Ah, I remember fondly the sweet sound of gunfire, cussing and mouses being thrown against the wall; the docile tones of someone yelling across the hall, "Diffuse the #$%&'in bomb you @#$%#@ @#$#@@;" the glorious "thwomp" of Joe's massive subwoofer that reverberated through the hall every time the terrorists bomb exploded.
When I think of my early college years (before I actually went to class and had a girlfriend), Counterstrike comes quickly to mind. The insane amount hours my friends and I spent playing this game is a testament to its engaging style.
Microsoft is attempting to recreate that same, visceral gameplay addiction with its FPS Shadowrun. Designed as a multiplayer-only, first-person shooter, the game strays from its pen and paper past – for those die-hard Shadowrun RPG'ers out there, this may come as a bit of a shocker. However, the game is only loosely based on the RPG version, featuring a different time, (2021 rather than 2050), different magics (more on that in a moment), omitting a race (buh-bye Orks) and new factions.
The two new factions for players to choose are RNA Global (the big, hulking corporation), and the underground group known as The Lineage. RNA wants to control all of the magic and technology, making sure that it is used responsibly (i.e. only by those who can afford to use it). Lineage believes that magic and technology should be available to all (they love technology, but not as much as you, you see).
In addition to choosing a faction, players must also choose a race. Races include Human, Troll, Elf, or Dwarf with each race possessing some unique features. As usual, Humans are the jack-of-all-trades with no weaknesses and no special powers aside from having more money for tech, magic and weapons. The Elf is a fast, agile biotch with regenerating health. Unfortunately, the elf also has the lowest amount of hit points and glows when regenerating.
In between rounds players will purchase magic, tech, and weapons. Magic includes abilities like resurrection, teleportation and healing. Tech is cybernetic enhancements that your player can implement to create a cyborg of destruction. The more techs a player utilizes, the less magic they'll be able to purchase, so a delicate balance must be established. Some examples of the tech available include enhanced vision (you can see through walls!) and a glider.
While the magic and tech are fun on their own, when you begin to combine them, the action really picks up. For example, combining the glider with teleportation will allow players to soar across the map, never touching the ground. Or, combining the aforementioned teleportation with cybernetic enhancements will allow you to spot enemies through walls and teleport behind them, ending their pitiful existence without their being aware of your presence.
A well-rounded arsenal of weapons is necessary for an FPS to be successful, and Shadowrun is aiming for success with its array of death-bringers. Featuring short-range weapons such as katanas and long-range, scoped sniper rifles, you will have a plethora of tools for maiming your foes.
The comparisons between Shadowrun and Counterstrike are easy to make – two factions, purchasing weapons and various game types come to mind. The most unfortunate comparison to make is in the graphics department. Early screenshots and videos aren't especially breathtaking, looking less next-gen than some other games out there. However, the characters move quickly and fluidly (at least in the videos) so it doesn't look disgusting. However, graphics don't make the game and if the gameplay holds up to expectations, I doubt there will be too many complainers.
The game is in development for both the XBox 360 and the Windows Vista platforms and is slated for an Q1 2007 release. If you loved Counterstrike, the Unreal Tournament Series or shooting your friends in the face (virtually of course), then you'll definitely want to check this game out.
Be sure to check back for more information as available and hit us up on the forums to discuss your favorite multiplayer FPS moments.