A great mix of very different ideas, complements this game and - more importantly - makes it a blast to play

User Rating: 9 | Shadow Complex X360
I've always had some problems with the platform genre in general. Either the games felt too restricted, or they had a goofy kind of adolescent air about them. I'm sure I've missed some classics, but we all have our preferences. In fact, thinking back, I've hardly played any platform games since the good old Amiga days, with the notable exceptions of Braid and ...Shadow Complex.

Calling Shadow Complex a platform game isn't entirely fair, though. Looking at it from a distance, it does look like a platform game, and the basic layout of the maps and the placement of camera is what you expect from a platformer. But the game is just as much a roleplaying game, a puzzle game, an exploration game and, at times, it even changes perspective to first person, changing the dynamics of the game.

In short, Shadow Complex is a more advanced entity in the gaming world - besides the many gameplay elements, it even tries to tell a fairly complex (no pun intended) story, and this is shown through cutscenes and through small talk between unaware soldiers. I wouldn't exactly call the story comparable to heavyweights like Bioshock or The Lost Odyssey, but it does give the player a reason to go forward and gives the game a narrative drive that this genre, to my best knowledge, seems to lack.

For a downloadable game, I was surprised to see the amount of content - we're talking about a lengthy campaign, which can easily be played several times on different difficulty levels, and you'll be rewarded with all kinds of bonuses for finding hidden items, levelling up (you earn XP for dispersing enemies) and for collecting armor pieces and special equipment. These roleplaying elements and the constant change of abilities and skills for the main protagonist helps mixing up and changing the game. These abilities also makes it possible to access places which was earlier inaccessible - picking up a foam launcher, for example, can break fans protecting air ducts, or blind ID scanners - and thus you can explore the map for even more hidden treasures. The combination of the exploration aspects and the roleplaying depth of leveling up and gathering equipment, makes this game quite addictive and gives plenty of reasons to go beyond the beaten path.

The combat is another element that changes throughout the game - not just because of the availability of new and very different weapons over the course of the game, but also because the enemies vary from insignificat grunts which will take only a few shots before they pass away, to large Dreadnought type of exoskeletons. Unlike other platform games I've seen, some of the enemies will attack from the background, adding depth to the aiming. As this game is controlled much like a twinstick shooter, you'll be able to aim outside the 2D perspective by moving the right stick upwards. Most of the time, this works just fine. But now and then, depending on the layout, you'll have a hard time aiming precisely into the 3D plane, making for a few frustrations now and then. But overall, the fighting aspect of the game is not just fun ..it rewards skill.

Shadow Complex is one of those games that surprises. It is fun. It has depth. It has an almost unique blend of different gameplay mechanics - all wrapped up in beautiful graphics (again U3 seem to be put to good use). And all this for the price of Arcade games on XBL (around 1200 MS points). With the amount of content and the high production values, this could've easily been sold as full price game, but since you can find it for fraction of that price, I can only recommend the game to just about everyone with an interest in games.
Have fun.

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