Shadow Complex

Status: Partially completed Shadow Complex
Achievements: 3 of 12
Gamerscore: 35/200
DLC Purchased: None

Xbox Live’s Summer of Arcade continues with the release of one of the year’s most anticipated Arcade titles. Shadow Complex (based on the universe of Orson Scott Card’s novel “Empire”) is here and with the power of Unreal Engine 3, it is a single player experience you do not want to miss out on.

What begins as a lovely day for Jason and Claire takes a horrible turn when they stumble upon an underground sanctuary filled with some not so nice gentlemen. They have captured Claire, believing that she is a spy, and now Jason must put to use the spy training he received and the life he chose not to live in order to save her.

Shadow Complex follows the basic rules of a side-scroller. You can move left or right, and in some places up and down in left to right fashion. Jumping and crouching at the right moments will enable you to crawl through ventilation systems and narrow passages in order to avoid enemies. The unique concept of having the ability to shoot in 3D is what really adds to the game. Sure we have games like Contra where we can shoot in a circular fashion all around us, including while hanging from ladders and ledges. But in Shadow Complex, we can also shoot “in front” of us. Using your right analog stick to aim, you can aim at people who are in the background and foreground of the action.

The game also boasts a plethora of upgrades, whether they be weapons, health or suit enhancements. Some are obviously placed, but most are hidden in crawl spaces or inside destructible boxes. For instance, Grenade Upgrade Packs will increase the amount of grenades you can carry. Climbing Gear enables you to, well, climb. Other items will give you access to more information on your map.

In addition to playing through the Campaign, Shadow Complex also has a Proving Grounds area for you to check out and perfect all the skills you will acquire along the way. After clearing all of the basic training, you can make your way through the challenges. Each challenge will require you to combine knowledge to complete the task at hand. Your reward upon completion is a Gold, Silver or Bronze star based on your overall performance. Completing all three Challenge Packs will net you an achievement.

Speaking of achievements, Shadow Complex offers unlockable items and instant leaderboard notification when you are approaching or surpass someone on your friends’ list. And similar to the achievement notifications on Gears of War 2, as you perform an action bringing you closer to the achievement total, a pop-up will momentarily grab your attention letting you know how many more melee moves you need or how many Bombas left to punt until the achievement is unlocked.

Shadow Complex offers a completely unique experience for those of us who grew up with the side scrolling games of the 80s and 90s. With a good 10+ hours of combined gameplay, and tons of replay value, the 1200 points will be points well spent.

(Review for GamingAngels – Aug 17, 2009)

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