As a challenging action title this is more than worth your money - but it often strays from what it does best.

User Rating: 8 | Shadow Complex X360
When this Arcade title was released, Chair Entertainment has sent out one stern message, that 2D-focused games can still be highly successful - and for the most part this ambitious title is. Teaming up with Epic Games and utilising their Unreal Engine, Shadow Complex in a visual sense is absolutely stunning, has varied and challenging set-piece battles with more than satisfying boss fights, accompanied by, in places, solid exploration elements. Unfortunately, the latter is held back somewhat by the tedious setting and the tedium of enemy grunts that the player will face - this then results in the campaign feeling all to linear and half-baked.

Taking on the role of Jason Fleming, the player will find themselves searching for girlfriend Claire, who on a flirtatious first cutscene is lost to the dark night in the forest. After progressing through the mysterious setting Jason stumbles across a huge base, and with that a shifty militia known as the 'Progressive Restoration'.

The Restoration is hell bent on taking over the United States and beyond, with that the protagonist will take on a huge variety of enemies, from huge chicken walkers to human mech units. Although these are the most challenging fights, they are the most fun and have a limitless amount of methods to take them down, through the use of the variety of weapons you will unlock, whether it be through missiles, grenades and the use of foam all mean that you will have no difficulty wanting to take down such enemies again and again. With the clever transition from 2d sidescroller to 3d turret sequences, there is immense fun to be had tearing apart tens of hundreds of oncoming enemy troops.

Abiding to old-school, this is plucked straight from the Metroidvania subgenre and has a large emphasis on backtracking exploration. This in itself works very well, and in context with the size of the game world that you will explore, is more than pleasing to achieve with the variety of power-ups that you can obtain. These feel both satisfying to employ yet add a huge amount of depth to how you will play the game. Alongside the use of the Unreal engine, the game world is more than enjoyable to get through, admiring some fantastic visual sequences that are sure to be encountered throughout your first playthrough – it really does set the standard for the next instalment of XBLA content.

But with both the fantastic boss fights and the overall pleasing exploration content, Shadow Complex is bogged down by a lack of variety in both the environment and enemies faced. The Restoration grunts hold little in the way of a challenge and are all the same – you will face nothing new in this sense and when that is combined with a lack of a varied setting, the exploration that you feel is appropriate may put you off, and take away any replay value that is more than certain to flesh out any players experience of an otherwise solid title. However there is more than enough content to encourage you to play through the game more than once, and gives you more than a pleasing challenge that is more than worth the money.

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