SHADOW COMPLEX REMASTERED
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studio and Epic Games
Developer: Chair Entertainment and Epic Games
Platform: Xbox One
Availability: Xbox 360, Windows, Xbox One, PS4
I played the original release of ChAIR’s Shadow Complex back in 2009 as an Xbox 360 Arcade title. The title at the time broke the mold as far as 2D side-scroller action games were considered. The world is actually fully three-dimensional but the player can only move on the 2D plane. Mixing up the genres, the player can shoot in the 3RD dimension as some enemies will be in the background. Luckily the game’s shooting mechanic are pretty forgiving in these instances, knowing that the enemies are actually in the background, and will assist the player when aiming. Now Epic Games has remastered it and released it for the PC, Xbox One, and PS4 in the summer.
The game is a 3rd-person action platformer and follows Jason Flemming and his new girlfriend Claire. They’re out on a camping expedition and stumble across some caves that lead to a hidden underground base filled with enemy soldiers and futuristic technology. Claire is captured and we are tasked with navigating the complex to save her and uncover the story behind the massive complex.
The whole game takes place in the underground facility, and mountainous region directly above. As the player progresses through the game, we start to get access to some of the future tech, starting with a jump pack to allow us to double jump, then grenades, and assault rifle. We then find an advanced suit, a foam gun, missile launcher and hook shot. The player’s flashlight will highlight objectives and colour-coated hidden areas. Each weapon allows the player to advance into new areas:the gun can shoot through yellow grates or floor panels, grenades can blast through green walls or rocks, the foam gun can freeze or explode purple paneling, and the missile launcher explodes through red blast shields. Each unlock is staggered throughout the facility while exploring, but will also encourage re-treading the map and exploration later one when everything is unlocked to find all the game’s many collectible collectibles. The hidden key cards are required to unlock the suit’s last upgrade – however this is not required to complete the game.
The gameplay and visuals really stood out at the time, for a 360 Arcade title, and it still stands up today. The remastering has brought brighter colours, and some better lighting and textures – Jason’s face especially. Claire has not seen that same upgrades though -maybe it’s true that men age more gracefully. The facility textures have been upgraded too, but with that, the land above in the mountains have not seen the same attention. There are still some hiccups in frame rate when a cut-scene initiates or in an especially large area with a large number of enemies.
The game has a diverse set of enemies from the foot and rocket + shield soldiers and special ops with a hook shot of their own. Then there are some mechanized walkers and a few spider tank bosses, and a huge bi-pedal boss with a shield.
The bulk of the story is only revealed at the end. The whole time in the facility we get the impression that this base is meant as a staging ground for something bigger, but our main focus is tracking down Claire and escaping. When we finally get the chance to do so, Jason lets Claire escape and we go back to shut the operation down. The final section concludes with a large airship leaving the base as we confront the leader, and find out that they’re going to invade San Francisco. Having unlocked all the suit’s perks and weapons, we attempt to survive the final stage while taking down the airship with some programmable nuclear warheads and shooting them at the airship – that the base has active warheads, and the player is able to initiate their launch notwithstanding.
The COBRA-esk villain approaches Jason threateningly, and in turn ends up with a bullet in his head thanks to our returning friend, Claire. Turns out she’s NSA and used us as a cover to infiltrate the base. She killed the boss in an attempt to save us from killing him in cold blood. Are you kidding me? The game tallied it up for me: I killed 798 soldiers to save you and the world! But thank-you Claire, my conscience is clean. I’ll sleep easier.
“LUCKILY THERE ARE PLENTY MORE FISH IN THE SEA”
The controls are smooth and intuitive, and aside from a few visual glitches the Remastered Edition is just as fun as I remember the original being. My only gripe is some inconsistencies in the enemy AI. In some of the larger stages, enemies off-screen will see the player without being provoked and start shooting immediately, before we can even see them, but other cases the player can walk up to enemies completely unaware, and do a stealth take down.
The game should be lauded for its gameplay: it’s built around the idea that you can infiltrate the facility with minimal weapons and perks a la Metal Gear Solid, so there are a lot of sneaky paths and creative ways to attack each section. Or you can go in guns blazing, removing every foe in your path. Choose your own adventure.
The remastered edition also brings with it a slew on new achievements encouraging playing the game in creative ways, collecting all the collectibles, and killing the bosses in different ways.
–For those that like remastered games, 2D Metroid/Castlevania/Mega-Man Games, or those that wished they could abandon the princess half-way through the story.
Status Update: Single (Complete the game by abandoning Claire to her fate) – 30G
Hook, Line, and Sinker (Kill an enemy with the Hookshot) – 20G