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June 9, 2007

I recently purchased and played Shadowrun for the Xbox 360 and liked it. I liked it for reasons hat may be unique to the type of "gamer" I am: one with a job, a family and who was never that good even when I was younger.

This means that some of the keys to a game being fun for me are: (i) does it do something cool; (ii) is it easy to play and progress; (iii) can it be played in short spurts; and (iv) is it deep enough to be engaging, but should be enjoyable even without putting in a lot of time.

As an aside, I have been amused listening to the last two weeks’ 1Up Yours podcasts feature discussions of how these game industry journalists really could not compete online against kids without jobs who could devote more time to becoming good at various games.

People have complained about Shadowrun being expensive given its number of maps and gameplay modes. That may be a fair criticism, but in my stage of life, I’m not that price sensitive if the game is one I want to play. Likewise, per Shawn Elliot’s comments on the GFW podcast, I’m not sure I’d want to play in the PC.

Given the above, here’s what I like about Shadowrun so far and why I would recommend it to the growing group of gamers like me:

  • It had a training mode that let me play bot matches at an easy level at the end of each of the six stages. I go a 10 point achievement for winning the bot match at the end of each training level.
  • It has cool features that set it apart from other FPS games I’ve played: flight, teleportation; creation of wall-like features; ability to create healing trees; etc.
  • You can buy an ability that improves your aim. This is great for someone like me, whose skills are mediocre. Sure, it uses up one of my three slots for abilities, which may be a big deal for a better player, but not for me.
  • Like the Battlefield games (of which I played a lot) and Counterstrike (of which I played very little) I am always part of a team that I can contribute to in some way. And my team might even win! The odds of my winning a slayer match in Halo or contributing in any way to the winning team in such a match are small.
  • The game is very well balanced and feels like it may have scissors, paper rock quality to it where even with mediocre skills, if I am playing with scissors, I can be someone on the opposing team who is playing with paper.
  • I have great hopes for Microsoft’s Trueskill matching system. Hopefully it means I’ll be playing with other people almost as bad as I am.
  • The fact that this is multiplayer only may result in more players like me venturing online to play. With many games I figure I should wait to finish the single player before venturing online and I never finish the single player game. If other similarly situated gamers to the same, it results in online games skewed toward the very talented.

All this being said, I haven’t played that much, so I really hope my good first impressions are sustained.

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