Reviewed: April 16, 2008
Released: December 6, 2007
For anyone who may have played the original Shadowgrounds, Frozenbyte has introduced their follow-up, Shadowgrounds Survivor. A horror-based third-person shooter similar to the likes of Silent Hill or Resident Evil, Survivor immerses you deep into a tense storyline. The story is fairly simple. In the original, you fought off an alien attack. Three remaining “survivors” are your playable characters in the continued war against the unwanted visitors. Survivor looks to take the next step and bring Shadowgrounds out of the “shadows” and into the forefront.
Shadowgrounds Survivor Features:
Shadowgrounds Survivor brings an interesting new look and feel to the PC shooter genre. Not only has Frozenbyte brought back all of the best qualities from the original, but they have also made some solid strides to improve. The first, and most obvious, of which is an enhanced graphics engine. Although the game is very dark (it is in the horror genre), Survivor delivers a more than adequate graphic appeal. Also the developers have upped their physics engine, which adds a level of realism as well.
There are a few modes of play, the standard single player campaign mode and also Survivor mode. In Survivor mode you are pitted against massive amounts of enemies and the goal is to stay alive as long as you possibly can. Single player is the main focus of the game, as is with most titles with a horror aspect. The scarier the situation and the more you sweat, the closer the game is to achieving its goal.
For anyone new to Shadowgrounds, the camera is the biggest difference between it and most of the other PC shooters you’ve encountered. Survivor offers a third-person view, but not just from behind the character. In Survivor you look down on your character from an almost blimp-like view. At first, the camera can cause some issues, but with a little play time the problems are easily solved.
You play as one of three characters and level up in an RPG-type fashion. Weapons upgrades are collected throughout the levels. Collect enough upgrade parts and boost your weapons abilities. The process is quite easy, yet very effective and efficient. As you advance you will come to learn/obtain new attacks. The consensus favorites are Napalm Flame and Brute Slayer. Both devastating attacks are very helpful when you are in a bind and just shooting one enemy at a time isn’t enough.
Local co-operative play makes the game worthwhile in my opinion. Grab a buddy and together blast through the campaign levels and explore those areas that you couldn’t quite get to yourself. In exploring you will uncover several unlockables that can be turned on and used for you to play back through again by yourself.
As I stated previously in the review, the graphics in Shadowgrounds Survivor are quite impressive. Even on my oversized monitor, the environments were sharp and enemies looked as ferocious as ever. Several PC games that I play look stretched and the graphics become fuzzy or distorted, but Survivor is sure to please no matter what your resolution may be.
When the environments are light enough for you to see, you can notice the detail that has been put into making things look as realistic as possible. I was very impressed at how detailed Suvivor looked, and how much time was spent on ensuring that the game had that “next-gen” graphic feel.
Horror games can be made or broken by their sound. Survivor definitely more than “survives.” From the sound of enemies snarling, to the sudden clang of cabinet, or thud of a box falling, Surivivor’s sound is the key to keeping you on the edge of your seat. Put yourself in the situation of being in the middle of what looks like a haunted North Pole (that’s pretty creepy already now that I think about it!), and then add the faint sound of some growling beast in the distance. As you walk, the sound continues to grow louder and louder. Next thing you know, you are being attacked by a swarm of aliens.
Without surround sound, I think Survivor would lose its horror edge. I highly recommend that if you play Shadowgrounds Survivor you do so in the dark with your Dolby Digital turned up. I can almost promise you will be at least a little freaked out at one point or another.
Shadowgrounds Survivor is available through Steam for $19.95. As most gamers know, $20 is a bargain price for a newer game in today’s market. Survivor’s single player is pretty deep, and the storyline is worth playing through at least once. I had more fun the second time around and was able to concentrate a little more on some of the things that I missed. I found it to be a little scarier the second time actually, which was kind of surprising.
If you have a Steam account, the Shadowgrounds series is well worth the $30 total that you would spend to buy it. I’m sure that the large majority of people that play Survivor will enjoy it. It’s a somewhat recycled idea (creepy horror game vs aliens), but Frozenbyte delivers a very enjoyable game for a pretty cheap price.
At first I found Shadowgrounds to be a tired attempt at a horror-themed shooter, but once I was able to come to grasps with the control scheme and use the camera angles to my advantage, the game really took a major turn upward. Most third-person shooters have some type of camera issue that can turn a player off if they don’t take the time to work it out, but as is the case with most, once you figure it out the game is a lot of fun.
I think that the co-op play option really adds a level of replay value if you have a friend willing to blow up some alien scum. All in all, the game delivers an old-school feel in a new school package and it works very well together.