Shadowrun for the Genesis takes a very faithful approach to the Shadowrun game world. By following the form so closely, however, the game loses something of the spirit of the world. Starting from one of the three basic characrer archetypes of the Shadowrun world, you have to make a name for yourself and unravel a mystery. To do that, you must get better equipment and upgrade your skills. This means taking on missions -- lots and lots of missions.
The missions that aren't critical to the main story are randomized, so you won't see the same one come up too often. But you will find yourself doing many "FedEx-style" delivery missions at the beginning of the game to earn cash. Later on, these are replaced with "infiltrate and steal" type missions, and you'll be doing lots of those too. Even though the basic gameplay mechanics are well thought out, the sheer number of random missions you have to undertake dampens the enjoyment this game.
The graphics are above average and do a good job of conveying both the glitzy surface of the Shadowrun world and its dark, gritty heart. Both character and background graphics have surprising depth of detail, though the animation and screen scrolling are a little bit jerky. The game has a limited palette, but the colors available are used quite effectively to enhance the background bitmaps.
Most of the game's futuristic, techno-influenced songs are acceptable and a few are actually catchy. The Redmond Jump House music is particularly catchy. The sound effects are decent enough, though not particularly impressive.
Shadowrun is a good RPG. It has an interesting plot, well thought out gameplay mechanics, and it faithfully recreates the popular Shadowrun pencil-and-paper RPG. Most RPG fans will find it very enjoyable, but those with little patience may quickly frustrated at having to take so many random missions.
Graphics: Very detailed graphics with a little choppiness in animation and screen scrolling.
Sound: Average sound effects, but a few good songs.
Enjoyment: Shadowrun has an interesting world, lots of interesting random encounters, a deep and engaging storyline, and faithfully adapts the popular Shadowrun pencil-and-paper RPG rules.
Replay Value: The game's wide variety of randomly generated shadowruns keeps the replay value high for an RPG.
Undoubtedly the closest a console game ever gets to capturing the feel of traditional PC RPGs, Shadowrun for the SEGA Genesis is an excellent and faithful adaptation of FASA's famous Shadowrun cyberpunk P&P RPG system. Unlike its Super Nintendo counterpart (also reviewed on this site) that is basically a fun action game with some RPG elements sprinkled in, this Genesis version of the game is a true RPG that will please anyone who likes Shadowrun or PC-style RPGs in general.
The premise in this cyberpunk epic: you arrive in Seattle in the year 2050 to find out who killed your brother, and why. The story takes a backseat to the heavily stat-driven gameplay, most of which requires you to collect (a lot of) money and develop your character with cool implants, spells, weapons, and assorted computer software. There are optional quests, sub-plots, and enough plot twists and alternate options to keep you glued to the screen and replay the game (although there is only one "successful" ending).
As can be expected from a good cyberpunk game, Shadowrun lets you hack in cyberspace to get various passwords, money and information in addition to the basic RPG elements of talking to NPCs, fighting the undesirables, and improving your stats. True to the original P&P RPG, you can choose to be one of 3 available character types from the beginning, and develop different skills as you play. You can also hire NPCs to work for you. It's a lot more fun to hire different archetypes to fully experience the game. If no one in your party has a data jack, for example, the game will be much harder, and you miss out on a very neat cyberspace combat system. The game has a lot of depth: you can spend dozens of hours - if not hundreds - if you want to collect every spell, update your cyberdeck to the most powerful, find the best programs, etc.
Because it follows the original Shadowrun RPG rules very closely, you might find combat in the game tedious if you prefer the simpler system that characterize a typical anime-style console RPG. But on the flipside, fans of Shadowrun or "systematic" RPGs in general will have a great time in Seattle. The game does have some minor omissions of the P&P RPG rules, but they are not major. Whether or not you are a fan of old-skool RPGs or cyberpunk computer games, you will love Shadowrun. If you think console RPGs are all simple or easy, Shadowrun will be a pleasant surprise.
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