Being new to Xbox Live, I was a bit apprehensive about playing an FPS like Shadowrun against actual people. Sure, the tutorial chapters did a good job of introducing me to the game, but playing against bots isn’t the same as playing against living, breathing people. For a game whose main focus is multiplayer (sadly, there’s no single player campaign in Shadowrun), I was hoping that multiplayer would blow me away.
Playing Shadowrun against people didn’t exactly blow me away, but I was impressed by how easy it was to just start playing. The game lends itself to making sure everyone is encouraged to play as a team. For example, people can buy the ability to resurrect fallen teammates, which discourages people from acting like an ass since no one would want to resurrect them then. But taking it one step further, if your resurrector dies, you slowly lose health and "bleed out" unless someone else resurrects you. This encourages you to stick around your resurrector and keep him alive. I love the whole resurrecting system because it enforces the idea that you can do a lot better working with someone else than alone.
Like with most multiplayer games, I was worried that things would be unbalanced, whether it be the classes or the weapons. Luckily, FASA did a fantastic job with balancing things. During online matches, I never felt that one race was superior to the other. Same thing with weapons. I did notice that some maps were easier to play with close-range weapons the katana or shotgun, while other maps definitely favored long-range weapons.
Matchmaking was also pretty painless. It took a few minutes for the game to put me into a suitable server based on my preferences (which were pretty lenient), but after I found a server, I liked how I could play there as long as I wanted spanning many map changes. The game tries to keep the teams the same across maps, but the team-balancing usually gets in the way of that and I heard a lot of people complaining over the headset about getting put on an opposite team than they were last time. I didn’t mind that it that much, since it definitely did balance the teams out better that way.
Now that praise for the game is out of the way, it’s time to focus on some complaints. Being a new owner of the 360, I was pretty impressed with how smoothly the game ran. The graphics were pleasant, frame rate good, and blood effects were outrageously visual. I think the developers spent a bit too long perfecting how blood spurts out of a person after you ninja-attack him with a katana because practically no work was put into third person models. Watching someone go up and down a ladder is hilarious because there’s no animation for it. They just float up and down. I would expect this from a mod or homebrew, but not from a finished game.
For a multiplayer game, I expect the net code to be pretty damn good. During my second night of gaming, I got disconnected at least three times from different games. I’m not sure if it was my own connection, or the actual servers, but it was definitely annoying. Then, there was that time I joined a server and everyone was lagging. Trying to shoot people while they’re warping around (and we’re not talking about teleport here) is not fun. I promptly got out of that game.
My main gripe about the game is that the 360 version has an MSRP of $60, has no single player campaign, and only has a handful of maps. I’m hoping that the price also covers future downloadable content. The hefty price seems a lot to be paying for a multiplayer only game and I can see players being discouraged from purchasing it because of that.
If you can look past the occasional connection issue and the laziness about the third person view (the game moves way too fast for me to notice it most of the time), Shadowrun is a fun game as long as you’re willing to pay the price. I don’t remember the last time I played an FPS online for such a long duration that when I turned it off, I could still here the sounds, like the grenade beep, in my head. The various ways in which you can customize your character keeps things interesting, but I’m worried that people will stop playing this game after a few months unless some new game modes and maps are introduced through downloadable content. It’ll be interesting to see how players will adapt to the game once more people get it and are more familiar with it.