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Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: FASA Studio
System requirements: 3.2 GHz CPU; 1GB RAM; 7GB hard drive space; Windows Vista; ATI X800 or NVIDIA 6800 display adapter with 256 MB RAM
Genre: Online 3D shooter
Release date: Available now
Review by: Michael Smith
The day PC gamers around the world have been waiting for has finally arrived. With FASA Studio and Microsoft Game Studio’s release of Shadowrun, the mouse-and-keyboard crowd finally has the chance to put the smackdown on their console brethren. And despite a few hiccups here and there, the developers deliver a surprisingly accessible gaming experience for veterans and noobs alike.
Although Shadowrun, based on a 1989 pen-and-paper role-playing game, is multiplayer-only, it does have a rudimentary backstory. Thousands of years ago, magic was a significant part of life on Earth. But its indiscriminate use brought the human race to the edge of extinction, and eventually magic disappeared from the world.
Then, in the early 21st century, a mysterious buried structure is found in the city of Santos, Brazil. International conglomerate RNA Global sends a research team to investigate, but they meddle in powers they don’t understand, resulting in a devastating release of magical energy that destroys half of the city, causes spontaneous mutations in some citizens and makes the artifact unreachable.
Some time later, RNA returns to Santos with a mandate to clean up and rebuild the city, but their real mission is to gain control of the artifact and the power it represents. They face stiff resistance from the Lineage, a group made up of the descendants of the survivors of the millennia-old cataclysm that originally buried the building. Determined to see to it that magic is made available to all, the Lineage fights a constant battle with RNA for control of Santos.
Shadowrun consists of nine detailed and visually striking maps, ranging from the marble hallways and lobby of an office building to a massive, multi-level outdoor venue featuring a structure reminiscent of an Aztec pyramid. Each map accommodates up to 16 players at a time (eight per team), with three of the maps sporting smaller versions for up to eight players (4 vs. 4). Two of the game’s three gameplay modes are available for each map, offering a good variety of action.
At the beginning of each round, players have cash that they can use to purchase weapons, tech items and magic spells. Of these items, three can be installed into each character for use in the round to come, and players earn more funds based on the success of themselves and their team. Each match lasts until one of the teams wins six, four-minute rounds, with victory conditions depending on the game mode played.
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