Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown

Game review by
JK Sooja, Common Sense Media
Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown Game Poster Image
Fun sci-fi tactical game feels streamlined, gets repetitive.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Very dark, brutal setting, very little positivity here outside of "taking down" evil corporations.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A few instances of positive role models, but most everyone operates on either utilitarian principles, survival interests. Players tasked with "illegal, quasi-illegal" activities, missions.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, but ongoing lag disrupts flow. Play is difficult; no difficulty options available.

Violence

Combat is the meat of the game; both fantasy and realistic violence consistently bloody. Magic and guns both obliterate enemies into pools of blood, and "action cam" frequently triggered -- they zoom in so player can see up close, in slow motion, a killing blow.

Sex

Many online players choose to dress characters in very little clothing; some missions deal with mature themes.

Language

Some language such as "damn." Shadowrun universe also has own set of slang words, some of which are considered in-game swear words.

Consumerism

Part of a long-running franchise, which includes books, video games, comics, and more. Players may become interested in checking out the other items in the franchise after playing.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters smoke; main hero can smoke as well. Talk of "electronic drugs," drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown is a downloadable tactical role-playing game. Featuring a merging of high fantasy (think Lord of the Rings) and cyberpunk (think Blade Runner), the game focuses significantly on combat. Players will face scores of baddies, such as mutant cyberdogs, ghost bears, robots, orcs, goblins, and trolls. You'll also kill humans, and there's no discussion in-game as to whether or not all the killing is unethical, good, or bad. Instead, violence is considered to be necessary. There's quite a lot of blood spilled when enemies get shot, hit, cleaved, bashed, and killed. Random camera zoom-ins further highlight the carnage. Further, the world of Shadowrun is dark, brooding, and dangerous. The game espouses theft, killing, and acquiring new weapons and gear bought with money earned from theft and killing. There's also serious privacy and online safety concerns because you must be online to play, and the global chat can expose players to inappropriate content; there's no way to mute this feature.

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What's it about?

SHADOWRUN CHRONICLES: BOSTON LOCKDOWN is set in a dystopian 2076, where mega-corporations run everything. Some years prior, magic and mythical creatures were unleashed upon the world, along with the "Matrix," an Internet-like online network which permeates every aspect of reality. A great dragon destroys Fenway Park and causes a plague of sorts to befall humans in Boston, which in turn causes the corporation-owned government to lock down the city. Players play as “shadowrunners,” agents who operate in the darkness, in stealth, and on the fringes of society. They are hired assassins, hackers, riggers, thieves, and mages. It's up to the player to take on missions and side quests, collect rewards, hunt for loot, and procure new weapons, skills, and armor. Together with other online players (although solo play is an option as well), gamers will unravel the mysteries of the disease that plagues the city of Boston.

Is it any good?

Compared to other recent Shadowrun games, Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown is very streamlined. Though the other games in the series offer more depth, variety in missions, and a better story, Shadowrun Chronicles is the only game to offer cooperative online play. In fact, a persistent online connection is required to play whether you're playing with others or going it alone. Much is lost by giving up control to other players in your squad, with coordination efforts strained by chat-only communication, but much also is gained in enjoying a tactical role-playing game with friends. The main problems with Shadowrun Chronicles, unfortunately, have to do with technical issues, lag, server struggles, and the odd bug. Plus, the lack of game options, endgame content, and variety of mission types make Shadowrun Chronicles feel much more stripped down and basic compared to how deep, say, Shadowrun: Dragonfall is.

The developer continued to patch the game after its launch, and with a developing online player base, hopefully the game will be able to mend, fix, add, and/or cut enough so the game’s stability will improve. Further, the developers hopefully will add tweaks and content that should increase the variety of mission types. But, though enemy variety is extensive and wonderful, Shadowrun Chronicles can’t escape being extremely repetitive in its structure. You buy and upgrade weapons, skills, and gear; head out to a mission; return; and repeat. Granted, playing with others does provide some hilarious moments, but cooperative play also invites idiocy, trolls (not the fantasy kind), and all-around chaos. If someone dies, the whole team will lose unless they can beat the mission within five turns. These constraints definitely can create long missions up to an hour a pop. But if you have three other dedicated friends to play with and have been itching for some cooperative tactical role-playing, Shadowrun Chronicles is a decent place to start. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Talk about the impact of violence in video games. What difference does it make when the violence is committed against evil creatures as opposed to normal humans? Is violence ever justified?

  • How did you manage to coordinate your tactics with others? Did you find it easy? What were the main challenges in working with a team of online players?

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