shadowcomplexThe best way to describe Epic/Chair Entertainment’s Xbox Live offering is an old school gaming experience with a new school style. Although Shadow Complex contains 3D graphics powered by Unreal 3, its gameplay is reminiscent of old school 2d games such as Metroid. The game’s plot, penned by comic book writer Peter David (The Incredible Hulk, X-Factor), is a side story to the Orson Scott Card novel Empire. You play as Jason Flemming, an everyday guy who was doing some rock climbing with his girlfriend Claire. When Claire is captured by members of a terrorist organization (which has already assassinated the vice president by the way), it’s up to you to rescue her.

You’ll explore a huge base and fight several high tech enemies. The game moves along in 2.5d, and you weapon has an auto aim function which is used to hit enemies which are in the background. Just like in Metroid, you’ll do a lot of exploration, and you’ll earn several items, abilities, and weapons which you’ll use to access new areas and secrets. Rather than having to bomb every single inch, you’ll use a flashlight which reveals what is needed to get ahead. You’ll also gain experience points in order to increase your abilities. A minimap function helps you find your way around the base easy. You’ll encounter several boss battles, and there are several hidden achievements to unlock. Along with the main storyline, there is a mode called ‘Proving Grounds’, where you play through a series of challenges.

Shadow Complex is one of the finest titles to grace the Xbox Live Arcade to date. It can even give many boxed games a run for their money. The excellent narrative and compelling gameplay make Shadow Complex one of the best Xbox 360 games released this year, be it on disc, or through digital distribution.