Shadow Complex Remastered ReviewPrice:
Xbox One, PS4, PC
Even when your job is writing about games, sometimes things get missed. I missed Shadow Complex when it first released in 2008, although I wasn’t a games journalist at the time and so can’t use really that as an excuse. I missed it again when the Remastered version launched exclusively on the Epic Games Launcher at the end of last year. But that was because it released exclusively on the Epic Games Launcher, which is like releasing your new DVD exclusively in Zavvi.
Now, finally, Shadow Complex has landed on Steam (and PS4!), and I am thrilled that it did, because it is a delightful little action game, a gleefully inventive and wilfully silly love-letter to action-movie tropes.
Players assume the role of Jason Fleming, a boyish American everyman who is out on a lovely stroll in the forest with his girlfriend, when the pair accidentally stumble upon the sprawling military complex of a neo-fascist organisation determined to conquer the globe. As you do. The neo-fascists capture Jason’s girlfriend and automatically assume that she is a spy, because what kind of person just up and decides to go for a wander in a forest? Such behaviour is for spies, commies, and hippies, all of whom are equally dangerous to a right-winger’s ego.
Not put off by the small army of heavily armed, body armour-wearing soldiers, Jason decides to rescue his partner the only way he knows how – destroying absolutely everything he encounters. Within twenty minutes of the game commencing, Jason has blown up a lorry-sized spiderbot using nothing but a pistol and a few grenades. Over the course of the game’s 10-hour length, Jason evolves from young John McClane into somewhere between Optimus Prime and God.
Indeed, one of the things that makes Shadow Complex so enjoyable is its sheer ostentation. When things explode in Shadow Complex, they explode, filling the screen with billowing fire and turning it a dazzling white. Enemy death animations are ripped straight from an eighties action flick, leaping away from grenades before being flung into walls by the explosion, clutching at wounds when shot before stumbling over a gantry railing and plummeting to their deaths. Occasionally the game mixes things up with a turret section, switching to 3D and sending hordes of enemies into the level for you to mow down. In some ways it reminds of Bulletstorm, only without the cartoon gore and terrifically lewd script.