Developer: Chair Ent.
Release Date: 8/19/2009
Available Exclusively On
The Good: Amazing graphics and audio, fun shooting mechanics, epic boss fights, neat weapons, easy to navigate
The Bad: Not so hot story, too similar to Metroid, a tad short, generic soldiers
Finally, a really good XBLA game is finally out after waiting for what seemed like forever. Most people have dubbed Shadow Complex as a cross between Metroid, Contra, and Castlevania, but that isn’t true at all. Shadow Complex has its own unique take on the Metroid formula but perfects it. Yeah, I said it. Metroid gets very tiresome with the same upgrades in every game, the same labyrinthine levels, and a not so interesting story. Sure Samus is hot, but that doesn’t make Metroid feel the same with every iteration.
Shadow Complex has a not so complex story where you, Jason Flemming (yeah some name for a hero), goes out hiking with your new girlfriend when suddenly strange soldiers attack. They are a group called the Progressive Restoration and hope to change the world with the mind of some freaking weird. While the story isn’t anything special it’s the gameplay that is.
The game, first off, uses a flashlight system that is very interesting. Different blockades can only be destroyed with different weapons i.e. orange is bullets, red is missiles, purple is the foam gun, green is grenades etc. Some parts of the levels will really stump you unless you whip out your trusty torch and shit it around the room. Forget what color is for what weapon? No problem since you can pause the game and look it up in the weapon description screen.
Speaking of weapons Shadow Complex has some great ones. My personal favorite is the foam gun which allows you to stun enemies and get behind them or over them. Slowly throughout the game, you will also upgrade your machine gun to an eventual killer shotgun during the last part of the game. The game also shows some pretty cool enemies with giant mechs you have to fight, but the regular soldiers tend to be pretty generic.
When it comes to level design the game does kind of copy Metroid with the squared off map system, but it’s better. When you pause the game you get a blue line that shows you where to go and all you have to do is follow the squares and figure out how to get through each room. Not only are there weapons to get, but upgrades for your armor to get through levels. You get a jetpack, super boots (as I like to call them), a dampener which allows you to run at super speed. These upgrades are fun to use and essential to get through the game.
The puzzles in the game are really not that hard to figure out since most of the game relies on destroying parts of the environment with your weapons and finding these with your flashlight. Sure you have levels to pull, crawling through ducts, riding elevators, but it’s nothing that’ll make you scratch your head. I do need to mention the shooting mechanics however since you rotate your stick in a 360-degree manner and just point in a direction of an enemy (foreground or background) which is kind of weird at first, but you will get used to it.
When it comes to a show-stopping graphical showcase Shadow Complex has it using the Unreal Engine 3 should I say more? It’s great running around in a 2/3D world than hopping on a turret and shooting in full 3D. Shadow Complex is also the biggest XBLA game coming in at almost 900 MB. The audio is great with good voice acting, and great sound and music. I highly recommend this game to platform fans, shooter fans, and anyone looking for a well spent $15. If you get bored with the single player go into the Challenge Grounds and test your skills against many challenges.