Shadow Runa game by Blue Sky Productions, Fasa Corp., and Beam Software
RPG fans can rejoice, because Shadowrun for the Genesis plays more like a traditional RPG than its SNES counterpart. There are two sides to that coin though, because the game also requires tedious character building and extensive game saving.
The Shadow Knows
In the year 2050, Seattle has become a wasteland frequented by thugs and mercenaries. Nestled within the grimy confines of the city are the Corporations that run things. These giant, powerful Corporations frequently hire members of the underworld to do their bidding. (Good thing that could never really happen.) Into the fray come the Shadowrunners, small-time mercenaries who take a job, or "run," for any amount of money. They're kind of like the Teamsters of thugs, and they can put a hurtin' on you in a hurry.
You play as a Shadowrunner who wants to know what happened to your brother. He's been fragged by someone with connections to the upper echelons of power in the city, and you want that slag-head dead.
You pick from three types of characters: a Samurai, a mercenary hunter skilled with weapons; a Decker, who's a computer whiz; or a Shaman, a mystical magic-user. Each character has his own set of skills and specialties. You can hire other 'runners to help you out, but they ain't cheap.
- The first Attribute you need to develop is your Negotiation skills. This leads to higher money for runs, and lower prices to hire 'runners.
- If you buy a stripped-down Mach 22 submachine gun from Boris, remember that it's illegal, and if Lone Star stops you on the street, you're busted.
- Whenever a character asks for money in exchange for information, be wary. Unless you have a high Reputation rating, they'll scam you every time. Save before you talk to them, then if It doesn't work out, reload the game.
- Sleaze is your best weapon when in cybercombat. Use the Sleaze program when you're up against gray IC chips.
Running roadblocks in your path are the Corporations. They have a group of ores running the police-enforcement division, known as Lone Star. You'll also trip up with Ghouls, Street Gangs, Magic-Users, Vampires, and more. When you're not fighting these goons, you'll go up against the Matrix, a huge computer system that runs transactions for every business in the world. You "deck" into the system to gather information and Nuyen, which is postapocalyptic money. You'll need the money to purchase anything from guns to cyberhardware (the computer accessories required for Matrix runs.)
- Don't waste your time buying illegal Frag grenades from this character. Most times it's an undercover Lone Star cop.
- If you're trying to lay low and you're being chased by cops or thugs, you can try to outrun them. Duck into alleys and make turns until they're off-screen, then duck into the first door you see. You won't be able to enter any buildings if they're on-screen.
As you start to gather skill and Nuyen, you unlock clues to your brother's murder. You also meet some of the strangest characters this side of San Francisco, so keep on your toes.
Shadowrun sports two shadowy views. The first view is an overhead look that takes place whenever your'runner is walking. This is when you'll fight the thugs and miscreants of futuristic Seattle. The graphics are small and muddled, and the sprites lack detail. The second view is a first-person perspective that takes place when your 'runner is in cybercombat in the Matrix. You'll see giant IC chips and computer Nodes flash in front of you while you try to zap them into memory hell. Although this view looks better, it's boring because nothing major happens.
The tinny sounds are out of place. Voice effects and more futuristic music would have enhanced this game. The only clear sound is the death-cry of your'runner when he bites the dust.
If you have a powerful weapon in hand, and your Negotiation rating is high, try to get the Ghoul run from the Johnson in the Redmond Barrens. You can make a certain percentage per hit, making big bucks in the process. Don't take a 'runner.
As for controls, it was easier playing the board game on which Shadowrun is based than guiding characters through seamy Seattle. It's especially awkward to use weapons, because you target your victims by pressing a button. If there are lots of heavies coming after you (which usually happens), you may have to press frantically to cycle through the entire gang in order to zero in on the guy in front before he turns your head into oatmeal. If he moves to the rear, you start all over again!
Run, Run, Run, Runaway
This game is much closer to a real RPG than the SNES version was, but the SNES version moved a little faster and was easier to play. If you're a real RPG die-hard, it shouldn't deter you. Be warned, though. You'll make hundreds of runs before you have the Nuyen to buy even basic items, or the Karma to build up your Attributes, so get ready to put in some hours.
If you like that kind of methodic character development and consistent game play, then this is for you. Or if you're tired of seeing knights, castles, and dungeons, then walk to the seamy side of the city and run with these Shadows.
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