use it wisely. They can also be used as cover, as well as be destroyed by damage.
Other spells include Smoke, which slowly drains your Pips, but makes you impervious to damage. Gust which blows people back, as well as uncloaking and hurting smoked players and shooting grenades further, and breaking your fall if aimed down. Strangle, which casts a small field of crystal spikes which can trap players, draining their essence and health. and lastly Summon which creates a glowing minion to attack, at the cost of holding Pips of essence. Summon, even more so than Dwarfs, is not seen as competitively viable.
While tempting, don't be a "pub nub" and buy Summon. Its a waste of money, and largely inefficient. Funny though.
Tech: Every player starts with 2 grenades per round. Grenades and AMGs are the only 2 tech that do not hold pips of essence when they are mapped. In addition, Humans can map any Tech without any penalty to their Pips.
Lets start with the aforementioned AMGs, or Anti-Magic Generators, or Take that you fucking troll. AMGs are small grenade like items that stick to any scenery and drain the essence of anyone who walks nearby. They are very often used in later rounds, especially with trolls running amok (who need essence to harden.) Don't think they are solely troll counters. They can stop teleporters, kill off trees of life. Another good strategy is to litter them on dead bodies so the foe cannot rez them as easily.
Enhanced Vision, or EV can allow a player to see through walls. At 60-70 meters, you can simply see a diamond representing friend or foe. At shorter distances, you can see their silhouette in its entirety. This like all other tech holds a few essence from use, and can't be used un-mapped and as such, is mostly used by humans, who have no penalty.
Smartlink marked by its red laser sight, makes every gun gain a level of zoom. In addition it slightly increases reticle magnitism (how your aimer seems to "stick" to people), and prevents friendly fire.
In addition there is a Glider, which allows you to glide long distances, as well as Wired Reflexes, which at a cost of some health, allows a burst of speed, and the ability to block additional bullets with the katana, and rev the minigun faster.
Builds: Builds, especially in competitive play make up a large part of strategy. Builds refer to which magic, guns, and tech you buy, for which races, in which situations, and in what rounds. There are none set in stone, especially in Pubs, which is a good place to experiment. As I've touched on, most good builds start with Magic, not guns as they can be easily lost. Elves usually buy Rez R1, and if they have a willing troll teammate, get clicked to get teleport R2, and go from there. Humans can either get Tele round 1, and go from there, or get EV along with a gun, having more money. Trolls usually buy tree R1, click out to the elves/elf R2 (on competitive teams, I'd not worry in pubs unless you know your teammates, or you all communicate this), then get clicked R3 to get minigun+ Enhanced Vision, or Katana + Wired Reflexes, either with a rifle, or the other power weapon. Feel free to customize based on your playstyle, but remember heavier weapons slow small races down, and things that hold your pips, (like rez in the earlier rounds, or tech) can hamper the length of time trolls can harden.
Maps and Gametypes:
There are 9 maps (I'm not sure if that includes the "small versions" of some maps with parts blocked off) with the exception of a couple bigger ones, are very balanced.
There are 3 gametypes, 2 of which are played competitively and all of which contain a flag like item, The Artifact or arti which in addition to its objective based roll, can be used as a melee weapon as well.
Attrition: This is the closest to "Deathmatch" or "Slayer" you will get in this game. It essentially plays like a deathmatch, a team winning by killing the other team. However if not all players die, at the end of each round, whoever possesses the artifact wins the game. This is the "Major win" for this gametype, and scores more points. In this gametype, you cannot "clear" dead bodies, by shooting at them, which removes them from the map and prevents them from being rezed for the round. The only way to do this, is by clearing them with the artifact by swinging it at them. In addition, the artifact also acts, when held like enhanced vision. This is a good reason to get a hold of the artifact, either early, or late when you are trying to find that last camper as you can see the enemies location. Beware, in this game type, the enemy will know your location when you hold it, via an indicator.
Extraction: This is sort of like neutral bomb in H3. You take the artifact and bring it to your opponents base to get the "Major win" and the extra cash. However you can still score a "Minor win" by killing all of the other team. The biggest difference is the ability to destroy bodies and "clear" them by simply shooting them, preventing them from being rezzed. When you get a spare chance, clearing bodies is a good tactic. The artifact holds no special powers in this gametype, but you are also not identified by an indicator.
Raid: This would be like 1 bomb in H3, an offense defense based game similar to Extraction. This gametype isn't played competitively, mainly because you never switch sides between offense, and defense even between rounds. other than that, this game plays just like Extraction.
Having unselfish, and efficient Rezzers, especially in gametypes where bodies can be easily be cleared, is vital for success.
This game has very fluent controls, part of the greatness of this game. However as I've previously mentioned, don't think that you can jump and run around while shooting like in other popular FPSs, you have to take your time and sometimes only a small strafe can be achieved. With the fluidity of Teleport, and the Glider, you can move your character with ease. Jumping is like you'd expect. Casting Mapped spells has been explained, as well as the more difficult "quick casting" which while difficult to pull of in the heat of battle, separates better players. The best feature of this game is the "situational awareness system" or as any competitive FPS player uses, the ability to call out enemy locations, tell players to move, and call for backup. While this doesn't substitute for a good knowledge of the game, with more detailed callouts via mic, this system can be used, especially for new players, to work as a team more. It can also be used with Enhanced Vision (EV) to call out locations from afar. Giving a location voiceover, including the number of enemies (even race if there is only 1) and a location name as well as a small flashing indicator on all teammates screens. This can be achieved anytime you see an enemy (or even when there are none to announce a "clear" area) by simply pressing Up on the D-pad. Left and right call for backup and tell players to move in a certain direction. This feature is one of my favorite in the game.
With the teleport spell, movement plays a big role in how well you play, but contributes to the fluent movement as walls are no bound.
Visuals and Sound
The visuals, while nothing to write home about are very solid in this game. Each team has unique looks (beyond simple color and attire changes) for each race (aka the RNA troll looks like a different "breed" than the Lineage one). The guns all look unique, and some of the spells and tech look awesome. That said the levels are a little bland, some more so than others. But this isn't a big problem for this game, and probably helps it. While we enjoy the intense scenery in other games, it often can detract from the actual gameplay. For example the texture of walls and floors in H3 is often criticized by the more competitive community because it causes weird interactions with grenades.
As for sound, I'd have to agree it isn't very good. There isn't really any music in the game, sans the opening credits and possibly the menus (thought I actually don't remember if there is any on those places either). This in game sound is all business, you can here the Beep Beep when you throw grenades, the wooshing of a teleport, the blowing of the gust, the planting of a tree. Each sound effect has a purpose and learning them helps the gameplay. In addition there are 2 announcers, 1 for callouts and 1 for general info. Its just as intense as Halo's in game announcer and adds the the value of the game. Again, this game isn't bells and whistles, its GAMEPLAY. Don't like it, get out.
The unique Lineage and RNA humans square off.
This game is a few years old. Because of its poor reviews and lack of general sales, the company, Fasa went under and the copyright was transferred to Smith and Tinker, which 2 of the main developers founded. That said, if you want to try this game out, drive to your local gamestop and by this shit used for $12.99. This is a goddamned steal and I encourage you to check it out, though PC gamers may have to scour Ebay for it.
This game is a few years old and for a competitive multiplayer FPS, this game is the best of its kind (at least for console players). If you want balance and a damn fun game, go down and get this game. Its not all bells and whistles, but then again, who needs em. If you are a fan of MLG on H3, or CounterStrike, or competitive FPS's in general I highly suggest you check it out. While Pubs are fun, I'd suggest you check out the MLG community for this game at http://www.mlgpro.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=174 (if linking there isn't allowed a mod could just delete that link and say MLG community). They are really willing to help new players learn the competitive side of the game in privates rather than pubs which are less team oriented and don't bring the full value of the game.
9.5/10 (Probably could be a 10, but there is always room for improvement)
|Jul 31st, 2009, 4:53:26 PM||#2|
I did my best, I have no regrets!
Join Date: Apr 2007
If you're looking for another game that offers cross platform multiplayer, check out Lost Planet or Lost Planet Colonies Edition.