REVIEW – Back in the previous generation, there was a game that was both critically acclaimed and commercial success, a mix of 2.5D and action adventure. Unfortunately, that game back then was only available for the Xbox Live. The time has come however to test out Shadow Complex finally, as Epic Games has decided to re-release the game for the next generation of consoles, and this time not just simply for the Xbox brand. Shadow Complex Remastered was released in 2016 for the PlayStation 4, for a rather low price, but the question remains if that low price is enough to try out the adventures of Jason Fleming?
Well the story of Shadow Complex, after finally playing it on the PlayStation 4, reminded me of the beginning of Heavy Rain (only in reverse). As this time, you were controlling a Jason whose name was being screamed always by his girlfriend. Jason Fleming and his girlfriend decide to go on a hiking trip to a nearby mountain. However, the hiking becomes an unexpected rescue mission, as the girlfriend gets captured by weird armored soldiers. It is up to Jason to save the day, and possibly the United States of America against the evil Restoration group trying to cause a civil war.
The story is generic as hell, and there are no unpredictable turns or interesting plot points. It is basically: Save girlfriend, Stop the evil Cobra Commander, and save the world. Nothing more and nothing less. The cutscenes are okay, but hearing the girlfriend scream for the twentieth time will get on your nerve.
Shadow Moses? Nooo this a Complex!
Shadow Complex has only one level available to us, and that is an underground complex deep within the mountains. While this seems quite underwhelming from the outset, the level design is godly. At first, most of the complex will be inaccessible to you as you’ll only have a climbing gear and a small pistol. As time goes on, you’ll be able to pick up better weapons, abilities, armor, and upgrades that are scattered throughout the map. The map is layered and built up in a way that by the end of it our character will be able to reach any point of the map.
Many exits, rooms, and corridors intersect with other routes that were previously inaccessible. It is worth to explore every section, the tiny route to get the most out of your weapons and armor, as by the end of the game you’ll be fighting giant walkers, helicopters and ninja men with grappling hooks.
Though the level is just one big underground base, you can still get lost even with the map at your disposal. So be careful when trading along those caverns and corridors or you might get ambushed by the enemy.
Climb a mountain with a jetpack
Shadow Complex starts out rather slow. You only get a pistol, and a mountain climber set to traverse the base, and its obstacles. Luckily due to our army training and quick wits. As the game progresses, you’ll earn yourself a battle armor that can be further upgraded. There are also items that you’ll be able to recover such as a grenade launcher, a foam launcher (to freeze enemies), a grappling hook, and a rocket launcher. Our armor can also be upgraded with items such as a booster, a double jump booster, and an oxygen mask for underwater breathing.
Earning these components take time and skill, and if you are not careful enough you can skip on these items as the map is not always specific (unless you turn on that option). By the end of the game, I was looking like the main protagonist from Vanquish, fully suited up, and being able to take on multiple giant enemies. So I hope you like exploring because this game has plenty of it, and you’ll need it in the long run to succeed.
Run and gun just like in 2009
Speaking of long runs, while the game is dubbed as a Remastered version it looks a bit worse than the original 2009 Xbox 360 game. When comparing the two games it looks like the remaster has just maybe better textures, but the brightness, the colour scheme is entirely off. Entirely off-putting and feels like a lazy port job. The effects look nice, and the enemy design is well detailed, but the environments outside the complex and some within it lack polish. Muddy textures appear, and the game has its fair share of bugs not just graphically but regarding gameplay.
While it is reminiscent of an old Metroid game, the combat is tight, and fluid when it is working properly. Most of the times it does, and it is satisfying to headshot enemy soldiers, blow them up, or punch them to oblivion with our arm. All of this is super awesome, except the aiming drags it down to oblivion. As the game is 2.5D, there can be times when enemies in the same level are in multiple depth layers ( A soldier might be in front of you, but you’ll target the one who is a bit farther away but is closer in length). It is a weird issue and at times can mess up a playthrough.
The difficulty is also a bit weak; I had to turn it up to the highest to enjoy a Shadow Complex fully, as the lack of challenge was a bit disappointing. Furthermore besides the main campaign, there is only a challenge mode available to the player. The campaign is about 6-8 hours long depending on how much you scavenge for upgrades and items. A lengthy campaign that still could have been longer.
Restore or Destroy?
So is Shadow Complex worth it for the price? Yes, but only if you enjoy platformers, and cliché American hurray stories. Oh and weird concepts such as creating a civil war within America by dressing up as Cobra.
+ Level section is interconnected
+ Upgrade system is worth to explore the base
+ Fun combat…
– … that is sometimes horrible due to aiming
– graphics are a mess even for a „remastered.”
– No other game modes, or a special new game plus
Publisher: Epic Games
Developer: Chair Entertainment / Epic Games
Release date: May 3, 2016 (PS4)