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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » RPGWatch Feature: Shadowrun Returns Review

Default Finished it yesterday!

September 24th, 2013, 12:18
I am now going for my second play of this fun game! I really enjoyed the game as a Cyberpunk experience. The atmosphere was spot on, I enjoyed the descriptions and dialogues, the NPC characters were well designed (Jake, Coyote, Mr. Kluwe, Johny Clean, Mclusky) and I found the gameplay to be not great but good enough to carry me through the plot, which I cared about from the start.

As a long time cyberpunk and William Gibson fan I really enjoyed seeing being used dead man's switches, BTL addicts, human puppets/bunrakus, megacorporations, simstims, the matrix, and so on.

My main beef with the game is that the second half wasnt as good as the first (the emerald ripper investigation vs Universial brotherhood). The first half was definitly more cyberpunk and the second was the usual fantasy stuff with the save the world concept and magic bugs from outer space.. Still a fine game. 7 out of 10 stars.
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September 24th, 2013, 13:48
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
Which brings me to Dusk: “Personally, I don't write my personal review on major site if I don't like a game. I, indeed despise some games but I don't have a problem in other people having their options. I don't understand why some people seem to be eager to close the doors for other people. Opinions are free and I don't mind it at all (otherwise, I shouldn't be browsing) but I don't see a point in score systems.”
Firstly, I did not dislike the game, I say as much in the review. That does not mean I close my eyes to it’s weaknesses, nor that it gets an automatic good score. I score it based on the scoring principles put forth by the site, no more no less. Secondly, as someone else noted: scoring is a good exercise for the reviewer, you have to fess up, and it’s quite agonizing I tell you. It’s also a hook for the review – on a glance you can see if you generally agree or disagree with the reviewer (if you have already played the game). Or if this reviewers opinion is generally the same or different from the other reviews you’ve read. So it serves it’s purpose. As for the commercial effect we cannot and should not worry about that. We are fans of RPGs, and most of us are fans of indie devs. But a review is not an advertisement. My only concern HAS to be to do the best I can to give the reader both objective information about the game (mechanics, lengthe, bugs, etc.) and my honest opinion about my personal experience – the inevitable subjective element of any review. And frankly, RPGwatch remains a small site, all things considered. Considering that our reviews are mostly coming quite late anyway, I don’t think you need to worry that we ruin any game developers even if we (or I) were just unreasonably mean (which I really don’t think I am). I also think text, score and comments form a whole – which is why I really value the discussion – it’s very good that you don’t agree with the review and say so, that improves the overall value of the site for everyone.
Which brings me to Dusks “why now?” – as Myrthos already explained there is no agenda. The review was sent to Myrthos when I had finished playing and writing, and then it appeared when Myrthos had time to set it up after runnung some other stories. That’s all. And that’s how it will be in the future, unless other people here who play more / faster start to write.

Which brings me to one final point that is actually important to me. I find it strange to be addressed by you guys as “the reviewer” I am not an institution or a figure of respect – I’m just GhanBuriGhan, I’m a regular member of this site just as you are. Please address me directly. I write these reviews for two reasons: to give something back to the site that has provided me a lot of free news, entertainment and info over many years now. And second, because I find I enjoy playing the games more when I aim at writing about them. It intensifies the experience. But I am no more expert than the other members here (in fact I think we have members here who are clearly greater experts, but most have not chosen to write so far), and certainly it seems the call to write for RPGwatch is open to anyone who can and will write. So the third reason I write them is simply that noone else has.
I intentionally avoided your name in order not to be mistaken as a personal offense. However, reading your standpoint that it's more of a forum members' personal opinion (Also, since it's just a personal impression, there is no need for you replaying the game, either.), then, the score is rather misleading-but I guess I'm just repeating here. In any case, I have already mentioned my points and don't see any reason to repeat them.

BTW, I agree with you on the story part.
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September 24th, 2013, 15:22
No, I obviously put far more effort and diligence into such a review than into a forum post, so you are absolutely welcome to critically judge it. I'm not trying to dodge responsibility. I'm just saying that I'm still just GBG the RPGwatch member, and no better than anyone else obviously - one doesn't magically become a more knowledgable "reviewer" by committing to writing
As I said before I appreciate the critical feedback - even if I don't agree with it.
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September 24th, 2013, 22:02
Wow, great review Ghan! Took me a few days to finally finish it.

I think one point you make about playing it safe is moot. The fact that they made it so moddable is something few companies try anymore. It affected NWN and Morrowind so maybe it affected the number of zots put into the story here too. But the goal of any game mods is to extend the life of the core product, and since RPG's fall into the category of low short terms sales and high long term it makes sense. The proof will be over time, especially if there's some amazing breakthroughs.

But you make an excellent point about the hub. They could have broken the missions up and have you solve them at your leisure. That would have taken away some of the linearity

I was disappointed by the matrix. To me it was just a glorified version of the regular game. Games like System Shock and Neuromancer made completely different games (minigames?) out of this part genre which really fit brought the story to life in a way the novels can't.

One thing I've learned about savegames in my own mod - their not easy to say the least. I'm not sure about others operating systems but you can't just capture the game at a state; you have have to break level down into all its individual components, save it, then convert it back.

In their case, Harebrained only had to save the changes on the character, not the whole room, then restart the character at the preset level. Technically, its 100x easier and doesn't have the same memory problems.

A proper savegame is a nightmare, and now I see why they break so easily when introducing changes.

Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
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September 25th, 2013, 02:20
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
(about replay) I did however rewind several times in my playthrough to try different conversation options (including skill or etiquette options) and decisions, and it was very clear that most resulted just in a few lines of different dialog, a few resulted in a different reward, but in no case could I determine any notable consequences or long-term repercussions…
I haven't noticed much long term consequence and the very few I noticed wasn't important stuff, like for example bride or not the policeman will involve later differences.

But there's still choices on how to do stuff, the beginning of the game is a mix of introduction and soft tutorial, the apartment, the flashback, the morgue, the street, the murder, the hub. All of that is relatively developed but it's still the introduction and I could agree it's a bit long. And then there's the first real;mission, and in fact not really because companions are still forced and it's still not a full team. But I took it to highlight the choices. In the mission you'll need reach a second floor and I collected 13 ways to achieve it, not all will be possible for all characters, but it's still here. And there's about 4/5 variations at second floor that are consequences, not major but some are significant anyway, so the FULL SPOILER LIST:


Mission: Apartment Royale (Coyote Rescue)
Goal: Reach upstairs.

Use the stair to the right, in that case you'll reach the level through a more hidden/better position which is logical as it's a hidden backdoor. You could feed the hellhounds, open the prison door, kill the guard and speak to Coyote then she comes in your team until the end of the fight. You have four way
1 - Speak old man to right, threaten him and he open the door leading to the stairs (not all characters can)
2 - Speak Old man to right, charm him and he open the door leading to the stairs (not all characters can)
3 - To the right, move the dresser, look to the hole and send a drone through it. The drone opens the door leading to the stairs.
4 - With a shaman, look through the hole, see a summon spot, summon a demon to scare the lady in the closed room, she flees and open the door giving access to the stairs.

5 - And there's an alternative when you use the stairs, it's first to go to elevator, use the intercom to provoke gang up, one guard up will go at bottom to fight. Then when you'll have a slightly different setup at second floor, with one less guard up, and nobody around the prison. It's just a slight variation because it won't change really the sneak path to free Coyote soon.

6 - In fact as a variation you could also free coyote during the fight when you come from the elevator. In case your character have no way to reach the stairs you could use this anyway. Start fights at second floor near elevator and soon have your character rush in to go to prison, feed the hellhounds, open the jail, kill the guard, speak to Coyote. It seems long but in fact if you move well they'll just use their AP to follow you and you second character can kill one and move to help.

You can also get the BTL recording in various ways, and use it at intercom to move up and be welcome. Gang at second floor will be friendly and you can reach the prison and free Coyote but the boss will follow you and when you'll open the jail he will call an alert. Still you'll be able free Coyote and take her in your party during the beginning of the fight. To get the BTL:
7 - You can buy the BTL to the boss at bottom (not all characters can and you need first collect some information from other NPC to get the dialog option)
8 - You can speak multiple time to the bottom boss to get a dialog option to kill him then you can access the computer and open the room to right and get the BTL recording from the recorder.
9 - You can trigger the fight near the elevator by using the intercom as explained in previous options. Then the bottom boss leave to the closed room to the right. And you can access the computer and open the room to the right.
10 - You can also hack the commuter to get the BTL recording but I'm not sure it's the same recording and not one to sell later, need check.

You can hack the elevator commands to go up if you are a decker:
11 - You need access the computer, there's multiple way to do it as mentioned previously, then you can hack the elevator commands to go up.

You can also just use a direct brute path with the elevator. If you trigger the fight by using the elevator intercom the gang up will wait you but also there will be one guy less at second floor:
12 - You can trigger a fight by using intercom of the elevator and provoke the gang. During the fight a dead guy will drop a paper with the security code of the elevator. You can use the code already but also you can try use a second time the intercom and get 3 new dialog options. I haven't found if they trigger something. I think it's more a role play element, but it's a very cool detail.

There's many other stuff to do at bottom, at least many for a small area like that, but I haven't notice links with the goal to go at second floor nor on the situation at second floor. Only that some dialogs options appear only if you have done some other stuff before.

So I'm sorry but for me GBG is a bit superficial in his review to ignore such stuff. I agree not all places have this amount of possibilities but there's often choices like that in many places, even if less. And at least one place has even more choices it's even rather complicated to list all the ways to do that part, it's the Brotherhood.

Originally Posted by Lucky Day View Post

I was disappointed by the matrix. To me it was just a glorified version of the regular game. Games like System Shock and Neuromancer made completely different games (minigames?) out of this part genre which really fit brought the story to life in a way the novels can't.
For me no way minigames is a better choices, there's significant variations by having the alarm management, by using different skills and items (like standard heal, alarm slowdown, different summons) and giving one more opportunity to a decker to use his specialized skills. So it's not bad and certainly hugely better than any minigame. BUT it's right that the core mechanism is too close to standard fights and the area seems too much like a real word area very simplified. And I agree they should have work more on that point but not to make it a minigame.
Last edited by Ihaterpg; September 25th, 2013 at 02:37.
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September 25th, 2013, 11:01
Ihaterpg: I actually acknowledge the different options to bypass obstacles in my review. I agree I should have given some examples, the way I wrote it undersells it a bit. So agreed, I should have discussed that more. The problem comes from the way it is presented: you are funneled through this based on the character you have throughout the game, everything is presented in a silver platter - no chance to explore and be creative.

Still your examples are also exactly what I mean by my "three doors to the same room" analogy: each of the options is heavily scripted (and obvious, provided you have the requisite character), and ultimately leads to the same experience. Just choosing a different option to have the same experience, that's not replay value for me, I guess we differ in that.
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September 25th, 2013, 13:19
Mmm creative gameplay? I have low faith in it because bugs is bugs and design is design. Hope that random produce interesting situations makes me smile.

But yeah I see your point, I could have read not well your review, it's long and English isn't a cup of coffee for me, but that point of view should reflect better, or it's that I should know you better as a reviewer (or player).

What you think like a requirement is for me an option, freedom in games is relative for me it often generates a lot of fillers or repetitions that are boring. So I can enjoy the approach because of the freedom but I temperate it a lot and never consider it a requirement more fun. It's like the dialog options not even those with consequences for me I was reading with care all options and had a thought on which one choose, it was fun part and not vain.

The more I read your posts about the game the more I think your 6/10 is in fact a kind rate to welcome the effort but you didn't like at all the game, it was barely playable for you. It's fine but now I'll apply care on your opinion on RPG because I know I differ too much from your preferences. No problem, diversity is the spice, would be awful if everybody had the same tastes. I'll certainly hurt you but if Skyrim impress me a lot more than SRR, I'll probably never finish it so even less ever replay it, unlike SRR. Moreover I didn't get more fun, more conventional story, tourism get tedious after some time and then it's too much fillers, dragons spaming typical result of random generation engine ended be a lot too much and repetitive, pale fights, bad management of immortal companion and dog. So at ends much more impressive than SRR but not better, I'd say on par for me. :-)
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September 25th, 2013, 13:52
Originally Posted by Ihaterpg View Post
Mmm creative gameplay? I have low faith in it because bugs is bugs and design is design. Hope that random produce interesting situations makes me smile.

But yeah I see your point, I could have read not well your review, it's long and English isn't a cup of coffee for me, but that point of view should reflect better, or it's that I should know you better as a reviewer (or player).

What you think like a requirement is for me an option, freedom in games is relative for me it often generates a lot of fillers or repetitions that are boring. So I can enjoy the approach because of the freedom but I temperate it a lot and never consider it a requirement more fun. It's like the dialog options not even those with consequences for me I was reading with care all options and had a thought on which one choose, it was fun part and not vain.

The more I read your posts about the game the more I think your 6/10 is in fact a kind rate to welcome the effort but you didn't like at all the game, it was barely playable for you. It's fine but now I'll apply care on your opinion on RPG because I know I differ too much from your preferences. No problem, diversity is the spice, would be awful if everybody had the same tastes. I'll certainly hurt you but if Skyrim impress me a lot more than SRR, I'll probably never finish it so even less ever replay it, unlike SRR. Moreover I didn't get more fun, more conventional story, tourism get tedious after some time and then it's too much fillers, dragons spaming typical result of random generation engine ended be a lot too much and repetitive, pale fights, bad management of immortal companion and dog. So at ends much more impressive than SRR but not better, I'd say on par for me. :-)
What you described is pretty much how I feel. One of the RPGs I liked the most was the old Quest for Glory series. It was an adventure/RPG hybrid, I felt it had nice options, but it would fall under that problem. It presented situations that you could solve as a fighter one way (usually just fight through), as a wizard another way (casting spells) and as a rogue a third way (climbing walls, sneaking, etc). The end result was the same, you got to the objective, but to me that added replayability.

I'm also with you that if we compare Skyrim with SRR I actually prefer SRR. I'm not an "explorer" so all those games whose main point is to go around and smell the flowers are not my game. I remember people complaining Fallout 3 didn't have enough levels… I finished Fallout 3 at level 14 or 15 in a couple of days, as I just went through the main quest, but for others that's blasphemy. It's just two different styles of playing and games, and isn't a requirement to be a 'good' game.
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September 27th, 2013, 21:55
Originally Posted by Ihaterpg View Post

For me no way minigames is a better choices, there's significant variations by having the alarm management, by using different skills and items (like standard heal, alarm slowdown, different summons) and giving one more opportunity to a decker to use his specialized skills. So it's not bad and certainly hugely better than any minigame. BUT it's right that the core mechanism is too close to standard fights and the area seems too much like a real word area very simplified. And I agree they should have work more on that point but not to make it a minigame.
Minigame may have a been a bad choice of words. The portion of the game would still be a core part of the game. The way it was done in System Shock should, IMO, be the canon for the genre, or something like that. It creates much more immersion within the immersion of the game and is truer to the original ideas Gibson was espousing about people getting lost in Cyberspace. But you do see my original point.

I think there was real opportunity in that portion of the game that was missed, much like Garriot not understanding the new paradigm of game design he created with his separate combat system and getting rid of it in U9. Creating systems like this in a game is very creative design and can really add to it. Still..they had a budget.

Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
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