Posted: March 31, 2014
Early Access Review
The Shadowrun IP has experienced a veritable rennaissance as of late. Shadowrun Returns and the expansion Dragonfall [Calling it DLC would be an insult] have met with mostly favorable reviews; I know I've enjoyed both quite a bit despite, of course, a few limitations. The pen and paper tabletop game, Shadowrun 5th Edition, has hit the ground running since its release last summer. Catalyst Games has said the core rulebook has broken all of its sales records. A deck building game, a la Android: Netrunner, a tabletop miniatures game, a la WH40K, and, a Euro-style tile-based board game are all in the works.
So now we have Shadowrun: Online thrown into the mix.
Right now it's PVP and 4 short missions. There is no tutorial - which is fantastic, btw, because tutorials are creepy and always trying to hold my hand. This means the art of war in Shadowrun Online must be extracted through trial and error. I actually felt relieved that I was expected to use my brain. The first time through I didn't pay much attention to what I was doing and got clobbered...fast...by the AI. The second time through I paid a little bit more attention, and realized some of the basic principles. After that, it became quite enjoyable. The world itself is pretty much non-existent at this point. But the game play is definitely there and it's good. The two characters you use throughout the missions synergize really well.
One thing I would like to see would be a limitation to spells and ammo. One of the spells is kinda broken, not too much, but a bit. If they added spell drain, like in the tabletop, spellslinging would become a much more serious matter - right now it feels a bit OP. I also think ammo should be limited. There should be the danger of running out of ammo, in fact. I think that could add a lot to the tension of each match.
I'll say this: they are very blunt about the current state of the game on their page. I found the warning to be commensurate with the build.
Getting it now means you'll get to know the game play, but not so much the world of Shadowrun. I recommend reading some background material here: http://www.shadowruntabletop.com/game-resources/shadowrun-timeline/
Also, head over to amazon and order a used shadowrun novel [ .05 + 3.99 shipping lol]
Edit: I want to mention that this game works really well with touch controls. Playing it on a touch screen laptop or tablet is lots of fun. Turn-based games and touch controls just make sense, and I'd like to see other devs follow Cliffhanger's lead on this.