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Old 08-25-2009, 07:59 AM   #1
modeps
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[XBLA] - Shadow Complex Review

Title: Shadow Complex
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Platform Reviewed: Xbox Live Arcade (Queue it up!)
Developer: Chair Entertainment
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
MSRP: 1200 MSP
Writer: James 'modeps' Hunter

Shadow Complex Review

An unapologetic clone of Super Metroid... but that's OK.

Jason Flemming: he is no one, and he his everyone. He is also your main character in Shadow Complex, the last title in the Summer of Arcade line of games for 2009. Created by Chair Entertainment (part of Epic Games and of Undertow fame), Shadow Complex actually takes place within the Empire universe made famous by Orson Scott Card... although there's little here that makes that apparent.

After a brief "Look at all the stuff you'll be able to do later!" segment, the real game kicks off while you are on a hike with a pretty young lady. She goes on ahead then disappears while you follow her trail. Jason is presented as your normal, everyday fellow... thrown into an extraordinary situation and takes it upon himself to stop a rogue group of terrorists, called the Progressive Restoration, from starting the second Civil War (somehow). The story here is not spoon fed to you, and you're always left without that omniscient feeling. You only see and hear what Jason sees and hears and are better off for it.

Jason is so ill-equipped for the task that he doesn't even start off the game with a gun... but why would you if you're on a hike? Instead, you get a flashlight and some climbing gear while you head into the enemy base tucked away in a underground cavern. The only superhuman thing about Jason is that he doesn't take damage from long falls. Instead, as you progress and explore Shadow Complex's rather large map, you'll find new gadgets to make yourself a little better here and there. You'll find numerous gun upgrades, secondary fire modes, a mini booster jetpack and more. Most of these upgrades will allow you to access previously unavailable areas of the map. Additionally, exploring and taking down enemies earns you XP in-game, and at each level increase you'll improve even more with accuracy and health upgrades among others.

The combination of gear pickups and experience based leveling is really one of the strong points here. It never feels like a grind to get to the next level, instead you are always improving yourself in a more gradual progression instead of a stepped one. Furthermore, you can earn achievements for performing a specific number of enemy takedowns which are all tracked on the game's leaderboard system. Once you hit the "achievement" level, sure you'll unlock the achievement, but you're still competing with your friends to see who can melee the most baddies, or get the most headshots. It's a great little meta system.

Using the Unreal Engine, Shadow Complex is really quite a great looking Xbox Live Arcade game, and arguably the best looking out of them all. The mountainside are lush, animations are smooth, and there are no load times once the game gets going. Additionally, while at it's core is a 2D platformer, every bit of the game has some depth to it, some of which force you to attack enemies that are in the background.

While it looks good, SC lacks much of the character found in the games it borrows from... you're just running and gunning like some generic dude. There are also several glitches which really detract from the immersion, like running up to an enemy to melee him, and clipping through the wall, or not having a specific animation kick in when you're trying to wall jump. I even had one point where I had to restart the game thanks to an audio loop getting stuck. There are other points as well where the 3D elements don't seem to make sense... Why do I have to jump off a landing when there are stairs right there?

Shadow Complex borrows just about everything it has from the 15 year old Super Metroid, the exploration and map, to the carbon copy weapon and ability upgrades. It does little to innovate on the formula, but that doesn't make it bad at all. Shadow Complex is a solid, great looking "Metroid-vania" game that could have spent some more time in the cooker to iron out some weird glitches that take place. Most importantly, it is a fun game. If you've ever played post-Symphony of the Night Castlevania titles, or Super Metroid, you know what you should expect here and can decide if you want to do it again or not. Those of you who haven't, give it try and see why exploration games of this ilk has become beloved by many over the years.

Score: 4 out of 5


The Good
  • Visually, one of the best Xbox Live Arcade titles available
  • Entertaining, tried and true, exploration and upgrade gameplay
  • If you're a completionist, this game will keep you busy for a long, long time
The Bad
  • Quirky bugs detract from the overall experience
  • Lacks some charm found in similar games of it's kind
The Ugly
  • Did Chair just copy and paste portions out of Super Metroid? Let's try to change things up a bit more next time.
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Old 08-25-2009, 08:44 AM   #2
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Thumbs down

Loved the demo; after Bionic Commando: Rearmed I've been lusting after another 2D/3D hybrid (yo, Sonic, get your ass over here!).

My favorite part, however, was Chair's logo. Clever and simple little design.
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Old 08-25-2009, 08:47 AM   #3
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My favorite part, however, was Chair's logo. Clever and simple little design.
Yeah, I really dug their logo as well.
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:09 AM   #4
Zetsuei
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I know it's an almost exact replica of Metroid-vania games, but god dammit, I love those types of games. I haven't gotten around to downloading it yet, but I definitely plan on it. How is the game length if you don't try and get 100%?
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:18 AM   #5
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I know it's an almost exact replica of Metroid-vania games, but god dammit, I love those types of games. I haven't gotten around to downloading it yet, but I definitely plan on it. How is the game length if you don't try and get 100%?
Took me roughly 5 hours to beat without going for 100%.
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:24 AM   #6
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Man I wish that game on PC

Why? Why nottttttttt?

Bring it to Steam!
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:47 AM   #7
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This game might not be perfect, but for $15 I really couldn't ask for anything more.
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:51 AM   #8
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So good. My roommate and I have been playing it nearly every night switching off on deaths having a ton of fun.
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Old 08-25-2009, 10:20 AM   #9
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Took me roughly 5 hours to beat without going for 100%.
i beat it this morning at 94% completion in 8.5 hours. However, there's an achievement for 100% finishing the game in 3 hours. i don't know HTF you get that though.
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Old 08-25-2009, 11:19 AM   #10
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i beat it this morning at 94% completion in 8.5 hours. However, there's an achievement for 100% finishing the game in 3 hours. i don't know HTF you get that though.
I don't see an achievement for that on my list on Xbox.com... the only ones I'm missing are:

Quote:
Make 'Em Scream
Get 100 soldiers to scream

Completionist
Complete the game with 100% of the items

Minimalist
Complete the game with less than 13% of items

Proven Grounds
Complete the three challenge packs in the Proving Grounds

Serious Complex
Level up to experience level 50
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Old 08-25-2009, 11:39 AM   #11
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i beat it this morning at 94% completion in 8.5 hours. However, there's an achievement for 100% finishing the game in 3 hours. i don't know HTF you get that though.
There's no such thing man. You only have to finish it with 100%, regardless of how many hours you put in.
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Old 08-25-2009, 03:54 PM   #12
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Just thought I'd mention that I've not encountered any of the bugs/glitches mentioned in the review, or any at all for that matter.
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Old 08-25-2009, 05:28 PM   #13
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Good review.

I've been undecided about this one as I tend to stay away from the arcade originals (they tend to be overrated in my opinion). After reading this, I might just go and check out the demo.

Cheers.
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Old 08-25-2009, 06:23 PM   #14
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Just thought I'd mention that I've not encountered any of the bugs/glitches mentioned in the review, or any at all for that matter.
You're just not paying close enough attention, or not using melee attacks enough
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Old 08-25-2009, 06:31 PM   #15
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There's no such thing man. You only have to finish it with 100%, regardless of how many hours you put in.
I am pretty sure he means one of the master challenges not an achievement.
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Old 08-25-2009, 08:35 PM   #16
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I am pretty sure he means one of the master challenges not an achievement.
Yeah, while on the main menu click on the in-game achievement menu and scroll to the last page.
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Old 08-26-2009, 05:56 AM   #17
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Oh, additionally, if you want a pretty sweet item helper, I found this.
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Old 08-26-2009, 03:38 PM   #18
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my apologies, I did mean the "master challenges". Regardless, they seem insanely hard
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Old 08-27-2009, 06:42 AM   #19
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my apologies, I did mean the "master challenges". Regardless, they seem insanely hard
I think the point everyone is making, is that YOU WERE WRONG!


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Old 08-27-2009, 06:18 PM   #20
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I just beat the game for the first time, hardcore difficulty, 100% of items, 9 hours and 500 punched bitches. I think i was level 32 at the end.

I thought it was a pretty good metroid wannabe, but it was lacking the polish and atmosphere of the true metroid/castlevania titles. The music was the main thing that was missing, as was a more varied environment. However, this being a downloadable $15 game, it held up damn well and was well worth the play and the money.

I'll probably speedrun it sometime.
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