I’ve been playing the Xbox 360 Shadowrun demo tonight. Good times were had. I’m finding the game’s reception a little surprising (Metacritic says 67), as apparently do many of the gamer public.
In the reviews it’s getting some flak due to it being the first pay to play Windows Live title (well, sort of) – just think about the storm it would rise if the PC gamers played for free “on Live”, while the already higher paying Xbox 360 users would continue to shell out for the online experience. Some people are for some reason going nuts because it’s a multiplayer only title, yet full-priced – so what, so is the ridiculously popular Battlefield. And then there’s the crowd who’s just now realized that these new-fangled console games are more expensive than the old-kind PC titles, even if they share the same name! How unfair is that?
The weirdest is the bunch who are boycotting the game because it’s not a roleplaying game. Excuse me? The Shadowrun SNES version was a cool game, but it was released in 1993, fourteen years ago! Surely there can exist multiple interpretations of the Shadowrun brand. Hell, the original tabletop RPG at its peak had a combat-only sister game, DMZ (Downtown Militarized Zone), released in 1990. Stop whining fanboys, you don’t even know what you’re talking about.
And sure, I’d welcome another RPG version of Shadowrun, but let’s face it: the game’s world is really more suitable to throwaway fun than deep roleplaying.
Oh well. Morons aside, based on the demo, I would hope for more success to the title. They have obviously put a lot of effort and thought to it and even though the execution is a little sub-par compared to heavy hitters, the gameplay is simply fun. I had a lot (a lot!) of fun teleporting (in the moving direction – not the facing direction), gliding (think Tribes), planting trees of life (first aid station and cover), using Force Push (uh, right, “Gust”) and summoning those fun crystal barriers. It’s like you have a chest full of new, fun stuff and the regular capture the flag gameplay and shooting guns is kind of window dressing.
It’s not like the presentation is crap, either. So some of the effects are last-genish and the lighting could be nicer and the environments more original, but really, for the purposes of a team-based online experience, it’s good enough. Plus it wins points for the tribal themes and the whole Shadowrun setting. The framerate is solid, draw distance is in order, models are smooth – what’s to complain? Okay, the screen captures don’t do anything for anyone, but in movement, it’s okay. No reason to pass this on.
I’m hoping Shadowrun finds the kind of dedicated audience the Tribes games did, far outliving its initial installed base. I know I’m interested in picking it up, much more so than the new Battlefield, no matter how much fun I’ve had with Battlefield 2. (Oh and speaking of fun: it’s not fun to have Dead Rising give a dirty disc on you after the second to last boss fight. Microsoft, get your goddamn hardware together.)