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Shadowrun (Genesis) artwork

Shadowrun (Genesis) review

"Let us speak of Shadowrun. "

Let us speak of Shadowrun.

As an individual, the cyberpunk universe never really attracted me. Why would you want to use guns, grenades and implants when logic clearly dictates that a bow, sword and axe are clearly superior in every way? Why «link» yourself to a computer when you can explore the far reaches of Faerun and run a harem composed mainly out of elves, drows and an occasional one - eyed gnome for the fetishes?

However, my eyes were clearly opened when I started Shadowrun on the Sega Mega Drive.

As the game loads, you’re immediately greeted by an entire group of runners, an equivalent of mercenaries, being mowed down in a hail of gunfire. Though this is an every day event in the job, this time, something is different. This time, one of the people gunned down is your brother, a man who had no dealings in the shadows, making his presence quite the question mark. Bent on revenge and thirsty for information, you gear up and dive headfirst into the cesspool of humanity where he was seen last.

Before you dirty your hands, your character must choose the path he will walk . If you fancy yourself a warrior, a person whose way of saying “Hello” is tossing a grenade into an room filled with people, finishing off the charred survivors with your shotgun or bare fists, then look no farther, you are the Samurai class. If you, on the other hand are not much of a fighter and prefer to have others do your work for you, then choose the Decker. You’ll be able to hack into systems, commanding them to do your bidding, which in the world of Shadowrun, where, basically, everything is dependant on technology, is quite a handy gift. On the other hand, you might be the sort that likes to utter a single word and watch as reality itself cracks before you. Laws of physics no longer apply as a violent hell - fire launches from the center of your being in a circular pattern to engulf everything and everyone in your path while you, using the same mystic force, heal your wounds. If that is your pyromaniac wish, choose a Shaman.

No matter who you choose, the game will start the same, in a run down part of the city in front of an inn where your brother was last seen. Enter, and already you will see that in this world nothing is free. Even a few kind words that could direct you forward on your journey cast a precious amount of money. Money that you will have to earn by working the streets.

No, you will not need to get down on all fours and think happy thoughts, but rather find yourself a Mr. Johnson. Again, no, he’ll not be your pimp and ensure you’re lubricated well enough Bad reader, get your mind out of the gutter!

A Mr. Johnson is a person that will hand out running assignments to you, which, depending on your reputation, will vary in length and difficulty. The first few runs will be easy enough and will secure enough money for you to proceed with the plot. Pick up a package in one part of the town and deliver it to the other, protect a person from one place or the other and so on. However, as your standing in the world of the shadows rises, so will the demands and the quality of your Johnsons. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself clearing abandoned houses from infected creatures, infiltrating corporations to liberate one of its workers, or, if you are a good enough Decker, be given a job to enter Cyberspace and do what has to be done. Be it destroying the opposition or securing just the right amount of funds to further a person's lucrative career. Naturally, you can't be expected to do all of that on your own.

Let's say, for instance, that you are a samurai. When it comes to fighting, there is no task you won't take. However, if you need to break into a safe silently...then you’re not really the man for the job, are you? That's when other runners of differing skills come in, mercs you can hire from all over the city. Each has a price, and his or her special abilities. Pay them handsomely, treat them like a very special pet, and they just might stick with you for good.

As you work your way in the streets, you will find out that the death of your brother was simply a beginning of a much grander scheme of things, and it will be up to you to decide what you do with the information, though the actual storyline could have and should have been much more fleshed out; as things stand, the story is more of an add-on instead of the driving element, whole gameplay takes precedent.

This is where it gets interesting as you’re given an non-linear option how to proceed. Will you take the legal way, to travel from one part of the country to the other to further search a lead that will show just who exactly is the person responsible? Excellent, it's a bit more expensive, for bureaucracy always is, but you won't have to worry being found out, which would end with your shadow - running arse thrown in the jail. You can, of course also take the not so legal way, by falsifying your documents, working a job that will get you to your destination and so on, each with differing results.

Not all is good and great with the game, since the running jobs can become a bit tiresome to do once you escort the same person for a hundredth time, or hack into that same old system yet again. This game works on the principle of money, and you will need lots of it to get ahead. To do that, you will, unfortunately, have to do these monotonous tasks over and over and over again. Some would call it grinding in other games, but here it’s a necessity if you want to see the bare plot, let alone all the great bonuses that lay outsider it.

The fighting takes some time to get used to, for you view the world from an bird' s eye perspective, making it easy to see the actual field of battle, but rather hard to direct the units at your disposal, for this was made for a system where there was no mouse to ease your controls.

All in all, if you are eager to explore the world of tomorrow, then I can think of a few better options than Shadowrun.

darketernal's avatar
Community review by darketernal (July 21, 2008)

Occasional reviewer of random stuff.

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