Shadow Complex is a mixing bowl of ideas, it is a 2D side scroller with 3D backgrounds, it is also a shooter and an adventure game. The best part is that the game incorperates all the elements brilliantly.
It took me three years, but I finally discovered one of the most amazing games of this generation. Somehow this title fell under my radar back in 2009, but thankfully it resurfaced on my Xbox. The reason being is that Shadow Complex brings back the greatness of the side scrolling genre. This game reminds me of my younger years in gaming. The art of side scrolling is something that seems to have almost been lost due to new technology and 3D capabilites.
What makes Shadow Complex so great is how they took the best elements from both the Metroid and Castlevania series, and put them in a modern setting. While the shooting mechanics work well enough it does encounter issues when trying to shoot within the 3D background. It can be annoying at times, but is nothing game breaking. The melee attacks are always satisfying, at times I find myself never using my weapons only melee attacks.
While running through the complex for the first time you will pass rooms that are inaccesable to you at first, but once you obtain the right equipment, (grenades, foam gun, missles, grapple hook) you will be able to revisit thes locations and aquire collecables, such as special ammo, health and armor boosts, as well as others.
The graphics are simply outstanding, especially for a Xbox Live Arcade title. From the character models to the explosions it all looks amazing, and even though I started playing this game three years after its realese, it has aged well.
It is the element of discovery and puzzle that makes Shadow Complex so compelling. Hunting down all of the suit upgrades and trying to grab every collectable reminds me greatly of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Just by looking at Shadow Complex's map is proof enough of how vast and varied the game can be.
With several difficulties available there is a good replay value, and if this map is not large enough for you there are also challanges you can undertake and compete in to rise up in the leaderboards. For only $15 this game is one hell of a package. While the story works, it only helps giving you a reason to carry onward and there is no real depth to the world surrounding the characters. If there is only thing I can fault this game with it is the story. I wasn't expecting anything amazing, I was hoping to understand the Restoration's reasons for wanting to start a second Civil War. Just by adding new collectable items such as journals or news clipping that explain the Restorations background could have helped the story greatly.
I have beaten Shadow Complex twice already, but I have yet to discover all the collectables and I still need to complete all the challanges so I will be enjoying this game for a long time.
The only good part of waiting three years to play this game is that I won't have to wait as long for the sequel.