Ring Side Report-Video Game Review of Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown

Product– Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown

Producer– Cliffhanger Productions

Price– $25 here http://www.shadowrun.com/shadowrun-online/

TL; DR– An ok game, but overshadowed.  80%

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Basics-It’s never just a milk run…. In Boston Lockdown, you take the roll of a shadowrunner who wakes up on a metal slab.  How did you get there?  Why did a dragon destroy the Red Sox playoff hopes?  Take the roll of any kind of shadowrunner you want, hit the matrix, shoot straight, and never, ever, deal with a dragon.

Mechanics– There isn’t much here in the game, but it works decently. Players get to choose a race and select how they want to build their character.  But, there isn’t a whole lot there.  The races give a bit of a difference at character start, but don’t really change the game all that much.  You get a couple of powers that you will use through your archetype all the way through the game.  You increase the powers by training up a simple skill tree.  That’s fine, but you don’t really get a ton of depth from that.  Once you have your powers, that’s in!  Don’t expect a ton of difference between a start character and a character that finishes the game.  You’re numbers a bigger, but that’s really it.  In terms of game play, the game is a simple tactical game.  You’re team of characters takes their turn moving and shooting/using powers, then the bad guys go.  That is every single mission.  You might get a mission to defend a location for a bit or touch X number of switches on the map, but overall it’s the same mission over and over again.  Again, not bad, but you won’t spend 10 hours playing this game.  It’s fun for a short burst, but then you’ll put it down and do something else.  It’s a semi-solid B effort. 4/5

Theme– Here is the saving grace of the game-This is Shadowrun 2075!  You’re playing modern Shadowrun set in the same universe as all the current books.  Wiz!  If you want to see how the world story is changing, then you’re going to play this game.  The story is fun and fresh.  It does have the standard “milk run to major plot” cliché we know and love, but it does get its foot in the door.  4.5/5

Execution– If the theme is good, and the mechanics are ok, then the execution is the bad.  This game is lag-tastic.  I have a laptop and a desktop that can both run some pretty hardcore, taxing games, but this game lags on both.  There aren’t even that many people on screen, and the game lags.  Forgiving lag, the game feels kind of half done.  It’s a working finished product, but some characters get a voice, and some don’t.  Why?  Stick to all voice or all text, as it feels like the budget run out halfway through this part.  The controls are semi-intuitive, so that’s ok, but the learning curve can cost you some money in the beginning.  The fact you only really get two powers for the whole game doesn’t really make me think leveling up the character is important.  It’s not a horrible game by any means; it just feels like it’s not completely finished.  3.5/5

Summary-There are two major Shadowrun computer games coming out now: the online game and Shadowrun Returns.  This is where it gets hard.  Shadowrun Chronicles isn’t a bad game, but compared to Shadowrun Returns, it’s not the best.  Honestly both games tend to get a little same-y as every level is a tactical encounter with little roleplaying, but Returns beats Chronicles on that front.  What Chronicles has that Returns doesn’t is the current world/metastory and co-op.  That’s what has its hooks in me.  I’m a sucker for a shared world I can influence, and this one has it in spades.  So the honest summary-if you only have $25 to spend and need a great introduction to Shadowrun-buy the RPG ebook (Didn’t see that one coming did you?!).  However if you need a video game, then you should hands down get Dragonfall and Shadowrun Returns.  If you want an online experience with leveling and co-op with friends with some current Shadowrun story, then Shadowrun Chronicles is a good place to play.  Neither beat the tabletop experience, but Chronicles will at least let you game with some friends.   80%

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