SHADOWRUN / Sega / Genesis

Before I launch into some lengthy review of the Genesis Shadowrun, let me tell you up front that I didn't get very far into the game. Actually, I barely left the first town. There's a very specific and, I feel, a very good reason for that. You see, when you go back to the hotel, which is the only place you can heal up, the game may randomly kick you out into the streets into a fight with a bunch of punks. I wouldn't much care about that if it were the same chump punks that are running around the streets, but one of the punks invariably has a pistol, and is too much for you to handle at the outset of the game if you're already weakened (which, if you're headed for the hotel, you probably are).

I just felt it was really shitty to play for almost two hours, building myself up to some degree and completing a couple of events that finally netted a meaningful amount of money, only to have that money slashed in half by some random event I can't control when I go to the one place in the game that I've come to expect to be safe. You can call it "realistic" or whatever, I call it masochistic bullshit game design. So if the idea of wondering if you are going to get jumped every time you return to the inn to heal pisses you off, don't even bother starting this game, as any other good points it has don't even matter.

The game does have its good points, but it's mired in a lot of clunky crap unfortunately. The game looks and plays like those old D&D computer RPG games, except combat occurs in real-time in a system kind of similar to the SNES Shadowrun. Combat usually turns silly pretty fast, as basically if you are fighting a melee opponent you just run around in circles taking potshots when you've put enough distance between you and them (kinda like Tecmo Super Bowl with guns), and against someone with a gun you might as well just stand there and blast it out in SNES Shadowrun style as there's really no advantage to be gained by moving. You can hire other runners who are loafing around at bars in the usual style, though I never really made enough money for that. If you play as a shaman, you can use spells and such as well.

The game seems pretty authentic to the source material. The story has you as some random dude (you choose to be either a samurai, decker or shaman, but in all cases you have to play as a human) set out to find out who killed his brother Michael, who was a Shadowrunner killed in an ambush during a run. The game dumps you off at Redwood Barrens just outside of Seattle, where you visit the hotel Michael last stayed at and find out that the greedy landlord is holding his stuff and won't let it go for less than 250 nuyen. Having only 20 nuyen to your name, you have to hire yourself out to various shady Mr. Johnsons who give you runs to go on.

The one in Redwood Barrens only gives out stupidly easy missions, which usually involve either escorting someone to a destination or delivering a package. There's no real difference between the two as seemingly no one ever attacks the people you are escorting. Sometimes the locations to deliver to are literally right next door to where you pick up the moichandise, so these early runs are ridiculously simple, but they also only pay chump change. The early going of the game is pretty easy due to the fact that all the possible foes in Redwood Barrens are slow and have only melee weapons v.s. your pistol, except for the one pistol punk that jumps you sometimes when you go and try to sleep at the motel.

Upgrading yourself uses the same Karma system as was in the SNES game, although you have more options here, and you also can't give yourself abilities outside your class (shamans can't hack, deckers and samurai can't use magic, etc.). It seems like there might be a little more room to play the game your own way, but I think that it's always going to end up coming back to a whole lot of combat thus forcing you to upgrade like a Samurai most of the time anyway just to stay alive. The early going has missions that all basically revolve around combat, and it takes awhile to get spells up to where you can survive battles using only magic.

The game seems like it had potential, and has a nice open-ended structure that lets you make and break allegiances with certain gangs and take the story elements at your own pace, but it just doesn't execute well enough to be a whole lot of fun. The problem I mentioned with getting jumped when you go to heal illustrates that this game is pretty old-school and hardcore in dealing out punishment and death at random, and it also is old-school in requiring you to grind and grind for a significant time to advance. The graphics are pretty bad, the audio is sometimes OK but usually pretty sparse and uses low-quality sound samples, and the game world seems kind of empty and underdeveloped. Cyberspace is a little more interesting than the ridiculously dumb grid game they had you do in SNES Shadowrun, but then it doesn't have the cool music that that one did. Overall I was seriously underwhelmed by this game, and I'm surprised to see so many people running around trumpeting it as some sort of underappreciated cult classic. There's good reason why it's largely been forgotten - it was very rough around the edges, repetitive and just not a whole lot of fun.

Links :

Informative Wikipedia Page

Videos :

Gameplay Video