Martin Carr reviews Shadow Complex Remastered…
Originally developed by Epic in association with Chair Entertainment and published by Microsoft, Shadow Complex is 2D sideways scrolling platformer. Powered by Unreal Engine and rebooted for Xbox One and PS4, Complex lapses into 3D whilst maintaining the old school ethic of two dimensional shooters.
Initially released on Xbox 360 this retooled version has tweaked graphics, additional content and the obligatory on-line challenges accessed through ‘The Proving Ground’. Which basically sets you tasks which require the player to get from one point to another using minimal everything. This is then logged on a leader board for ranking purposes. As for the main game, it concerns Jason Flemming and his girlfriend Claire getting mixed up in some shady stuff while pot holing.
This story then expands into a kidnap, rescue and retrieval mission with guns, ammo and bad guys aplenty. Gameplay wise it’s reminiscent of Super Metroid, where you gain experience points, level up attributes and gain access to more powerful guns etc. The original won in excess of fifty awards and this supped up version is savagely addictive and quickly accessible. Controls are standard and very responsive, making Shadow Complex one of the most entertaining slices of espionage gaming for some time. Sure there are fancier ones out there which include amongst others the Metal Gear franchise. But for pure old fashioned running, shooting and jumping around with guns, grenades and faceless mercenaries everywhere, Complex is hard to beat.
Not only that but for the reboot maps are bigger, save points frequent enough to keep you interested but not so many as to take away the challenge. While the AI strikes a balance between automaton and free thinker, meaning they are neither stupid nor MENSA approved. Graphically everything looks very pretty and the backgrounds are vibrant but not overly saturated. While that graphics engine gives all elements an additional gloss and shiny Next Gen feel.
For me Shadow Complex ticks all the boxes delivering just what I want in a game of this type. Plus being part of the ‘ZX Spectrum’ generation it has that one essential that some next gen titles lack; namely playability. Nowadays for something to distract me from the daily grind for more than an hour is a miracle but Complex had me coming back more than most. Purely because of its gameplay striking a balance in the best way great platformers do. It was quick to pick up, hard to put down and difficult enough to convince me I could always get that bit further if I stuck around. A skill and combination some of the more ‘all mouth and no trouser’ releases would do well to learn from.