What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know this game can be quite graphic. Not only can you shoot enemies -- humans, elves, dwarves, and the like -- with all kinds of weaponry, but you're encouraged to blast them into bits even after they've died and fallen since they could be revived by teammates. It's a multiplayer online game with support for chatting, so anything goes in terms of trash-talking; Common Sense Media doesn't recommend online play for anyone under age 12.
What's it about?
SHADOWRUN, which is based on a pen-and-paper role-playing game (RPG) of the same name, fuses weapons, ancient magic, and special abilities. Think of it as a kind of team-based Counter-Strike game, but with the ability to sprout wings to glide off steep ledges, teleport to other spots on the map, summon creatures to do your bidding, see through walls, and knock enemies down with a strong gust of wind. Told via entertaining cut-scene sequences, the cyberpunk story takes place in Brazil about 25 years from now, when magic has returned to Earth after a 5,000-year absence. You play as an employee of a huge global corporation, RNA, out to battle for control over this recently unearthed ancient power.
Is it any good?
After a mandatory six-part tutorial, you can only play Shadowrun online against other players or in a simulated multiplayer match against computer-controlled "bots." You can buy the game for the Microsoft Xbox 360 or Microsoft Windows Vista PCs and play across the two platforms in online matches with up to 16 friends. PC gamers can play online for free using the Windows Vista version with a free Xbox Live Silver account, but Xbox 360 owners and PC users who want to join them must shell out $50 a year for Xbox Live Gold accounts.
Gameplay can be fun and frenetic, but the savvy developers at FASA Studio could've done so much more with this rich world by weaving in a great single-player story, memorable characters, and RPG-like "leveling up" -- without losing the first-person action sequences.
In the end, however, the game is a good but not great multiplayer team-based shooter that doesn't leave a long=lasting impression.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about the violence and gore in this game. Sure, this is fiction based on a cyberpunk role-playing game, but there are humans just as there are fantasy race types. Does blasting an already dead enemy into bloody chunks cross the line into excessive violence or is all fair in the context of the game universe? Do you miss the single-player story mode?