by Quinn Levandoski
reviewed on PC
A Mixed Presentation (Cntd)
Unfortunately the online isn’t quite perfect, presenting a number of concrete and assumed issues. For one I suffered a nasty amount of input lag about half the time I played even when playing solo with AI teammates. It got to the point where I thought I was misunderstanding abilities because I’d click and nothing would happen for ten seconds, only for it to happen off screen after I had moved the camera. I also can’t help but feel that the move to an online focus stunted the quality of the story because they wanted it to be easier for players to jump into each other’s games and play without having to read and experience long story moments. I guess they accomplished their goal- it’s super easy to plug and play, but after the awesomeness that was the Dragonfall campaign I couldn’t help but feel that the whole story was underwhelming and inconsequential.
The game as a whole is smaller than I expected. While it’s long enough to be satisfying, there just isn’t much that’s terribly interesting to explore. There’s a small hub area where you get missions and buy upgrades, then you take a taxi to your missions. The hub feels rather small and confined however. It’s cool that I get to see some other players in the hub, but where are the large sprawling parts of Boston that I can walk around and immerse myself in? The series has never been the best on the block in gameplay, but their narratives and immersive worlds made it worth it, and with those largely gone for whatever reason it’s hard to justify spending time here instead of similar, better games like XCOM or Wasteland 2. Unless, of course, hopping on with friends is a big deal, in which this one basically wins by lack of better options.
Thankfully one thing that’s a lot of fun is the amount of ways to play. You can be a run-and-gun pistol shooter, a shock and awe shotgun blaster, a drone wielding gearhead, a computer hacker, a magic combatant, an animal spirit summoner, and more. Luckily, since you control any AI runners you bring with you on missions, you can get a taste of the other play styles without having to make a whole new character. It’s also nice that while it’s generally a good idea to spread out squad members between the different disciplines, you don’t really have to take anyone. If you want to hire a squad full of hackers and try to make it work, it’s all you. If you want to run in guns blazing, or summon a bunch of totem animals to wreak havoc, give it a try. It also means that no “class” (although there aren’t any hard defined classes, you’re free to take any combination of skills you want) is particularly good or bad for finding parties to play with.
After writing this review I realized that I filled a lot of real estate with negatives, and that disappoints me because Shadowrun Online: Boston Lockdown isn’t a bad game, it’s just one that already feels either dated, or incomplete. It feels like it should be a beta for a bigger, more robust game that’s still being built. It’s hard to swallow when a game so closely emulates a game from 2013, yet does nearly everything it emulates worse. I don’t know if the developer of this game, which differs from Dragonfall and Returns just isn’t quite as good, if there were development problems, or if a lot had to be sacrificed to include the online components. I also don’t quite know why it costs double what both of those other, more polished games did, and three times what they do right now. I guess the only people that this is truly the “best option” for are those interested in isometric rpgs, but don’t want something as complex as XCOM, and don’t want to get bogged down in (quality) reading in the previous Shadowrun games. If that’s you, by all means, give it a shot. If it’s not, there are just too many better alternatives.
Good community of players, fun teamwork opportunities, lots different playstyle options.
Very poor audio and visual presentation, disappointing story, smaller places to explore