Shadowrun Updated Hands-On - Multiplayer Mode Details

Shadowrun's ambitious cross-platform gameplay will let Xbox 360 and Windows Vista gamers take one another on in three wild, dynamic multiplayer modes.

PC and Xbox 360 gamers have gotten used to living and playing in their own respective worlds, though that will change once Shadowrun ships. Shadowrun, from Microsoft and its internal FASA Studio, will be the first Live Anywhere game to feature cross-platform gameplay, meaning that Xbox 360 players will be able to battle Windows Vista players online. It'll be a showdown between the mouse-and-keyboard crowd versus the gamepad crowd. We can't wait, but thankfully Microsoft recently gave us a chance to give both versions of the game a test-drive.

Shadowrun is a first- or third-person action game set in an alternate universe where magic and technology mix. The focus of the game is round-based multiplayer action, sort of like Counter-Strike, but with magical abilities and tech items that allow for a much more dynamic experience. In Shadowrun, you can see and teleport through walls, turn into a puff of smoke so bullets can't hurt you, hurl a gust of wind that disperses that smoke, summon magical minions to slay your enemies, enable hyperreflexes that let you move faster than others, and much more. Players will select from one of four magical races, each with its advantages and disadvantages, and they'll fight for the RNA Corporation, a high-tech organization, or the Lineage, the defenders of the magical temple that's the source of conflict in the game.

Teleporting trolls armed with katana swords is just one of the many unusual things that you'll see in Shadowrun.

This was the first time that we saw Shadowrun in a fairly complete state. Though the game still needs some work, pretty much all the pieces are finally in place, and FASA finally showed off some levels that we hadn't been showcased before. The first was Nerve Center, which is set in the high-tech environs of an RNA Corporation base. The other was Favela, which is set in the vertical slums of Santos, the fictional Brazilian city in the game. Both were designed for 12-player matches, with six players on a team, though the largest maps in the game are designed for 16-player matches.

There will be three game modes in Shadowrun, each involving an artifact that must be captured. In raid mode, one team will be tasked on defense while the other is on offense, and the objective is for the attackers to capture the artifact and deliver it to a certain spot on the map. Extraction mode is more like capture the flag, as the objective of both teams is to capture the artifact and return it to their base. And then there's attrition mode, which is basically a team deathmatch mode with a couple of twists. First, in attrition mode, bodies can't be "cleared" from play. In the two other modes, if you kill someone they can still be resurrected so long as the body remains. However, one way to prevent this is to fire your weapon into a body until it disappears, "clearing" it from play. That player can no longer be resurrected in that round and must wait for the next round to play. So "clearing" isn't a danger in attrition mode. The second twist in attrition mode is that whoever is holding the artifact can see the location of all enemy players, and the value of that is pretty obvious. The artifact holder can then call out the location of enemies to the rest of the team.

Though we've played Shadowrun on numerous occasions at this point, we remain impressed by the depth in the game. For instance, we never thought of throwing a strangler grenade at a tree of life before. The tree of life is a magical tree that instantly sprouts from a seed you throw on the ground, and the reason you plant it is because you automatically heal if you're next to one. A strangler grenade puts down magical crystals that can block an entranceway. So, let's say you're battling someone who throws a tree of life down to heal. By tossing a strangler grenade at the tree of life, you deny them the healing abilities of the tree. Another example of tactics we hadn't thought of before is throwing down a tree of life to create instant cover if you're under fire. So imagine a battle where players are not only blasting away at one another with submachine guns, rifles, rocket launchers, and shotguns, but also throwing down trees of life and strangler grenades, soaring overhead with glider wings, teleporting around, resurrecting the dead, and more, and you get the idea of just how crazy the action can get in Shadowrun.

Shadowrun's release date is still vague, but it will ship within the next four months.

The bad news is that those looking for evidence that one control scheme is superior than the other may be disappointed. As far as we can tell, it's pretty much a wash between the mouse and keyboard and the game controller. Both are equally effective, and what it'll come down to is personal preference. Get the PC version if you want to play with a mouse and keyboard (you can also plug in an Xbox 360 controller to a Vista machine), or get the Xbox 360 version if you want the controller. Both versions look pretty much identical, so you won't miss anything with either one. However, if you do go for the PC version, make sure that your mouse has two main buttons and two side buttons, because you can map up to three magical or tech abilities to the right mouse button and the two side buttons. (The left mouse button, of course, is used to fire your weapon.) This makes it easy in a fight to use your abilities without having to fumble with the keyboard.

Shadowrun is a lot of fun, and though Microsoft still hasn't announced an exact release date for the game, its release date is nearing. All we know for now is that Shadowrun will ship for both the Xbox 360 and Windows Vista PCs (sorry Windows XP users, but you'll have to upgrade) before the first half of the year is out.

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Discussion

25 comments
Gbeck1994
Gbeck1994

when the OXM staff played the PC Gamer staff PC gmer won but not by much. I doubt any PC players will have a huge advantage over 360 players. I played half life 2 on the PC and Xbox and acutuly like the Xbox version better as far as conrtols

keinuveye
keinuveye

Is there a single player content? Just curious

AJAX8000
AJAX8000

Wow, this game is gonna be a goodie for me! For one...I got Vista almost a month ago, even though it has so many weak points it's stil alright. Now I can also play with all of my friends, which bought 360s, and show them who is really the king of FPSs. I hope more games come out like this in the future!

nappan
nappan

Not only is Santos a real city as others have pointed out, but that fact shouldn't have escaped ANYONE. The whole point of shadowrun (the P&P game) is that the real world is the setting... just one which has been transformed. So much for due diligence in previews :-p

FinnDS
FinnDS

I hope this will be a fun game, it was killer on SNES, hope they really go around to it on the lore part of the game.

stormlifter
stormlifter

Noooo! They're forcing me into Vista? Evil! EVIL! I'm quite upset about that.

padaporra
padaporra

well the fact is that santos isnt a fictional city, its do exist, its a coastal city in the state of sao paulo, its kinda big and has a very important port in brazil. well, at least in didnt saw that brazil is a fictional country. some information should be welcome, as i can see you dont have much of it

reckeweg
reckeweg

I've never played a FPS on a PC before, in fact I think the first FSP I ever played was Halo. Why does the majority think the PC users will just wash over the game pad users like a flood of locusts? From my perspective it would seem the mouse & keyboard would be harder to use.

fortiliano
fortiliano

maximum only 16 players? oh c'mon!

lithus
lithus

I'm sorry, but I still think the PC gamers will have the edge with key board and mouse. "A wash" my butt. Everyone knows how much more accurate and comfortable the Mouse is. Console gamers have to line up their targets with a conscious effort. Sure some people have the controller down, but not everyone. The only way to even the playing field is to bring down the mouse sensitivity by an unchanged default. You watch, 4-5 months from now the message boards will be filled with console gamers complaining about the obvious handicap.

zrocknrollerz
zrocknrollerz

Anyone else think the Trolls look kind of stupid looking, i dunno maybe i just have to get used to them.

chemeleon_789
chemeleon_789

why vista???? what about all the xp users? I don't want my system to crash, I always wait at least 6 months before they fix most of the bugs before I get a new operating system, its just more sound that way. ------------------------------ I've had vista since it was released and it hasn't crashed once for me yet.

ryanjtravis
ryanjtravis

I'm so stoked for this game... I hope they're releasing it sooner than later.

Absolutezerr
Absolutezerr

Can't wait. Seeing the gameplay videos, and getting an idea of how diverse the characters are (LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THE TROLLS!) makes me want the game even more. I wonder how frequently new maps will be added though. Any map where there's an area to teleport outside the level will be exploited in an instant. So lets hope the first version they release has plenty of unique stuff to last it's players a long time.

Vorador47
Vorador47

i guess that means you wont really have to worry about the whole keyboard and mouse vs gamepad for awhile, sinse probably 80% of players will have the 360 version. i sure as hell will because im not buying vista for my pc for quite awhile.

sangoanuta
sangoanuta

SANTOS ISN'T FICTIONAL. SANTOS IS A CITY IN SÃO PAULO. CORRECT THAT.

gmax
gmax

Multiplatform multiplayer is cool... but Vista is not...

Sup3rn0v4
Sup3rn0v4

I remember playing Shadowrun on SNES... Technology + Magic = Cool ^^

wytefang
wytefang

That's incorrect, it uses both DX9 and 10.

imrlybord7
imrlybord7

It's vista because the game only uses direct 3d 10, not 9.

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

Only Vista? I will definitely not get this game.

TintedChimes
TintedChimes

why vista???? what about all the xp users? I don't want my system to crash, I always wait at least 6 months before they fix most of the bugs before I get a new operating system, its just more sound that way.

wytefang
wytefang

It's kind of interesting that GS fails to mention how heavily tweaked the controller had to be as an input device that could measure up to the mouse, which was just as heavily de-tweaked, if you will. There's a good article about from one of the ShadrowRun devs on the game's website. It's pretty gratifying as a PC gamer to see how badly the mouse would have been owning had they not 'adjusted' things for balance. Either way, the game seems like it might be fun - if they can stear away from the stupid CounterSuck model of gameplay where you have to sit out until a round's done. That's kind of boring.

p1mptazt1k
p1mptazt1k

i want this game but i dont wanna get vista yet