This review was posted on March 8th 2011 and posted to gamespot I am currently moving all of my review over to TA with some light editing added to them. I hope its a good read of shadowrun as it can be a damn fun game.
After first sampling this online only experience a few years ago I was very skeptical, I had only seen it through a friend who introduced me to it. I myself had never heard of shadowrun as a franchise in anyway but I didn't let that put me off making a purchase in the end and after sampling the game with a friend.
The only real drawback for this game is it lacks total content in general the game is online only, apart from supporting bot matches but I doubt that would appeal to many people. And there is a brief tutorial mode to get you into the setting and familiarize yourself with the gameplay since it can be a little overwhelming at first. Luckily the game has a tutorial mode in the form of small bot matches that will help you learn with the basics.
The games combat is a mix of technology and magic for example you could be blasting away at somebody with an SMG then suddenly reinforcements arrive so you make a quick escape using a teleport or a smoke ability (which turns you invisible and partially invincible at the cost of essence and you won't be able to keep fighting) so there is quite alot of variaty to be found in the combat. To explain essence is your magic metre which recharges over time so you can keep using spells etc, you also have 3 slots to hotkey your abilities they can be either magic or tech based depending on how you want to play.
In the game there are four races human, elf, dwarf and the troll (no pun inteneded) they all play in there own ways with there own strengths and weaknesses.
The human is your basic soldier with a reasonable amount of essence and he doesnt take any penalties for acquiring technology, he also has the most starting money. The human is probably the most balanced since they are neither hard nor easy to take down in a direct conflict they are like the middle ground class for the game. For any new players I would recommend human simply for the advantage with technology that they have.
The elf (my favourite choice) is more of a rush opponent they have alot of essence and the ability to heal themselves by staying out of combat and hiding. But they have the lowest amount of health in the game so they rarely last long in a fire fight. But they make up for their lack of strength with speed and agility, a decent player using teleport and an SMG could take down a troll if times got desperate. They are definitely the most recommended class for a magic build as they can regenerate their health when they are not using their powers.
The dwarf has the most essence but recharges at a much slower but he can tap into allies and enemies essence and use them as a cheap way to refill their power. They also take two head shots to take down so they aren't easy to pick off for snipers who want an easy kill. In my personal experience dwarfs are like mini trolls they are hard to take down but not as tough when it comes to a direct blast from an SMG or decent rifle shots. They are also a good race for a strong magic build but their lack of decent essence recharge makes you heavily dependant on your allies and sadly sometimes your team mates may not be around to save you.
And finally is the troll they are the tank of the game being able to take alot of damage and have an ability to increase their damage intake by using essence to harden them. So in theory the more you fire the stronger it gets but it isn't invincible its size makes it a good target and snipers can take them down easily if they have a good aim. They also have the smallest essence pool so their magical abilities are rather limited compared to the rest, they are better for supporting players who want to give out heavy fire power. A truly spray and pray class but this doesn't mean they shouldn't be feared when you run into a competent troll they are truly the hardest to kill if your opponent knows what they are doing.
The appealing part of the game is there is alot of choice in the style you may want to play in. The weapons are varied and balanced enough, along with the abilities since none of them are really game winners they just give you more of an advantage but its far from game breaking. Combining technology and magic is a good way to go sometimes for example using a glider and teleport can make you the fastest player on the battlefield. Making you capable of responding to situations alot faster than your team. But it also means you sacrificed fire power for speed so make sure to balance your decisions with your team.
While playing very few matches will play out the same, it all comes down to the people you are playing against they will all have styles of fighting they like to use and you will have your own, its not too often that matches are one sided and the game does try to balance itself even if it means splitting up in game parties to do so. There is also a booting system to make sure team killers dont last too long on their little spree's thinking they are actually accomplishing something in the game.
In conclusion shadowrun only has one weakness it needs MORE to be added to it, their are not too many maps and the lack of any real single player is a bit of a back fall for the game. But the game itself plays perfectly with very few balance issues and the maps we do have are all different enough with only one or two that give some teams an advantage over others (I am looking at you DIG SITE!). I would advise to anyone who likes a new experience to at least try the demo out before choosing if its for you. For me 4/5 feels justified since I am very satisfied with the time and fun I have had in this overlooked title.
At this point I have gathered all the achievements from this game with very little boosting needed to get this far so this game receives a personal recommendation from me. I hope this review helps people gain a good first impression of the game.