Shadow Complex Developer Chair Publisher Epic Games Genre Action Platform Xbox 360 Release Out Now
Shadow Complex's story ties into the Peter David "Empire" novel, in which the main character; Jason Flemming and his new-found love interest; Claire have just embarked on a spelunking trip when Claire is kidnapped by a mysterious group of soldiers known as The Restoration who believe she is a spy. Jason, who just happens to be a natural-born soldier-come-pacifist now brings it upon himself to save Claire and stop The Restoration from it's ultimate goal; conquering the United States. The story itself is littered with a helping hand of cutscenes and wonderful voice acting, cheesy dialogue was expectedly unavoidable, however it's at least a refreshing look upon a stereotypical action movie/game script.
Being an almost entirely 2D game, Shadow Complex is a deceptively complex game, the controls however, are far from it. You move around using the left analogue stick, jump, reload and run are on the face buttons, grenades/foam/missiles and the flash light are on the shoulder buttons, crouch and fire are on the triggers. You can swap between shoulder items using the D-pad. The map is on the Back button. A pretty standard control scheme. As you progress through the game, more actions become available to the player, such as the foam gun, a sweet weapon which can be used to forge terrain which the player can walk and climb on, creating new paths to locations and creating shortcuts.
Your main mode of transportation around the game world is by foot, however this isn't always a laborious jaunt as one may expect. It seems every square on the game world has been placed to pace your progression through the game world and keep you entertained when you're forced to re-trace your steps in order to open a passageway once unavailable to your underpowered player at the time. Once again, powerups and skill will help any player overcome the many obstacles in Shadow Complex, quite a few of which will instantly kill players. Such as over-powered grill-heaters and obligatory crushing devices. One thing you can't say about Shadow Complex in almost anyway is that it's dull.
The game is also littered with several huge bosses, which are nothing more than huge bullet sponges. Sure, there's the odd boss or two which will kick your sorry behind on the first play. Mostly because you grow to underestimate bosses and when one actually poses somewhat of a challenge, you're literally caught off-guard. That being said, a few bosses are very entertaining in their appearance or mannerisms, like a boss late into the game which pummels you with missiles. It is a bit disappointing though, that the main strategy for all bosses is to use all your grenades and missiles and find a good spot to shoot him/it without him/it shooting you.
Visually Shadow Complex is a wonderful treat as well, especially for an Xbox Live Arcade game. Character models are highly detailed, as is the world itself. The game has a screen filter which tints to different colours depending where in the game world you are, making in-doors look very crisp and washed out, while out-doors has an appealing soft-orange tint. Together, Shadow Complex could easily rival a title worth four times it's price tag. And that's very impressive.
Overall, Shadow Complex is a very competent side-scrolling action adventure game. It's world is expansive, it's map system is easy to follow, gameplay is fun and varied and has not a dull moment. That coupled with a somewhat interesting plot makes the game well worth it's 1200 MS Points, which as of writing, is about £10. The only slight draw-back to Shadow Complex is it's size. You'll require a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) of some sort attached to your console in order to download the game, as it's 835MB size will cause problems for those with only a standard memory unit. Consider the game highly recommended.