Beta Impressions: Shadowrun

Shadowrun ElfLet’s get something out on the table to start this article right: I don’t like first person shooters. There, I said it. Sure, I liked them back in the days of Doom II and Quake, and I’d be lying if I told you that Counter-Strike didn’t eat up any of my time while in college. Over the past few years though, FPS titles have lost their spark. And while Halo 2 was fun for awhile, the online portion just became the same old repetitive “Spray-n-pray” fest which eventually drove me far from the title. So when I got a beta key for Shadowrun the other day I expected just another run-of-the-mill FPS. What I found was the total opposite as even this pre-production build of Shadowrun has enough in it to possibly turn the FPS genre around.

Not being big into pen and paper RPGs, I’m not that familiar with the Shadowrun universe which is probably why I can focus on the gameplay itself rather on whether the continuity of the series is broken like some other people. So for those (like myself) that aren’t too tied to the universe, picture a Middle Earth type environment complete with Trolls, Dwarves, Humans and Elves where time has progressed. Magic is still used, however technology has developed bringing modern artillery into the battlefield. That’s how I’ve come to explain it to some of my friends at least.

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In a way, Shadowrun is very much like Counter-Strike. Each match is round-based with teams having to either wipe the other team out, or complete some goal. There is only one map and scenario available in the beta which involves stealing a relic and taking it to a helipad, or stopping that from happening depending on which team you’re on. At the beginning of each round you have the option to purchase weapons, magic, or technology. While you’ll find the weapons to be standard FPS fair like machine guns and sniper rifles, magic allows players to use their essence to do things like summon creatures, resurrect players, and teleport through walls while technology allows the use of gliders, magic absorbing grenades, and advanced targeting and aiming.

Choosing which magic and technology options to purchase is where strategy really comes into play as you can purchase any number of abilities you wish, however you can only have a combination of three magic or technology skills equipped at one time. It is possible to switch out skills during a match, but doing so requires you to stop and navigate through a menu making you an easy target to pick off. Additionally, each race has their own set of attributes. For example, Elves are quick and can regenerate health when not in combat while Dwarves are shorter but can absorb magic from constructs (like The Tree of Life spell) and even other players.

Shadowrun is currently due to ship 5/29 for both PC and Xbox 360. If the beta is any indication of how the end result will turn out, expect this title to stir up the competitive gaming circuit because with the amount of team strategy involved in each match, it’s just begging to be looked at by organizations like The Cyberathlete Professional League. For more information on this upcoming title, check out

About the Author

Having over 25 years of gaming experience, Zach knows a thing or two when it comes to one of his favorite entertainment activities. Additionally, he has also written many articles previewing and reviewing titles which can be found in various places around the net, including