Shadow Complex is a side-scrolling action game created by Chair Entertainment, creator of Undertow, and Epic Games. The story is based on a novel by Orson Scott Card, Empire and will tie in to the books sequel due out later this year. You play as Jason Fleming, who out with his girlfriend Claire happen to stumble on a secret military-like base. Claire is kidnapped and it’s up to you [Jason] to save her.
You’ll find right away that Shadow Complex plays extremely well, from melee attacks to climbing walls to blasting your way through rooms filled with enemies. You will rarely, if never find a time when the controls don’t work well. Only time I ever found I had problems was when the enemies where off in the distance during some of the 3-D parts. I found I would end up shooting straight ahead instead of off in the distance, still though, only a very minor complaint in such a large game.
You have your choice of 4 different difficulties, Casual, Normal, Hardcore and Insane. I chose to go with Hardcore the first time through since I prefer a bit more of a challenge than normal difficulties. It wasn’t too difficult but it still provided a very nice challenge, especially in the beginning of the game before I was able to obtain any upgrades. The upgrades are what took the game to a whole new level for me. Wonderful memories of Metroid came back to bring a smile to my face, as each upgrade allows you to go back and get to areas you were unable to explore before. The story carries through the game nicely with an excellent plot. Just when you think the game is coming to a close you’ll find that you are only part way through with more upgrades and new areas to explore.
Before or even after you finish the campaign you still have the option to attempt the proving ground, which will provide you with some more than challenging gameplay as well as a tutorial. Also with all the upgrades to search out in the campaign, such a massive map to explore and respawing enemies, the replayability is very high. Besides, you have leaderboards, which will provide for a little friendly competition between friends.
For those of you who grew up with the awesomeness that was Metroid, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on Shadow Complex. It has the same gameplay feel that we all grew to love and adds so much more. For those of you that didn’t you won’t have to, you now will get to experience that we had, only on the next gen. Now I’m not saying Shadow Complex is exactly like Metroid was or better. I’m saying take what Metroid built and add all the functions you wish you had and you get Shadow Complex. Complete with a compelling story and fantastic gameplay, Shadow Complex has easily become my favorite Live Arcade title of the year. For 1200 ms points ($15) you get much more then you pay for. Do yourself a favor and give Shadow Complex a try, you won’t be disappointed.
Shadow Complex was provided for review by the publisher.
Platform: Xbox LIVE; Rated T
Developer: Chair Entertainment, Epic Games
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release: August 19, 2009