Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shadowgrounds: Survivor

Hot on the heels of my Shadowgrounds conquest I installed the sequel, Shadowgrounds: Survivor.  The original game didn’t leave many unresolved plot threads, and so I wasn’t sure exactly where the setting of this sequel would be.  It turns out that the sequel takes place chronologically at the same time as the original, only in a different location.  Instead of a single point of view (as in the original), SG:S tells the story of 3 different characters who are affected by the alien invasion on Ganymede.  Each battles his or her way back to the colony at New Atlantis and joins forces to try to protect the colonists.

It appears that Frozenbyte was concerned about how simple the original game was, as they beefed up quite a few aspects of the game framework.  Instead of merely having weapon upgrades, SG:S adds the concept of character levelling as well as “special upgrades” (things like boosted health and an alien scanner) and the ability to store up medpacks rather than being forced to use them immediately.  Each of the three characters can only use a few weapons, though, which makes for a much less overwhelming experience as well as subtly adding complexity.

The game still feels familiar though:  most of the various weapons and types of aliens that exist in the original return in some way in the sequel, and the point of view and general gameplay are very similar to Shadowgrounds, albeit with boosted graphics. The one minor gameplay change is the fact that there is no ‘roll’ command in SG:S, which is a bit of a downer, but only takes a few minutes to get used to.

The other outstanding addition to this game compared to the original is the unique boss fights.  The original Shadowgrounds game had challenging boss fights, but none that seemed really over the top.  SG:S has several boss fights that include additional elements -- one of which involves controlling a giant mech-style suit, and another includes a huge rotating machine gun turret.  These really spiced up the levels and made for a very fun experience.

I found SG:S to be a very enjoyable game, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.  There were a few improvements, but it didn’t feel to me like it broke new ground.  I loved the simplicity of the original and the improvements that the sequel brought felt largely cosmetic.  If you loved Shadowgrounds, then SG:S is worth a shot, but if you’re new to these games I would recommend starting with the original.