Guild's Shadow Complex Review

Discussion in 'GBAtemp Reviews & Guides' started by Guild McCommunist, Jun 26, 2010.

  1. Guild McCommunist

    Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

    May 6, 2009
    United States
    The Danger Zone
    Back again after a hiatus from reviewing for a new review. Shadow Complex, you're up to bat!


    One of the big reasons I love my Xbox is for its Live Arcade downloadable titles. Simply put, it's the best download service for original content on a home console to date, unless Steam on PS3 is actually any good. You've got great remakes, great original titles, and games that feel like full fledged games but at downloadable game prices. And Shadow Complex is one of the reasons to not only love the Live Arcade, but to love your Xbox.

    Shadow Complex follows Jason Flemming (it's kinda an allusion to spy books, as Jason Bourne is the protagonist of the Bourne series and Flemming is the last name of the man who penned James Bond), a trained super spy by his father (although he's not an actual spy nor does he actually have any real experience), as he goes hiking with his girlfriend Claire. Next thing they know, the two stumble across a gigantic underground complex, and Claire is kidnapped. It's then up to Jason and his super-savvy spy skills to save Claire and stop the Restoration. I personally didn't find the plot really complex, but if you've read Orson Scott Card's Empire novels, you may like it more than I did. But it still provides plenty of cool moments and stuff.

    For gameplay, Shadow Complex is what I imagine Metroid would be like in this new age. And no, not Metroid Prime, I mean good ol' Metroid. It's played a lot like old Metroid is played; you have a giant complex to explore, collecting parts of your suit to improve your abilities and access new areas, all with boss battles and additional power-ups (such as improved ammo limits, health, and armor) intertwined. And really now, it plays great in this aspect. The complex is large and you'll need multiple ways of reaching sections of it. The platforming controls great and the level designs are brilliant. My only real annoyance with controls is the combat. While Shadow Complex plays out on a 2D plane, it's in a 3D world, and you'll not always be fighting enemies on your plane. You'll be firing at bad guys in the background too. Most of the time you'll be able to autolock on them and just blow them away, but other times it won't. And while you can manually aim, that only happens on the 2D plane, not the back area. But that's really the only annoyance. The game also employs some rather new mechanics to the "Metroidvania" style, such as some minor stealth and cover mechanics. You can crouch behind objects in the environment for cover, poke out and blast away a few bad guys before retreating to safety again. You can also use stealth to your advantage. Maybe instead of rushing through a room full of bad guys, you can go through the vents, or just sneak up behind a guy and melee him in the back. Boss battles are for the most part alright but rather meh. You'll be fighting the mechanical weapons of the Restoration, which while they are definitely large and intimidating, aren't as fun to fight as some zany bosses in other games or the monsters in Metroid. But hey, they can get challenging and are still pretty good.

    For graphics and sound, the game excels for both. Graphics are excellent for a XBLA game, with good lighting effects, models smooth framerate, as well as good looking cutscenes. The only thing I noticed were some very rare graphical glitches, but they were neither severe or even noticeable for more than a split second. Sound gets a nice enough voice cast, a great soundtrack, and good sound effects. For the XBLA, this is the aesthetically best game I could say.

    Overall, Shadow Complex is by far one of the best XBLA games and one of the best downloadable games of this generation. Metroid style gameplay here is reimagined in the modern age and brought to it with great success.

    Presentation: A decent enough story with nice control layout. Menus are easy to navigate and accessible. 9/10

    Graphics: One of the best looking XBLA titles. Lighting effects are impressive, and character models, physics, and framerate are excellent. There were some small and rare graphical glitches I noticed, but they only lasted a split second and were forgotten about in the next few. 10/10

    Audio: The soundtrack is really quite nice, and the sound effects are just as good. Voice acting isn't top-notch, but for a small XBLA game, it's pretty good. 9.5/10

    Gameplay: Metroid brought into the modern age. A great, expansive area to explore combined with great platforming and decent enough shooting. Some minor control issues when fighting enemies in the background are annoying though. Boss battles can be generic but are still good fun. The overall experience of getting new gadgets to access new areas though, being Metroid's biggest aspect, is still excellent here. 9/10

    Lasting Appeal: You can beat the main story in a couple of hours, but you'll want to continue afterward. There's a huge amount of extra stuff to find, from ammo capacity upgrades to passkeys to gold bars. That part of it will take you a long time. There's also challenges to do, achievements to go for, and even beating your friends' different exploits (such as kills) and climb up the leaderboard is addicting. And all this is just on the first playthrough. 10/10

    Overall: 9.5/10

    This is a really great game, and I got it on sale for about 560 MS Points. I'd buy it right now if I were you.
  2. Forstride

    Forstride The rudder moves when I turn the wheel

    May 6, 2008
    United States
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I don't want to read through the review, since I'm still playing through it. I'll edit this post later when I get to read it.

    But it's really great from what I've played so far.